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
Let’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.
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"