Saturday, August 21, 2010

HCG: Divine's First Round

Well, today I officially begin a new phase in my life. Lately, I decided to try what I call the HCG Protocol, created by a Dr. Simeon long, long ago. He wrote a book called "Pounds and Inches," which is available - for free - on the Net.

For now, I won't write much about the protocol itself...but I will do so soon. As the moment, I am still learning about HCG and focusing on one Phase at a time (though I did take a peek at what to do in future Phases).

For the past two days, I've been taking homeopathic HCG drops (H-HCG, for short), and "loading up" (otherwise known as "load" days, which means eating a lot of good fats). Today I will begin the "diet" - a VLC (Very Low Cal) way-of-eating, for just 21 days. (That's just one part of the "protocol.")

Before one panics on hearing "VLC," please know that the only reason I'd dare try it is due to the effect of the HCG drops. What effect? It pulls out the tough fat, upon which the body will get is energy; repairs and reset the hypothalamus, and the protein and veggies one does eat are just enough to help the body repair. There's the "side benefit" of greatly mitigating arthritis pain while taking HCG.

I am doing this since I have tried every low-carb angle possible, and still I am "stuck." I think a 2 year experience of bouncing, fighting it off, losing a little, gaining it back (along with very unwelcome friends) is ENOUGH. It is time to find out why low-carb worked (for awhile) and then STOPPED working. According to Dr. Simeon's, those of us who struggle like this do have a "Metabolic Disorder" and it needs quite a few adjustments to get it straightened out.

Since my own doctor can't or won't help me, I'm on my own (again). After getting blood tests (all normal - or so he says) and reflecting on the only choices he gave me (giving up OR trying a higher carb, lower protein diet that has never worked for me but which my doctor "snarkily" recommended), I mentally dismissed him and immediately began looking for more options.

But where to look when one doesn't know exactly what one is seeking?

So I searched around low carb boards and discovered something called HCG. Honestly, I donj't remember hearing about it, and yet it seems to ring a distant bell. So I read a bit about it, didn't know what to think....and pondered for awhile.

Eventually, I went to a brand-new health store near my little town. Lo and behold, they had info on HCG, as well as a few books and the homeopathic drops. After discussing it with the fella behind the counter (whom I've met before and who informed me he is also on the HCG, having lost 24 lbs. in 21 days), I bought the books and the drops.

Then I came home and read and pondered a bit more. Though I have a bit of anxiety (which is silly - what do I have to lose except unhealthy fat?), I am "gong for it."

Never give up, never give in! And as the old commercial jingo goes, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Whoosh Fairy

Remember the Blue Fairy from Pinnochio? She has a twin sister, who is known as the "Whoosh Fairy." In case you don't know what she does, I'd be happy to tell you.

The Whoosh Fairy is the best friend of low-carbers. She visits when one least expects it. What she seemingly does is reward those who stick with the low-carb lifestyle, despite all temptations to despair (especially when the scale goes stubborn for a matter of days or even weeks).

Just when one really needs it most, the Whoosh Fairy visits, waves her magic wand, and - Whoosh - the pounds disappear (overnight) in 2, 3, 4 or even 5 lb. increments. (With the fellas, she's sometimes even more generous! Lucky dudes!)

Of course, there's a scientific explanation for the Whoosh, and it has to do with insulin, glycogen stores, muscle vs. fat, and all that jazz. And I could and have explained it in a scientific manner, many a time.

But the Whoosh Fairy is beautifully whimsical, and there are times in life one simply needs the whimsical.

Besides, I prefer to believe in faeries and mermaids and the man-in-the-moon...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Here Comes the Bride - 25 Years Later

It looks like spring has sprung, and I decided to follow suit. Today (Sunday), I again started my 1.5 hour Water Workout, and I ended up by kicking my own caboose (wow, did I!). My plan is to ease into the low-carbing for a day or two, and then slide right into Atkins Induction. When that stops working, I'll again count on my "shake it up to shake it down" routine by rotating or cycling the low-carb ways of eating. All of them work for me - for a while, that is.

As usual, the winter brought its usual struggle of bouncing up on the scale. The bounces kept winning. So I've decided, this year it is my turn to win. I absolutely will hit my final goal (or I will be very close to it). How I will do that - well, we'll find out. Where there's a will, there's a way - and I have the will to do it! I'm going to crack my own personal fat loss code, break the plateau, shake this booty off, enter Onederland - and stay there!

Incidentally, this May 3rd marks the third year since I learned how to low-carb and keep at it. While I had great success for the first 6.5 months, I never hit final goal, despite my best efforts. Third time's the charm, or so they say. :)

Besides, I have another great incentive: This December marks the silver wedding anniversary of the dh and I. I can't believe it myself - where did that time go? The dh and I had a beautiful wedding Mass and a small reception, but we never had a honeymoon. In my humble opinion, after 25 years, 6 children, lots of joys but also many sorrows, he and I should have a honeymoon. For myself, I'd be thrilled for just one week away alone with the hubby, something like the Carribean, Aruba, whatever - just a beautiful island with lots of blue, blue water. So that's my secret hope.

Realistically, it's just a pipe dream, really, since we're not rich people and I really can't see how we'd manage to afford such a trip. Still, I am hoping and planning that we can manage something special for our silver anniversary.

That reminds me! I'm trying to remember where I tucked away my wedding dress (and how in the world could I forget something like that?). I've seen couples who renew their wedding vows and I've seen brides who still fit into their wedding gowns 25 years later. I think that could be my ultimate anniversary goal, eh?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Low Carbing and the Swing in Your Thing!

Today I had another low-carb epiphany! A bright light went off and I suddenly understood that the low-carb lifestyle is akin to a life-long, intra-personal Metabolic Arm-Wrestling Match.

Metaphorically speaking, my Mean Metabolism and I are engaged in a constant struggle. For the first decade of my life, she was my friend. She was just "Miss Metabolism" then. But puberty came, and Miss Metabolism changed. It started with slow changes - turning the slim child into a "pleasantly-plump teen," no matter how active I was.

By the time I was in my 20's, Miss Metabolism was very unfriendly. Once I hit my 30's, she was downright mean. In the Metabolic Arm-Wrestling Match, of which I was an unwilling partner, she got me all the time. Why? Because, lurking in the shadows, insulin resistance had turned my former friend into a vicious monster. As it turns out, the only way to help Miss Metabolism (and myself!) is by healing her - even though she wants no part of it.

For many long years (decades, in fact), Miss Meanie Metabolism maintained complete control over me - all because I did not know what had gone wrong in our relationship. I didn't know that to help Metabolism means to get that insulin resistance under firm control - and keep it there. Once that happens, Meanie Metabolism will start to heal, but we have to understand that insulin resistance will always be waiting in the background, ready to take over Metabolism once more.

The situation reminds me of what happened to Peter Parker in Spiderman III - when an alien and evil symbiant sneakily turned the usually decent and hard-working Peter into one aggressive stinker. Once Peter figured out what was going on, he struggled with the "false high" the alien gave him - but he inevitably made the right choice, and found an unusual way to defeat the allures of the symbiant.

What the evil symbiant did to Peter Parker is what insulin resistance does to our poor Metabolisms. For insulin resistance is our inner symbiant; it makes us crave the carbs that are bad for us; it gives us an artificial high that, in the end, will change not only the way we look but what we are, inside. It will destroy us. Just like Peter, the symbiant is not only bad for us - but for those we love, and for those who love us. Kickin' carbs is the only way to control it (because, unlike Peter, we can't totally be rid of insulin resistance) .

For those with Metabolic Syndrome, kickin' carbs results in a slimmer and healthier you. (On top of that, wouldn't you just love to once more have that swing in your thing? LOL!)

So - back to my epiphany. Things are a little different now - because, like Peter, I now know of the 'unusual' weapons against insulin-resistance and I must use them! At this point in my intra-personal Metabolic Arm-Wrestling Match, it seems that the Mean Metabolism and I are of equal strength. Sometimes her arm goes down, and other times my arm goes down. But she has been at her tricks a lot longer than have I. Eventually, as I keep using all of my low-carb strategies, I will overcome insulin resistance, and that means transforming Miss Meanie Metabolism back to my former friend, Miss Magnificent Metabolism!

Today's update, by the way! Divine: 3 lbs. down, for a total of 15 lbs. in 7 days (hear the crowd roar!)/Miss Meanie Metabolism: Zilch!

Meanwhile, I've initiated a Challenge at LowCarbFriends called The 100 Day PLUS Challenge. It's as simple as it is straightforward: a set of 'mini-challenges' for anyone who is low-carbing.

The Goals: To help each one of us stay on plan (whichever low-carb plan you choose), with 'mini-challenge' after 'mini-challenge' (all within one Over-all Challenge). Individually, we set our own goals. We are not challenging each other, but supporting each other while proving to ourselves we can stay 'on plan' 24/7 - no matter what!

End Results: 1) Each person who is faithful to plan will be well on their way to healing their own Metabolisms. 2) Each one of us will see outer results of weight loss and enjoy better health with inner, hidden results (lower blood pressure, better cholesterol numbers, lower incidences or complete disappearance of GERDS, etc.). 3) We build comraderie and support each other, day after day, week after week - right through the last days of summer, early fall, Halloween sweets time, Thanksgiving carby-time, and all those Christmas goodies, everywhere we turn! (Oh, that Mean Metabolism - how she tries to trick us to use her very own weapons against ourselves!) With a strong support system, we can not only manage low-carbing but excel at it and revel in it! (And each one of us will inevitably defeat that Meanie Metabolism, whether yours is a Miss or a Mister!)

The first mini-challenge ends on September 8 (a Tuesday) - because many people have a hard time with the Labor Day weekend bar-b-q's. That mini-challenge started just two days ago, but you can join anytime.

Then we move on to the next 'mini-challenge' - and so it will go, until we get to New Year's Day, 2010!!! Anybody who is low-carbing (or wants to!) can join us at any point in the 130 days of challenges. I'll be glad to see you there - just be sure to post a note in the "100 Day PLUS" thread and throw a holler at me!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Another Whoosh

Wow - I am thrilled to report I dropped 12 lbs. in 4 days. That has to be the biggest initial "Induction" loss I've ever experienced in 2 years of earnest low carbing!

How did I manage that? Well, it seems I did it again. That is, once more I "cycled" my low carb lifestyle. One the first day, I had lean proteins, one smoothie (which wasn't as low-carb as I wanted), and a small piece of cheesecake. The next day I did my version of Stillman's (some Pam spray, a teeny bit of butter) and all proteins. On the third and fourth days, I went super-low carb with real fats and fattier proteins only - technically, that's either VLC (Very Low Carb) or it might be considered ZC (Zero Carb), only Dilletante-style (since I did have eggs, and eggs have a tiny bit of carbs).

Over the last two days, I also drank 36 oz. of hot green tea lemon (Carrington brand), with the juice of 1/2 fresh lemon in each cup. In other words, I used the hot lemon water trick, only this time I added a tea bag of green tea lemon to each 12 oz. cup. Lemon water is great for getting rid of swelling or bloat, getting the insulin resistance under control, and more - and boy, did I need it! I'm also taking supplements, like the Super B's, Omega 3's, acetyl-L-carnitine, etc. (I'm out of a few of my usual supplements, so it's time to restock!)

I fully expect that great loss to slow down - if not completely stop for awhile - but it's ok. The point is - I'm back on track, having lost almost half of the 25 lbs. gained since August 3 (the day I quit smoking). Most importantly, I am rebuilding my confidence.

My plan is to keep cycling the low-carb lifestyle - from VLC to ZC and perhaps a day or two of Protein Power as I feel I need it. That's because I know I'll have to change the eating pattern, since my metabolism catches on very quickly. In other words, I'll just keep "Shaking It Up to Shake It Down"!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Whooshie Time!

My update for yesterday (Friday) morning: It looks like I dropped 5 lbs. That was a nice overnight Whoosh, and I didn't expect it. It had to be water, but who cares? As I always say - it's water that had no business being in my body, anyway.

As for the menu, I'm sticking with proteins for now. Every so often, I may decide to have a small salad. That is, I'm in the mood to do my Stillman's cycling trick (for more info, please see my post, "Another Way to Cycle with Stillman's Plans"). I realize that I sound indecisive - Induction one day, Stillman's the next - but I did say in yesterday's post that I was also incorporating the Lindora approach of 2-3 days of all proteins. That's because I mean business. After all, I know how my body responds (to a point, that is). Fall is just around the corner, and that change in the weather means an even worse battle with water retention. So my first mini-goal is to get this month's mean bounce off my body - asap.

The fastest way to get the weight off is Stillman's and loads of supplements. But that can only last up to 2 weeks, and then anyone doing Stillman's has to switch. I'm mulling whether or not to do 2 weeks of Stillman's, or try the Lindora approach of 2-3 days of lean proteins (no carbs except for the few in eggs), then switch over to low-carbing for the rest of the week. Right now, I'm in the mood for proteins; I don't even want a salad.

Once my system is "rebooted" by those all-protein days (for however long they last), I will then switch over to Induction (or as I should say, Protein Power's Intervention Level) and those daily total carbs of 30. Having a small salad or two (heaped with proteins) and a 4 oz. cup of sf pudding or jello will seem like a treat. And I have to have those good fats; anybody does. I'm giving myself the next month to get that 25 lb. gain off. But it's also when the real struggle begins anew - to again reach and then get past my previous low weight, where I've been stuck since November 2007.

There is definitely an interlude in which one must avoid the scale; that's when our bodies are "defragging" and so we're not seeing anything happen when it comes to lost pounds. That's the time to avoid the scale, since that is the exact time that "The Scale Doesn't Tell the Whole Tale" (another thing I often say!).

But this is not one of those times. I already know I am going to have to keep a close eye on "the precious" - that evil thing we love and hate the most: the scale!

So - we'll see what "the precious" says later this morning (Saturday). And it had better give a good report, or I'll throw it into the fires of Mt. Doom. (Can you tell I'm an enthusiast of The Lord of the Rings?)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Induction Junction: What's Your Function?

I'm typing in red because it's a RED LETTER day - it's back to Induction for me! With my apologies to Grammar Rock, I have a new spin on its famous old song (Conjunction Junction). Here's my version: "Induction Junction, what's your function? Cuttin' back carbs to get healthy and lean..."

Not only is it true that "Man shall not live by bread alone," but it is very possible and very healthy to live without it!

My personal health issue is simple: Over two years ago, I lost alot of weight and inches (within 6.5 months!), my health greatly improved (for which I will be forever grateful) - but, but, but - I never hit goal weight.

My goal weight is not just a vanity issue. I truly needed to lose another 40-50 lbs. Sometimes I feel embarrassed even thinking about how much more I had to go, which is simply ridiculous of me. All that weight gain was really not my fault; it was all due to a medical condition. But our absurd culture ingrains into our heads the silly idea "It's your own fault," and it's hard to completely overcome it. The truth is that insulin resistance is a nasty thing with which to live, and still the medical world (overall) doesn't recognize the real problem. So one must be very determined to stick with the low-carb lifestyle. As I've said before, the battle really begins in the mind, and that is also where it ends.

Since the embers of my inner fire were recently stirred, I want to keep that fire going. In fact, I want to have (and be) a blazing fire of motivation. It's very true that when we help others, we are also helping ourselves. And since stoking the inner fire of perseverance is entirely up to me, I went looking for the (proverbial) wood to feed that fire.

What I did: I opened up my original Low Carb Journal, and then my old Fitday entries, and it really helped. I do not mean to sound conceited, but I have to admit that in reading all my older entries, I amazed myself. And I asked myself, "From whence did all my determination come?"

It came from being fed up. Fed up with pain, illness, and (gulp) obesity. Fed up with "diets" and exercise that worked (fabulously) for almost everybody else, but never for me. What was I doing wrong? I was determined to fight back - determined in a good but competitive way, determined to win the battle against the raw metabolic deal I'd been dealt.

In again reading the first year of my personal Low Carb Journal, it was almost like reading about someone else's life - almost, but not quite. After all, it was only 2 years ago. It is not that I had not forgotten; I (usually) have a good memory. But the 'impact' of it all had lessened in time. And in the past 10 months, I've been fighting setback after setback.

It's not easy to describe how I felt when reading it all again, but I can say it was worth it - living again all the painful effort to make the menus easy but low-carb (painful only because I was in physical pain), the edgy remarks, "You mean you're never going to eat a piece of bread again? How about a potato? What about spaghetti? Well, you've tried it before - what makes you think you'll do it this time?" (thank goodness, these remarks did not come from my husband); all the effort it took to first get into a public pool and exercise (despite my embarrassment and my exhaustion), and then reading again of my euphoria the day I could walk without a cane...a euphoria that lasted for months. Truly, the results of the initial 6 month, low-carb journey was very much like a miracle.

So, all that has happened in the past 10 months are merely a setback. A temporary setback. So what? Ten months does not a lifetime make. I had yet another setback because I quit smoking (again, for my health) but breaking that habit, as everyone warns, means weight gain. (Sometimes I have to wonder if just breathing makes me gain weight, too.)

One way to overcome the smoking habit is to replace it with a good habit. Induction is one good replacement, and finding a new exercise I enjoy will be another. This weekend, the indoor community pool will close for 2 weeks (clean up time) I may start walking the track. Or riding a real bike! (I haven't done that in years!)

As for Induction...I've learned a lot about it through experience.

Back in the day (not so long ago) when I went on "The Woe that Shall Not Be Named" (sounds like Lord Voldemort, "He-Who-Shall-Not-Be Named," doesn't it?), I had first interpreted the direction about using just enough fats "to make it work" in this way: Use "real fats" without going overboard. I was still thinking in Atkins-ease (which really was a blessing in disguise, and which is not "The Woe that Shall Not Be Named"). Therefore, I carefully measured real fats (butter for scrambling eggs, "real" dressing for salad), and I did not use any "low-fat" products.

It was only later that I switched to the "low fat" option. Those were difficult months, because the weight loss was downright weird. However, by learning to 'tweak' the low-carb lifestyle, and by faithfully working out in the pool, I did lose 50 lbs. in 12 weeks. Then it all came to a screeching, painful halt.

That led me to further experiments in cycling fat, protein, or carb grams. I kept exercising, too. I lost a little more weight, but it was ridiculously slow - too slow for a person so far from goal. Eventually, the weight loss came to another grinding halt. At the beginning of the sixth month, I turned to Protein Power - I upped my protein intake a bit, I divided carbs carefully per meal, and I also measured real fats. I then lost the final 28 lbs. out of 100 - and then it all stopped. After that, I entered "Bounceville," and couldn't get out (it was something like the Hotel California!) - how maddening, especially when I was only 20 lbs. from Onederland!

Still, as it turns out, my first interpretation on the use of fats was the correct, healthy one.

Of one thing I am certain: pulling back on the protein grams is not good in combo with "low-fat." All that does is lead to Starvation Mode. Since I kept reading books and website on low-carbing, eventually I discovered that we really do need fat. It's just insane that we're culturally trained to despise the word "fat." Being fat is one thing, eating fat is another. In most cases, including real fat in one's meals means "fighting fire with fire."

I see it this way: In the pioneer days, people knew that one way to fight an approaching raging fire, sweeping the prairie, was to dig a trench around one's house (not too close), and then set a new fire on its other side. (That is, of course, if there was time to dig such a trench.) A ring of fire then went around the house, and when the bigger fire finally hit and consumed the smaller fire, the whole fire then died down. Amazing strategy, isn't it? That is what is meant by the old adage, "Fight fire with fire."

So - the way to fight too much body fat is with clean, consumable fats. Butter, olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil - they're all good. (But stay away from oils like corn and canola. And watch out for those sneaky "spreads" that pass themselves off as butter!)

Sure, there might be times to "cut back" on the fats - but that should not last for more than 2 weeks (ala Stillman's). And by "cutting," I don't mean switching to low-fat margarine, dressings, and that sort of thing. If anything must be cut, it seems the first thing to cut is either the carbs or the proteins. If one's carbs are too low, then up them and drop the protein grams a bit. Cutting back on real fats means simply that - use 1/2 tbsp. instead of a whole one when scrambling eggs. Lightly drizzle meats instead of soaking them.

But don't give up the fat for good, because the good we get from real fats is too good to forsake.

In the meantime, today I restart my personalized version of Induction, with a touch of Lindora and Protein Power (2 or 3 days of all proteins and 'just enough fats to make it work" - to kick my quirky metabolism in the caboose - then switch to 30 total carbs per day, instead of the Atkins Induction Level of no more than 20 carbs a day). After all this time and experience, it makes sense to start at a higher level of carbs and then lower them.

This time, I'm gonna make it!