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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
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on Saturday, June 16, 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 (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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5 Tips for Open Water Triathlon Swim Training

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Thursday, June 14, 2012
in Training

Rescue Tube / Swim BuoyI wrote a blog post last month about overcoming swim anxiety in triathlons and my experience earlier this year at the Bassman Half Ironman where I had an anxiety attack in the water during the race. I mentioned in the post that the only way to get comfortable in open water is to get out of the pool and start training in a lake/river. There are many, many benefits to training in open water.  Reducing swim anxiety is just one of them. Of course, you want to be sure you take all the necessary safety precautions if you hope to truly stay safe and relaxed in the water.

  1. Never swim alone - There are plenty of triathlon clubs and swim groups that have organized or semi-organized swims in open water. Also, if you get involved in your local club there will always be people that are looking for training partners. We are all in the same boat (no pun intended)....No one wants to train alone in open water, and everyone knows the value of doing it on a regular basis.
     
  2. Be aware of your surroundings - Swimmers often share the open water with boats, jet skis, canoes, etc. Wear a bright colored swim cap and continuously sight for potential hazards or obstacles in the water. I often practice in a river and occasionally there are large tree branches or debris that has floated down stream into the area I swim. I try to sight in the water every 4th or 5th stroke to make sure I am not going to bump into something and to ensure I am staying on line with my target. This is excellent practice as in a race you also always need to be aware of other swimmers and ensure you are taking the shortest line to the finish in the water.
     
  3. Be aware of weather conditions - Weather can be a factor when training in open water. I train in open water 2-3 times a week and it is amazing how weather affects the conditions in the water. Again this is excellent practice. You definitely have to swim differently if there is a lot of chop to the water versus a completely calm day.Training in all kinds of weather eliminates stress on race day. You will know how to swim in all conditions!
     
  4. Practice with the equipment you use in a race - If you plan on using a wetsuit in your race then wear one in training. If you know you definitely can't use a wetsuit in your upcoming event then train without one in practice. A few years ago I hardly ever wore my wetsuit and was extremely uncomfortable wearing one. I finally started training with a wetsuit and now I am very comfortable. Practice..Practice..Practice...You will never be comfortable and confident with equipment if you only use it in a race.

  5. Use a swim buoy - I mentioned using a swim buoy in an earlier post and I have received a lot of questions and inquiries about how to use a swim buoy during training. I created a video to explain the use of a swim buoy during training in open water. Check out the video below. 

 

Swimming in open water can be a very rewarding experience and is a lot more enjoyable than swimming in a pool. If you enjoy running you wouldn't do all of your running on a track, right? Not to mention, you are training to compete in triathlons and most of them are in open water. Doing all of your training in a pool is not going to eliminate any of your open water anxiety. Get into the open water and start swimming for REAL. You will be glad you did.

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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
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on Monday, June 11, 2012
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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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Overcoming Open Water Swim Anxiety

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Tuesday, May 29, 2012
in Training

All triathletes at one time or another have experienced open water swim anxiety. It is impossible to predict when it will happen. Sometimes it is the smallest thing that can trigger a panic attack. Earlier this month I had a "mini" panic attack in the water during the Bassman Triathlon. I started out swimming fine for the first few minutes but then my goggles completely filled with water, and I couldn't see a thing. My speed dropped and I started getting bumped in the water. I couldn't see, people were banging into me, and I started to gasp for breath. Just like that, a 20 year triathlon veteran was having a silly panic attack in the water. I was able to fight through the panic, calm down, and successfully complete the swim, but for several minutes I was in difficulty. (see Bassman blog post)

Why do we all panic at times in the water? Well...I think it is obvious. On the bike you can stop if you are tired, on the run you can walk or stop. In the water if you can't make it, you need to be rescued or you will drown. It's that simple. All triathletes know this and most take the necessary precautions to stay safe while training in open water. How do you stay safe and minimize the chance of having a panic attack in a race? Practice..Practice..Practice...Just like everything else. If you only swim in open water during a race and you only race 5 or 6 times a year do you really expect to be comfortable in the water? Once the water warms up in April/May as a triathlete it is time to start training in open water. A few years ago I started swimming 1-2 times a week in open water. In a short amount of time I started to feel more and more comfortable in the water. You learn how to navigate, deal with choppy conditions, pacing, etc. All of those things cannot be learned in the pool. Not to mention you get more comfortable swimming in your wetsuit.

In order to be safe I use a swim buoy . I have it attached to my ankle, and it floats behind me while I swim. It pulls on your leg a little bit but before long you don't even notice it. Any issues in the water and I have a safety buoy of my own to lean on. That is the only way to go. Anything can happen in the water, and you want to stay safe while training. I highly encourage anyone who struggles with anxiety in the water to join a group (never swim alone), get a swim buoy, and start training in open water. Before long you will notice a big difference in how you feel in the water, and your swim confidence will increase dramatically.

Start practicing in open water and maybe next time this won't be that intimidating....

 

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Why can't you be a normal person?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
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on Thursday, May 10, 2012
in Training

If you have trained for a big event at some point someone has asked "Why do you do this?" Don't you wish you were a normal person that didn't have to train everyday? Why do you inflict self-induced torture upon your body by swimming in 60 degree water, running in cold/snow/rain, cycling in 90 degree heat...etc. I have asked myself this question many times. Many times I have asked myself this question while I was in the middle of a "self inflicted torture" session.

In 2001 I had completed a little over 100 races in my career (see Race History) and reached a point where I was sick of all the early morning workouts and long training sessions. All I wanted to do was to be a "normal" person. I had been training for something my entire life and just wanted to eliminate the pressure and daily grind of training and racing. I dreamed that "normal" people live pressure free lives and do not have all of the self-induced pressures to continuously train for events. Finally I said, "That's it. I quit. I am now retired." I stopped working out and started living my life as a normal person. Over the course of the next few months my weight climbed from my training weight of 175 to a high of 199. I had a chocolate chip muffin and a regular coffee every morning on the way to work and couldn't care less about what races were going on next weekend.

As the months progressed I would occasionally take in the smell and freshness of a beautiful morning and remember how awesome it was to run in the early spring. A couple of times I drove by a lake or saw a group of cyclists and thought about how fun training and racing for a triathlon can be. As the summer came and went these thoughts started to become more frequent. As the 2001 fall racing season began I really started to miss training and racing. I finally figured out that being a normal person wasn't all that great. I really missed the excitement and challenge of competing in triathlons/road races which was a big part of my "normal" life. I missed the way my body felt when I was in great shape. I missed everything about my old life. I found out that being "normal" is different for everyone.

In November I decided to get back into racing. I was 25 pounds over weight and hadn't worked out in 10 months. After a few weeks of running, on Thanksgiving Day 2001, I entered the Turkey Trot at Maudslay State Park in Newburyport Massachusetts. This is a 5k race on hard pack trails in the park. This race turned into a real eye opener as I really struggled during the race and almost had to walk at the end. I completed the race in 24:06. This was by far the slowest 5k race I have ever run and to this day is the slowest recorded 5k time by your VTR host. I worked hard over the winter and ended up competing in 24 events in 2002. I would like to say my form came back quickly but it didn't. I truly did not regain my form for several years. Now when I am extremely sore after a tough race and someone asks me if I wished I was a normal person and didn't have to put myself through all of the effort and pain to compete my answer is simple....What do you mean?..I am a normal person.

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