23 February, 2012

Crazy Diets, Failure, and Success

I'd like to start this post with a little self pat on the back: I've lost 15 and a half pounds as of today! Woo!! And it feels so good!
(visit my profile and be friends on My Fitness Pal by clicking the image)

Over the last many years, I have tried a LOT of things to lose weight. I mean, a lot a lot. First, there were the diet pills joined with eating better. Then there was just regular ole eating better and exercise. I lost a couple pounds that way but hovered at the same weight for a month before I got discouraged and ate an entire cake... haha! I tried Couch to 5k, in which I lost exactly zero fat but did gain stamina, which I appreciated... before I quit. In September last year, I drastically reduced my drinking, and this year, I am proud to say that I have only had one drink - and I was peer pressured into it.
I kept my calories below 1200, and swam 2 to 3 times a week. I did that for more than three months, with no change. It was the first time I had been really inspired to stick to my goal, and I felt like a failure.

I've detoxed, cleansed, and eaten raw foods. I cut out gluten and sugar and soy (all at different times). Nothing seemed to work. I became depressed and because of that, I ate more, and because I ate more, I became more depressed. I felt like nothing was ever going to help me lose the weight and I would be stuck at that weight forever. A vicious cycle of depression and weight gain and weight gain because of depression. Goodbye self-love. Goodbye self-worth. Hello, dark corner. Hello, Nutella.
On top of it all, my dad promised me that if I lose 50 pounds, he would pay for a flight to see him for a couple weeks. Obviously, that's a huge prize and it's something I desperately want to win, but I felt parsecs away from ever achieving it at this rate.

Recently my Aunt has been touting her weight loss on Facebook. 10 pounds, 25 pounds, 48 pounds, 60 pounds gone! Amazing! I felt such a strange mix of happiness for her and insane jealousy. "Why can't I lose that weight?!"
It was around that time, when I was lamenting my weight woes to my grandmother. She suggested a few things, then told me about my Aunt's success and the HCG diet.

Do you know about the HCG diet? Let me tell you in a nutshell. For a period of 21 to 42 days, you take a hormone (orally or via injections) found in pregnant women called HCG, and you eat a pretty restricted low-calorie diet. It starts with two "loading days" in which you gorge on high-calorie, high-fat foods. After that, you severely reduce your calorie intake to 500 calories a day, making sure to drink plenty of water.

WHAT?!?! ... skepticaaaaallll...

All I could think about to myself (rudely) while she explained the specifics, was that 500 calories was what I would call anorexia, and ANYONE who only ate 500 calories a day would lose weight. I thought of Holocaust victims. I thought of POWs in Japan.
My grandmother generously offered to send me a bottle of HCG for me to take orally, and told me to try it. Once I received it, the bottle sat on my counter for more than a week. I didn't trust it. This is a radical diet. "500 calories?? I will surely perish."
Finally, knowing that this bottle had cost my grandmother money, I decided not to let it go to waste. I read up on the diet.

As it turns out, there are different kinds of fat in the body.

1. Structural
2. Reserve
3. Abnormal

The first kinds, the structural and reserve fat, are almost always present in healthy human beings. They serve to cushion the heels of your feet, keep your skin smooth, and surround your organs as well as have a store of energy for emergencies. The third one, abnormal fat, is what happens when you become overweight (mmm cake...) --the big belly, big thighs, double chin, etc.

The HCG drops target the right kind of fat. The abnormal junk. The HCG balances the mechanism within the brain (the hypothalamus) that controls the distribution of fat, which allows the body to consume all of the abnormal fat, sending it to the blood stream for nutrition and energy. This in turn allows the person to reduce their caloric intake to 500 calories with little to no hunger. The abnormal fat burns away, and the body's necessary structural and reserve fat are left where they should be.

With another big fat eyeroll, I began my HCG diet, and decided that I wouldn't tell anyone... because basically... I was embarrassed. I weighed myself. 100kg on the dot. That's 220 pounds, folks. After my "loading" days, and after the first two days of Phase 2 (which is the 500 calorie diet part), I had lost 2.5 pounds. I chalked it up to water loss and remained ever the skeptic. 

After the first week, I had lost 5 pounds. 
After the second week, I had lost another five.
My third week, I lost 3 more pounds bringing it to a total of 13 pounds.
Half way through my fourth week, I am no longer a skeptic. I have lost 15.5 pounds. 

I have had two plateaus during my weight loss because of my weakness at a party, and because of maybe too much salt intake the second time... but I am a believer. Today, I weighed in at 93.5 kgs (204 pounds).

My clothes fit again. 

I don't feel so far from my goal now. 

Hello self-confidence. I haven't seen you in a while. I'm glad you're back.


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