"Enjoy the little things in life ~ one day you'll wake up and realize they were the big things"

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My reluctant two cents worth . . .

(If I sent you here from Facebook ~ welcome! . . . here is the post that I promised)

365 days ago, I was staring down a brand new year ~ excited about the possibilities, looking forwarded to exchanging the excess of the holidays for the (welcome) restraint of my beloved routines. I don't usually make resolutions, and last year was no different.

I knew, of course, that I needed to lose weight ~ still. Somewhere between my 3rd pregnancy and my 5th, I had to give up running (due to an injury) and things got very "stuck" for me, when it came to managing a healthy weight. It wasn't the first time in life that I struggled with weight, but it was definitely the worst.

Fortunately, in the past year, I finally found something that worked for me and (though I'm quite unexcited about doing so . . . ) I feel like I should share it just in case it can benefit someone. Believe me when I say that I've tried many, many things over the years, with extremely limited success. It seemed that no matter how healthy I tried to eat, the weight just wouldn't come off (or if a little bit did, it came back almost as quickly as it had left).

In 2010, I managed to lose 60 lbs (!) and have stayed within 5 lbs of that for many months now. It occurred to me recently that that is almost the equivalent of my 8 year old ("Little Mr. Solid Muscle Gymnast Dude", Daniel ~ he's solid and he's heavy!!). I'm not yet where I could be, but I can't help but think my heart, lungs, joints and feet can only do better without carrying around the equivalent of Daniel with me all the time!

So, here's what finally worked for me:

My biggest weight loss (50 lbs of that, which I lost between May and Aug) came from going on a homeopathic version of the hCG diet (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin). This sort of diet has been around for decades and has been traditionally monitored through doctor's offices and made available for those with significant issues of obesity.

The homeopathic version is a little bottle of odd tasting liquid that you put under your tongue several times a day, coupled with an extremely restricted diet (of 500 calories a day) for a short period of time. The hormone is naturally produced in the human body and is often referred to as the pregnancy hormone (because the levels double every two days during pregnancy). The hormone allows the body to metabolize stored fat (your secondary fat reserves ~ the fat that normally won't go away until you are starving to death) in lieu of all those additional calories you aren't consuming.

I had been going to a nutritional counselor in Denver (for many years) . . . she was the one who recommended this particular diet to me. I also took some detoxification supplements along with it (the first time). I did the diet twice (the first time for 40 days and the second for about 25). You are supposed to do it for a minimum of 21 days (which apparently is how long it takes to "re-set" your hypothalamus)

After the extremely restrictive 500 calories/day portion, you spend the next 3 weeks in a "maintenance phase" eating all those things you couldn't during the restricted phase, but still avoiding starch and sugar. Then you gradually add things back in and see how your body reacts. During the maintenance phase, you are advised to control your weight by making sure that if you gain anything more than 2 lbs beyond your ending weight that you have a "steak day" (which means only drinking liquids until dinner time and then having an apple and a steak . . . and you generally lose about 2 lbs). I did a few of those days, but decided they didn't seem very healthy, so the second time around I substituted a "protein and produce" day instead (eating only good quality protein, fruits and vegetables on those days when my weight was starting to climb again) ~ I had the same results I'd had with the traditional steak day.

I agree, it's a peculiar diet, but incredibly effective.

It is also very strict . . . they advise you not to wear oil based make-up during the low calorie phase or to even touch butter or other fatty substances (because it is absorbed in your skin and affects your weight loss).

It's referred to as pregnancy hormone, but the diet is very popular with men as well as women -- men actually tend to lose a little bit more than women (and the level of hCG involved is low enough that there aren't any "pregnancy side effects" involved at all). I think my favorite part was that I only had to be really disciplined for a short amount of time (that "light at the end of the tunnel" effect) ~ and I saw really fast results.

~Extremely effective (fast results)
~Very strict (I didn't have to make decisions or deal with temptation, I knew ahead of time what I was eating during the strict phase of the diet)
~Short term discipline, long term results
~2/3 of what I consumed each day was fresh fruits and vegetables
~You lose fat (rather than muscle mass)
~I don't remember ever really being hungry (there were days when I couldn't eat all of the food I was supposed to)

~ I was really tired during the very low calorie days, often too tired to exercise (but it was short term, and I started exercising again in the maintenance phase)

The only other negative would probably be this:

If you search the internet you can find many suppliers of homeopathic hCG, unfortunately some are probably far better than others -- and I've never ordered the product on-line (the brand I took was from Deseret Biologicals). The greater issue is that if you have ANY significant health issues (especially high blood pressure or heart problems), you really should find a health care professional, of some sort, to monitor the diet . . . and some of them are fairly skeptical or just unfamiliar with it.

My second bit of advice is something I have re-discovered in recent months: the importance of staying away from processed sugar as much as possible. I think I'm pre-diabetic, so this is a good one for me anyway. The "diet world" has long been stuck on the idea that a low fat diet is essential to weight loss, when in reality (at least in my reality), it seems that sugar is far worse than fat, especially "good fat". I've realized that it only takes a few bites of sugar for me to feel like a crazy maniac! (emotionally and physically) . . . and those few bites just make me want more (so I can feel crazier!).

I've been experimenting with alternative, natural sweeteners (some of those low calorie sweeteners out there, like aspartame and even sucralose, are sadly far worse than good old ~ crazy making!~ processed white sugar). I've fallen in love with liquid vanilla stevia and powdered "cup for cup" stevia. Many people complain that it tastes too much like licorice -- I don't really notice that. I've also been having fun with agave & honey and baking with concentrated fruit juice (Wax Orchards sells some extremely concentrated fruit juice . . . as well as some heavenly chocolate sauce that is entirely fruit sweetened). I would say that it is well worth it to try out some other options.

So, there is my reluctant two cents worth, use it as you wish =)