Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Introduction and The Protocol

So, I have the world's greatest best friend. You know your best friend? Yeah? Mine's better. How do I know? She tells me all her craziest ideas. And then I research them and decide it's an awesome idea and we do it. Like, for example, the HCG Protocol.

Now, this is not her idea. She just found it. She first read about it in a thread on Mothering.com and then found Dr. Simeon's book. She read it and then told me about it. So I read it. And ordered my HCG before I was even done reading.

I did a little Googling of my own along the way, of course, and found that there are lots and lots of places to order HCG from. And, seriously, if you Google "HCG Diet" a gajillion sites show up. How the hell did I never know about this before? I also found, of course, that the diet has lots of nay-sayers. But for every person who gives their reasons for not digging the protocol, there are two people who have lost significant amounts of weight and have kept it off.

Reading the Mothering thread, and the doctor's book, explaining the research behind it, was enough to get me on board to at least give it a try. If it didn't work, I was out a measly $37 on the HCG drops I ordered. I've spent way more than that on the latest diet, nutrition, or exercise products, that ended up doing nothing.

So here's a quick breakdown of how the diet works. For a more complete picture, really, read Dr. Simeon's book. Also, you can visit the Skinny Me Forum, which has the most AMAZING breakdown of every single aspect of the protocol I've found anywhere. Seriously, I give the girls over there at Skinny Me a ton of credit, because that must have taken a ton of time to put together.

So, HCG is a hormone that is most frequently associated with pregnancy. In fact, it's the hormone that pregnancy tests pick up in urine to give you that cute little pink line. It's also used as a treatment for various maladies, including, but not limited to, infertility in women, and "failure to become manly" in men. (I don't know. What would YOU call it?)

When you take HCG, either by injections, or sublingual (which are drops under your tongue. I had no idea what that meant when I first heard it. Thank you Dictionary.com), it's like popping the lock on the fat you hate and want to get rid of. It tells your body, it's okay to burn this fat. Release it. Let it go.

Let's take a quick stroll down memory lane. Remember how I mentioned, in my previous blog, that I was sick as a dog in the beginning of both my pregnancies, and couldn't eat anything? Yet my babies grew, completely healthy, despite my eating only Fruity Pebbles and cheddar cheese for three months. (Not together. Gross.)

Turns out that's because the rising HCG was telling my body, "Burn that fat! Grow that baby!"

So, if you can introduce a little more HCG into your body, and then restrict your calorie intake, it takes that fat and burn, baby, burn.

Ah, so about that calorie restriction? Yeah, it's 500 calories a day. Shut up, because I know what you're thinking. First of all, yes, if you ate 500 calories a day without HCG you would totally lose weight. But you'd lose a lot of muscle mass and be passed out on the floor at some point, too. The HCG ensures that you're burning fat, and not muscle. Also, yeah, 500 calories a day sounds like you're going to be massively hungry. But the HCG really helps with that. A lot.

The best part about this protocol is that you're actually RESETTING your body's set weight. For the past several years, I've been hanging out around 165 pounds. Just hanging around there. Down a couple pounds one week, back up to 165 a little later. It's become my body's "set weight". That's why, even though I lost weight after having my girls, I slid right back up here, in no time.

The protocol has several phases. Phase I is called the "loading" phase, and it lasts two days. During those two days, you take your HCG and eat as much fatty stuff you can gorge yourself on. This is to give your body something to work with while the HCG works on getting the rest of the fat mobilized. I loaded on Thanksgiving and the day after. Pass the green bean casserole, please.

Phase II is where I am now. It's called the Very Low Calorie Diet phase (VLCD for short). During the VLCD you eat a very low calorie diet (duh) while taking your HCG. That's 500 calories a day. And you're restricted as to what foods you can eat. But there are also tons of awesome recipes floating around cyberspace that can help you feel like you're not eating the same thing over and over. And really? I'm not eating the same thing over and over. Even though it's restricted, I find there is enough variety that I'm okay. Phase I and II together need to be a minimum of 23 days. So, if you can't commit to 23 days of this.... Come on, it's less than a month. You can do it! The max, by the way, is 40 days. You can do another round if you need to.

Phase II ends with the suckiest idea ever. It's two days where you continue the VLCD without the HCG. It's critical to long term success, though, apparently. Maybe it won't suck as bad as I'm thinking, though. I mean, I'll be used to eating this amount of food by then. And it's only a couple days.

Phase III is the stabilizing phase. Three weeks of no starch, no sugar. Not a big deal. You haven't had starch or sugar since Phase II. This phase is where you reintroduce fats, pretty much. Like cheese. Oh, how I miss you, my cheddar. We shall be together again, soon. You keep yourself within 2 pounds of your weight on your final day of Phase II here. Keep counting calories. And you are resetting that "set weight".

Yay, science!

Finally, in Phase IV, you begin to slowly reintroduce starches and sugars. Honestly? My plan is to be done with sugar. I have no problem admitting I am a sugar addict, and not just plain old boring sugar. Give me some High Fructose Corn Syrup, and I'll drink it straight from the bottle. Just FYI, I'm using liquid stevia to get my sweet fix while I'm on protocol, and am planning on continuing that when I'm done.

So, sounds nuts, right? Or maybe you've already started looking for where you can get your HCG yourself? No? Oh! You want to know how it's working for me!

Well, as I mentioned, I loaded on Thanksgiving, which was a week ago, tomorrow. So, counting Thanksgiving as Day One, here are my numeros:

11/26 165.4
11/27 164.4 (Yes, I lost a pound while loading. I ate chips and dip with a spoon. And I lost a pound.)
11/28 161.4
11/29 159.4
11/30 158.2
12/1 157.4

That's eight pounds in five days.

Yes, I know it's fat and not muscle. My super awesome scale also measures body fat percentage. I've gone from 32.8% fat to 30.4%

Do I expect to keep these amazing results up? Not exactly. The average loss for a woman on the protocol is about half a pound a day. Most people lose more per day in the beginning, and then it stabilizes out, and they start losing a little less. That's born out in my own numbers. Down 3 pounds on the first day of VLCD, I was down 0.8 this morning. Which is fine. I mean, half a pound a day is still nothing to sneeze at.

I have no "official" before picture. But I'll find something that shows me at my largest. One of my wonderful Facebook friends probably has something LOVELY posted of me somewhere. (With friends like these, who needs Facebook?) And I hope to start taking "during" pictures tonight. Like, in a sports bra and shorts. So you can REALLY see my nastiness. Prepare your stomachs and hide your children.

The Backstory

I wish I'd thought to start this before. But, better late than never I suppose. Of course, now we have to play catch up, right? Well, here, then....

I was always a skinny kid, and then I grew into a slender woman. When my husband and I got married, I was 23 years old and had a nice 135 pounds on my 5'4" frame. And I wanted to lose five pounds.

After the wedding, well, that's when things went south, so to speak. The short story, without all the whining, is that I married the absolute definition of a workaholic. And he was not only working his full-time-plus job, he was also working on building his own business on the side. He was also not the least bit interested in giving up fishing trips, late nights out, or anything else that took him out of the house even more.

For a while, I was working in a doctor's office, with an hour commute each way, and that's when it started. I'd swing through the drive thru for dinner. I was going to be eating alone, anyway. Didn't want to cook for myself. It seemed too much effort. Also, you know, I was lonely. And food helped.

Then, I quit my job and started working with my husband on that business he was building. The office was in our basement and so I found myself home, all day, every day. The only time I got to go see another living human being was when I ran to Wendy's or McDonald's for lunch. And then when I went back for dinner. And in between, there were Doritos to keep me company. Who needs a husband, when you have Doritos? Or Chester Cheetah? And Coke. Mmmmm Coca-Cola. Sweet nectar of the gods....

Well, look at that, within a year, I was up twenty pounds. I was unhappy, but didn't realize I wasn't just unhappy about my weight. I was unhappy about a lot of things. My weight was an excuse. I found that out when I went to Weight Watchers, lost those twenty pounds, plus a few more, and was still sad, and the weight slowly came back.

Just as I was thinking it would never happen, I got pregnant. I was 152 pounds the day I found out. I know, because I weighed myself every morning. And then beat myself up for gaining another three ounces, or whatever it was that day.

Our first daughter, Joey, was born in June of 2005. I was very impressed with my body for only gaining about 19 pounds while I was pregnant. What helped that was being totally nauseous for three months. I could barely eat, and lost a bunch of weight in the first trimester. I wasn't worried for my baby, because I knew my body had plenty of fat stores to draw from to nourish her. And I was right, because she is just perfect.

After I had Joey, I quickly lost all the baby weight, and was down to one-forty-something. As anyone with a newborn can attest, daily weigh ins, or, hell, daily SHOWERS, are hard to work into your schedule! So, I lost track of my weight for a while, and I have no idea what I weighed when I got pregnant with our second daughter, Kimmie.

But, I can tell you, that, again, I was sick as a dog in the beginning, and that I did lose weight again during the first trimester, and that the baby was born happy, healthy, and totally mellow.

So, I know that my body knows how to use my fat for fuel. I just didn't know how to make it do that without being pregnant. And I am totally done being pregnant, my friends. Totally done.

Over the past couple years since Kimmie's been born (she's almost 3 at this writing), I have made several changes in my life that have improved my happiness level. Well, the first thing is, I stopped working with my husband. That's improved our relationship vastly. And given me time to build my own copywriting empire. (Almost there. I need some minions.) So, I'm doing what I love, and my darling husband is around more. Well, you know, he's closer to 40 than 20 these days. Can't handle those late nights as well as he used to.

Also? You know what? He's decided that he enjoys my company. I have always suspected that was why he married me. Finally the proof.

So. Hey! I'm HAPPY! But I'm overweight. That's the last thing that's bugging me. Well, that, and the fact that I have a kid who enjoys peeing down the heating vent in her bedroom. (And people tell me the teenage years are going to be WORSE than this?)

And so, I am losing weight. And here's the awesome thing, I don't have to get pregnant to do it. Thank sweet baby Jesus.