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Before and After

December 15, 2011 2 comments

If you’re doing Hcg (by the way, do stop that once you’re done!), I’m here to tell you that there is weight loss after hcg! You don’t have to continue using to lose.

Before (taken in Bali in 2007)

After (Dec 14, 2011)

Categories: Thoughts & such

My experience with the hcG diet – an honest review

August 15, 2010 17 comments

I have a confession to make. When I mentioned before that a doctor put me on medication and I lost weight, I wasn’t entirely honest. That’s because I do not want people to get too interested in the said medication because I personally do not believe that it is 100% safe, despite what its many adherents say.

The medication is hcg – Human Choriogonadotropin, the hormone produced by pregnant women in the early stages of pregnancy. The theory is that this hormone will trick the body into delving into the fat storage while you’re taking a very low calorie diet. In fact, for the one month I was on hcg, I ate only 500 calories.

I wasn’t wild on the idea of injecting hormones into my body, but I was sick, desperate and at the end of my rope. I thought I could never lose weight the normal way and that I was just so screwed that injecting hormones into me won’t make it any worse.

Did it work?
It did. I lost about 10kg in one month. Yes, a month. And I had incredible energy despite the low calorie diet. (The explanation is that your fat storage was used to provide you energy.) Yet, despite the obvious success I had with hcg, I can’t openly recommend it to people.

My reasons:

The cost
First, it’s expensive. Very expensive.

Getting real hcg can be a challenge
You need a doctor that knows his stuff to administer it for you or else things could go wrong. I read about people regaining weight because of wrong hcg dosages and all. In the US, there are many charlatans selling hcg that is not hcg, so there’s another danger there.

Unhealthy obsession over the number on the scale
But most of all, I’m highly suspicious about the diet’s rules, one of which encourages one to weigh oneself every day and to eat only one meal a day after gaining a kg in a day. Your weight fluctuates daily thanks to water weight or when you gain muscle etc. Women often gain as much as 4 pounds before their periods!

Although I agree that inflammation is also a culprit (Paleo folks believe that if you ingest things that do not agree with your body like wheat, it gets inflamed inside – I think) this obsession over the scale just breeds paranoia and doesn’t reflect true progress.

Back when I was using hcg, I frowned when I read how people would panic when they go up two pounds and then proceed to only eat the recommended steak and apple at the end of the day. It may work to reduce the inflammation etc, but it just breeds an unhealthy obsession with your weight. Plus, in the long run, I don’t think it’s healthy to do this!

It makes hcg dieters afraid to lose weight on their own
One rule of the diet is that after the one month (sometimes, for others, it is longer) of hcg use, they must make sure that the weight doesn’t go above or below 2lbs of the weight they had on the last day of their injection. If you go below, so goes the wisdom of hcg dieters, you’ll cannibalise muscle. To lose weight, just use more hcg. I smell a ploy to promote sales of the product.

Saying that we can’t lose weight on our own is tantamount to saying that the human body is unadaptable. If our bodies were truly that unreliable and stupid, I doubt that the human race would’ve survived this long.

I lost about 18-20lbs on my own after my hcg treatment mostly by following the Primal Blueprint and Paleo Diet lifestyle. I am leaner, fitter and more energetic than before. And the best thing? The lifestyle is affordable, easy to follow and does not involve drugs! Hell, I don’t even need a gym, but that’s a topic for another post.

Most importantly, no lifestyle change = weight loss won’t stick
If you’re out to look for a quick fix, hcg is probably it. But the weight will come back if you return to your old habits. Hcg dieters talk about “resetting your hypothalamus” and some misunderstand and believe that they can eat anything after they lose the weight.

No. No, and double no. If you continue eating wheat and the processed crap you ate before, you will gain it all back.

Verdict? Yes, hcg does work, but please be very aware of the risks. Don’t be like me, jumping into the treatment without realising the long-term consequences. Till this day, I worry about what the treatment might have done to my health in the long term.

I owe hcg for helping me get a headstart; perhaps by losing that much weight quickly, it helped me lose weight easier as my IR wasn’t so bad as a result. I don’t know.

But still, I maintain that the best way to lose weight is the most boring way – and one that you’ve heard a million times: Change your lifestyle and diet. Exercise.

But I admit this from my long experience – finding the right lifestyle, diet and exercise is like navigating a maze full of booby traps. I hope you stick around so that I can show you how you can spare yourself the pain.

The vegan vs meat-eating fights

July 31, 2010 2 comments

I think I was rude to a vegetarian yesterday.

I was out with some folks who were vegetarians, so to be polite I became vegetarian for that meal, eventhough my inner caveman said Me want chicken now. Unfortunately, me and my big mouth, I just forgot to shut up about it. (This is what happens when you don’t know what to say to a bunch of people you have little in common with.) And my vegetarian clients in the end ended up apologising for making me feel awkward. And boy did I feel awkward!

What and how you eat is such a personal thing, but somehow when eating in the midst of vegetarians I feel like such an asshole. Here I am, a compassion-deficient meat eater and by de facto, killer of animals.

I tried to be vegan a few times a week in the past, but now I have to admit that I just simply don’t thrive on a vegan diet. I will feel weak, listless and tired after a vegan day. In fact, I noticed that I often tend to feel lethargic after eating tofu-heavy meals! However, on days where I eat like a caveman — lots of fish, meat, fruits and vegetables — I feel energetic and happy. I have come to accept that this is the way I should eat, eventhough I am attracted to the vegetarian lifestyle. Who wants to be indirectly responsible for animal cruelty?

There are many ardent fights online in blogs about why you should be vegan and why you should go paleo, but I’m annoyingly centrist about it all. How should you eat? Here’s my answer: Adopt the diet that suits your body.

Some people, like Natala at Vegan Hope just thrives on a vegan diet. Perhaps that’s because biochemically, her body is more suited to a vegan diet. I have a friend who is a happy omnivore. The lucky gal can eat grains without gaining a pound, but if she eats too much meat, especially red meat, she literally ‘overheats’ inside. I found the diversity in our biochemistry simply fascinating.

Irecently realised that meat is essential to my diet. I’ve always kidded around with vegetarian friends that I just can’t give up meat (actually, I can give up red meat and chicken, but you’ll have torture me to give up fish) but the truth was I know that if I give up meat I’ll simply get sick. I’ve tried it numerous times, and have stopped fighting my body. Now I eat according to Paleo Diet rules, and I love how wonderful it makes me feel.

So, when you find yourself in the middle of one of those diet debates in blogs, just excuse yourself from them because it’s not going to lead anywhere. I repeat: There’s no one diet for everyone; people just need to find out what works for them, that’s all! So, why waste your time wallowing in those fights? Spend that time figuring out what diet suits you instead.

Categories: Thoughts & such

What I’ve been doing while I was away

Well, have I been away from this blog. For one year, at that.

If you look at the stats bar on the right, you’d notice that as of July 2010, my weight is 74kg, about 11kg lower than my last weigh in.

I wish I could say that I spent the entire year eating and exercising well and that’s how I got here.

Nope. Actually, my weight stalled for some time and I grew frustrated and went back to my old ways. I ate a bucket of ice-cream in days, indulged in pastries, sometimes eating about three to five rolls at a time!

Well, I could go on but let’s just say that I went a wee psycho. Frustration can do that to you, I guess. You think that since your best efforts produced zilch results, why bother?

My weight soared – I reganed all the weight I lost. And my insulin resistance was back in full force. Things became so bad that I would literally crash in the middle of the day. I became so tired that I had to drive back in the middle of a work day to sleep. I woke up every day tired and exhausted. I hated living like this.

So, desperate, I visited a doctor to get some diet advice. His treatment was unorthodox, but his diet was very much like the insulin resistance diet.

I discovered, through the whole diet he put me through, that I was never really strict enough with myself. I ate food in restaurants every day. And outside food is filled with things that can make you fat – oil, sugar, MSG. Also, I ate way too much at night. I ate without thinking.

Through the diet, I learned to cook. Oh yes, I started cooking all my meals myself. The weight came off quicker than I thought, which proved to me how effective the insulin resistance diet is for me, though I need to be ever more stricter than the book suggested.

So here I am, maintaining quite well because I make sure that I cook most of my meals. My aim is to lose 5 more kg until December. Wish me luck!

Categories: Thoughts & such

How to design your weight loss plan

February 7, 2009 5 comments

scaleBefore you sign up with that weight loss centre, adopt a popular diet or join that expensive gym (that you may not even need!), you need to do your groundwork.

Trust me, I’m a veteran weight loser, so I’ve had to learn things the hard way. This is my community service to prevent you from wasting money and time.

So grab a pen and paper, and get cracking:

1. First, educate yourself
I had to sift through a lot of nonsense before I understood what had to be done. A lot of diet books are faddish and useless, so beware of those. Read magazines like Shape, MSN’s fitness portal, blogs such as Fitness Health Zone (and mine! ;P) and articles online. List down things you want to learn. Perhaps you want to learn more about a healthy, balanced diet? Or how much you need to exercise? Once done, hunt for articles on them online. Google is your friend.

2. Analyse the advice carefully
Unfortunately, fitness and health experts offer such contradicting advice! “Exercise in the morning and you’ll lose more fat,” says one. “No! It doesn’t matter when you exercise,” say another. “Eat pasta!” “Don’t ever eat pasta!” It could drive you insane, really!

What I discovered is that they are probably all right. Hah? How come?? Because people are different. So what may be true for you may not work for others. That’s because we all have unique body chemistries; no one’s alike.

So what do you do?

Don’t just read one book/article, but several. Compare the facts. Experiment with the advice (make sure it’s sound first! If someone says smoking ciggarates will help you lose weight, it’s not exactly good advice!) and listen to your body carefully. How do you feel after eating a certain meal? Do you feel hungrier? Lousy? Or great? Did you lose weight when you ate or exercised a certain way? Which is why you should…

3. Keep a food journal
Oh lawd, I hate food journalling. But they’re sadly necessary. When I was trying to figure out which eating plan was good for me, I noted that I felt ill after eating anything with refined flour (sluggishness, dizziness, bloating) and milk (to the loo I go!). I removed them from my diet and found that I did better and lost weight too! From there, I designed the diet which I’m following today.

4. Follow an eating plan that is just for you!
Yup, not everyone can lose weight on the same kind of diet. Because we’re built differently. Although I personally hate following any kind of fad diet, I have to admit that a lot of them have some truth in them. I say learn from them and don’t be too slavish over their “dos and donts”. Throw into the rubbish bin any diet that asks you to do extremes such as “don’t eat carbs”. They’re often not balanced, are bad for you in the long run, and are not easy to follow.

When you design your diet, ask yourself this: “Can I follow this for the rest of my life?”

Answer honestly. If the answer is a big fat no then keep on researching! Because if you return to your old style of eating, you’ll gain back that weight. To lose weight, you have to adopt a new way of eating – forever, not temporarily.

5. Chose a fitness routine just for you
Yes, exercise is really important in your weight loss endevour. Write down your answer to these questions:

  • What exercises do you like to do? Do more of these. Mix it up to keep it interesting.
  • Scrutinise your daily time table. When is the best time for you to exercise? In the morning, before daily distractions, or in the evening, because you just enjoy destressing?
  • Do you need a gym? Or is a home gym better?

Take the quiz, What Exercise is Right for You for more insight.

6. Ask yourself: Do you have a condition that prevents you from losing weight?
They say that losing weight is easy. Just count your calories and exercise more. Unfortunately, it’s not true for everyone.

For years I blamed myself for not losing weight until I found out, through much reading (which is why educating yourself is so important), that my problem lay with food sensitivity (I’m sensitive to milk and flour) and insulin resistance. Both were preventing me from losing weight.

So, if you have a problem losing weight despite doing all the right things, perhaps there’s a medical reason for it. Do you have a sluggish thyroid? Do you have Polycystic Ovary Sydrome, perhaps? Or Celiac disease?

Do you find it difficult to lose weight? Analyse your food journal and exercise routine. Too little exercise? Too much food at night? Why? Instead of immediately blaming yourself, ask yourself – is it because you have an irresistable urge to snack on chocolates or sweet things? If so, when does it happen? List down the symptoms you may have after eating food.

Read more books and articles online, and you may know the solution soon enough. Also, get a health check up … it doesn’t hurt to get one.

If you’re curious, here’s my weightloss plan. Just a note, however. My plan is not set in stone; I plan to change it as my fitness level improves.

Categories: Thoughts & such

Do you need an exercise machine at home?

February 4, 2009 6 comments

Exercise machineIn my parents’ home, the study room is a graveyard for fitness equipment. A threadmill now serves as a clothes hanger than a place to sweat it out. A rowing machine lies folded in one corner, dusty from years of unuse. A mini stepper is used to hold books.

Things are quite different in my apartment. Although I do use my stationery bike to hang clothes too, I use the bike at least twice a week. If I do not bunk over at my parents’ home a few days a week, I’d probably use it every day. I love that dear old machine, and often huff and puff away on the bike while catching up on my favourite movies and shows. To me, the stationery bike is a great investment.

According to a New York Times article, a 2008 Consumer Reports said that “nearly 40% percent of those who buy home exercise machines say they use them less than they expected.”

Before you spend hundreds or even thousands of ringgit for an exercising machine, answer these questions first:

1. Do you have a place to keep it?
No point buying that RM5000 epiliptical trainer if wifey kicks a fit when you place it right smack in the middle of the hall.

2. Are you a lone exerciser?
Not everyone is a solitary exerciser. Some people prefer a group environment such as an aerobics class. If you find chugging on a threadmill in your hall the most boring thing on Earth, perhaps you can use your RM5k on a gym membership instead.

3. If you have it, are you going to commit to using at least 3 times a week?
A very logical question but one that is not asked often enough. To know for sure, you got to ask yourself: How badly do you want to lose weight/keep fit? If you really, really want it, go for it.

4. Will you get bored on the machine?
Knowing what kind of exerciser you are is so important. If you prefer to exercise in the great outdoors more often than inside, then maybe you should reconsider. But if its the boredom of staring into space as you whip your body into shape that’s stopping you, consider putting on the radio or watching TV while you exercise.

5. Can you afford it?
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend the chakai RM200-300 machines you can find in hypermarkets. They break down easily and often do not have enough difficulty levels to challenge you in the long run (this is from personal experience with my parents’ hypermarket exercise machine purchases!). So, you may “outgrow” the machine as you get fitter.

Invest in a decent machine. Yes, they certainly can be expensive, but they will pay off in the long run. Wait around for sales – I bought mine nearly 50% off at RM1k. It has a digital reader with calorie counter, clock and mph readings.

PS: I’m 83kg today. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Crossing fingers and hope to be 82kg by end of February. The last time I was 83kg, it was 2007!

Midnight exercise

February 3, 2009 Leave a comment

midnight1I was so annoyed with thwarted attempt to exercise this evening that I did the craziest thing: I put on an Kathy Smith aerobics DVD and worked out – at 11.30pm!

At a time when most people were already in bed, I decided to go crazy in front of the TV. Never in a million years did I ever think that I’ll be so dedicated to losing weight that I’d forgo decent sleep for calorie burn.

Update: They say that late-night exercise interfere with your sleep. Well, it did the opposite for me. I slept like a log! In fact, I think I slept better. But I don’t think I want to do it again! LOL

Categories: Thoughts & such