Today is my last day of HCG protocol (Phase Two). I finished the injections on Monday. As I reflect back over the past 44 days; it went by really fast. There were a few days when I was sick and really wanted something other than my protocol food. I was definitely more lackadaisical about the food than I ever have been in the past. I honestly ate chicken and cucumbers (or pickles) pretty much every day. Expediency and ease took precedence over taste and variety. Turns out it worked for me, because I can report 100% compliance! That's right. No cheats. No off days. No beer. I am, however, ready for some new tastes, and a beer!
My goal was to lose 40 pounds. . . I lost 39.4!! I will take it. Here is a before and after. It isn't that obvious in the pictures maybe, but in my wardrobe, you can't miss it. Almost all of my work clothes are making their way into the garage sale pile. Every time I do laundry I have to re-sort because I ended up wearing pants that were falling down that week!
Now that I look at these two pictures side by side, they don't do the changes justice. I will post something more illustrative over the weekend.
As I said, I mostly ate the same things. My basic strategy was to cook up batches of chicken, seal them up in Food Saver bags, and grab one for each meal. For veggies I did mostly cucumbers, some tomatoes, radish and cabbage. Fruit consisted entirely of apples for the first half of the protocol, until I found a love for frozen strawberries warmed up in the microwave. YUM!.
Now What? Phase Three - Maintenance
Phase Three starts tomorrow. I will add more of the foods I am already eating, as well as a few things I haven't been eating (like eggs & watermelon! - not together). No simple sugars and limited simple carbs are allowed on P3. This is the scary part for me. I can lose weight like a champ! It's the maintaining where the hard part happens.
Most recently before starting HCG, I was eating based on a plan that my trainer put together for me. I haven't planned my own full menu since April. As much as I am looking forward to the variety, I am a little apprehensive about the freedom. My food plan is below. My weight plan is to weigh every day, and do a Steak Day (more on that in another post) or Apple Day any time I have a +/-2# variance. I know that sounds intense, but it's only a few weeks. After such rapid weight loss the body needs to be carefully monitored while adjusting to the new you. . . . or weight gain creeps up fast!
Today is shopping day, with at least a little cooking required tonight. Ultimately, I will end up with a menu that starts on Monday and do my cooking on Sunday. This week is a little peculiar with the mid-week start, but maybe that's best. I can warm up my cooking muscles slowly.
I am off to Costco!
Have a brilliant week!
At weigh in this morning (day 30), I have lost 30.6 pounds. Sometimes the change comes so fast that you don't even notice it. That is the case with weight loss at an average of a pound per day. Half my laundry is too big for me and ready for the garage sale by the time I get it washed. In fact, I noticed walking in to work this morning that the pants I am wearing now are too big. I either need to re-purpose them or send them to a new home.
I try really hard not to get to attached to the numbers, and to focus on the process and taking care of business. Still, I have been a little frustrated lately because I was having a few stall days here and there. An apple day helped, but it still seemed like the numbers were moving kind of slow. Well, I guess not. I can't complain about losing an average of a pound a day. I will take it.
I don't have proper "before & after" pictures yet (obviously, since I am not finished), but I think these two pictures show quite a difference in just a few weeks. The picture on the left is from a few days before I started. The one on the right is from two days ago. (oh, and isn't my ginger just about the coolest teenager ever? Hanging out with her mom and having adventures.)
For a foodie / creative cook like me, the selection does get a little abysmal after a while. One of the reasons I haven't been posting many food pictures is that my food looks the same most days: chicken, cucumbers/celery/tomato, apple. Rinse. Repeat. I do try to invent something now and then or mix it up, as you'll see in the gallery below. I did manage to create some soups with my ingredients last week while I was sick. But mostly I have been lazy with my cooking. I have so much going on in so many areas of my life, I have been enjoying the vacation from menu planning and weekly cook-ups. It has been great, but I just decided it's time for some fresh options. Today I picked up radish & onions in addition to my weekly cucumber haul. I also grabbed some lean ground beef. . .as I have been craving these cabbage roll thingys that my BBF makes, so I am going to try to duplicate.
See below, a smattering of what I have been eating this round. (strawberry "ice cream", chicken & tomato salad, pickles and more pickles, strawberries, and one of the many soups.
I find it is important to try to keep enough variety to at least be palatable. I love my refrigerator pickles, but 7 servings a week is a bit much. I also have to grill chicken again this weekend, so I can spice those up all kinds of ways. Last time I wanted more servings of the curry flavored ones.
With a little effort, I think this next week will at least be more stimulating in the food department.
Here's the soup I made. Very simple:
Chicken Celery Apple Salad
This is a basic recipe that works great for on-the-go meals. I take this to square dances often. I've also been known to pack it in the car on retail arbitrage trips. So Easy!
Chicken, cooked & shredded
Celery, shredded or diced
Apple, shredded or diced
(these are all in measurements of your HCG protocol)
I shred all of mine in my Salad Master machine. It is super quick.
Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over ingredients. Toss to blend.
You can add a little stevia, or herbs of choice. I like mine plain. The celery's strong flavor with the apples sweetness works really well.
Have a fabulous week!
Today is day 12, and I am down to 229 already. Things are going well with nutrition and strength training. . .cardio is a bit more of a mission. Today was my weigh-out day for the 60-Day Challenge at Lifetime Fitness. I lost 16 pounds, all in the last 12 days. I am quite pleased with my progress thus far. I did have some hunger this past week (which is normal as your body fat reduces), so I adjusted my dosage up from 30 units to 35, which seems to have worked.
Here are official my before & after photos for the challenge.
Before: June 1. 247#
After: August 3. 229#
Body fat reduced by 5%
Waist reduced by 7"!
So what is this HCG thing anyway?
According to Wikipedia:
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone produced by the embryo after implantation. The presence of hCG is detected in some pregnancy tests (HCG pregnancy strip tests).
So why is it a type of diet? What does it do?
I first learned of the HCG Protocol when it was recommended to me by my doctor, yes, my doctor! People are shocked to hear that, but my doctor is actually a proponent of the HCG Protocol, and I understand why. It is intense, it can be dangerous.. . .and yes, you WILL gain the weight back if you go right back to your old life. . . BUT, it works. And I do not believe that a few short weeks of severely reduced calories is more dangerous that carrying around all that extra weight (and the side-effect that go with it!).
Basically, the injections of HCG help your body to mobilize the stored fat. You burn that fat as energy throughout the day. If you are on the correct dosage of HCG, you should not have hunger. Your fat should be providing what you need.
People look at what I eat (see last week's post), and wonder why I don't die of starvation. It's the HCG. I am telling you there is no way I could eat like this without it. Is it hard some day, yes. . .but oh so worth it.
If you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend the Weight Loss Apocalypse. This book by Robin Phipps Woodall gives a great overview, as well as a sobering look at the emotional work that needs to be done alongside the weight loss, if it is lasting change you are after. Check out her blog and videos.
Dr. Simeons' protocol is available for FREE from multiple internet sources (PDF). I highly recommend reading it and not relying on companies that are selling you HCG to learn about it.
I look forward to updating you again next week. . .when I will be almost at the halfway point of my 42 days.
I intend to do a weekly series on Wellness. This may take many forms. Right now, my wellness is focused on weight loss. However, there are many more facets to wellness than weight. We will explore topics from sleep to meal planning to flexibility.
As you can see from the gallery below, my weight has been all over the map.
I remember the first time I realized I was fat. It was when I was living in South Africa (SA) in 2003. The people were so small, and so honest over there. I embarked on my first real diet of my life the following Spring while finishing my studies at Missouri State. I don't remember the exact numbers. . .but I know I lost over a hundred pounds. My flatmate in SA used to look at my pictures and tell me I had lost a Back Street Boy. The weight stayed off, and more came off. I didn't have to think about my weight for one second when I was over there. This was due to a combination of the culture/food there, and the life I was living. I remember my South African mom used to say, "you can see your shit through your ribs". . .which was a rough translation of an Afrikaans saying that meant I was too skinny. It may have been crude, but she wasn't wrong.
mThe When I returned to the states in 2006, my weight almost immediately began to change. I was depressed, in culture shock, surrounded by the SAD (standard American diet), and very quickly swept into a stressful corporate job. This perfect storm led to me putting on 100+ pounds in short order. I lost most of it a couple of times, but continued to struggle. In 2010, I did Jenny Craig. I got down to 175#. I was running, eating right and feeling great. Then, of course, life came along and derailed me. When I adopted Judd, quit my job, got married, acquired Rose, and moved to the woods. . . well, that was a bit much even for a change master like me. I gained back all that weight in the 3 years I was married. In 2014 I discovered HCG, and it was going very well. . .until. . . Judd broke her leg the day before I had my shoulder surgery. With the two of us being incapacitated at hospitals on opposite sides of the city, I couldn't very well get my food prepared. So, that round of HCG succumbed to life.
2014 would prove to have other challenges that kept me derailed the rest of the year. Not limited to having my arm tied to my body. . . having a teen in a wheelchair. . .and getting fired for no reason.
In 2015 I was back at it again. My ex was finally gone forever. I was reclaiming me. I did two rounds of HCG in the first half of the year and lost over 60#. Things were going well. . .and then, I got fired. I ended up gaining about 20 of those pounds back before I got back on track. I have maintained at 244# for most of 2016. Though, I have made notable body composition progress from all of the working out I have been doing. Trying to lose weight, eating right and working out are all good things. . .and I honestly enjoy them most of the time. But it just got exhausting. I decided I was ready to lose some serious weight. So, I started my (4th?) HCG protocol on July 15th. Today is day 11 of Phase 2 and I have lost 16 pounds.
The HCG protocol is not for the faint of heart. This is what my menu looks like:
We will delve more into the workings of HCG protocol on a later post. It is controversial, intense and often misunderstood. For now I will just say this, it is not a diet. It is a protocol. You really can't cheat on this. At all. So, if you are considering it, prepare yourself to be committed to follow through.
Why the weight yo-yo? At some point that becomes the issue, not the actual weight. I remember when I first started that original diet way back in 2004. My closest friends were not supportive: "it'll never work", "you'll never keep it off". I came to realize that my efforts and progress made them uncomfortable with their own health and they didn't like the feelings or want to deal with them, so they lashed out. And that's only the beginning of the mine field that is weight loss/body image/health/sexuality/gender roles/social expectations that impact weight loss.
It's not easy. You have got to want it bad. You have to be willing to be different. Work hard. Make sacrifices. Stick with it. It's no wonder that most of us (Americans) are over weight.
My secret agent is planning and cooking ahead. I would never make it if I had to come home from work and cook healthy choices (protocol choices) every day. So, I batch cook. Last weekend I prepared 38 servings of chicken, and my veggies for the week. I seal them all up in serving packs or jars and can just grab and go. In fact, I smuggled my protocol dinner into a concert just last night. Yes, surrounded by a crowd of beer drinking, pizza eating concert goers, I ate chicken breast and refrigerator pickles with my overpriced water.
What is your experience with weight loss? I would love to hear what as and hasn't worked for you. . .and, more imporantly, what you learned along the way.
Have a blessed and beautiful week.
Jules Warner - Author
Thanks for reading my ramblings.