Thursday, April 28, 2011

HCG Diet and Triathlon Training

Ok, let me just start with a few disclaimers:
1) Uhmmm, the triathlon training really didn't happen, but more thoughts on that later.
2) I am not selling HCG or recommending it to anyone, this is just my experience.
3) I did not do this under medical supervision. I am healthy and had recently had a physical.
4) I did the injections, and no it didn't hurt, yes I am needle phobic but it wasn't a big deal.
5) It was not terribly expensive, I hear of people spending thousands per round, one 40 day round cost $100.

Ok, so this is the story. Last November I did Ironman Arizona, it was the culmination of a year of training hard, and eating not so clean. I finished, not in style, but I finished and am very happy about that. I did lose weight with my tri training but not as much as I wanted. After IMAZ I cut back on the training. A year of two a days, is hard on me, but also hard on my family. A cutback on training and menopausal metabolism is not a good combination. What to I'm halfheartedly training for Vineman and the weight is creeping up?? Then I saw a friend, who looks fabulous, I asked, what did you do? She told me she had done the HCG diet. I went home and researched it (forever) and decided to try it. It took some debating in my mind because you are not supposed to exercise.....What! A diet with no exercise? I thought I would try it but keep up my training. It worked for the first few days, but then I began wilting on my bike, I had to decide.... diet or exercise, I decided just for six weeks I could do without the exercise and see what happens, then I would pick back up and play catch up with training, and to be honest I was perfectly ok with scrapping Vineman, my heart just wasn't in it, even from the beginning.
This is how HCG works, you give yourself a daily injection of HCG, the first two days you eat a lot, they are loading days and you want to store fat. Then you start the diet. It is 500 calories a day, I know that sounds crazy low, but honestly I was not hungry other than occasionally before dinner. You eat two fruits, two vegetables, two breadsticks and two servings of lean meat. Let me just be really honest...I cheated on the diet. It's called peanut butter! Me and peanut butter have this thing, but for the most part I tried pretty hard to follow it. I didn't really count calories as much as servings.
Results: My last injection is tomorrow and then I have three days more of 500 cal/day before I start 3 weeks of maintenance, so I will post my total loss in a few days. But....I did not lose as much weight as people who are heavier to start with, part of it is because I was not as fanatical about the protocol as I should have been, works! I am short to begin with, and I have already mentioned that with menopausal metabolism, I have an impossible time losing weight.
I also am about 5 pounds short of where I wanted to be, if I had severed my relationship with peanut butter I might have made it!
Reality: The reality of the situation is I have lost most of the weight I wanted, I will probably do another short 3 week round of HCG for those last few pounds after the St. George Marathon and Tour de Tucson. I want to do those two events and register for IMAZ 2012.
Reality: I did not stop exercising completely, I walked about 3 miles/day and did occasional weight training. One of the premises of HCG is that you lose fat stores, not muscle. I believe this to be true after doing it. My muscle strength seems to be ok, but..........and this is a big negative, when you neglect cardio it goes fast! I think it is going to take awhile to build the cardio and enjoy the bike and running again.
Reality: Time magazine had an interesting article on weight loss the bottom line was, it's all about diet. After doing the hcg diet I can't help but agree. I had to make a decision between weight loss and exercise, I was not able to combine the two and achieve the results I wanted. Not saying it can't be done, there are plenty of people who clean up their eating, exercise and lose weight but it wasn't working for me. Partly because of the entitlement mentality (I just ran 12 miles, of course I deserve this cookie!). By separating weight loss from exercise I have been able to almost (those dang 5 pounds!) achieve what I wanted.
Reality: I have 3 weeks of low carb maintenance phase before I start adding (slowly) the carbs.
As with any other diet the question is can it be maintained. The premise of hcg is that your metabolism is reset and it is easy to keep off. I'll let you know on that.
Reality: Many people criticize the fact that this calorie is only 500 cal/day. I know it's hard to believe I wasn't hungry, but other than that for me it was 500 calories of good, non processed food. Fruit, vegetables and lean meat, I often left out the breadsticks. If you analyze the diet of a person you must analyze how many calories are coming from healthy and how much from junk. Are you putting in more than 500 calories of healthy food?
Reality: This is my big reality right now, yep I lost weight but my next challenge is to regain the lost fitness. I am hoping that being 15 pounds lighter will be an asset as I resume training for St. G, I already know it is easy to lose fitness and much harder to build it back up. Was it worth it, I think yes.