Monday, October 17, 2011

70 Down... 37 To Go

I have been getting requests for a blog post regarding my most recent success in the weight-loss department.  Recently, I told you about reaching a very important weight-loss goal.  I'm excited to say that I have reached another one.  I am now down 70 lbs.  Seventy.  Seven zero.  If you are math-y and have a super memory, you know this means that I now weigh 187 lbs.
December 2009 -- 257 lbs
When people see my results, or hear about my success, I get the same question: 'What's your secret?  How are you doing it?'  My response is the same every time: 'No secret at all.  A lot of hard work at the gym, making healthy food choices, and watching my portions.'  I get the feeling people are disappointed by my answer.  I have learned that healthy eaters -- and by that I mean traditional healthy eaters, in the form of non-dieters -- are a rarity, and most people aren't interested in putting in the physical work it takes to change their bodies.  I have received pleas for help and guidance, which I am happy to give, but seldom hear back once I divulge my 'secret'.
7/24/11 -- 207 lbs
I know that many of us are seeking an easy route.  Our lives are busy, our bodies are tired, and if we could just find something that worked yet required minimal effort, well then, that would be fantastic.  Believe me, I get it.  Just a week or two before the above picture was taken, I sat crying in my doctor's office telling him that I couldn't get below 200 lbs to save my life.  I was practically begging him for a diet pill.  That moment, I would have to say, was a huge emotional low for me.  Mostly because I do not believe in diet pills (my aunt had a stroke and died because of one that, at the time, was deemed 'safe and effective') and I am, down to my core, way too stubborn to take the easy way out on anything.  But at that moment, I was hopeless.  I blamed my hormones and had made myself believe that there was no way I could do it on my own.  All I can say is this... Thank God for my wonderful doctor who refused to prescribe a diet pill.  He told me what I already knew: diet pills are only temporarily effective (and incredibly unsafe), I needed to work out harder, and eat less.  I left his office that day filled with a new stubborn drive to make myself better.
08/07/11 -- 202 lbs
So I started treating the gym like an appointment I couldn't miss, even declining coffee invitations with friends, so to not miss my scheduled work-out time.  Each morning, Monday through Friday, I go.  Believe me, there are days that I would much rather stay in bed, but I know that I will feel amazing all day long if I make myself get up and go.  Staying in bed will only create a day filled with guilt and feeling lacking in the energy department.  I recently read that going to the gym is like making deposits into your body's energy bank.  The more you add, the more you have to use throughout the day.  I find this to be quite accurate.

So what do I do at the gym?  Well, I'm delighted you asked!  I lift weights 5 days a week (alternating each day with upper body and lower body weights).  I perform at least 60 reps at each weight machine.  It is not my recommendation that you start with 60 reps -- I suggest you meet with a trainer to properly assess where you are and what your body needs (my guess is that 3 or 4 sets of 12 reps would be a good jumping off point).  On these five days, I also sprinkle in some calisthenics, lunges, squats and ab work.  Twice a week I teach a Yoga class.  I rarely perform cardio... if I do, it's usually only 10-15 minutes on an elliptical machine.  This may sound like a lot of work, and it is, but I am not at the gym for hours on end like you might suspect.  You can get a great workout in 45 minutes if you work hard and stay focused.

'But you're a stay at home mommy, and you have time to waste.'  Well, um, gee... thanks?  Yes, I am a SAHM, but my time is precious, too.  I have a little boy who's mind I am molding daily, thank-you-very-much.  But really, if you have an hour a day to watch TV or check Facebook, then you have an hour to spend at the gym.  And isn't half the battle just getting through the door?  My new favorite quote is this: 'Exercise.  It's better to be sore than to be sorry.'
08/28/11 -- 196 lbs
As far as eating goes, I strongly urge you to begin keeping a food journal.  You will be amazed at where your calories are coming from.  I don't suggest counting calories, especially if you are active.  But know your serving sizes, understand ingredients (including good fats vs. bad fats, good carbs vs. bad carbs).  Don't fall for marketing schemes (ie: lite and fat-free).  Don't buy in to fad diets, no matter what the success rate claims to be -- or what celebrity of the month is endorsing it.  When I began paying attention to my portion sizes, I was shocked.  A family size box of Special K cereal used to last me only a week -- and I was the only one eating it.  Now that I changed my cereal bowl, and measure my portions, the same box lasts an entire month.  I eat healthy snacks.  I use whey protein powder (in my cereal, after a workout, and before bed).  Most importantly, I simply pay attention to what I put into my body.
09/13/11 -- 194 lbs
I feel like exercise and a healthy diet are important in supporting each other.  You cannot out-exercise a terrible diet, and you cannot out-diet a sedentary lifestyle.  To achieve results, you must eat healthily (this does not mean for only 12 weeks -- this means changing your lifestyle) and you have to move your body.  Some people will tell you to focus more on cardio than weights, but I know that, for me, weight training and Yoga have been the best for getting results (and isn't that what we're after?).  Building muscle turns your body into a calorie-burning machine -- even at rest.  People have been telling me that they think my scale is saying that I am heavier than I actually am -- that would be because of my muscle mass.  Your goal should be not just to slim down, but to change your body composition.  I have noticed that, even when I am not dropping pounds, I am dropping inches because my muscle-to-fat ratio is changing.
10/2/11 -- 190 lbs
My advice to you is this, pray a lot (God created you, and wants you to treat your body well).  Set small goals for yourself -- and treat yourself when you hit them (when I hit 180 lbs, I'm buying these gym shoes).  If you start out with a 100 lb weight loss goal, it will seem insurmountable.  Love your body, because you can't look after and care for something you hate.  Know that your body is a beautiful vessel to carry you through this life, appreciate it and respect it.  If you are the kind of person who needs continuous support, find a trustworthy accountability partner/gym buddy.  When people give you compliments, say thank you.  I have a really hard time with this, and tend to be pretty self deprecating, but my standard response is this 'Thank you.  I still have a lot of work to do, but I feel great.'  Which is true.  I do still have a lot to work to do, but I feel great for the first time in a very long time.  My struggle recently has been with body dismorphia -- I can see progress in my pictures and on the scale, but when I look in the mirror, I still see every single one of those 257 lbs staring back at me.  Even though 70 of them have been shed.  This is why I am focusing so heavily on how I feel, because I do feel amazing.
10/16/11 -- 187 lbs
You can accomplish great things.  You can make your body healthy.  You have to work for it, but it is so worth it.  Surround yourself with people who will love, support, and encourage you.  I know that, if not for my faith, family, and close friends, I would have given up on this journey long ago.

Be healthy.  Love yourself.  And thank you for keeping me In Good Company

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I can't be certain when it occurred.  I can't pinpoint that one moment when it happened.  But suddenly I have been thrown into the role of Mother of a Toddler.  Suddenly, so much has changed.  My sweet little snuggley round cheeked little munchkin boy has turned into this rough and tumble too-tough-for-his-own-good toddler (who prefers a mixing bowl on his head to a hat).  He is voicing his opinion in his own language that seems sacred, as (usually) only I can understand it.  He is in love with anything with wheels, and squeals with delight when he sees any sort of construction equipment or hears a 'choo choo chain'.  When he holds still for longer than 5 seconds, I get glimpses of the sweet young man I hope he will grow up to be.  He gently sways to music, he gives kisses and tight hugs.
September 2010
It takes a bit of adjusting when you transfer from babyhood to toddlerdom.  I was used to fairly quiet grocery store visits, but suddenly my child has turned into the unofficial store-wide people greeter.  Which means that, at the top of his little lungs, he yells a two-syllable "Hiiiiiiiii" to each person we see.  My last shopping trip got me thinking about all of the funny things that little ones do, that adults can't (or at the very least, shouldn't).  For example, a few weeks ago we arrived at the chiropractor's office (I had thrown out my back), only to realize that he had pooped.  Awesome.  I quickly changed his diaper in the car, left the smelly evidence securely wedged by my front tire (because no outdoor trash can was available and I chose not to share the scent with my chiropractor) and went in.  But, we can't just discreetly walk in -- my son practically hops through the threshold with a loud belch.  So loud, in fact, that the doctor laughs and then compliments him on his abilities.  In the waiting room, an attractive college co-ed enters, and my little ladies' man decides that he wants to sit by her instead of his mommy.  He crawls up onto the bench beside her, stares and says 'HIII' three times.  Good thing he's cute.  On the way out of the office (as I'm trying to keep his hands away from all of the natural supplement bottles he is trying to rip off of the shelves -- certain I look a trite more disheveled and exasperated than I did upon our arrival) he is loudly quacking -- yes, like a duck -- because he happened to see a picture of one (who else besides a child can practice animal impressions in public places?).  The waiting room is full, and he makes a point to show off his quacking to each and every person before yelling a hearty 'BYE BYE' as we walk out the door.  When we finally reach my car, I remember that there is a diaper full of crap that has been sitting out in the hot sun, that now has to ride with us in the car until I can find a trash can for disposal (Dear Sonic employees: You're welcome).
February 2011
I guess the reason that I find all of his antics so funny, is because I try to picture the reactions I would get if I did the same thing.  I mean, if I quacked my way out of a doctor's office, I'm fairly certain that I would be involuntarily evaluated.

Right now we are fighting a battle against throwing.  If it will fit in his hand, he will throw it.  I even received a handful of spaghetti right in the face (thank God his hands are small).  When he is finished eating, instead of telling us he is 'all done' (which we have tried and tried again to teach him to do), he immediately begins throwing food -- much to the delight of our mutt, Daisy.  When I retrieve him from our gym's daycare he screams 'MOMMY' which is promptly followed by the pitching of whatever is in his hands.  Recently my husband was delivering a post-timeout lecture about how 'we don't throw food, we eat food and it makes Mommy and Daddy sad when we throw food'.  I peeked around the corner to watch the encounter, only to see him looking intently into my husband's eyes with the most serious look on his face -- all while running in place.  I almost choked on my own spit and peed my pants because I was laughing so hard.

Now imagine yourself getting a lecture from your boss, and deciding that that very moment was the best time for a quick stationary jog.  There's a plus side to being little -- and that plus side is called spontaneity.
May 2011
Our little mini human has also learned the art of being stubborn (I don't know where he gets it).  He will dig in his heels until it hurts before doing something (or, more likely, saying something) he doesn't want to do.  For example, he will repeat (or at least try his darnedest) anything you tell him to, but for some reason he will not say 'love you'.  Tonight, as per our usual bedtime routine, I read him three books, sang four songs, and said prayers (which includes him repeating, in two-word sections, the 'Now I lay me down to sleep' prayer).  This is part of our exchange:

Me: I love you, buddy.  Say 'love you'.

K: Night night.

Me: No, say 'love you'.

K: Bye.

Me: Say 'love'.

K: Wuf.

Me: Say 'you'.

K: You.

Me: Say 'love you'.

K: Jayhawk!

Me: No, say 'love you'


What's funny about this is that when he says 'Jayhawk', he tucks his chin way down into his chest and bellows the word in a very deep man voice.  Although my husband also always tries to get him to say 'love you', I think it makes him happier (and quite proud of me) that our son can say 'Rock Chalk', 'Jayhawk', and 'KU'.
July 2011
I wouldn't trade any of these funny (and sometimes irritating) moments for anything in the world.  Being a stay at home mommy isn't always all rainbows and butterflies, but it is the best, most important (and most demanding) job I have ever had.  I love that my son has a sense of humor and that he loves being downright silly.  He laughs when I break out in random dance steps (although, someday, this might really embarrass him), and he turns my piano solos into duets.  He is the reason I fall into bed exhausted each night -- yet often lay awake, plagued with mommy-worry.  For the girl who never wanted kids, I have found myself downright smitten with this sweet little boy.
September 2011
Thank you for keeping me In Good Company.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

hCG Diet: Glorified Starvation

Recently, while working out at my gym, I participated in a somewhat heated discussion regarding the 'hCG Diet'.  If you know me, or have been paying attention to anything I write, you are already aware that I am not a fan of any extreme diet, diet pill, or any other unmaintainable lifestyle that shoots for skinny instead of healthy.
The point I try to drive home, whenever anyone asks me about hCG, is that it simply is not healthy or maintainable.  The diet consists of injecting or orally ingesting the hormone while only allowing yourself 500 (or less) calories per day.  It is generally very low-carb and very low-fat (P.S. low-fat and Atkins-esk diets tend to be horrible for you in the long run).  All in all, it's glorified starvation.  Your body needs at least 800 calories each and every day to simply survive.  More if you are at all active (as in you actually have to get out of bed each day and function).  When you send your body into starvation mode, your body will store fat and feed off of muscle.  This is not what you want your body to do, people.  You need muscle to give you strength to perform daily activities.  You need calories to give you energy to live -- and I mean this in both the most basic and most extensive form of the word live.
Fans of this plan (which to me sounds suspiciously like a concentration camp diet) boast that hCG is 'all natural'.  I'll grant you that.  hCG is a natural hormone produced by the body during gestation.  However, many companies are selling synthetic versions of hCG.  My other point... do you know what else is 'all natural'?  Grass, blood, marijuana, urine, dirt, tree bark, and bugs.  But I don't suggest you eat or inject any of those into your body for weight loss purposes.
Other supporters of this diet will spew information about hCG opening the 'garage doors' to your fat cells so that your body can eat up all your fat.  I'm sorry, but it doesn't work that way.  Have you ever seen a pregnant woman boast about her weight loss simply because of the hCG her body is suddenly producing?  And if (big IF) it did work that way, how do you explain the need to drastically reduce caloric intake?  It doesn't. make. sense.  If you only eat 500 calories a day, of course you will lose weight.  You are starving yourself.  It's called an eating disorder.  It's not fun.  I've been there.
People who participate in this plan are looking for that magic solution.  They are looking for the next cabbage soup diet or grapefruit diet, praying that this time it's the real deal.  But, I'm telling you from experience, starving yourself is not the way to do it.  It's not worth it.  You absolutely cannot maintain that sort of extreme lifestyle.  The side effects of starvation, both short term (hair loss, constipation, lack of concentration, irritability, sleeplessness, lethargy, etc.) and long term (infertility, thyroid disorders, slowed metabolism, higher susceptibility to eating disorders, etc) are not worth it.  If you want to lose weight and be healthy, you have to work hard and eat healthy.  The slower you lose it, the longer it stays off.  If you lose it over night, it will come rushing back on (plus some).  At some point, you will crash.  You simply cannot abuse your body with such careless abandon and expect to stay healthy.
Be healthy.  Love yourself.  And thank you for keeping me In Good Company.

Below you will find information from both Wikipedia and US NewsPlease feel free to educate yourself further.

Human chorionic gonadotropin or human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) is a glycoprotein hormone produced during pregnancy that is made by the developing embryo after conception and later by the syncytiotrophoblast (part of the placenta),[1][2] but it is not known whether this production is a contributing cause or an effect of tumorigenesis. hCG is also produced in the pituitary gland of males and females of all ages.[1][3]

Human chorionic gonadotropin interacts with the LHCG receptor and promotes the maintenance of the corpus luteum during the beginning of pregnancy, causing it to secrete the hormone progesterone. Progesterone enriches the uterus with a thick lining of blood vessels and capillaries so that it can sustain the growing fetus. Due to its highly-negative charge, hCG may repel the immune cells of the mother, protecting the fetus during the first trimester. It has also been hypothesized that hCG may be a placental link for the development of local maternal immunotolerance. For example, hCG-treated endometrial cells induce an increase in T cell apoptosis (dissolution of T-cells). These results suggest that hCG may be a link in the development of peritrophoblastic immune tolerance, and may facilitate the trophoblast invasion, which is known to expedite fetal development in the endometrium.[5] It has also been suggested that hCG levels are linked to the severity of morning sickness in pregnant women.[6]
Because of its similarity to LH, hCG can also be used clinically to induce ovulation in the ovaries as well as testosterone production in the testes. As the most abundant biological source is women who are presently pregnant, some organizations collect urine from pregnant women to extract hCG for use in fertility treatment.[7]
Human chorionic gonadotropin also plays a role in cellular differentiation/proliferation and may activate apoptosis.[8]

Weight loss
A controversial usage of hCG is as an adjunct to the British endocrinologist Albert T. W. Simeons' ultra-low-calorie weight-loss diet (less than 500 calories). Simeons, while studying pregnant women in India on a calorie-deficient diet, and “fat boys” with pituitary problems (Frölich's syndrome) treated with low-dose hCG, claimed that both lost fat rather than lean (muscle) tissue. He reasoned that hCG must be programming the hypothalamus to do this in the former cases in order to protect the developing fetus by promoting mobilization and consumption of abnormal, excessive adipose deposits. Simeons, practicing at Salvator Mundi International Hospital in Rome, Italy, recommended low-dose daily hCG injections (125 IU) in combination with a customized ultra-low-calorie (500 cal/day, high-protein, low-carbohydrate/fat) diet loss of adipose tissue without loss of lean tissue. After Simeons’ death, the diet started to spread to specialized centers and via popularization by individuals, such as the controversial author Kevin Trudeau, famous for promotion of alternative therapies and treatments.
The controversy proceeds from warnings by the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition[16] that hCG is neither safe nor effective as a weight-loss aid.[17] However, recent studies in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism show hCG can have an effect on the lean body mass of older men with androgen deficiency.[18]
A meta analysis found that studies supporting hCG for weight loss were of poor methodological quality and concluded that "there is no scientific evidence that HCG is effective in the treatment of obesity; it does not bring about weight-loss or fat-redistribution, nor does it reduce hunger or induce a feeling of well-being".[19]

Homeopathic hCG for weight control

Controversy about, and shortages[20] of, injected hCG for weight loss have led to substantial Internet promotion of "homeopathic hCG" for weight control. The ingredients in these products are often obscure, but if prepared from true hCG via homeopathic dilution, they contain either no hCG at all or only trace amounts.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has stated that this drug is fraudulent and ineffective for weight loss. It is also not protected as a homeopathic drug and has been deemed an illegal substance.[21][22]
According to the studies noted above, the weight loss indicated by individuals on an "hCG diet" can be attributed entirely to the fact that such diets prescribe a consumption rate of 500-550 calorie per day, or approximately one quarter of what is commonly accepted as the daily recommended value for a male adult of average build and activity. Further, double-blind studies note no decrease in appetite by those taking hCG versus individuals on placebos and have offered no evidence that individuals taking hCG are more likely to lose fat than lean tissue. Long-term results caution that unlike individuals participating in a diet of, for example, 1100 calories per day those on a 500 calorie per day diet are unlikely to develop more appropriate eating habits and will gain weight more quickly after the diet has completed.

US News:

HCG Diet Dangers: Is Fast Weight Loss Worth the Risk?

It's dubious. There's no good evidence it works. But hCG dieters insist they're dropping pounds fast
Angela Haupt