Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year!

Picture Joy Christmas
Click here to browse hundreds of Christmas card designs.
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, October 25, 2010

An Ortlieb Family Short Film - 5 Stars!

Turn up your speakers, make it full-screen by clicking on the bottom right of the video screen (if your computer can handle that) and ENJOY!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A New School Year, A New Way of Learning

Here we are beginning another school year...well, I can't really say beginning since I haven't really officially started.  September is usually just too nice of a month to lock ourselves indoors and study.  Typically, we get going in October.  Ok, maybe November.  Hey, October is a tough month for our family with all the birthdays, our anniversary, Columbus Day, Halloween, etc.  And then in November there's Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas season.  Well, we definitely most absolutely start by the middle of January.  Oh, the joys of homeschooling!

Anyway, I have been mentally and physically preparing for homeschooling the boys and as they are in the early years of their education, it's a whole other ballgame than homeschooling a middle/high schooler.  It takes much more dedication, motivation and effort on my part as teacher.  But I've been very excited about the direction we're headed and the first lesson about homeschooling is this:  if momma ain't excited about teachin', then the kids ain't excited about learnin'.  I've collected a few books on different methods of homeschooling, but I'm knee-deep in learning about the Charlotte Mason method and think I really am a Charlotte-Masonite at heart.  "Charlotte who?" you may ask. "And what does she have to do with homeschooling?"  She was a British educator in the 1800's who revolutionized education by believing in a liberal education for all, not just the rich class.  She firmly believed children were whole persons deserving of respect and should not be talked down to nor read dumbed-down books.  She was a big proponent of using "living" books (books written in a conversational style that sparks interest in a child) rather than using dry factual textbooks for all subjects.  She avoided busywork and developed the study of nature as a key component of education.  She focused on using narration as a tool, believing if a child could explain back to you in detail what you or they just read, they are developing stronger thought patterns and exercising their focus and attention.  After all, if a child can teach something back to you (or anyone), they most likely have a firm grasp of the material.

I really love the idea of using living books for my children.  Since I have always been a book nerd and hope to raise such, I love the practice of reading classics to my children and having them learn to appreciate them as well.  I also like the inclusion of music and art appreciation in the CM method and hope the boys can grow up knowing the masters of art along with well-known composers of music.  Since it only makes logical sense to me, we're also planning on going through history starting in Genesis and going from there using a CM handbook from Simply Charlotte Mason (love this website!) called Genesis Through Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt.  The other thing I love about the CM method is most of it can be free by using the internet, the library, etc.  After all, their education curriculum will mostly include classic and vintage books to read.  You may ask what we do for some subjects such as science, grammar or math.  Living books can be found for science (books on such things as plants, insects, animals and bios of scientists and inventors) and grammar tends to come naturally with reading good books (though one can go over the grammar rules in the older grades).  Math is typically the one subject that needs to have a supplemental curriculum (we use Math-U-See which uses manipulatives in the early years).  I did purchase a science curriculum that looks fun and easy for their early years, but I plan on being very relaxed with it and am hoping to put more emphasis on the nature study than going through the textbook.  We also have already begun listening to the audio stories of the Jonathan Park series which teaches creation science in a very entertaining way.  So many fun things to teach and learn!

So I kind of lied when I said we hadn't even started homeschooling.  We have.  A bit.  A couple days a week we do something.  We've started to try to get into a routine of sitting down after breakfast to read our Bible story and go through our catechism.  Catechism? Yes, and we love it!  The boys are doing impressively good with it.  We came across a little catechism book for kids with cartoons at the last homeschool conference. Every time we sit down to do Bible, the boys learn the questions and answers  in the book thereby learning the very fundamentals of the doctrines of their faith.  At this point they have memorized and can recite each answer to every question halfway through the book.  (My favorite question and answer they've memorized and somewhat understand is: "What is sin?  Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the law of God."  Yes, they actually know that and will repeat it if you ask them.)  We're also hoping to start a Scripture Memory System suggested by the CM website that will help us to hide God's Word in our hearts. 

We also have started handwriting by using the curriculum A Reason for Handwriting which appealed to me as it was learning how to write (print and/or cursive) by copying Scripture.  I'm not sure how CM it is for them to learn and practice their letters, but for now it's working and the boys are liking it enough to continue. 

Charlotte Mason was also a big believer in teaching the discipline of good habits.  Through short lessons, narration, the study of virtues, etc., the children will learn good habits of attention and good character as well as maintain their love of learning.  On the subject of virtues and good habits, I'm hoping to use a book I picked up at the homeschool conference called For Instruction in Righteousness.  This very thorough, jam-packed instruction guide includes every vice under the sun along with the verses that speak about that particular sin and the blessings/cursings that go along with avoiding/enacting that sin.  I hope to use the book not only as a teaching tool for homeschooling but as a discipline tool as well.

So that's our homeschooling plan for this year in a nutshell.  Being a veteran homeschooler now for 6 years, I understand things can change quite easily and drastically - curriculum can be abandoned, methods changed, new ideas brought forward - but I hope to implement the CM way into not only our studies but our life as well for isn't that the point of education?  That one becomes the other and vice versa?  Happy learning!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

An Apple a Week...

It's been awhile since I've updated you on the results of my HCG protocol.  It has now been about 11 weeks since stopping the HCG drops and going into the maintenance stage.  I have maintained the weight loss for the most part though I continue to have one steak and apple day a week.  I've been told this is not typical and that I may be eating trigger foods (foods my body doesn't tolerate well) so my body is having a hard time keeping the weight permanently off without that little bit of extra help.  Trying to identify the trigger foods has been hard, but I continue to be treated for allergies/sensitivities to foods (thanks to AATC) and have recently been treated for sugars and grains (including the biggie, wheat). I'm hoping eventually these triggers will clear and I won't have to continue with my weekly steak and apple regimen. 

I continue to enjoy my smaller dress size and my feeling of health and vitality.  Inspired by a friend's photos of her amazing weight loss of over 40 lbs. (Congrats, Teri!!!), I'm including a picture of one of my before-and-afters so you can see the difference even just from the back.  If you're even considering doing this diet, I would not hesitate.  The program from Pure, Simple Health just announced an amazing end-of-summer special - just let them know I sent you.  I would highly recommend taking advantage of it.  Good luck!

Monday, June 21, 2010

My First Steak and Apple Day

Maybe it was the doughnut I had Friday morning.  Or maybe it was the banana and walnut pancakes my husband lovingly prepared on Saturday morning for the family. Or maybe it was the amazing and plenteous Greek food I pigged out on Saturday night with all my girlfriends (Opa!).  Maybe it was everything put together, because today I woke up for the first time over my two pound limit. {gasp!}  When one completes the HCG diet, one is instructed to carefully and religiously weigh oneself every morning before breakfast. If one's weight is more than two pounds over the recorded weight on the last day of the vlcd* stage, one must perform a "steak and apple day."

"As long as their weight stays within two pounds of the weight reached on the day of the last injection, patients
should take no notice of any increase but the moment the scale goes beyond two pounds, even if this is only a
few ounces, they must on that same day entirely skip breakfast and lunch but take plenty to drink. In the
evening they must eat a huge steak with only an apple or a raw tomato...
It is of utmost importance that the meal is skipped on the same day as the scale registers an
increase of more than two pounds and that missing the meals is not postponed until the following
day. If a meal is skipped on the day in which a gain is registered in the morning this brings about an immediate
drop of often over a pound. But if the skipping of the meal - and skipping means literally skipping, not just
having a light meal - is postponed the phenomenon does not occur and several days of strict dieting may be
necessary to correct the situation."1
So here I am having my first steak and apple day because this morning I happen to weigh 0.4 ounces over the allowed weight range. So no breakfast, lunch and snacks for me today. I did make myself some iced tea this morning and have been trying to drink as much water as possible.  My highly anticipated steak is right now defrosting, and my Macintosh is cooling in the fridge.  Let's hope there's not too many of these days ahead of me...

* very low calorie diet
1. Pg. 36 of Pounds & Inches by Dr. Simeons

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Update on the HCG Diet

It's been over three weeks since I ended the vlcd* stage of my HCG diet (eating only 500 calories a day while taking HCG drops), and I thought it time to update you on where I am now.  I've finished step 3 of the diet (the maintenance stage) which is slowly introducing all foods back into my diet while staying away from carbs and sugars.  About one week into step 3, I must have overdone the introduction of fats into my system as I suffered my second gallbladder attack ever.  Knowing that a common causation of gallbladder attacks is losing a major amount of weight (or gaining it) quickly, I should have been more careful about what foods I was eating.  The attack sent my body into a 24-hour fast and more weight loss, however I've regained the weight lost and am now very careful about what I eat.  After a thorough check-up (including a complete blood panel done), my doctor has declared me healthy and is impressed with the progress I've made.

Besides the "forced" fast I experienced, I'm happy to say I have yet to have a "steak and apple day" as my weight has never gone over the two pound mark from my last weigh-in over three weeks ago (and this with eating some carbs within two weeks of ending the vlcd - hey, what else is one supposed to eat when they can't have fats (i.e. eggs, cheese, etc.) on top of everything else because of gallbladder issues?).  I may have introduced carbs and even some sweets into my diet one week earlier than I should have, but I haven't had any negative repercussions from this yet.  With that said, without my health issues/concerns, I would have stayed strictly within the guidelines for the maintenance stage as recommended.  This diet is certainly not one to cheat on even a little bit so if you're going to do it, do it right!

The HCG diet journey may have been a mentally tough one for me, but here I am down 20 pounds.  With 31.5 inches lost (yes, a couple more inches lost since I last measured), I'm three dress sizes smaller.  Many have commented on my weight loss and ask me how I feel about it.  Of course, I feel wonderful!  But looking at photos of myself now, I finally recognize myself.  It was very hard to mentally accept the old me in past photographs and facing the reality of what I truly looked like was always a surprise (I'm really that big? Nooooo!).  In the photo above, I'm wearing a dress I last wore on my wedding day (it was my going-away dress).  All I can say is it's nice to have me back

P.S.  I'm trying to muster up the courage to post some before and after photos of me so you may be able to convince me for solely scientific purposes to mortify myself by showing you my before and afters. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Stage 2 - Maintenance

Today is my second day being in Stage 2 called the maintenance stage of the HCG diet.  I'm allowed to now eat whenever hungry and can add more foods to my diet.  The only things I'm not allowed to eat are starchy foods and sugars (this includes veggies like corn, peas, carrots, potatoes and beans as well as all grains).  I can now eat dairy, eggs, most veggies, fats, nuts and low sugar fruits.  I feel like I'm back on the Atkins diet, and since I've been on that plenty of times before (it having worked well for me and my body type in the past), I feel like I'm in familiar territory which is a nice place to be.  It's funny - I had heard one's appetite would take a while to get back up to full-speed and usually one cannot finish a whole meal after coming off the vlcd* stage of the diet.  I, however, have not had that problem.  Apparently my body is extremely happy to be eating more normally once again and has taken to enjoying three meals a day with a mid-afternoon snack.  Though I can't eat big meals, I can eat a typical adult serving of protein and veggies no problem.  The goal in this stage is always to stay within two pounds of your final weight (the weight you were on the last day of taking the HCG drops).  To go above that two pounds results in a "steak and apple day" which helps retrain your body so it doesn't over-react to the food intake or types of food by which it gained weight.  A "steak and apple day" is essentially skipping all meals until dinner at which point one eats a big steak with one apple (or tomato) and that's it.  This should then be enough to lose that extra weight by the next morning and have your body trained to not gain weight again with that certain kind of food.  I see the maintenance stage as a training stage, a very important step in the process towards helping one's body to accept foods with which it would normally gain weight.

It is critical that you follow this phase as faithfully as you did the injection phase, because *now* is when your hypothalamus will reset, clearing off all the 'bad old days' of yo-yo dieting and poor eating habits.
When you start the 3 week maintenance/stabilization process, *definitely* increase your calories to at least 1500. Don't try to continue the 500 calorie diet after the hCG is out of your system, because you will become weak and tired, and your body will begin to go into 'shutdown' mode where it doesn't burn calories. This will completely ruin your Phase 2, and you'll have to start all over. Don't worry, your weight will go up and down a bit the first week or two; this is normal. Do a steak day if you need to. Your weight will eventually stabilize. This is your body settling into the new process. Watch the starch and sugar religiously during the 3 weeks. I'm going to say this again: ***NO STARCH OR SUGAR*** Read labels. Eat whatever you want, without starch or sugar, during the maintenance phase. Make sure you are eating enough, many people think they need to keep eating like they're on a diet, DON'T DO THIS. Use healthy fats and dairy products to up your calorie intake if necessary. Drink enough water.1

"It takes about 3 weeks before the weight reached at the end of the treatment becomes stable, i.e. does not show violent fluctuations after an occasional excess. During this period patients must realize that the so-called carbohydrates, that is sugar, rice, bread, potatoes, pastries etc, are by far the most dangerous. If no carbohydrates whatsoever are eaten, fats can be indulged in somewhat more liberally and even small quantities of alcohol, such as a glass of wine with meals, does no harm, but as soon as fats and starch are combined things are very liable to get out of hand. This has to be observed very carefully during the first 3 weeks after the treatment is ended otherwise disappointments are almost sure to occur."2

So can I eat the home-baked bread I make every week or the coffee cake sitting on my counter? No.  But I'm very happy with eating beef again, combining my veggies (Yay for salads!) and enjoying a more normal diet overall.

* very low calorie diet
1. From
2. From Pounds & Inches

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Final Week of Phase 1

Well, it's finally here - the end of Stage 1!  I honestly can't believe I've lasted this long yet the results were so amazing, I just couldn't stop myself! :)  Here are the stats for my fifth and final week:

Week 1 Totals
Pounds lost:  8.2 lbs.
Inches lost:  10.25"

Week 2 Totals
Pounds lost: 4.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  6.25"

Week 3 Totals
Pounds lost:  2.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  5"

Week 4 Totals
Pounds lost:  2.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  4.25"

Week 5 Totals  
Pounds lost: 2.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  3.75"

Overall Loss Since Beginning
Pounds lost: 21.4 lbs.
Inches lost:  29.5"

I'm very happy I lost at least the same amount of weight as last week and lost some more inches - I feel it completely in the way my clothes fit and the way I feel.  I am now only 2 pounds away from my target weight.  Actually a "problem" I've run into is finding most of my smaller clothes don't fit me as they're too big! I know, cry me a river, right?  An example of this is a pair of too-small shorts I bought (via mail) soon after having my last baby. I figured I'd hold onto them anyway since I still had a lot of baby weight to lose.  Unfortunately, I didn't lose that weight until this past winter and after my HCG diet, I find they're now far too big. 

Today is my last day taking the HCG drops.  It will take a couple days for the drops to completely leave my system so I'll still be on the vlcd* until Sunday when I can have my very first breakfast in 38 days (very excited)!  By Sunday, I will have officially entered Stage 2, the maintenance stage.  More to come on that later... 

* very low calorie diet (500 calories/day)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Quiet Kind of Guy

Having a child who doesn't speak much would seem to be a blessing to many.  Though all my children tend to be on the quieter side (we highly value peace and quiet in our home), our last child took it one step further and decided not to speak at all.  Though I wasn't worried about this and assumed it was a simple speech delay (hey, he'll be talking by the time he's 16, right?), I received a notification in my mailbox one day about a new speech therapy office opening in town and made the decision to go check them out.  A very quick and easy evaluation showed us he was almost a year behind in language skills.  I still wasn't too concerned, knowing all too well that speech delays can fix themselves and children can start talking in complete sentences at a later age.  But as he continued, the therapist became more sure that he did not in fact have a simple speech delay but rather seemed to be showing signs of a speech motor planning problem.  Well, that's a mouthful...  I may not have quite understood what it meant when she said it, but it was enough to bring his "deficit" sharply into focus and me running to do my research on what that meant.
My therapist was (and is) very cautious not to label him or give an official diagnosis of anything until he can speak more.  As she explained, it's quite impossible to diagnose a speech problem without any speech; it's only when one hears the child say their letters, words and sounds that one can diagnose based on the arrangement, order and sounds of their vocalizations.  So though Landon still only says a few words at most, based on my description of his words and his attempts at sounds, the therapist is theorizing it could be apraxia. So what does this mean?  We're not really sure.

Developmental apraxia of speech (DAS) occurs in children and is present from birth. It appears to affect more boys than girls...DAS is different from what is known as a developmental delay of speech, in which a child follows the "typical" path of speech development but does so more slowly than normal.
The cause or causes of DAS are not yet known. Some scientists believe that DAS is a disorder related to a child's overall language development. Others believe it is a neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to send the proper signals to move the muscles involved in speech. However, brain imaging and other studies have not found evidence of specific brain lesions or differences in brain structure in children with DAS.
Children with developmental apraxia of speech generally can understand language much better than they are able to use language to express themselves.
The severity of both acquired and developmental apraxia of speech varies from person to person. Apraxia can be so mild that a person has trouble with very few speech sounds or only has occasional problems pronouncing words with many syllables. In the most severe cases, a person may not be able to communicate effectively with speech, and may need the help of alternative or additional communication methods.
Children with developmental apraxia of speech will not outgrow the problem on their own. Speech-language therapy is often helpful for these children...1

Landon's speech motor planning problem was described to me like this: when a word forms in his brain and he tries to speak it, the message may not reach his mouth or his mouth can't physically form the word properly.  Usually children learn to say a word and over time and with practice can master the sound of that word.  Muscle memory plays a vital role in remembering how to say a word, moving your muscles in such a way to correctly pronounce that word.  With apraxia, there is a muscle memory deficit so even if a child accomplishes in saying a word, they may not be able to say it correctly again. Words can come out in a jumble of sounds not making any sense.  This can lead to frustration on the part of the child and the parents.  Because Landon has opted to stay quiet and only say a few words, the frustration hasn't set in for him yet, however the therapist is very quick to caution us to find ways to circumvent this potential frustration.  This has lead us to learn more sign language.  While Landon learns how to speak, he can supplement the words he can't speak with sign.  We have always used baby signs for the boys as they grew up and know very basic signs, but our education in ASL will take us to a new level.  Landon will continue speech therapy once a week while also learning more signs from various resources (books, DVDs, a friend of mine who comes in weekly to teach us some new signs).

Another idea we've introduced is having him listen to complex music.  It's been shown that listening to music, a typically right-brained activity, can help bridge the gap to the left side where the speech center of the brain is found. We now have classical music playing in the background on a daily basis and enjoy the peace it brings along with the intellectual stimulation.  We can just feel our brain neurons multiplying! lol

The power of music to affect memory is quite intriguing. Mozart's music and baroque music, with a 60 beats per minute beat pattern, activate the left and right brain. The simultaneous left and right brain action maximizes learning and retention of information. The information being studied activates the left brain while the music activates the right brain. Also, activities which engage both sides of the brain at the same time, such as playing an instrument or singing, causes the brain to be more capable of processing information.2

We are excited to see how Landon develops and, in turn, our whole family develops as we delve into sign language and into a more musical world.  Jayce and Reagan will be learning the violin this year and studies have shown that the earlier we can get our children to learn and practice an instrument, the more intelligent they'll be.  I'm hoping this all rubs off on Landon in a very positive way and have him talking normally -or in fluent sign - in no time!

1. From the NIDCD site.
2. From the website Cerebromente.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Week 4

It's Thursday!  And that means I find out my week stats!  Here they are...

Week 1 Totals
Pounds lost:  8.2 lbs.
Inches lost:  10.25"

Week 2 Totals
Pounds lost: 4.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  6.25"

Week 3 Totals
Pounds lost:  2.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  5"

Week 4 Totals
Pounds lost:  2.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  4.25"

Overall Loss Since Beginning
Pounds lost:  18.6 lbs.
Inches lost:  25.75"

As each week yields a decreased amount of pounds and inches lost, I am still satisfied.  I am finally able to see the weight loss in my mirror and in the way my clothes fit.  I am only 4.8 pounds away from my goal weight (which is healthy and realistic for my body), and though I may not reach my target by the end of this stage, there is still hope I can lose a couple pounds even in the maintenance stage. As I posted yesterday, I am able to stay on the HCG drops for one more week and then I've hit my maximum limit (the drops won't work anymore after 40 days) so I may try to stay on the diet for another week before entering into maintenance stage.  I don't expect much more weight loss in the final week, but I'm hoping for a bit more reshaping before being completely done.I am now really looking forward to being able to go back to the gym and start working on my cardiovascular and tone. This being out of breath every time I climb a set of stairs is ridiculous!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Food Vs. Me

My best friend read my posting from yesterday about all the food that I miss and told me if she didn't know me personally and was only introduced to me by my blog, she'd think I was a food addict! LOL  I told her food becomes very central to your brain and life when you can't have any - out of all the hundreds and thousands of food choices one can make each day, being limited to 20 is pretty stifling.  I do not consider myself a food addict, but I will admit to a mild love affair with good food.  ;-)

With that said, just this week I do feel a new sense of compliance (call it resignation?) with my diet, maybe a comfortable alliance with food allowable; I don't feel my cravings trying to take control as much anymore.  Maybe it's the fact that now I've officially made it to my minimum 26 days on the diet and any day past that is my choice.  With it being in my control now and knowing I can stop anytime and enter the maintenance stage, I feel better about things.  This Saturday will be day 33 on the diet.  The maximum time allowed on the diet is 40 days (after that your body becomes immune to the HCG).  I'd like to stay on the diet for as long as possible, but at this point, I'm taking it one day at a time.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I ♥ Peanut Butter

I miss peanut butter.  I find I can eat celery and apples - my two favorite conduits for peanut butter -  but they can get somewhat plain and dull without the joys of Jif.  And jelly.  I miss raspberry jelly, blackberry jam, apricot/peach jam mixed in yogurt from the farm.  Homebaked bread - I bake it every three to four days so the house smells amazing, but I can't slather butter on a still-warm slice and devour it.  Chocolate chip pancakes sit in my refrigerator waiting to be eaten, but not by me.  Succulent roast pork will be the leftovers for tonight for the family - I will have 100 grams of 90% lean beef cubes with cabbage.  Last night, home fried potatoes accompanied the main entree; I'm not usually a fan of fried potatoes (french fries, steak fries, tater tots, etc.), but one of my friends showed me the wonder of drizzling balsamic vinegar on the thickly cut fried slices sprinkled with chunks of feta cheese at which time they become quite heavenly.  The homeschool class that I teach weekly enjoyed a chocolate fondue with pizzelles, pretzels, marshmallows and dried apricots to dip while I sat there and watched their enjoyment of the melted chocolate.  I've refrained from dessert while sitting next to my daughter and husband eating dessert on a nightly basis.  I have ice cream cake, Razzleberry Pie, Brownie Pie, Key Lime Chocolate plus much more frozen in my freezer, untouched.

This only gives you a glimpse into the deprivation I face on a daily basis.  I'm not complaining actually, just fondly remembering food and living vicariously through the gastronomic practices of those around me.  My olfactory senses become that much more important as I can only smell the deliciousness of certain foods without the pleasure of taste.  It may sound foolish but taking one whiff of my Sweet Almond Cookie Yankee Candle can satisfy my sweet tooth in a way I never thought possible.  Ok, maybe satisfy is not exactly the right word, but it somewhat whets my appetite for sweets. 

With all that said, I'm feeling better than ever and am only 5.8 pounds away from my target weight.  I am steadily losing between 0.2-0.8 pounds a day now and look forward to taking my stats in two days.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to Me

It's Mother's Day, and I should be celebrating with food, darn it!  But I decided to stay on the diet for another week.  I figured giving myself a new and healthier body was a mother's day gift I could give myself this year, and I could eat all kinds of food (w/o negative repercussions) next Mother's Day. :-)  After talking with my sponsor, Stacy and one of my diet partners (who's a couple weeks ahead of me), I chose to stay on it simply because I'm still making such good progress that I wanted to see what my measurements would be like if I gave it another week. I was told the third week can tend to be pretty erratic with the numbers shown on the scale whereas the fourth week tends to be more consistent with weight lost and more reshaping seen.  Since I still had about seven more pounds to lose on my 26th day, I figured it couldn't hurt to see how much more I could lose in that time.  At this point, I'm not focusing so much on the scale numbers (though it would be nice to hit my target weight) but am excited about the inches lost, i.e. the reshaping going on.  People on this diet talk about "feeling different" as soon as a couple days after they start the diet and seeing the reshaping of their bodies whereas I didn't really feel that until the third week.  So I continue on for the sake of shaping up. 

Progress update on Thursday to come...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Week 3

I've finally reached my third week on the diet!  Saturday will officially be 26 days which is the minimum amount of time one can be on the HCG diet.  Up until now, I assumed I'd finish up at that time, and I've been counting down to my 26th day.  I looked forward to the fact that the next day was Mother's Day, a day I could celebrate in style - with food, of course!  On the other hand, I've allowed myself to keep an open mind to the idea of continuing the diet if I wasn't where I wanted to be by my 26th day.  So here are my stats for the week:

Week 1 Totals
Pounds lost:  8.2 lbs.
Inches lost:  10.25"

Week 2 Totals
Pounds lost: 4.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  6.25"

Week 3 Totals
Pounds lost:  2.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  5"

Overall Loss Since Beginning
Pounds lost:  15.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  21.5"

I could be a little disappointed by the fact that I only lost close to 3 pounds this past week, however I'm focusing on the 5 inches lost which was mostly in my problem areas - waist, abdomen and butt - which is a great thing!  I may not be seeing the weight loss as much this week, but I'm feeling and seeing the body reshaping going on. When I dragged out all of my summer clothes this past weekend, I was pleased to see that I fit into my "skinny" clothes.  So though I may not be at my goal weight (which is another 7 pounds lighter), I'm happy to report I've reached another one of my goals: looking and feeling much better for the summer!

So will I continue with the diet?  I'm not sure.  I'll get back to you on that...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Things I've Learned

The HCG protocol has helped me to discover many things - some strange, some expected - and I wanted to share some of them with you.  You may find yourself experiencing some of these things on the diet as well.  Though some of these may seem common and expected, I would recommend being under the care of an understanding physician while you go through the HCG diet regimen.*  My naturopath checked me out and told me she would never have recommended this diet had I tried to do it a year ago (much too much strain on my overtaxed system back then), but she thought I was much healthier and stable this year and my body could handle it fine now.  After taking my blood pressure and recommending general blood tests, I felt much better about continuing on. These are some of the lessons learned/experiences had for me being on the HCG diet:
  • The weight loss could bring with it some new aches and pains.  My old way of sitting, standing, etc. has not worked for me (I'm not compensating for as much weight) anymore, and it has resulted in a slight increase in lower back pain probably until I learn to achieve better posture.  
  • I feel much more winded going upstairs and weaker all-around - it's hard for the body to be strong when it's only surviving off the 500 calories one's eating as well as the calories it's burning from fat reserves.  I look forward to starting back to the gym after the diet so I can build up my cardiovascular system and strength training once again.  
  • I've recently had to get used to pausing when I stand up too quickly from sitting or lying down as I experience dizziness (postural hypotension) most likely due to lower blood pressure (especially when I'm tired and dehydrated - gotta keep drinkin'!).
  • I have been cold constantly, a change I did not expect but seems to be a somewhat common side effect of living a low to no-carb lifestyle and dropping weight quickly.  It wasn't until the air temp around here got up to the 70's and 80's that I felt comfortable (and ask anyone who knows me well - I typically run pretty hot.)
  • Another side effect of such severe food restrictions was the improved condition of my skin.  I think I have pretty typical skin (if there is such a thing) and occasionally suffer from acne.  My skin definitely got worse (sandpapery-feeling) before it got better.  It is now very soft and smooth and not a trace of blemishes.  Also my nails are growing faster, longer and stronger.
  • It will help you discover your relationship with food.  As I mentioned on Day 11, eating for me was a social thing, a time of bonding with others over food.  Since being on my diet, I hate to admit I have rarely joined my family for dinner at the dinner table (this is usually a nightly occurrence for us to all sit around the dinner table).  With this diet however, I have found it hard to make a nice, big meal for everyone to eat so it's been quick, convenient food (leftovers typically) doled out individually.  Also I like to eat a bit later than the kids so I can get through to bedtime without much hunger.  I look forward to rejoining the family dinner table once this stage is complete.
  • I was never really severely hungry after the first few days, but I have always felt a sense of deprivation. My mantra through this diet has been "Body under submission."  It helps remind me which part of me is in control - my mind or my physical body.  I have gotten through times of much temptation with this mindset.
  • Speaking of temptation, you cannot cheat even one teeny-tiny bit. A friend of mine can attest to eating a couple ounces of nuts one day which stalled her diet for a day or two.  One lick of your cake-battered fingers can derail you for longer than you'd like.  So stick to the plan.
  • You can't freak out if you don't lose any weight one day or even gain a little - it will come off over the next few days.  The key is to continue doing what you're doing, and the weight loss will be steady.
  • You will probably find your two or three favorite hcg meals to eat.  Many of the meals I make are simply to get my 500 calories in that day, but every other day or so, I get to enjoy a meal I savor and look forward to the next time I'll be able to eat it.  One of them is the Chili recipe included in the program guide; it actually feels like I'm eating a substantial meal.  My other favorite is lobster with fresh baby spinach drizzled with citrus vinaigrette (recipe in guide) and orange segments mixed in.  YUM!
  • You will discover the fundamental foods you miss the most - unbelievably, it is not sweets or even chocolate I miss the most; it is dairy (mostly cheese), bread and salads (even though I can have romaine or spinach, I can't have it with anything else and no dressing besides the citrus vinaigrette - I usually like my salads loaded!).  And I don't know if one can miss fat, but I think I really do (i.e. bacon, pork, butter, olive/grapeseed oil, etc.)! lol
  • I have learned to saute everything in either lemon juice, Bragg's liquid aminos or water.  Not exactly as tasty as butter or oil, but it makes do, and it's quick and easy as opposed to baking, grilling or roasting (although my diet partner raved about the Fantastic Baked Chicken included in the recipe guide which I'm excited to try tonight).
  • I've re-discovered my stock of spices and herbs in a new way.  I've always been big on cooking with spices, but cooking on the HCG diet absolutely requires it if you want any taste at all!  I like to use Wildtree on a lot of my foods as long as I'm careful to check ingredients in everything (certain things might contain sugar).
  • You will quickly get addicted to the sense of accomplishment with each pound lost.  Now that I can fit into my "skinny" clothes, I feel great even if I don't see the exact number on the scale I'm shooting for that particular day.  I know I will continue to drop pounds, and it makes me motivated to continue.
P.S.  These are my own personal experiences and symptoms I've had while on the HCG protocol.  You may have similar or very different side effects of your own.  If you have any questions about your own experiences or are concerned about anything, don't hesitate to ask/see your doctor.  Remember to do your research and read through the Pounds & Inches manuscript (on which the HCG diet is based on) completely before starting the diet!

* However I would fear that many physicians would advise against the HCG diet for anyone since they have not been educated in it and may have never heard of it (even though it's been around for almost 60 years).  Many doctors may not have the knowledge necessary to recommend it though it's helped thousands since Dr. Simeon ran his first trials as well as helping people get off their lifelong dependence on certain medications.  Please do your own research - only you can decide what is best for your body!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

My Last Big Temptation

Last night we threw my parents a 40th anniversary party with a Hawaiian theme.  That meant besides the garish fake flower decorations, plastic leis and funny tabletop palm trees, we also had some amazing food - enough tropical fruit to fill a grocery aisle, delicious hor d'oeuvres like mini quiches, pastry puffs, crackers and cheese, pita chips and hummus, a chocolate fondue bar with everything imaginable to dip and a whole roast pig. Yup, it was a bonafide pig roast!  After making my favorite recipe of my mom's potato salad as well as a huge crockpot of Hawaiian baked beans, I knew this party was going to be my biggest temptation yet.  As everyone chowed down on the goodies, I stood there with my chicken and romaine salad with orange pieces and satisfied myself with the sights and smells of the amazing banquet.  I knew I could eat strawberries yet somehow I got to the end of the night without eating a one.  I did however have two tiny bites of moist pork just to see what it tasted like - that was the extent of my cheating.  But before I could pat myself on the back for being so good, there was still the cake.

When I ordered the cake, I ordered it from what has become my favorite cake place, Ceres Bakery in Portsmouth.  Thanks to my best friend, she introduced me to this bakery, it being the place where she got her wedding cake (thank you, Erin!).  So I decided to go for it and order a coconut creme cake, a flavor I have yet to try.  You can see the amazing job they did with it...  You can only imagine the agony I went through helping to cut that cake and NOT take even one taste of it.  By the time I was done serving, I had coconut creme filling all over my hands which I had to go. wash. off. my. hands!  That's right, not even one little lick.  However, I did cut a big piece off and take it home and freeze it right away - I'm not stupid.

Though I had to exercise complete control and severe deprivation last night, I had a fabulous time and proved to myself I could get through something like that without failing.  My crowning achievement came even before the party started when I slipped on a cute sundress that hadn't fit me before and now was perfect!  It was definitely worth it.

P.S. Even with my two bites of pork, I still lost 0.4 lbs from yesterday.  :-)

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Week 2 Stats

This week has been a major turning point for me.  It's not only that I'm fully ensconced in the HCG diet right now (it's still not an easy diet to stay on), but I'm used to the strict menu now as well as the various moods and cravings I might spontaneously get - and I know to deny them.  I started the vlcd* portion of the diet exactly two weeks ago, and it's great knowing I only have a little over one week to complete this stage (on to maintenance stage next).  I'm feeling thinner than ever, and I'm having quite a hard time believing that I'll continue to lose weight and possibly reach my ideal goal weight, something I haven't seen in 15 years!

Week 1 Totals
Pounds lost:  8.2 lbs.
Inches lost:  10.25"

Week 2 Totals
Pounds lost: 4.8 lbs.
Inches lost:  6.25"

Overall Loss Since Beginning
Pounds lost:  13 lbs.
Inches lost:  16"

Obviously you can see my second week did not yield the same astounding results as my first week, and that's normal.  Each successive week on this diet yields a decreased loss yet the key is the weight loss continues to be steady.  So I will continue to lose weight until either I reach the last day of my diet regimen and/or my body reaches its ideal, healthy weight and can't lose anymore (remember you can't lose too much weight on this diet even if you tried).  I've now been on the vlcd stage for a total of 13 days (the end of today will be my 14th) and have lost 13 pounds so I'm right on target. 

* vlcd = very low calorie diet

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why the HCG Protocol?

When people ask about the diet I'm on and I try to fill them in on the HCG diet, I'm told all about the diets they've tried or the one they're currently on.  People look at me and wonder why I'm on such a restrictive diet especially when I'm not apparently obese.  Why would I do this to myself?  And, more importantly, after hearing about the severe restrictions of the diet, why would they do this to themselves?  Well, there are just about as many diets out there as there are people, and many of them have worked wonders and changed peoples lives.  So why did I choose to start on the HCG diet? Here are my reasons:

It's the diet to end all diets.  
After reading the science behind the diet and all that it entails, I've come to refer to this diet as "hitting the reset button" for my body. It's like putting my hypothalamus back to its natural and healthy starting point, re-energizes my metabolism and reshapes the body.  It's been touted as the most effective, permanent weight loss program that exists.

"Those in whom the disorder [of obesity] is severe will accumulate fat very rapidly, those in whom it is moderate will gradually increase in weight and those in whom it is mild may be able to keep their excess weight stationary for long periods. In all these cases a loss of weight brought about by dieting, treatments with thyroid, appetite-reducing drugs, laxatives, violent exercise, massage, or baths is only temporary and will be rapidly regained as soon as the reducing regimen is relaxed. The reason is simply that none of these measures corrects the basic disorder."

"In treating obesity with the HCG + diet method we are handling what is perhaps the most complex organ in the human body. The diencephalon's* functional equilibrium is delicately poised, so that whatever happens in one part has repercussions in others. In obesity this balance is out of kilter and can only be restored if the technique I am about to describe is followed implicitly." 1

Doing the HCG diet is like completing a whole body cleanse.
The combination of eating such a restricted diet along with drinking copious amounts of water allows the body to flush toxins out and learn to subsist on the healthy foods it's being fed. It also helps put back what is needed in the body.

"Like everyone else, you’ve probably got your body so confused when it comes to weight and fat that it doesn’t know what to do when you try to lose extra weight. It’s not behaving in a natural and healthy fashion when it comes to getting rid of extra weight and fat cells. HCG is a natural element made by the human body and the HCG Detox Diet hinges on the re-introduction of HCG into the body. The HCG re-teaches the body how to deal with fat cells in an appropriate and healthy manner so that you can lose weight and keep it off. HCG’s natural physiological function is to interact with the eating and drinking portion of the brain (so dieters don’t suffer from hunger pains). Between these two natural functions of HCG…dieters are actually succeeding at getting the weight loss results they need."2   

The results of the HCG diet is not only weight loss but a solution to many complicating disorders.

"Some complicating disorders are often associated with obesity, and these we must briefly discuss. The most important associated disorders and the ones in which obesity seems to play a precipitating or at least an aggravating role are the following: the stable type of diabetes, gout, rheumatism and arthritis, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries, coronary disease and cerebral hemorrhage. 
Apart from the fact that they are often - though not necessarily - associated with obesity, these disorders have two things in common. In all of them, modern research is becoming more and more inclined to believe that diencephalic regulations play a dominant role in their causation. The other common factor is that they either improve or do not occur during pregnancy. In the latter respect they are joined by many other disorders not necessarily associated with obesity. Such disorders are, for instance, colitis, duodenal or gastric ulcers, certain allergies, psoriasis, loss of hair, brittle fingernails, migraine, etc.
If HCG + diet does in the obese bring about those diencephalic changes which are characteristic of pregnancy, one would expect to see an improvement in all these conditions comparable to that seen in real pregnancy. The administration of HCG does in fact do this in a remarkable way."

Results are typical.
The fine print you always see in commercials for any weight loss program or treatment says, "Results not typical."  In regards to the HCG diet, it was refreshing to see the words "Results typical" for a change.

"As a general rule one can say that 60%-70% of our cases experience little or no difficulty in holding their weight permanently. Relapses may be due to negligence in the basic rule of daily weighing."1

So this is why I'm doing the HCG Diet.  And so far I'm happy to say my results are quite typical... :-)

(If you're interested in learning more about it and want to know how you can do it too, just contact Stacy.)

* DIENCEPHALON . . . A primitive and hence very old part of the brain which lies between and under the two large hemispheres. In man the diencephalon (or hypothalamus) is subordinate to the higher brain or cortex, and yet it ultimately controls all that happens inside the body. It regulates all the endocrine glands, the autonomous nervous system, the turnover of fat and sugar. It seems also to be the seat of the primitive animal instincts and is the relay station at which emotions are translated into bodily reactions.

1.  From Pounds & Inches by Dr. Simeons
2. From

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 12 - Past the Point of No Return

I just realized that I'm already more than halfway through the 500 calorie portion of this diet.  That is very exciting to me!  Oh, to eat food, glorious food again! :)  I'm planning on completing the 26 days and seeing how I've fared at that point.  You can do this diet for either 26 days or 40 days, depending on how much weight needs to be lost.  Since I did not have more than 25 pounds as my goal, I'm hoping the 26 days will suffice.  So far I've lost on average a pound a day seeing as it's been 11 days (not counting loading days) and I've lost 11 pounds.  I look forward to taking my measurements again in three days.  I have to admit today was really the first day I felt thinner, whether that's physical, mental or both I'm not sure, but it's a good feeling - a very good feeling.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 11

I think it's funny that I still wake up every morning surprised that I can't eat anything for breakfast.  You'd think after 10 days of not eating breakfast, I would remember.  I guess after 36 years of habitually eating breakfast, my body will take some time getting used to not breaking my nightly fast.

This past weekend was my first experiment in being away from home (hence the lack of blogging) and having to plan and prepare my food beforehand.  Since I was only gone for two days and one night, it wasn't that difficult and everything went great.  It was hard to not accept my friend's delicious looking dinner she had graciously prepared for my daughter and her family (steak with Hollandaise sauce, french fries and surprisingly hardest of all, Caesar salad), and I realized how food has become such a social thing for me as well.  Food means so many things to so many people and after being on this diet, the most difficult time for me to deny myself food is in social situations.  I've found it creates bonds with old and new friends alike, brings a family together around a table and creates opportunities to comfortably socialize in public places (think of a first date activity). Cooking and dining out also opens up new worlds of cuisine to savor and experiment with at home.  I'd have to admit, overall I miss food and the bonding it creates with others the most.  Funny how diets can open one's eyes to one's own thoughts, beliefs and feelings about food.

The last couple days have been a roller coaster in terms of weight loss.  Friday morning I weighed myself and found I had actually gained a pound!  I knew the weight loss would fluctuate from day to day, but I did not know I could actually gain on this diet.  After speaking to my sponsor, Stacy, she reassured me that this was fairly normal, and I would probably find that I'd lose extra weight the next day.  She was right as the next morning, I found I had lost 2.2 pounds. Phew!  Of course today I found I didn't gain nor lose any weight at all.  So I look forward to tomorrow morning and see what that brings me...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tips to Help You on the HCG Protocol

For those interested in getting on the HCG Protocol diet, I have found certain tips to help me stay on track with the HCG Diet and wanted to share them with you:
  • If you are seriously considering doing this diet, I’ve found a helpful link for things to do 30-60 days before starting the diet in order to really prime your body for optimizing fat loss.  They call it Phase 1 on this website1 but admit that it’s not completely necessary to do this phase and you can skip it altogether; it’ll just make your body more in shape to do well on the diet – not a bad idea.  
  • Try to eat as much fast food/chain restaurant food on your loading days as possible.  Most, if not all, major restaurants have their nutritional charts online so it's easy to find the most high-fat, high calorie foods on the menu.  This definitely costs more money than making your own fatty meals at home, but you'll ingest more fat and calories in a smaller amount of food than you could at home.
  • Buy all your meat beforehand and then weigh it all out on your food scale before freezing each 100 gram portion in small snack bags.  In the morning, one can simply choose one's two proteins to eat that day and let them defrost.  This has saved me much hassle as well as from opportunities to fail in not having the food ready to cook when I need it.
  • Find a big enough container to keep track of how much water you're drinking.  I began by using my klean kanteen which holds 1/4 of a gallon so if I can drink close to 4 bottles worth, I know I've reached the target goal of one gallon (which, btw, I can't do - at the most, I've been able to drink almost 3/4 gallon).
  • Instead of feeling like you can never have anything yummy to eat, take those foods you've denied yourself during the diet and freeze an individual portion for yourself to enjoy later.  For instance, after making my daughter's birthday ice cream cake, I froze a slice for myself to enjoy once I'm off the diet.  I've also done this with certain chocolates and other yummy foods.  This way I feel like I have something to look forward to and don't feel like I'm missing out on everything
  • Make sure you get a good night's sleep!  I can't reiterate how important this is as it can affect your appetite during the day.  Not only will it prevent increased hunger pains, but by going to bed early, you'll save yourself some late-night cravings.  Many of my friends can attest to this and notice the day after a bad night of sleep that they have not lost as much weight as expected even when not cheating on the diet.
  • If you have a business/pleasure trip planned, prepare ahead of time.  Plan what you'll bring with you, and if it's a short trip, you can even cook the food ahead of time and pack it like a picnic lunch for those times you won't have access to a kitchen.
  • When special events are planned or you know you'll be faced with a food challenge/temptation, make sure you eat your meal ahead of time...then stay as far away from the food as you can!
  • You can go it alone and purchase your HCG drops anywhere online for cheap and try to do the diet, but I found since this was my first time, it was so much more helpful to do it through a program.  This was definitely more money invested in the beginning, but it helped start me off with the correct drops (by scanning to see what my sensitivities were), gave me an invaluable guide with all the info I needed, helps answer all my questions and continues to monitor and encourage me on my journey.  It doesn't matter where you live either - the program can help you whether you're local to them or live far away.2

1.This is confusing since everywhere else Phase 1 in the HCG Diet is usually referred to as the loading days when you’re trying to eat as much high-fat, high-calorie food.  So I guess you could consider this phase Phase 0

2. If you are interested in the program I'm going through, contact  Stacy, an affiliate with Pure, Simple Health.

    Thursday, April 22, 2010

    One Week Stats

    It's been one whole week since starting on the 500 calorie diet and every week I'm supposed to not only weigh myself but to take all of my measurements and compare with the previous week.  The Body Measurement Guide which is included in the program guide one is given when starting on the protocol includes measurements of 14 different locations of the body - neck, chest, upper arms, rib cage, waist, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, upper knee and calf - so it's pretty comprehensive.  Once you take all your measurements, you're supposed to add them all up and keep track week to week of how many inches lost total.  So with all that explained, here are my stats for my first week:

    Pounds lost:  8.2 lbs.
    Overall Inches lost:  10.25"

    Eight pounds and 10 inches lost sounds like a lot, but I don't feel very different or even think I look very different.  However my clothes fit slightly better and now that I've officially reached my plateau weight, I look forward to breaking through it! :)

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Day 7 - Another 0.6 lbs. lost

    Ok, so I kind of panicked this morning.  I had read in Dr. Simeons' Pounds & Inches book that those with past gallbladder problems might find themselves experiencing some problems.

    Small stones in the gall bladder may in patients who have recently had typical colics cause more frequent colics under treatment with HCG. This may be due to the almost complete absence of fat from the diet, which prevents the normal emptying of the gall bladder. Before undertaking treatment we explain to such patients that there is a risk of more frequent and possibly severe symptoms and that it may become necessary to operate. If they are prepared to take this risk and provided they agree to undergo an operation if we consider this imperative, we proceed with treatment, as after weight reduction with HCG the operative risk is considerably reduced in an obese patient. In such cases we always give a drug which stimulates the flow of bile, and in the majority of cases nothing untoward happens. On the other hand, we have looked for and not found any evidence to suggest that the HCG treatment leads to the formation of gallstones as pregnancy sometimes does.

    I've had one gallbladder attack in my life soon after my emergency C-section with my last son, and let me tell you, I thought I. was. going. to. die.  Pain like that is very similar to hard labor except there's no rest period!  Though I was told I should probably have surgery to take it out, I wanted to make sure it was the right decision because once out, I could never get it back.  After visiting with my naturopath who thought the recent trauma to my body had thrown it into a tailspin and that I simply needed to take some steps to take care of it and get healthy again, I decided against the surgery.  I look back on it now and think it was a smart decision as I've never had another attack since.  However it gave me concern reading about gall stones and the HCG diet because I knew, no matter what, I never wanted to go through that pain again.  If I had another attack on this diet, it would not only stop my diet in its tracks but it may end up with a visit to the surgical doctor - not an option I'd choose if at all possible! So back to the panicking...  I felt some twinges of pain in that area this morning which at first gave me pause and then started me praying.  This was not something I wanted to deal with so I popped my krill oil and vitamins this morning (after having decided yesterday to not take anymore!).  I'm not sure what good I think it will do, but I simply didn't want to have to face the issue of that kind of pain again.  I may need to research preventative measures such as certain supplements or alternative therapies to help my liver and gallbladder remain healthy throughout this diet.

    On a good note, I have not been very hungry since Monday and feel much better about this 500 calorie part of the diet.  Tomorrow is one week since starting Stage 2 (the 500 calorie days), and I look forward to seeing how many pounds and inches lost in my one week.  Will report back tomorrow...

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Day 6 - 0.6 lbs. lost

    I think I was a fish in a previous life because my life as it is now on dry ground, is very...well, dry.  I'm a very dry person, and by that, I mean dry eyes, dry skin, chapped lips and suffering from eczema on one hand.  Blame it on allergies or not enough omega-3 fatty acids, but through the years I've done what I can to combat this.  I drink water exclusively and constantly throughout the day, take krill oil capsules (there are those omega-3's and DHA's), use moisturizer on my face and body, slather my hands with cream several times a day and never know what it's like to not have lip balm on. All of these practices and more have certainly helped to make me less dry, but why am I bringing this up and what does it have to do with the HCG diet?

    Most women find it hard to believe that fats, oils, creams and ointments applied to the skin are absorbed and interfere with weight reduction by HCG just as if they had been eaten. This almost incredible sensitivity to even such very minor increases in nutritional intake is a peculiar feature of the HCG method. For instance, we find that persons who habitually handle organic fats, such as workers in beauty parlors, masseurs, butchers, etc. never show what we consider a satisfactory loss of weight unless they can avoid fat coming into contact with their skin.

    We are particularly averse to those modern cosmetics which contain hormones, as any interference with endocrine regulations during treatment must be absolutely avoided. Many women whose skin has in the course of years become adjusted to the use of fat containing cosmetics find that their skin gets dry as soon as they stop using them. In such cases we permit the use of plain mineral oil, which has no nutritional value...We do permit the use of lipstick, powder and such lotions as are entirely free of fatty substances.*

    This has been a major sticking point with me since I have found it hard to believe I can live without all of my "fats, oils, creams and ointments", and up until now I have continued my typical daily regimen but with decreased amounts.  Today however, I will be trying to go without and see how it ends up.  I have given up my krill oil, my body moisturizer, my hand cream and my lip balm.  Tomorrow I will go without my facial moisturizer and pray my face doesn't go to heck.  This may be something I should have done on Day 1, but it's a very big step for me and a difficult one.  Guess I better go get me some mineral oil...

    * From Pounds & Inches by Dr. Simeons

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    Day 5 and Allergies

     Today I woke up to only a 1/2 lb. loss which after the difficult day yesterday was a bit disheartening, but I realize this is the way it goes - sometimes you lose close to nothing then other days you can lose over a pound.  Another friend of mine who is doing this with me also stated that yesterday was a very bad day.  Maybe Day 4 for us was our Diet Hump Day.  I definitely feel much better this morning and hardly hungry at all.  I guess we'll see how the rest of the day goes...

    An interesting advantage to the 500 calorie portion of this diet is discovering certain food sensitivities one may have.  When you first sign up to do the HCG diet through Pure, Simple Health, they send you a body scanner "cradle" where it hooks up to your computer which then networks with theirs.  You rest your hand on it and by sending digital signals throughout your body, it can read what sensitivities or food intolerances you have.  In doing this, they can determine which HCG drops to send you - Weight Off or Detox.  I don't know what the difference is between the drops, but I do know the entire protocol not only takes weight off but it is a pretty intense detox as well.  One of the interesting findings from my scan is the insensitivity I have for onions.  It was confirmed last night when after eating onions with steak, I broke out in a couple of hives.  I don't think I would have ever put two and two together if I didn't have only three things on my plate.  The nice thing is in knowing this, I can then treat my allergic symptom to onions and other foods by going to my Advanced Allergy Treatment Center and being "cured" of my allergies.

    Cure allergies, you ask?  How is that possible?  Well, I would not have believed it myself until it worked on me.  After 36 years of suffering from debilitating allergies to just about everything -- trees, grass, cats, foods, dust, you name it -- I am living a life free of severe allergic symptoms for the first time EVER!  I started my treatments about six months ago starting with trees since it was Autumn at the time and that's what my body was reacting to the most, then on to dust, cats, molds, grass, etc.  I can honestly tell you, these treatments have changed my life.  Never in my wildest imaginings would I have thought I could live without my allergy medications and tissues along with eliminating those experiences like being at a friend's house with cats and just feeling like I was going to die.  And yes, I've been through it all - allergy tests several times in my life starting in elementary school (back then they would do the prick tests on your back and by the end it looked like you had been flogged - no joking) then many, many years of allergy injections to build up my immunity (which only worked by decreasing certain symptoms by about 20%).  I've taken all sorts of drugs to combat my symptoms, spent hundreds, if not thousands, on tissues, installed ACs in every window in my house, and at the worst times of the years (Spring and Fall for me), I can't even step outside, forget opening up my windows on those most beautiful of Spring days.  The treatments at Advanced Allergy Treatment Centers are quick, painless and actually quite relaxing.  There are no needles, no probing, no drugs and no huge time commitments.  I have to admit I was the biggest skeptic of all going in and retained my skepticism for quite a few weeks (I would joke I was going to get some more snake oil that day), but I was also desperate.  After starting to see some marked improvements and testing myself by visiting my friend with the cat and having no typical symptoms, I slowly but steadily became a believer and now am a huge proponent of AATC.  I've never known what a "normal" person without allergies feels like, and now I do.*

    So this HCG diet has already been instrumental in pinpointing certain sensitivities I have (and will probably do so even more in Stage 3 when I start to add certain foods back into my diet) and helping to continue to detox my system.  I'm so excited to be getting healthier along with losing weight!  :-)

    *By the way, if you're interested in making an appointment with AATC of New England, just tell them I sent you and you'll get $20 off your next visit before May 31st.  The can treat every allergy or sensitivity (except in cases of anaphylaxis) from food to environmental such as pollens, grass, trees to hormones to fungus/bacteria to animals to barometric pressure sensitivity. 

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Day 4

    Today after stepping on the scale and it registering 1.2 pounds less than yesterday, I realized my weight gain from the loading days was officially lost.  I've now entered into the slow but hopefully steady progress toward my goal.

    I have to admit today was a tough one for me.  I'm not sure if it's because I've been extra tired today (I've heard fatigue messes with your appetite) from a poor night of sleep or what, but I've been pretty hungry all day.  As always, I tolerate it, but I have not been a very happy camper.  The advantage of being hungrier though is it has forced me to drink more water to try to satisfy my appetite.  I still can't get near the gallon a day goal as suggested, but I can get to about the halfway mark.  That's still a lot of water in my opinion (and water's all I ever drink on a typical basis)!  I've been finding that every time I eat, the actual act of eating makes my body crave MORE.  There are times I can ignore the hunger and it eventually goes away but eating brings the hunger back with a vengeance.  It's only until about 20 minutes after eating that I feel ok.  The other annoyance is the timing of the drops.  Many times I'll forget to take the drops 15 minutes before my meal either forcing me to wait to eat as my meal gets cold (as I'm doing now - grrrrr...) or to take the drops at least 15 minutes after I eat.  I'm hoping to get better at that...

    Many may wonder how healthy it really is to only live off 500 calories a day, but in Pounds & Inches: A New Approach to Obesity, the medical manuscript written by the founder of the HCG Protocol, A.T.W. Simeons, M.D., he explains it within the definition of a calorie:

    CALORIE . . . The physicist's calorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 cc. of water by 1 degree Centigrade. The dietitian's Calorie (always written with a capital C) is 1000 times greater. Thus when we speak of a 500 Calorie diet this means that the body is being supplied with as much fuel as would be required to raise the temperature of 500 liters of water by 1 degree Centigrade or 50 liters by 10 degrees. This is quite insufficient to cover the heat and energy requirements of an adult body. In the HCG method the deficit is made up from the abnormal fat-deposits, of which 1 lb. furnishes the body with more than 2000 Calories. As this is roughly the amount lost every day, a patient under HCG is never short of fuel.

    Saturday, April 17, 2010

    Day 3 on 500 Calories

    This being my third day on the diet, I'm really anticipating my food cravings and withdrawals finally being over.  In the past, it has always seemed like the first three days on a diet are always the worst.  So here's to hoping...
    I do feel a little better this morning - not sure if it's a mental thing or if it's physical.  Maybe a little of both since pulling on my "normal" jeans today felt good.  The weight gain over the two loading days this week pushed me into uncomfortable territory beyond my typical size.  The good news is I've officially lost all "loading stage" weight so I can now get on with the weight loss I've been hoping for.  A friend of mine just updated me this morning with her stats - she's three weeks into the diet and has lost 18.2 pounds so far.  Congrats, Teri!

    I will admit to this being the hardest of days for me to have to resist certain foods.  It's my daughter's 18th birthday party weekend so besides having to make an ice cream cake for her and her friends, I also had to deny myself french toast for breakfast (one of my faves) and then Gilley's in Portsmouth for lunch...and if you've ever been to Gilley's, you know to hurt with me.  However I did make a great lunch with romaine lettuce, lobster and orange segments drizzled with citrus vinaigrette dressing - it came out much yummier than expected.  I know you're thinking, "Well, yeah, it's lobster, for Pete's sake!  Of course it was yummy!"  But have you ever tried to eat lobster without butter?!?

    Dinner was haddock with the Dill Dip Blend from Wildtree and sauteed radishes with lemon juice and Bragg's apple cider vinegar.  I know, cooked radishes - weird, huh?  And I'm realizing how much I don't like apple cider vinegar, but with it being one of my only choices besides lemon juice to cook things in, I don't know what else to do.  Maybe I need to get more creative with cooking techniques...

    Friday, April 16, 2010

    Step 2 - Day 2

    Despite waking up feeling weak and congested (allergies? cold? death from starvation? jk), I stepped on the scale and found I was 2.2 pounds less.  After gaining about 3-4 pounds on my loading days, it's expected to lose the "loading weight" within 48 hours so I'm off to a good start, I guess.  It was tough going to my mom's group this morning and denying myself the yummy-looking chocolate chip scones and pineapple and kiwi, but I satisfied my appetite with tea.  Ok, "satisfied" isn't quite the right word, but it'll do.  I made it to lunch which was shrimp sauteed in lemon juice and Wildtree Scampi Blend along with half a raw cucumber and a breadstick.  I don't actually enjoy shrimp that much, but since it's one of only 7-8 meats allowed (lean beef, veal, tilapia, chicken, lobster, crab, white fish), I decided to go ahead and make some occasionally.  Dinner was Baked Apple Chicken with Melba toast snacks and celery. I went to home church where there was a very tempting spread of desserts, but I maintained my composure and my diet by trying to stay away from it all.  I'm still feeling tolerably hungry and am hoping this feeling will go away after my first week as they say it will.  But overall, it's not too bad.

    I found a great tutorial video explaining a little bit about the HCG diet:

    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    Step 2 - Day 1 on the HCG Diet

    So today was my first day on the 500 calorie diet part of the HCG protocol.  It didn't start off well as I woke up after less than 5 hours of sleep and woke up STARVING!  I hate that. On a typical day, I can almost skip breakfast, make it to lunch and eat normally for the rest of the day without much fanfare (or stomach grumblings).  But chalk it up to the 5000+ calories a day I've been ingesting the last couple days; my stomach must have been wondering why it was finally empty...and protested quite loudly.  Anyway, I got away with sipping my chamomile tea and being busy until lunchtime which was 100 grams of haddock with sauteed spinach in garlic and lemon juice and one teeny, tiny Melba toast snack.  It tasted wonderful.  Dinner was lean beef cubes sauteed in Bragg's Liquid Aminos along with cabbage and a Grissini breadstick.  It didn't exactly sit well in my stomach, but it was food and my body was grateful to get it.  Overall, I was hungry throughout the day but not intolerably so.  I had some cravings and probably am going through certain food withdrawals.  But, all in all, not too bad for my first 500-calorie day.