Posted by: tommybrennan | June 2, 2017

Meat Freak on a Juice Fast

Success Story Graph

On April 1, 2017, I weighed 222 pounds.  I was at a an event  in Michigan, and I could barely squeeze into my already too big suit.  I had to wear mismatched slacks and a blazer, along with the only shirt that fit.  I was exceedingly uncomfortable, as I had to drive 5 hours to get there.

Along with this pleasantness, my heart went into atrial fibrillation, and was raging in my chest.   A migraine invited itself along to the party, and my misery was pretty much off the charts.  At the luncheon, a friendly acquaintance from 25 years ago looked at me, did a double take, and proclaimed “Is that you Tom?  My. You’ve changed.”

It didn’t take deep analysis to decipher her meaning.  She wasn’t being unkind, but simply stating the obvious.  The last time she saw me, I was in my early 30s, and was lean with a full head of black hair.  I was in the prime of life, and had the swagger of a young man who was vaulting up the corporate ladder with little effort.  I was married with 3 kids, had a new home, and was well regarded in my business and church communities.   And I had a killer hound’s-tooth suit that made me look like a senator.

Fast-forward 25 years.   55 years old.  Pasty white winter complexion.  Noticeably thinning  grey hair.  9 year history of heart problems, including congestive heart failure, severe cardiomyopathy and chronic atrial fibrillation.  A thrice daily cocktail of heart meds and blood thinners was my constant reminder that I wasn’t so heathy anymore.  Asthma had become a frequent invader, and a twice daily inhaler was needed to keep my lungs working right.  I had started a business with a friend, which became my own.  12 years of keeping all of the plates spinning, and making payroll for as many as 24 people, as well as leading a family with a wonderful wife and 4 kids began to take a toll.

The atrial fibrillation made consistent exercise difficult, and sometimes impossible.  I had weighed about 180 in my early 30s.  I now tipped the scales at 222.   A gain of over 40 pounds.  I looked and felt like a walrus.  Getting up off of the floor was a real challenge, as I also had arthritis in both wrists, which had very limited range of motion.  I had to kind of roll and waddle to get up.  I was a mess.

So, here I was.  I had tried to lose weight before, but always failed.  I would lose 5 pounds, and gain it right back, or a birthday party would come up, or some other derailment.   I was trapped.

Or maybe I wasn’t.   I took inventory.  What assets did I have?   I had a great God.  Good.  Next?   I still had a strong mind.  Also Good.   What else?  I had a supportive wife.  Excellent!  It’s looking better.  Next?  A pretty decent sense of self control.   Great!  That is enough to get us somewhere.

But how?  I had attempted to lose the weight by increasing my activity.  I had been inspired by the Biggest Loser stories, and thought that Jillian and Bob and Dolvett could make a difference for me.  But there was a problem.  I would get up early and go to the gym.  I would get up every day and work out hard.  I would get a groove going, and I would get stronger.  One week, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks.  And I am finally starting to see progress.   Yes!  And then, Chester (my heart), would decide it was time for an extended bout of atrial fibrillation.  This would bring my exercise to a screeching halt, and my progress would be stalled.  Often, the Afib would continue for weeks, and I would have to be shocked out of it.  Thus, my attempts to lose weight via exercise had been thwarted many times.

So what else could I do?  I had heard that 70% of weight loss is in the kitchen.  I also remembered that when Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings had his jaw broken by a dirty hit in 1996, his jaw was broken and he had to take his meals through a straw.  He lost over 20 pounds.  I reasoned that there must be something to going on a liquid diet.  And now the story really gets interesting.

I had met a guy at church who had weighed 300 pounds, but had lost over 40 pounds on a juice fast.  He was actually on a 100 day Juice Fast and lost over 60 pounds.  We talked about how he did it.  I asked about the types of juices and smoothies he used.  I decided to give it a shot.

On April 3, 2017, I started a juice fast.  This fast was going to last until my birthday – June 3.  A 60 day juice fast, with the goal of weighing less than 200 pounds by my birthday.  Now  you need to know that I am about as far away from a vegetarian or vegan as you can get.  I am a confirmed meat and potatoes kind of guy, and always have been.  There was a joke about me as a kid.  Tommy is very religious about vegetables.  He likes none (nun).   This observation was true as a kid, but I had learned to eat a number of vegetables as I got older.   So, this would be a bit of a challenge.

We own a Hamilton Beach juicer, which had received a good rating from Consumers Report.   This would be my friend for the next 60 days.  We also own a Nutri Bullet, because smoothies are cool too.   Here’s what happened.

I started every day at 6:00 am.  I would have a cup of coffee with my wife, and we would talk and pray.  I would then whip up a fruit smoothie.  This was frozen fruit we got from Sam’s Club.  Pineapple, peaches, strawberries, mangoes and  berries.   I would add an orange or two, along with two scoops of Shaklee energizing soy protein.  It tastes fantastic!  No sacrifice having these every day.  I would then be out the door to Planet Fitness at about 7:15, drinking the smoothie in my car.  I would do strength training and 20 minutes of walking/running.  Mostly walking.   I would get home a little after 8:00 and would be in my seat working on projects by 8:30 or 9:00 am.

Around 11:00 am,  I would go downstairs and whip up my juices.  I pretty much stuck with a binary green juice/orange juice menu.  One day it was green juice, the next day it was orange juice.  Green juice was celery, cucumbers, kale, spinach, green apples, lemon and ginger.  Orange juice was carrots, celery, clementines, red apples, lemon and ginger.  Both juices kind of had an apple/lemon taste over the other flavors.  I really learned to enjoy them both, but there were some days I just slammed them like medicine/fuel.    I would make about three 20 oz juices and would drink them through the day.  I would also have a handful of nuts here and there, and raw veggies.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but I had some rough days.  Easter was especially difficult, as we hosted our kid’s families and my wife made a wonderful ham.  It was very hard to just eat grilled asparagus and pecans, but I did.  There were also birthdays and other events.  I had to plan ahead, and it was never impossible to stay on the juice.

The biggest hurdle I faced was going to Florida with my wife in early May.  My grandmother was turning 106(!) and I wanted to visit her, along with a customer whose office was nearby.  I determined that I couldn’t  just make Julie juice along with me, so I had a Chicken Caesar Salad every day we were there. It was about the perfect balance of veggies and protein to keep me going, but kept me on the road to success.

The weight began to come off slowly, but consistently.  I tracked my progress in an Excel spreadsheet, and made a chart.  I weighed myself every day and recorded it.  It became a daily ritual, and encouragement as the pounds dropped.

Another unexpected benefit was the absence of Afib.  My body seemed to really like the new diet, and my Afib episodes, which had been a weekly occurrence,  simply stopped.  They came back after 7 weeks, but in a much briefer, and controllable manner.

On May 12, I dropped below 200 pounds for the first time in years.  One-Derland, as they call it on the Biggest Loser.  So now that this goal was achieved, I set another goal:  Weigh less than 195 on my birthday.   That was five pounds  in less than three weeks.  As I sit here on June 2, the day before my birthday, I weigh 194.6 pounds.

So I now have one of these great stories about how I lost weight and feel great.  You can’t take off 27 pounds without feeling a lot lighter, more nimble, and happy.  My heart really seems to be liking it too.

The next step is writing a book, and telling folks how they can do it too.  But they have to buy MY juicer, and MY certified organic vegetables.

Not really.  But if I can help anyone out there, I have a positive experience, and a success story to share.  I would be happy to walk with you on your journey toward a healthy weight.  No charge.



  1. This Vegetable loving-girl LOVED seeing my Meat Freak, especially Popeye’s Chicken, eat(Drink) pounds if veggies a day! Your juice drinks tasted better then this former chef’s! So happy for you Tommy! You resisted how many family celebrations/barbecue/cake?

  2. Congratulations and Happy Birthday Bro! I am so proud of you!

  3. Tom you sold me, I just ordered a juicer and would appreciate any of your secret recipes 😁

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