For the past few months, my exercise habits included more and more time running, spinning, and cardioing – but I could also feel my jeans get tighter and my eating habits fall back into not so good ones (“I’ll get back on track tomorrow…tomorrow…tomorrow”). I’ve reached a point in my life where I am ready for balance in all things. Thus, this challenge is the perfect way to kickstart this new way of living I’m in pursuit of!
Healthy nutrient-filled foods and appropriate circuit and body weight exercises (max 30 mins) could not be more balanced. If you’re not familiar with Betty Rocker (also named Bree! and she also lives in Denver!) you should definitely check out her blog & instagram to see all the awesome things she is doing in the fitness realm.
I have not been more excited for a ‘radical life change’ since I did the HCG Protocol 2 years ago. I will admit 15 pounds have crept back on over the past six months, but instead of going back to the Protocol as the first reaction, I am doing this challenge. I am ready to get back on track with proper portions and nutrition as well as do daily appropriate workouts. I have to say that nothing is more frustrating than spending hour(s) a day working out only to see absolutely no results physically. I know quite a few people like this and after seeing my New Mexico pics I have become one. Too much exercise + whacky nutrition based on imbalanced nutrient levels = not a body I’m taking care of.
So my friends, for the next 90 days I will be apart of this challenge and I am so excited. I plan on following it to the ‘hemp seed’ (one of the many great nutrient packed ingredients I’ll be eating) so that I can truly see results. I plan on updating at least weekly for the next 12 weeks – you know it will be before and after crazy on here.
I spent a good chunk of change and a good chunk of time today prepping for the first week. Although, I can’t share specific recipes on here (Betty Rocker owns that IP yo!) I will definitely share my progress and my experience along the way.
Here’s some funny time lapse movies getting ready for the week!
So I have been wanting to write this post for a year. However, I figured I needed some time/evidence/and some personal research before I dished about my weight loss last fall and then keeping it off for over a year. I lost the weight through a controversial method – the HCG Protocol. Some see it as no better than a diet pill, for me it was in no way shape or form ‘the easy option.’ Also surprisingly, through HCG I learned just how important nutrition and fuel is for my body. It went from the sole desire to ‘look a certain way’ to being able to fuel my life and be healthy.
Shall we look at a before?
Now what about an after (april 2014)?
Let us begin.
About a month after I got sober in July 2013, I realized that just stopping my alcohol consumption would not magically make me lose the weight I had, for years, deduced must be there because of booze/booze related consequences. After a month sober, I physically felt better and mentally felt great, but still had every excess pound on me. Now at this point, it had been years since I exercised regularly and I had 26 years of bizarre eating habits going on. A prime example of my ‘bizarre’ eating habits is ‘oh no I can’t eat that whole serving of chicken breast, instead I will only eat half and use those ‘saved’ calories to consume some M&Ms’ – makes total sense….. However, before HCG I had tricked my brain (but not my body) into thinking all calories were equal. Of course I’ve heard the opposite of this said everywhere; at the gym, at WeightWatchers, at CrossFit, at Title Boxing, at Whole Foods, on Dr. Oz, in People Magazine, etc etc… but I never really believed it. Why? Because I wanted to eat the bad shit. Plain and simple. Sure an avocado is amazing for your body/nutrition, but a donut is more fun! Also I am a ‘victim’ of the generation that was told fat and calories are BAD! Something we as a culture are just starting to wake up from….
However, I digress, I wanted to lose the weight. I was single, sober, and by golly I wanted to be thin. (Yes thin, not healthy – we will get there) When thinking about the way to lose this excess 30 pounds I had with me, I immediately thought of the HCG Protocol. I have had several close friends see long term success with HCG so I figured I would try it in Chicago. Oddly enough, there is a medical clinic just two blocks from my house that advertises (in giant neon flashing lights) that they have the HCG Protocol there. I took it as a sign from some ‘diet higher power’ and made an appointment.
Now here is where the risk got high. This HCG protocol was not cheap. In fact, it was a cool $1000. I was weighed, questioned, pinched (for BMI), and had an EKG done for heart health in my consult. The Doc said – it seems like a good fit for you. I agreed (good thing I had that 0% APR Chase Slate card on me!). I’m going to give the canned version of what the next 42 days of my life were like. First off, I was to inject myself daily with HCG (which some of you may recognize as a hormone produced by pregnant ladies) and follow a very strict meal plan of specific foods that were under 500 calories a day. This may sound alarming, because well it is pretty insane. But, I had seen the results of the folks that followed the protocol and so I followed the instructions.
The first two days of injections you get to pig the eff out. NO JOKE. There’s a little bit of a ‘science’ behind what you want to eat (more fats/proteins), but basically anything you want in an quantity until you are so full you may vomit all over yourself. I vividly remember this was the last time I ate Taco Bell. It was amazing.
Day Three – 42. 500 calories MAX a day. Of only certain proteins (chicken breast/certain fish), leafy greens, and two fruit options (apple/grapefruit). So I wasn’t miserable. 1 – because the pounds fall off by 1-2lbs per day. So it was at least results producing. 2 – the HCG chemically tells your brain/body you are satisfied at 500 calories and thus is allowed to burn your fat without knowing you are actually starving yourself. I don’t know the real science behind this – this was my attempt at not putting you asleep but sharing my process. Now this whole 500 calorie business is serious. I recall one day chewing (NOT EATING) 10 sticks of gum and because of the sucralose in the gum I gained 3 pounds. Once I realized that was the only thing different in my diet I made sure not to do that again. That was early in the protocol too so it reinforced that cheating was going to really sabotage this. Plus I JUST SPEND A GRAND ON THIS. (Believe me I hyperventilated about it many times – but stress deters weightloss so I had to calm the eff down and be thankful that card was 0%APR for a year longer)
During these 42 days I also had weekly (every Sunday) doctor visits where I would weigh in, get my weeks worth of shots and a weekly B12 shot.
So, naturally there is fear about the sudden stopping of the shots and then increasing the calories. At the end of the 42 days I had gone from 195lbs to 166lbs. For the next two weeks following the protocol I had to increase my calories to at least 1500, BUT remain on the same selection of foods. Now 1500 calories disappears very quickly in a diet where you can have nuts, pasta, pizza, sugar, soda, but when you can only eat eggs, chicken breast, leafy greens, apples, grapefruit, certain fish… it takes a lot of those things to get you to 1500 calories. For the first time in my life I felt like I was gorging on healthy foods. The doctor said I would probably continue to lose a few pounds which I did – I finally ended the weight loss at 164lbs. This re-introduction of calories is also so important because it sets the ‘base level’ for your metabolic function. So if you follow the 500 calorie days, then biff it in the 2 week post weeks the whole thing was WORTHLESS.
After the two weeks I was able to introduce basically everything except starch and sugars into my diet. Obviously this means bread is out. Sugar is the goddamn devil, but again that’s a conversation for another day.
So what did the protocol teach me? A LOT. It actually retrained my ‘yo-yo dieter’ brain into eating proper and good nutrition. Gone are the days of skipping dinner to eat a pack of M&Ms or have a sugary cocktail. Now I want to eat to fuel my body. In the past year I have learned that I can do anything with my body – ride 1000 miles on my bike, walk around Thailand, craft, walk my pug, discover Chicago, run an 8 minute mile, and learn to box. In September I took a break from my usual 2 hour daily active regime (3000 calories/day intake) and got a little confused. I started letting the empty sugar calories invade my day instead of eating cashews/avocados and other healthy fats. I blame seasonal induced lameness. I got on the scale on 11/3/2014 and weighed 175lbs (at night after eating all weekend long in Des Moines) and was bummed. I knew what I had to do…. Today (11/10/2014) I’m 164lbs as I have cut the added/processed sugar from my diet for just the past 7 days. (What’s that base level weight?! you are a real thing?!)
In conclusion, the HCG for me was the best option and it came at a time when I was most focused and inspired to do this. I followed the Protocol to the ‘t’ and lost the 30+lbs in the 42ish days. I have successfully kept off ALL the weight over 14 months later. To say I am happy with the process and the results is a gross understatement. The HCG protocol retrained my brain to care about my nutrition and my health, not my calories. Today and this past year I have experienced the healthiest relationship with food I have ever known as an adult. It may seem extreme, it may not be your cup of tea, but it allowed me to reach a level health wise that I am so proud of. I know what works for my body and I am happy that finally at 27, I have a healthy relationship with my body and with food/nutrition.
If you have questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I would love to educate anyone interested in this process. I also understand many people do not agree with this protocol, I understand that as I was once very against this (until through my close friends was shown long term healthy results are the outcome) – please don’t demean my journey as I would never demean yours.
It’s Wednesday – BUT instead of feeling like ‘uh it’s half way there.’ Let’s mix it up a bit and get excited about our health instead! My dear friend just started a blog with the most adorable name ever. Bite Sized Twinkie. It’s in the foundational/beginning stages so stay tuned for big great fun things from her!
Also I recently became an admin for a wonderful paleo-inspired facebook page called Cooking Clean. There are four of us gals who contribute with mostly paleo recipes, workout tips, and motivation to eat, live, and love clean.
Since I technically am still doing the February Health Challenge, it is super important to remember that clean eating is key in any healthy lifestyle. We tend as a society to get hung up on calories, but really the most important idea should be quality of nutrients not quantity. No better example of this serves than diet soda vs. all organic fruit smoothie. Believe it or not a low-cal (i.e. not processed) fruit smoothie is easier and better for your body to digest than that evil zero calorie diet soda that actually tricks your body and causes huge disasters in blood sugar levels. (diet soda rant*)
Obviously, everyone has their own preferences and eating styles that makes them feel best. For me, staying away from anything processed and limiting starches/complex carbohydrates is how I stay lean as well as prevent lethargy, bloating (cute!), and mood fluctuation. That means that overall, I do in fact eat a Paleo diet. I really enjoy almond milk as a substitute for traditional milk, and I find myself trying alternative flours all the time in baking. Don’t get me wrong I’ll still sample traditional candies and sweets, but it’s not at the levels/rates I used to. My mind and body mean way too much to me to ruin with overly-processed and refined ‘nutrients.’ It took a long time for me to accept that what I eat really does affect me mentally. Not in a ‘control’ way but in a basic chemical reaction – I still find new things that work and don’t everyday.