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The Single Ingredient, Controlled Calorie Diet

Posted by Mike Tang
Mike Tang
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on Monday, June 25, 2012
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Over the next few weeks we will take you through the incredible transformation of Mike Tang. At the end of 2011 Mike weighed 240 lbs (5'8) and was in terrible physical condition. In just a few short months he has lost over 50 pounds and has just recently finished the Bassman Triathlon.  Part 1 of this series starts with why Mike decided to change his life. Part 2 takes you through his 10 day juice fast and other steps that led him to plant based living. Part three in this series (this post) explains the process Mike went through to determine what to do after the juice fast was completed and how he started the plant based living lifestyle.

Mike is not a medical professional or nutritionist. Consult your doctor before starting a nutrition or exercise program. VTR does not promote this or any other diet/exercise plan. This story just describes one man and the steps on his journey that led to his incredible transformation since December 2011.

Back to the "biggest loser" competition at work. (Part 3)

by Mike Tang

At this point I had lost some weight but I was still way down in the rankings in the "biggest loser" competition at work.  In the first month the leader in the competition had lost close to 10% of her body weight and I had lost 2%.  Even with the 10 pounds that I had lost, I still only had lost 5% in six weeks, I was still way behind overall.   Juicing had started me down the path of understanding of what my body needs and what my body doesn’t need.  Now I had to push forward, keeping this momentum.  During the week of my juice fast I had started to do research on how I was going to eat after my ten day fast.  It was while researching that I watched a movie that helped me to understand why my body reacted the way it did to juicing. “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead ” is a documentary by Joe Cross, an Australian who spent 60 days juice fasting while traveling across America and helping communities understand the health benefits from juicing.  In this amazing story he not only loses over 100 pounds in 60 days, but also helps another man Phil Staples, lose over 100 pounds as well; inspiring to say the least.  I then found a second movie that was going to shape how I eat to this day,  “Forks Over Knives”.  This movie puts forth the idea that controlling what goes into the body while eating (forks) is preferable to invasive surgery to correct disease (knives).   Amazingly, it follows the story of eighteen patients with terminal prognosis in regards to heart disease.  These patients follow a whole foods plant based diet and within two years begin to reverse their symptoms, hardening of arteries and heart disease.  Not bad considering that they all were given less than 3 months to live at the beginning of the movie.   Now I have to say, this sounds more like a movie review column than a blog about how I changed my lifestyle, but these movies really framed my research and made an impact of how I changed my life. (for more detail rent them above for a few dollars)

In case you think I am insane (those that know me know the answer to that question), I do not advocate just watching movies and accepting the plot and events as fact.  That would be just crazy, right... “Fahrenheit 911” and “An Inconvenient Truth” fans?  But the nutrition movies continue down the path of “Super Size Me” and “Food Inc.” and actually present working plans on how to approach a lifestyle change to increase overall health.  So I researched some more, “Vegan”, “Vegetarian”, “100 Mile Diet”, “Organic Foods”, there is so much to learn on each one of these plans that it would make your head spin.  I just needed to figure out what I was going to do after the juice fast. The end of the 10 days was approaching quickly and I wanted to exercise to really start losing weight.

 

Single ingredient, controlled calorie diet

After researching all I could about plant based living, I decided I would finish the last 6 weeks of the competition with what I explained to people as a “single ingredient” diet.  I was eating foods that were not processed, whole foods.  My diet consisted of lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and mushrooms.  If I picked up an item at the store, it would have to have only ingredients that I knew were whole foods individually.I had already made the most important fundamental switch, my body no longer craved meat, cheese, or sugar. At this point I was still limiting my intake of whole grains, oil, and sugar. My goal was to eat around 1000 calories a day (I do not suggest this long term, or without the supervision of a doctor). I had just spent 10 days without eating more than 600 calories a day so the culinary world had become my oyster, or at least my oyster mushrooms.  Because most vegetables are low in calories, I was free to eat a ton of food at this time, and again I rarely found myself hungry.  I did not stress over things like “in-season” or “organic”, these are all important, but I had already made the most important fundamental switch, my body no longer craved meat, cheese, or sugar.

Lessons learned this month

So, “never in a million years”, a coworker to this day still remembers my reaction in 2011 to the notion of becoming a vegetarian.  This month I had not only stopped eating meat, I had stopped eating altogether for 10 days and I had not died nor did the world end. In fact, for the first time in my life I did not feel completely controlled by food.  “I don’t like” and “I would never” had become excuses for me to continue to eat the foods I liked to eat, and this month I had challenged those things to the core.  Just as easy as it is to say “I am too tired to exercise” or “I will do it tomorrow” these statements had now all become distant monikers of an old lifestyle.  The body is amazing. It tells you what you need to know, but most of us, including myself, choose to ignore it.  You feel good when you eat junk food, but only for a moment, then you feel terrible.  Your body craves the “feeling good” and your mind justifies the “feeling terrible”.  Eating right, your body stabilizes and starts to crave good food, because you feel better overall.  It is not easy at first, but nothing that really matters is.  You read about great people all the time, but what separates them from you is really nothing more than “action” in most cases.  The results may not be the same, but that should not matter. The confidence of meeting your own goals and sticking to a plan you can control is all that is important.  Good things take time; great things are defined by doing those good things for a lifetime.  There are no shortcuts in life; you still have to live your life until you die.

Results

This month I had really dropped weight, not just around the waist, but also in my overall bone structure.  Not over loading on protein allowed my body to naturally shrink my frame as my body was not preparing to build extreme muscle mass.  My shoulders had started to shrink and my chest had gone from close to 50 inches to 44 inches.  Then came the weigh in.  I was excited to weigh in and see where I was at in the overall picture.  Could I break through to the top 3? How much more would I have to go through to win the competition in March? I took a deep breath and stepped on the scale....  215.5... I had lost another 18 pounds total in February!!! I had lost over 10% in two months, close to 8% in February alone.  How much more did I have to lose to win? I waited for the leader to weigh in, anxious to have a definitive goal for third month.  In a great strategic play, she refused to weigh in.  I had tipped my hat, let here know exactly how much I had lost and the traction I had gained.  I was upset I did not know where I stood, but now knew I was in second place.  One month to go: full steam ahead…..

Next Week (Part 4):  Plant based exercising or “If you only eat vegetables, where do you get your protein?”

Read Part 1: "My Journey from the Atkins Diet to Plant Based Living"
Read Part 2: "The Juice Fast, Into the Belly of the Beast...

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The 10 Day Juice Fast, Into the Belly of the Beast…

Posted by Mike Tang
Mike Tang
Mike Tang has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, June 16, 2012
in Training

Over the next few weeks we will take you through the incredible transformation of Mike Tang. At the end of 2011 Mike weighed 240 lbs (5'8) and was in terrible physical condition. In just a few short months he has lost over 50 pounds and has just recently finished the Bassman Triathlon.  Part 1 of this series starts with why Mike decided to change his life. Part 2 (this post) takes you through his 10 day juice fast and other steps that led him to plant based living.

Mike is not a medical professional or nutritionist. Consult your doctor before starting a nutrition or exercise program. VTR does not promote this or any other diet/exercise plan. This story just describes one man and the steps on his journey that led to his incredible transformation since December 2011.

The Juice Fast, Into the Belly of the Beast… (Part 2)

by Mike Tang

Mike before the contestLet’s get something clear, up front.  I love meat. I love cheese. I would consider mayonnaise one of my closest friends.  That is what made the Atkins Diet so perfect for me, eight years of eating the things I loved the most.   As far as food goes, nothing, let me repeat, nothing made me happier than a smoker full of ribs and eight hours of stoking the fire.  The process of turning meat into “fall off the bone” ribs is nothing short of amazing. Growing up, meat was a symbol of success for our family. Large feasts of roasted pig, fish, and duck were revered as much as Larry Bird and the Celtics were on the court.  So after a month of dieting and not seeing the results I needed to win the "biggest loser competition" at work, I was ready to make a move to an extreme diet. I am a competitor after all, and I had set the bar high. I was going to win come hell or high water.

February 2012

Research and Preparing for a 10 Day Juice Fast

We all know the internet is a great place to do research. Every idea out there can be validated by some crazy guy typing a blog post on his kitchen table. So what was real and what was “infomercial” propaganda?  After a lot of digging, I settled on the fact that my “extreme diet” was going to be a 10 day juice fast.  I found the best way to prepare the body for a juice fast was to spend a week eating raw nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Ten days of no meals,  juicing fresh vegetables and fruits in a juicer. It seemed that it had all the hallmarks of a crazy plan, no eating and rapid weight loss, just the thing I needed to get back into the running.  So, where should I start?  I had already cut out alcohol, sugar, refined carbohydrates (flours and rice) and caffeine.  After some research, I found the best way to prepare the body for a juice fast was to spend a week eating raw nuts, fruits, and vegetables.  That week was hard, but it went by pretty quick.  I started the first phase on a Monday and by Friday I was restless. It was “go time”.

Juice Fast Days 1-3:

I started my ten day juice fast on a Friday night with my first “juiced” meal.  My only goal at this point was to make it until Sunday night. "I can do anything for three days," I told myself.  “25 laps in the pool and then 2 juiced apples, 5 juiced strawberries and a hand full of blueberries. This is hard...”, was my first post on Facebook. I had let the world know, no turning back now.  I was restless that night, but I was resolved to make it so I simply drank a glass of water and tried to fall asleep.  I somehow made it through that first night and into my first full day Saturday.  I woke up and made a juice of green grapes, strawberries and a nectarine.  Then came the hard part, I had to go out to the mall to run an errand.  This was where the panic set in.  What would happen if I needed to eat something when I was out? I got in my car and headed to the mall. The clock was ticking.  I remember feeling claustrophobic as I ventured out, passing fast food restaurants, the convenience stores of quick meals, none of which could help my hunger.  I needed to finish quickly and get home.  Two hours, two short hours had passed since I juiced and left my house, but I was finally home.  I thought I was going to die, I juiced quickly and sweet relief, I was nourished again.  The rest of the day passed uneventfully, I had made it 24 hours without a solid meal.  I went to bed, I was almost through my first goal, make it to Sunday.My mind and body were in active revolt against what I was forcing myself to do.  I juiced throughout the day, but I could hardly get off the couch.By the time I woke up on Sunday morning I had gone over thirty hours without chewing any food.  This was definitely the hardest day for me.   My mind and body were in active revolt against what I was forcing myself to do.  I juiced throughout the day, but I could hardly get off the couch.  The second hand on the clock was crawling. I needed to eat a real meal and chew some food.  I thought it was best to distract myself. I decided to find a project to do around the house.  It was in the middle of this project when life hit like a ton of bricks.  Every frustration I had ever had in my life somehow manifested itself in anger and emotion.  “You simply don’t understand at all,” I explained to my wife as tears ran down my face.  If I was not going to give my body the food it craved, it was going to break me down to the core of who I was and force me to eat.

Looking back, this was the last stand for my old cravings for bad food.  With the support of my family, all looking at me like I was completely crazy, I made it through day three.

Juice Fast Days 4-10:

I woke up on Monday, my body almost completely broken of its craving for eating food and feeling a ton better.  I made my morning juice and headed off to work.  This is where the work of the weekend paid off.  I was able to work throughout the day with new energy and focus.  That week I even made a day trip to DC, patiently taking the crew out to lunch while drinking a glass of water, waiting to go to Robek’s for my ABC (Apple, Beet, Carrot).  I cruised through the rest of the days of the fast, and by the end I felt I could nourish myself this way indefinitely.I cruised through the rest of the days of the fast, and by the end I felt I could nourish myself this way indefinitely.Things I juiced in the morning consisted of fruits, Apples, Oranges, Pineapple, Carrots, Blueberries, Grapes and Strawberries.  These things all complement each other well and can all be combined to make creative meals.  Some days, I would create another fruit juice concoction and drink it for lunch or I would switch to vegetables.   My plan was every night to get my vegetables in juice form; these were low calorie, low sugar and high in nutrients: spinach, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, ginger, garlic, and celery.  Between meals, I fell in love with Smart Water and drank 4-6 liters a day of water. 

Juice Fast Results and Lessons Learned:


Benefits I gained by juicing:

  • Reset my palette to not expect high fat foods, processed foods, and meat.
  • Energy from digesting nutrient rich meals three or four times a day.
  • Vegetables have a ton of things that are good for me. I generally felt better.
  • I learned that I would not instantly die if I missed a meal.
  • I control my body and cravings, not the other way around.

Things I was starting to put together:

  • Setting small goals that spanned a few days made everything more attainable.  Having a plan for the next step allowed me to move right into the next thing and not feel like I was “stuck” miserable forever.
  •  Fruits and vegetables made me feel good. My body was sick and I did not even know it. I had simply allowed myself to get used to feeling awful.
  • The human body is a amazing thing.  Get to understand what yours is telling you and not turn a deaf ear to the pain you cause it.

I felt good, and it was really starting to work, so what next?  By the way, for those keeping count... halfway through February I was down to 223.5, a loss of 10lbs, game on! I had already lost more weight in the first half of February than I had in the entire month of January!

Next Week:  Now that juicing was done, what was the next step and the second month weigh-in? Would I do better than month one?

Read Part 1: "My Journey from the Atkins Diet to Plant Based Living"

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My Journey from the Atkins Diet to Plant Based Living

Posted by Mike Tang
Mike Tang
Mike Tang has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, June 11, 2012
in Training

Mike and MegOver the next few weeks we will take you through the incredible transformation of Mike Tang. At the end of 2011 Mike weighed 240 lbs (5'8) and was in terrible physical condition. In just a few short months he has lost over 50 pounds and has just recently finished the Bassman Triathlon. The first entry in this series starts with why Mike decided to change his life and the first steps he took on his journey.

Mike is not a medical professional or nutritionist. Consult your doctor before starting a nutrition or exercise program. VTR does not promote this or any other diet/exercise plan. This story just describes one man and the steps on his journey that led to his incredible transformation since December 2011.

--- 

My Journey from the Atkins Diet to Plant Based Living (Part 1)

by Mike Tang

Last December my work put together a biggest loser competition for 2012. The contest was to begin on January 1, 2012 and run for 3 months. There would be a monthly weigh-in, and the winner would be the person who has lost the highest percentage of weight at the end of the three months. I decided after years of inactivity and abusing my body (with food) this was my time to change my life. There was no life changing medical condition, I didn't see a picture of Jesus in my French toast, I just decided enough was enough. My short term plan was to win the biggest loser competition at work and my long term plan was to live a healthier lifestyle and keep the weight off that I anticipated losing in the competition. As I started my journey I wanted to remind myself I am human. If at any point I felt I was not making the progress I wanted to, I had to remember my long term plan.

December 2011

I was eating and gaining weight, not sleeping well and stressed out.  It was easier to eat than to do anything and it made me feel better.  Ah, the irony of life.  Those things which comfort you the most are the most harmful, but more on that later.  Anyway, Thanksgiving through Christmas are always food bonanzas, tables full of food, gravy and desserts. I had gained a bunch of weight at the end of 2011, and I needed to take it off. The timing was great for the "biggest loser" competition at work. The last week before the weigh-in at work for the competition, I ate like crazy. Gotta gain to take it off, I thought.   239.5 lbs.

January 2012

Month 1 - Plan

Well, I weighed in and walked to lunch.  No better time to start than NOW.  This month my plan was simple.  I will start the Atkins Diet.  It worked in the past, and has been my weight loss plan of choice in the past.  Right around the time I turned 30, I lost about 60 pounds in 9 months, with a combination of the Atkins Diet and exercise.  This month I thought I would go “hardcore”.  For the month my plan was as follows:

 Eating:

  • Atkins Bar for Breakfast (start the day off right)
  • Chicken and fish only for meat (no beef, pork or sausage)
  • A salad every day for lunch with grilled chicken and NO dressing (why add all those calories?)
  • Cheese, eggs and mayo are OK
  • Dinner was Atkins friendly
  • Popcorn/nuts before I went to bed so I wouldn’t be hungry

Exercise:

  • Walk to lunch every day (40 minutes)
  • Pushups every hour, starting with 5 and hour and climbing to 15 an hour
  • Run on treadmill at night (at least 30 minutes)

Month 1 - Results

Everyone was constantly reinforcing that I was in first place, I had dropped some waist sizes and I was sure I had dropped a lot in the competition.  All this work was going to pay off, plus I was never hungry, I was eating a lot of nuts and Atkins friendly food, as much as I wanted really.  Then came the weigh-in.  233.5. Six pounds.  One month of all this and I was in like 10th place.  I told myself not to worry, winning was not why you were getting healthy.  Boy did it bother me though.  I think I need to schedule that double amputation.

Month 1 – Lessons learned

Ok, I was working out a lot, and I thought the limited weight loss may have to do with gaining muscle mass.  Also, Atkins is really not a good way to lose weight and eat, or maybe it is, just not quickly.I had no idea the path I was about to start down and how it would entirely change my life. I needed something even more drastic, something that would propel me back into contention. I googled "Extreme weight loss" and "Lose weight quickly", what came back were crazy starvation diets, nothing that seemed sustainable and/or healthy.  Then I saw something that caught my eye, a 10 day juice fast to reset your eating habits.  Sounds like a challenge, I will start there. I decided that for month two I would change things up and start juicing.I had no idea the path I was about to start down and how it would entirely change my life.

My next post will describe my 10 day juice fast and the results in month two of my journey. UPDATE: Read part 2 "The Juice Fast, Into the Belly of the Beast...

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