The Hunger Games (HCG Diet): an update and 11 tips..

So as I mentioned here , Aaron and I are back on the HCG (aaargh) diet and yesterday completed day 14 of our current cycle. The plan this time is to go for the full 40 days. (At least that is the plan for me..because day 40 will take me up to the day that I am due to fly to South Africa, so it seemed meant to be Winking smile)
Here’s my update so far: (compare to my update last time here and here)
In 14 days I’ve lost 11lbs (about the same amount as I lost the last time) and I have to say, this time has been a lot less physically arduous. I can only think of one day when I felt really weak and out of it and I think I was dehydrated.  A marked improvement compared to last time.
It has also been somewhat less mentally arduous, which is not to say it hasn’t been quite (extremely) hard, I will not lie you, my friends. Nothing about this is easy.
I think it has been less traumatic because I have been extremely busy (distracted) and stressed (although stressed can be a double edged sword for sure…I can’t tell you how many times in the last couple of hellacious weeks when I wanted to take refuge in chocolate). Also making things feel less torturous:  we have been out of Summer Celebration mode.   Which is not to say that there haven’t been several social occasions where we had to eat our tragic food while others were feasting on luscious pieces of cheesecake and all manner of other scrumptious delicacies mere inches away from our salivating chops and big mournful eyes, but I have resigned myself to the fact that these events are inevitable, and there will surely be more of them in our future during which we may freely gorge. (Last time, the sadness of wiping out an entire holiday was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me and had me ending the course earlier than planned..but no holidays have occurred this time.)
Here are my recommendations to make the experience more bearable (bear in mind though, that I still have more than 3 weeks left to go so all of this is subject to change or ridicule later on).
1. Stay hydrated. Drink, drink, drink and drink some more. I have found that the days when I drink plenty, I have plenty of energy and I rarely feel hungry.  I guess this is true of life in general, but when you are on a very low calorie diet it cannot be overestimated.  My favourite way to hydrate is to slice up a bunch of lemon, put it in a water bottle and add a couple of packets of Stevia. It is so refreshing and a great lemonade substitute. Takes care of sugar cravings. I will continue to do this when I am off the diet for sure. (You are only allowed the juice of one lemon a day so don’t squeeze it, just leave the slices in there for when you refill and the lemon will infuse the water.  I also like rooibos tea in the morning.
2. Try for variety. The diet is VERY strict and VERY limited but even within it, there are ways to mix things up a bit.  I have been trying much harder this time to come up with variations on the theme and discovering some interesting options.  One that I recently discovered in the frozen food aisle is frozen fish in parchment packets. You bake it in there with all of it’s luscious sauce (anything seems luscious at this point) and each yummy filet is only 80 calories-sauce and all. I have also started experimenting with Morningside Farm products, Laura’s lean beef and having the odd egg here and there…. and today I’m going to splurge on cottage cheese for my protein at lunch time. (SO EXCITING!)  Yes to you this is all still sounding exceedingly tragic but I tell you what, it beats a grilled chicken breast twice a day every day for sure.  It should be noted that mixing things up a bit has given me just as good results as when I stuck to the boring basics last time
3.Since you are eating so little, make it the best quality food that you can find. I try to buy organic, all natural products both for the health benefits and the taste.  Plan ahead, have it on hand. Nothing like being ravenous without something suitable close by.  If you find yourself in this position, we have found a McDonalds plain grilled chicken breast and basic side salad (no dressing) to be a quick substitution. They must have a lot of people requesting this because they often offer to dice up the breast for us and then we just toss it into the side salad.
4. Experiment with timing. I try to delay my first set of drops as long as I can. I generally take them at 11:30am.  And I wait to have my first meal at around 2:00 or 2:30pm.  The reason is because mornings are not typically hungry times for me but late afternoons and evenings are and I am a night owl…it’s just psychologically nice to have that “cushion” for later in the day.
5. Have your lunch time fruit for breakfast if you are hungry in the morning. This also helps psychologically and makes you feel more “normal”.
6. FLAVOUR. I cannot overstate the importance of seasonings and flavour. A lot of appetite and cravings are not actually cravings for calories but for flavour satisfaction.  I have become obsessed with seasonings. I especially like the Tastefully Simple brand…most of them are low or zero calories and free of junky fillers and preservatives, plus they are just really, really good..lots of interesting flavour combinations.  My friend Claire can hook you up. (I get no kickback from this, just a genuine recommendation.)
7. If you are feeling the need to splurge and go off the diet, do it in a controlled way. I have a friend who has been very successful on the diet and last Friday I told her that I wanted to cheat. She said that if I even had a good salad it would feel like a magnificent cheat and I would not hate myself in the morning. She was so right! For our date, we went to Qdoba and got a naked burrito bowl sans the starches/cheese but with a good portion of steak, veges and salsa. It felt like a mental break and a cheat and although I did not lose the next morning, I did not gain either.  (The way I understand HCG ..and this is hazy: is that it grabs onto any fat it can find-if that is coming in through your mouth, or supposedly even via lotion through your skin (!) it will use that rather than the fat on your thighs and because you don’t have a baby in there to use will stick it right back on your thighs if you eat more than your body can burn…. which is why it is so important to give it only enough fat via your mouth to make up for what it can’t immediately access from your thighs)….I also occasionally cheat with a small amount of a forbidden fruit. Literally, a forbidden fruit like watermelon, or lychees. (I know! So sad!)  Diet soda has also helped when I am feeling especially deprived. (But remember it is really disgustingly unhealthy, so be controlled).
8. Easy on the weigh ins…You are supposed to weigh in every day to monitor whether things are as they should be, and for some people this is very motivating but especially for women, water weight fluctuates so dramatically from hour to hour…so I have limited it to once, at most 2x a week.
9. Go shopping. When I am losing weight the greatest motivator is to buy slightly too small pair of pants at Goodwill every couple of weeks (don’t be crazy and buy size 2 when you are size 12, at most get one size down or even  in your current size which is uncomfortable when it is buttoned).  Slipping into the next size down is the most motivating and concrete proof that you are making progress, I find it more compelling than the scale or the mirror any day. But do shop consignment because if you do this, your size will change pretty fast and you don’t want to waste big money on pants that you will soon be swimming in (yay!)
10. Do it with a friend.  I can’t imagine doing this without Aaron by my side and I’m truly amazed at his fortitude (he does not have the compelling motivator that I do).  Make sure that you have at least one supportive person on your side to pretend that the food you are eating is not that bad because the rest of the world is going to think you are insane (and you kind of are). In fairness my friends have all kindly  told me how awful the cheesecake/delicious mixed salad WITH dressing, ice cream etc that they are eating tastes, so that is nice of them but it’s not the same as having someone doing it along side of you. What can I say? Misery loves and needs company.  If your social/business life depends on going out for dinner/lunch with people, you will need to find some major adjustments to that or find yourself a different diet.
11. Play mental games. I keep reminding myself that this is not forever, that I will soon enough eat like a normal person and that the temporary sacrifice will have great rewards. I know that I will probably put on a few lbs when I start to eat normally again (because I fully intend on eating at least a couple of bites of every delicious thing that South Africa has to offer when I get there rather than going on the 3 week carb/sugar free easing in period) but I also know how to maintain my weight through exercise, and being lighter is going to make that exercise so much more fun to do.
These are the things I say to myself, over and over and over again, as I make yummy food for my kids, walk through the grocery stores, stand at potlucks and tailgates, hold a bag of nutter butter crackers for know….go through slow and painful torture pretty much every hour of every day…Winking smile Did I mention that this is NOT an easy way to lose weight. I honestly don’t think I would still be on the diet if I did not have such a strong incentive on the horizon so if you do it, and this is probably my most important piece of advice:  find yourself that kind of incentive.  Ok wait, my most important piece of advice is: Prepare to Suffer. A lot. A whole lot. Then any less suffering will come as a happy surprise Smile
Again, take all I say with a handful of salt, I’m not even half way through the course. I want to lose at least 10 more lbs and all this is subject to ridicule later. (I in no way consider myself an expert on this thing).    Can I also add that although I do not consider this diet dangerous, and it is working for me when other methods really weren’t,   if you are not in a hurry to lose weight I still recommend doing it the old fashioned way. It is far more likely to be effective long-term and it is far less trying on you and those around you.

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Heather said...

Well, I bit the bullet and started the HCG diet. I am well into it, I don't know what day quite frankly, I do one day at a time and that's all I think about. I am down just over 12lbs. I have had 3 or 4 cheat days because I work out of town a lot and I have working lunches a lot..A LOT. I try to have salads on those days with just a squeeze of lemon, but there are day where I just NEED the flavour burst so I go for it. So I'm not down as much as I should be, but it's still good.

I am not having a hard time at all, I do agree with the good quality food, good variety and spices. I totally do spices. Also Bragg's Amino Liquid, tastes like soya sauce so I have terriyaki chicken on spinach salad. Yum. I actually really like not having to work at what to eat. Just a protein and a veggie. It's when the kids what canelloni that I die a little inside. But I resisted temptation and just had a finger lick of sauce. How did you do on maintenance? Or did you do maintenance in between rounds?

Oh and the drops. I take 5ml of drops 6x/day. It totally eliminates the hunger. If you are hungry, you might want to up the drops a little.

HCG Drops said...

I like tip #10 - it's especially helpful when it comes to working out and/or going running. You both can push each other or even compete :)

Terra Merrill said...

Hi Kristy.
I am on day 8 of injections and the hcg plan and you are so right- it is tough going. I AM clinically obese, but my primary motivation for the drastic approach to losing weight is to reduce my blood sugars. It is quite critical, so I really am not allowing myself a cheat outside of the parameters of the program.

I did start with the 30 day cleanse prior to starting the phase 2 (injections) portion. Since starting that, I have lost 11 #. Since starting the injections, I have only lost 5# and for the past two days have shown no weight loss at all. Though my blood sugars continue to come down (a very good thing) I feel a bit disappointed in the stall.

It sounds as though you have a different program than I do. I am not allowed cottage cheese at all. I am having the two breadsticks per day and am wondering if that might be stalling me?

I really am all alone in this effort, and I find it psychologically very rigorous. It's very hard to deal with the hunger (which for me is incessant). That's it mostly. My energy is not bad, actually. And it is especially difficult to cope with a difficult day to have no 'reward' at the scale. Anyway...just reaching out to other hcg-ers for support and inspiration.

Wishing you all well!

Granny of 3 said...

Well done on all the great advice. Currently I am on p2 day 5 and am down 7#s. Yah!!! I find I crave salty crunchie foods, and have deviated from the protocol by eating corn chips and or saltine crackers. Too I had a couple oz of Crown Royal with diet coke and still lost. I'm not recommending going rouge, but we each need to find out how far we can push the envelope and stay sane on the hcg. I have a family of 5 so cooking all those tasty forbidden foods is a little like torture, so I feel if I deviate every once in a while (and still lose) then that's ok.