I did a 5-day fast / juice cleanse recently. My friends have had a bunch of questions about it, so I figured I would write it down and share with anyone who wants to know.

What I did:

I used a prepackaged 5-day fast & cleanse kit. The kit provided nutritional supplements, hunger management pills, and fiber. Because the company did not give me the kit for free, I’m not giving them free advertisement :). I would recommend it to anyone who is interested though – just drop me a note and I’ll tell you which one I used.

The kit only allows you to take the supplements, water, herbal teas, and juice. No caffeine, no fake or added sugars, no solid food, etc. Obviously, you want to limit how much juice you’re drinking to make it a fast.

Each meal you take fiber and 4-7 pills. Pace yourself, you don’t want to get full too quickly. 😉

On the first and second day I drank 3 x 300 ml (10 fl. oz) of juice. On days 3 through 5 I drank between 2 and 2.5 bottles of juice. Usually one in the morning, one at lunch, and a small amount of juice in the early afternoon.

My total caloric intake was about 300-500 calories per day, and mostly in the morning.

Why I did it:

1. I heard good things about it from a friend.
2. I’ve never done a cleanse or fast before, so I wanted to see what it was like.
3. I was interested to see if I would notice health benefits.
4. I was hoping it would help me get rid of some extra fat from some of those troublesome areas. 🙁

How I thought it would go:

I was quite worried I would be barely able to function mentally and physically, and would basically have an IV of juice going in order to be OK.

I wasn’t really worried about being hungry, because I’ve done the Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) thing before. When I first start my weight loss (link) I decided to “reset” my appetite by doing a 500 calorie diet. This felt like nothing to me at the time, and I only lasted about 10 days before I caved and upped my intake to 750 calories.

I was excited for how much extra time I would have since I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking, eating meals, or going to the gym.

How it actually went:

In one word: awesome.

I really wasn’t hungry, and didn’t start to desire food until day 5. Even this desire was just for the taste and comfort of eating – not because of hunger. I have been told from a friend who did this fast at the same time that they did feel hungry – so maybe it’s my experience from doing a VLCD before that helped me through this?

Each day of the fast I took a picture in the evening, and weighed myself. I’ll share the weights with each day’s summary.

Another great thing I noticed is that my sleep pattern normalized almost immediately. I usually struggle to fall asleep at night but during the fast I had no issues. I think removing all the extra factors from my body and the lack of food really helped.

Starting weight: 76.3 Kg (168.2 pounds)

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Keep in mind, right before this fast I just returned from a vacation where I had an unlimited supply of fruit, vegetables, and lean protein. Before the 10-day vacation, I was at my average weight of ~ 78.5 Kg (173 pounds). After the vacation I was at the 76.3 Kg mark.

Day One (75.7 Kg / 166.9 pounds):

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I only felt slightly hungry at around 10 AM. Though, I did not follow the kit’s advice of easing myself into the fast. I ended Sunday evening with a big meal, and had two coffees as well. I started to get a head ache in the afternoon on the first day – likely because of me going cold-turkey off of caffeine. This ultimately lead to a mild migraine with light sensitivity and actually caused me to get nauseous and lose what little food I had. I don’t attribute this to the fast, I attribute this to going from a medium level of daily caffeine intake to ZERO in a single day.

I drank a juice at each meal because I was worried that I was going to starve my body completely and lose a lot of muscle mass.

Day Two (74.8 Kg / 164.9 pounds):

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No headaches and no hunger pains. I still drank a juice at each meal, but I didn’t feel like I needed to as much as I did on Day One.

Day Three (74.1 Kg / 163.4 pounds):

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On this day, I only drank 2 juices with no issues. I figured out when to time taking the juice to make sure I had enough focus at work. I could tell when my blood sugar was dipping in the early afternoon and would then drink my second juice. The only negative side-effect from this is that I really struggled in my 2-hour Chinese language class in the evening. I think if I had taken another juice for dinner I would have been able to do it just fine.

I heard from a friend that some people actually do training while fasting because there is a boost of the Human Growth Hormone while fasting. I looked it up and found some convincing articles about it.

So, I gave it a try. I was not brave enough to try lifting weights at the gym, so I just did exercises at home. On this day, I did push-ups and chair dips. Even though I hadn’t eaten solid food for 3 days, and was running a ~1800 calorie daily deficit, I was able to do 30% MORE push-ups per set than I can usually do. I didn’t feel the energetic “Go-Get-it” rush that I feel at the gym while doing this, but I did not feel tired. It was quite a strange sensation to just tell my body to do the work and have it do it, even though my mind was quite convinced that my body would be unable to perform.

Day Four (73.3 Kg / 161.6 pounds):

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Just two juices again and no hunger. I decided to try exercise again and did a very intense abdominal exercise from one of the famous exercise programs. Again, I performed the same or better than I usually do in my workouts.

Day Five (73.1 Kg / 161.1 pounds):

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Just two juices again and no hunger. I took it easy at home on this last day. I couldn’t help but notice that I had no soreness from the exercises. I didn’t get sore until after I started eating food again on the 6th day.

What I learned:

The main thing I learned is that I don’t know my body as well as I thought. I thought I knew it pretty well after shedding weight and keeping it off. But in this fast / cleanse I learned that our bodies do not need food every day – or even every week!

Would I do it again? Absolutely!

People often ask me “what do you eat” or, “how did you lose weight?”

As I’ve said before, this comes with a change in what you’re doing, which starts by changing how you think.

So… let me give you a glimpse into my mind of what I think when I look at food. I’m really not trying to pick on this product, it’s the same analysis for any product.

I aim to get about 200 grams of protein in a day, so it’s often what I’m looking for in food. I’m not sure how realistic this is, but in my mind – as long as I eat enough protein, fruit, and vegetables then the remaining calories in my daily “budget” are all for me to eat what I please!

This is why I take it so seriously when a “protein rich” product is really not much better than a candy bar.

Since I know some of you may suffer from TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) on this, I’ll give you my tips up front:

If the food advertises “22% protein”, that means the product is 78% fat and carbs (sugar).

Fat has almost twice as many calories per gram as protein, so it’s much less filling. And well, more fattening.


You can often get your nutritional needs in a more efficient, cheap, and delicious way. For example, this $5 “protein ball” has about the same amount of protein and calories as:

  • a glass of skimmed milk and a cookie
  • egg white omelette and some juice
  • a bowl of Cheerios with skimmed milk
  • can of tuna (which would have 4x as much protein)

All of these options would be cheaper, more filling, and more healthy. And personally, I love these foods! If I could easily buy a can of tuna and skimmed milk at any convenience store I would always meet my protein quota.


Also, keep in mind that the percentage by weight and by calories can be quite different.

nutrition chart

Notice that the protein and carbs are about the same, but the fat is much higher. And the “Other” category for weight is often caused by fiber, etc. The “Other” category for calories is due to rounding and the “accepted values” for a gram of protein, carbs, or fat.

SO, let’s take a look at a product I wandered by in an airport recently


What the manufacturers probably want you to think:

  • Oh look, it’s a cute little ball with eyes
  • Oh hey, it says 22% protein. That sounds good!
  • It has whey protein. Not just any old protein, but WHEY protein…
  • There are 6 delicious cute little balls in this package

What I’m thinking:

  • It’s a “protein ball” and it only has 22% protein?
  • It is 45 Grams, so 22% protein would be 10 grams (I didn’t even have to look at the back to figure this out).
    • 10 grams of protein would be ~40 calories. So [Total Calories] – 40 = How many wasted calories are on this product.
  • There is a cute little protein ball, which I think is supposed to distract me from something
  • They are advertising WHEY protein (which metabolizes very quickly, so it won’t last long)
  • They probably added whey protein because the base ingredients don’t have much protein

Ok. So now we’ve looked at the front. Why not open it up and see how it looks before we look at the back?


What they want you to think:

  • AH! it’s a cute little protein ball! Just like the package said! If only it had eyes and a personality and it could be my little pet.
  • They’re so small and easy to eat!


What I’m thinking:

  • It’s all shiny. This thing looks like it’s full of fat. It’s either greasing up to compete in a sports competition, heading to the beach to get a tan, or breaking out in a sweat just from moving out of the package.
  • These are kind of small, and not very heavy. I don’t think this will make me very full.


Alright, we’ve looked enough, now let’s look at the back.


What they want you to think

  • Look at that boring black and white table to the left. I’m not going to squint at the small text and numbers. I’m hungry!
  • Look at all those cute balls on the right! And the pretty fonts and colors!
  • I’ve stumbled upon “the most delicious, all-natural, protein balls in the universe!” I’m so smart!
  • They’re Gluten Free! I’ve heard that stuff is bad for you!
  • No egg whites! Wheat Free! No Added Sugar! Vegetarian! No GMOs, and no soy! This sounds amazingly healthy!
  • They lovingly make their protein, unlike those other heartless protein producers.
  • And they feed their cows grass! I know that cows are supposed to eat grass, so that sounds good!
  • Rock ‘N Roll! Who doesn’t like Rock ‘N Roll?


What I’m thinking:

  • OK, so I know it has 10 grams of protein, yep. Confirmed it right there on the bottom.
  • So that’s 40 calories out of… 187!!! Wow, how much fat and sugar is there in this thing?
  • Ah, it says right there. So there is almost the same amount of fat in this thing as protein, and twice as many carbohydrates (sugar) as protein.
  • Let’s take a look at the ingredients…
  • Dates is the first ingredient? That means it’s most used ingredient in this PEANUT BUTTER PROTEIN product. So much for “no added sugar”
  • Peanuts (38%) – not bad.
  • Whey Powder (milk) 3rd down on the list… not so great.
  • Fruit juice concentrate – so “no added sugar” was a blatant lie then…
  • Rice starch – OK, something has to make these sugar-fat balls not stick like glue
  • A pinch of HIMALAYAN salt, because any other salt just won’t do…
  • Alright, now for the lies on the right: “most delicious in the universe”? You haven’t even left Earth…
  • Gluten Free? Unless you have Celiac Disease, it doesn’t matter
  • No Egg Whites? WHY NOT?! How about a balanced protein compound?!
  • All Natural – What does that even mean? Animal droppings are all natural; doesn’t mean I want to eat them.
  • No Soy? Again – WHY NOT?!
  • Wheat Free – isn’t this a repeat of what you’re trying to say with Gluten Free?
  • No Added sugar – are you kidding me? You put more dates and fruit juice concentrate in this than protein!

And almost as important as the calories – how did it taste? It was OK.

If I had my choice I would have eaten any of the items on the list at the beginning of this post.

nutrition speedometerCalories are like the speedometer on your car…

When you’ve been driving a while, you don’t need the speedometer any more. Maybe you check it when you start to drive in a congested area or pass by a cop.   But, you know what 40 feels like, and you know when you’re supposed to drive 40. But we tend to become comfortable with going over the limit.

Calories are the same. They’re a good reference that you should check from time to time… But if you spend all your time focusing on them, you won’t get to enjoy the road along the way.

Knowledge is like bricks: We collect them so we can build something.

Some people collect bricks in a few areas and can build a bridge between two bodies of knowledge.


Some people collect a lot of bricks in a single area and can reach new heights.



Some people collect a random assortment of bricks, and just use them to build a protective shield to keep others out. They might occasionally hurl a brick at others to insult or attempt to impress them.



Think about the bricks you’re collecting, and what you plan to build with them.

I’ve had many posts I’ve been wanting to write, but I haven’t because I want to put so much into them. I’m taking a different approach now. I think it’s better for me to just write down a little bit to get it “out there”.  I can always go back and add more later. So, let’s get started…

The Vienna airport in Austria is quite good great!

It may not have butterfly gardens or koi ponds like Singapore (I may post more about this later), but there is one thing it does have: convenience for tech travelers.

It is the first airport I have been in that had dedicated desks for laptops without being inside an airline lounge.

Also, they have comfortable “beds” so you can actually have a nap without shoving some chairs together like a homeless person.

Finally, their WiFi is fast and to the point! You log in and it immediately takes you to a page that shows the the status of flights in order of take-off time (ascending).

Thanks for being Awesome, Austria!

airport_beds airport_desks austria wifi portal


It isn’t until recently that I have learned the value of words. I found myself frequently disregarding many words because I thought they were of little value to me.

Specific names to problems, laws, programming design patterns, etc. are all just “Words, words, words” to me. I don’t care what they’re called; I want to understand the idea behind them. I want to know what polymorphism is – and I don’t care what you call it. Discarding this type of information can save brain-space, but it has a fatal flaw:

It’s not all about you!

I read an article once (the name of which I have ironically discarded) that said the age of the individual invention is over. Gone are the days that a single person will stumble across a new element, or invent a new fuel source. These days, inventions are not the product of a eureka moment – but the product of teams of scientists and/or engineers spending countless hours trying to solve a problem.

What does this have to words? Communication.

The more words you use, the less value each one has.

It doesn’t matter how much you know if you cannot, intelligently, communicate with others. I would sound insane if I described things without using any sort of vocabulary.

With vocabulary: Have you considered iterating through the items?

Without vocabulary: You know that thing that lets you do the same thing many times to many of the same thing? Have you tried using that thing?

Vocabulary is a wonderful thing. Vocabulary is the difference between having to implement a sort function in C and using MyArray.Sort(); in C#.

Take the time to learn the vocabulary with the subject matter. It will make it easier for you to communicate with others, and for them to communicate with you.

P.S. – Don’t use big words just to sound smart.

P.P.S – Don’t belittle people who don’t know the words.

P.P.P.S – Remember, it is possible to understand something without knowing what it is called.

As usual, I’ve had a lot of thoughts swirling in my head recently. It is interesting in this age of technology how many of the constraints are man-made.

Betamax vs VHS

Betamax vs VHS

There was a time when market forces dictated which products would win or lose.

The need to remain competitive created independent research & development contributed efforts which then created many competing technologies. These technologies were different at a physical level out of necessity. For example, a Ford engine and a Chevrolet engine.

In the technology and information age, it seems that many of these difference are imposed by the developers to prevent cross-compatibility. Why?

I think the basic thought process is “Why compete in the same market with your competitors when you can create your own market?”

By creating a very closed-off market, under the guise of high-performance and compatibility (Apple, Betamax, et. al), you can create an artificial barrier to entry (and exit). The key to this strategy is convincing consumers that you have something special that is worth the extra cost, and loss of control.

Another way to protect these fabricated markets is DRM. When you cannot block it physically, you can block it at the software level.

The latest example of this is Phillips implementing DRM on Lightbulbs. As usual, I’m sure this is under the guise of “ensuring a high performance system”. Also as usual, the end-users are not stupid and see it for what it is.

In my opinion, companies who do not have something truly of value to offer will protect what they are selling to try to maintain their hold on the market they have created.

The companies that listen to their consumers,  or offer true advantages, will do far better than those who try to create their own markets and strengthen their walls in an effort to keep their customers (and profits) in.

I’ve often had an internal complaint about modern-day big cities. I see all the issues with them (high cost of living, unemployment, underdeveloped infrastructure, etc.) as entirely man-made. There was a time when location was critical to a business and there was no option but to crowd. For example, if you are moving large quantities of material it is beneficial to be close to a body of water for cheap transportation. If you sell lumber, then being close to a large forest where you can cut wood is also imperative.

Let’s take a look at the tech hub San Francisco. There is almost no reliance on the natural resources of the area. All of the desire to move there is intellectual rather than physical.

It wasn’t until I was working on a project budget that I understood a big advantage to a big city. If I have a small project, I cannot afford to have specialists in each discipline full-time. Furthermore, I must pay a premium to have those specialists support less than full-time. How does this translate to a big city? Food!

I love 拉面 or “la mian” – hand pulled noodles which are very common in China. In the US, I am a minority for this. I cannot personally fund a noodle shop with just my love for noodles. So, what happens if there are millions of people around me? All of the individual desires add up so we can have la mian, dim sum, shawarma, crepes, sushi, and so on. So, based on how hungry I am, I am more understanding of big cities now…


Derek making La Mian

Derek making La Mian

Where to go?


As I’ve traveled, I’ve noticed a few things that make me realize my love for travel.

Ask yourself these questions. Depending on the answers, you may be afflicted with wanderlust.

My friends are encouraged to add to this list 🙂

  1. Do you know where your passport is?
    • Is it in your backpack?
      • Is your backpack within 10 feet of you?
    • Do you know the numbers by heart so you don’t have to get it every time?
  2. Do you have an international phone?
    • Do you have an international SIM card?
      • Do you put the country code on all your contacts?
  3. Do you catch yourself randomly checking travel websites for good deals?
    • Do you set alerts?
  4. Do you reserve time off work without a destination in mind?
  5. Have you ever booked a hotel while sitting in the airport?
    • Have you ever booked a hotel while sitting on the plane?
      • Have you ever booked your return flight while in the airport or plane?
  6. Do you have a universal power adapter in your backpack, just in case?
  7. Do you have multiple time zones set on your phone / watch?
    • Do you know the time zone offsets by heart?
      • Do you relate most things to UTC time?


To say I’ve been busy would be an understatement.

Many things have changed for me in the last few months – but one has not: I still have the travel bug.

I’ve been incredibly busy on a project here in Israel, and I’ve managed to see many things on the weekends.

However, I wanted to get out to a few more countries while I”m here!

I finally booked a flight to Croatia. A hotel / car-rental booking soon followed. All of this is on my new Chase Sapphire card, of course. I’ll report how well the points / features work in other posts.

I’ve also updated my Couch Surfing profile and reached out to see if someone would like to host me or show me around.

  • Flight cancellation / change is covered by Chase Sapphire Card
  • Car Rental can be cancelled within 24 hours, and insurance is provided by Chase Sapphire Card.
  • Hotel can be cancelled within 24 hours.

So – this trip is booked and planned (for under $800), but could be cancelled with very low risk or costs!

This may seem like a bit of an advertisement for the Chase card – and it sort of is. That’s partially because I’m pretty upset with their competitor (Barclaycard) for some shady dealings they put me through.

But really, this post is a hint that there will be more posts soon.