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!