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.
Thanks for reading.