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My (quick) weight loss story

{Let me begin with a little disclaimer that what was best for me will not be best for everyone. I am not advocating or pushing any plan upon anyone, simply sharing what I did. With many choices out there, I do not judge what others do, and I ask that judgement not be placed upon me for what I did to lose my weight. Each person should do their own research, talk to their doctors, and find a plan that is best for you.}

I’ve been working on this post off and on for over a month.  A few days ago, I challenged myself to finish by today, then I panicked.  Not sure I want all of this “out there.” I’ve had so many emails from people asking what I had done to lose weight, and I wanted to tell those that truly want to know…just don’t want to hear from others that have stronger opinions.  I voiced this to my walking buddy and neighbor, Marissa, and she convinced me to not be afraid, and I decided I just needed to go for it. Then, as I was wasting time looking on the web to avoid finishing this post yesterday, I stumbled upon this on Pinterest and took a screen shot:

Someone had “pinned” this image of me with my daughter that I posted with their bluebonnet shots a month ago.  When I looked closer and saw it  on this gals thinspiration” board, I just about fell off my chair.  What?  Me?  Thinspiration? Then I got a sting in my eyes, and I just stared with my jaw partially gaping open. The subtitle reads: “Kristen Duke-great photographer (gee, thanks!) and mother of 4!! I CAN look that good again after my 4;)”  This was the extra push I needed to finish it up and publish the post (even if I don’t quite have rock hard abs like the gal in the other picture above). I think my biggest worry is not of those in blogland, but from the people that I know in real life.

I hope to inspire in all walks of life, and if this is part of it, then so be it. I consider myself a pretty open book, I love to share lots of details about myself and my life, and I love that people keep coming back to hear more. But this has been more of a personal journey that I’m still worried about. Worried that I’ll drift back into old habits, worried I’ll get lax on my new goals, worried the new clothes I’ve recently purchased will get too tight, worried it’ll all come back and then the fact that I’m celebrating the loss will all be in vain.  BUT, I’m doing it anyway…here is the story, and you know it isn’t short because I don’t know how to do short.

Here are images of me through the years:

I typed out the ages on each image, to give a feel for the back and forth throughout my life.  4 babies really does it….

I’ve never been interested in fad diets.  Never on a “program” and throughout the years I have joined varying gyms, done early morning runs, DVD’s at home, trained for triathlons, even a half marathon last year hoping the pounds would shed like crazy.  True, right after a baby was born, that excess came off, but then I’d plateau when I was satisfied enough to not have to work so hard.  I did religiously drink generic “slim fast” shakes twice a day for a good two years after baby #3 and some after #4.  I liked the convenience of them, but I didn’t realize the high sugar content in them. Never really looked a that. Now I do.

As women, especially those of us who have had multiple children, often struggle with our weight in some way or another. It’s a frustrating journey, and one that I didn’t care to talk about because we are all so different. We all have different body shapes, different ideas of what is healthy to eat, coming with opinions of how we were raised, and our plan to have healthy and happy children.  I got annoyed with the salad eaters when I would go out with my friends and I had a bacon cheeseburger sitting in front of me. I love a bacon cheeseburger. But the tables were turned on me recently and I hoped there wouldn’t be that annoyance towards me. I was restricting what I was eating, and I went to an activity with friends who went out for ice cream after. Wanting to continue socializing, along with testing my will power, I went. While they ordered, I ran next door to a grocery store and grabbed some strawberries and came back to join them.  Fortunately, they didn’t raze me for eating strawberries while they ate ice cream and fries, but I felt so awkward and strange as they congratulated me for making such a great choice. Most of them didn’t know my little secret, and I didn’t want to make it known.  I kept silent about it. I could tell that my choice, made some of them feel a little guilty, and that made me feel bad….insecure…strange because I really did want to have those same treats, too, and I was no poster child for health, at least my past habits wouldn’t say so.

{Half Marathon Finisher: April 2011}

I mean, I trained for and ran a half marathon last year and nothing changed.  Complete bummer.

On February 4th, I began a 6 week journey, that I like to refer to as my “cleanse“. I had had a year of exercising (running, regular gym classes where I sweat my bootie off) and counting calories with no amazing results and I was frustrated. Still wearing the same size 12 pants that I had been before.  I thought I was ok with that. My health care professional husband kept reminding me to give it time, slow and steady, blah blah blah. Well, I am just not patient!  I needed a kick start, to see some real results. I felt that with my already set-in-place regular exercise regime I was on, and having gotten used to counting calories, if I lost a bunch of weight quickly, I could maintain from there. I wrote a blog post in January 2012 titled: I really don’t like exercising and I love to eat whatever I want. I heard from lots of you who had similar feelings!  Fortunately, I wasn’t dealing with obesity, I was dealing with just enough extra blubber that I just wasn’t happy with. The baby stretched tummy, the hips, the bum, the thighs.

At the end of January, I asked on my facebook page if anyone had tried any quick weight loss diets and to share.  Lots answered, I looked into all of them, and weighed my ditch effort options. In that same thread, there were several who warned against the same methods I was looking into. At this point, I should have done some hefty research, but I’ve always seen people as my research, so I went to those sources and asked my questions. It was when a good friend of mine confided to me that she had done one of these extreme quick weight loss plans, that I became interested. She was someone I knew and loved and trusted. SHE had done lots of research, and shared it all with me.  She had completed a round of this plan a year ago, and kept the weight off. I had never wanted to try these crazy diets (I really don’t like that word, hence the word “cleanse” used above) because people seem to  yo-yo so much. They lose it, and it comes back.  That’s just so discouraging! This “plan” is designed to not just help shed weight, but to reset your metabolism in a way that aids in keeping the weight off.  Everyone I had heard from told me first what they lost, and second that they had kept it off. Very enticing. I was scared to commit, but once I did, I jumped in with both feet.

The actual plan is called hCG. The definition I got from is HCG is an abbreviation used for human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone that  appears naturally during pregnancy.  HCG is also used as a medication for female infertility & low sperm count. I couldn’t quite understand the controversy, but I did remember my husband mentioning he knew a man that did the hCG plan, and how unnatural he thought that was because men don’t get pregnant (though it appears men use it medically for low sperm count).

After a week on the plan, I had lost 7 pounds, and people were starting to notice and comment.  Yes, it is nice to hear kind words, but I was hyper sensitive. I didn’t want anyone to ask how I did it because I knew the controversy and I didn’t want to have to defend my choice. I avoided conversation, tried to change the subject, and the few times that people asked, I was vague enough to mention what I was doing without action naming “the plan.” I’d say it was no sugar, no carb, low calorie…and that was true! I didn’t even tell my husband exactly what I was doing until I was done.  He was fine being in the dark, and was supporting me (and he does it so well) in what I was doing, but didn’t know all the details.

The basic plan includes drops and diet. 3x a day, I took the drops under my tongue (I got mine here, but some say the “homeopathic online” isn’t ideal–not sure why).  It also doubles as a hunger suppressant. It’s broken down into 3 phases.

Phase 1: gorge.  For 2 days while taking the drops–eat as much fatty food as possible.  I didn’t question that one…sounded good to me. I happened to be on a trip that weekend, and got lots of treats.

Phase 2: For minimum 21 days, eat just 500 calories a day while taking the drops. No sugar, no carbs/starches. There are specific meats, fruits, and vegetables to eat.  Chicken, lean steak, shrimp, tuna, tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, apples.  That is pretty much what I ate for 3 weeks.  And lots of gum.

Phase 3: 3 weeks of maintenance.  Still no sugar or starches, but up to 1500 calories. This time period resets your metabolism/hypothalamus to see this weight as the new normal. I tried out some new recipes and was so stinkin’ excited about cauliflower crust pizza!  It was actually quite delicious.

My Numbers:

I lost 17 pounds in 21 days, then during the 3 week maintenance, I lost 4 more (I was just aiming to maintain, not lose, and I ate well–right at the 1500 mark). So 21 pounds total. 3 inches off on my waist, 4 inches on my hips, 2 inches on my arms, 2.5 inches on each thigh. I told my husband recently because it happened quickly, I had the phantom pounds on myself that I remembered were recently there and it felt weird not to have them. My thighs didn’t rub together when I walked like they used to…my arm sleeve’s were looser, my clothes were too big. It was fresh what it was like when it was there.

I was on maintenance during my East Coast Trip over spring break, and though it was hard to not eat the goodies in NYC, I was proud of myself for sticking to it. I found treats in other things (raspberries, avocado’s, bacon, cheese). I still had a juicy hamburger, just without the bun or fries. Here is my before and after in the same outfit:


What helped me get through this?

1) I did this with a friend and we helped each other out.  We talked to each other daily and gave support.

2)We also got together and weighed/pre portioned our daily allotment of 3 oz. of meat (2x a day) and put them in freezer bags so that we just had to grab and heat (George    Foreman grill) when we ate.  It was “at the ready.” This helped me realize that a daily plan of what I’ll eat (not just whatever is in my eyesight) is crucial (then and now).

3) Knowing that there was an expiration date to the madness. Just 3 weeks. I could do anything for 3 weeks. Then 3 weeks more with no sugar/starches in maintenance.

I can honestly say that I was weaker and tired, but didn’t feel hunger. You aren’t supposed to exercise because of this.

I’m working on a post for next week (hopefully) on what I am doing to maintain with my healthier living (while still enjoying food) through exercise and eating.

I’m going to close this monster of a post with some FAQ’s about HCG for those who are wondering what it is all about. I asked my friend Ellie at Vanilla Bean Girls to help me because she has been there for me to answer questions, and is quite knowledgeable.  I don’t know her personally, but she responded to my FB inquiry, and she has completed 4 full rounds in the past 2 years.  When she followed the plan, the weight stayed off.  Once when she didn’t, the weight (that she lost that round) slowly crept back.  She read all the books (I should have) and has a great knowledge base to pull from. If you want to read an online book about HCG, check here for more detailed info. I also found this blog, Hello Jody to be helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions for hCG asked by Kristen, answered by Ellie:

What does the hcg hormone do to help lose weight? Basically, the HCG hormone attacks the “abnormal” fat that is being stored in your body.  You need fat in your body, for instance, in the heel of your foot….there’s a fat pad under there that helps protect your bone from being injured when you walk.  The HCG hormone goes after the abnormal fat that’s being stored, such as in your tummy or hips/thighs.

What is the point of gorging for round 1? I’m sure Dr. Simeon explains it much better in his scientific medical speak (in the book link above)….but basically, you want to load your body with plenty of fats in the loading days (not sugar, not carbs…fats!) so that on your third day when you have a therapeutic amount of the hormone in your body, it will recognize the abnormal fats in your bloodstream as the enemy and go after them….and keep going into your stored abnormal fats.  You’re basically tricking your body into going after the right kind of fats.

Does my body think it’s pregnant? Technically yes….you WILL test positive on a pregnancy test – (side note: also a good way to test if you’re using drops that are real and not counterfeit)  I went to the Dr. for a physical on my 3rd day of drops and he carefully poked around the idea that I might be pregnant because my levels were right on the edge of being considered positive.  LOL!  HOWEVER>>> just because your body tests positive doesn’t mean that you will have any of the other pregnancy “changes”!

Why 500 calories a day? 500 calories is what you need days 3 – 23 as a VLC or a very low calorie diet.  It’s the bare minimum your body would need to run itself all day.  Your body will use that 500 calories quickly, and then move onto the stored fats as you continue to use energy.

Are you hungry? Are you tired? Why? There are times, yes, I’m a little hungry, like right before a meal….but you should be feeling that normally, diet or not.  Towards the end of the first week or so, I do start to get a little tired or run down because I’m still trying to keep up with the house, work, kids, etc.  I would equate it to being tired after a good work out.  I’ve had other friends say they were hungry, “starving!”  but really, they were people who never knew “hunger.”  They didn’t eat lunch because their body felt hunger, they ate because it was lunch time, and they gorged themselves.  For them, “starving” meant that they didn’t feel completely stuffed!

Why can’t I have sugar or carbs in maintenance if I stay below 1500 calories? During the maintenance phase, your resetting your metabolism to your lower weight.  It’s just as an important phase as the weight loss phase, if not more!  If you cheat and have sugar or starches….the two things that will make your body gain weight….you’ll gain weight, and your body will not be able to reset at the lower weight.

Why do some people say it isn’t safe? many doctors weigh in on both sides….some will say that 500 calories a day isn’t safe, that it’s not enough to sustain you…some will say that if the person continues it too long, it will eat the healthy fats your body needs (which is true, yes, that’s why you HAVE to follow the program to a T for it to be safe!)  I would always say check out different doctors or consult with a weight specialist/nutritionist who specializes in the program to make sure it’s safe for you.  Even if you have diabetes or are hypoglycemic, you’re able to do the HCG diet, but you need to be very careful and space out your foods correctly with the help of a doctor.

What is my hypothalamus and how does it “reset”? Your hypothalamus is the part of your brain that controls your metabolism.  The hormone HCG causes chemical changes within your brain that allows your body to speed up your metabolism and reset to a new level that will burn fat faster/better.

How does it work to help prevent gaining the weight back? Since your hypothalamus is reset, your metabolism is now reset to the lower weight, and your weight will be maintained.  Years after the program, my mom has still kept her weight off, but she still eats a very healthy and balanced lifestyle, and will do a “steak day” if she overdoes it and gains a couple pounds!  She still weighs herself every morning religiously!  The diet is NOT so that you can get skinny and eat cheeseburgers and pizza all you want!  Its a way to cleanse/detox your body, cleanse your taste pallet, get the unhealthy fats out of your body so that your new, healthy body can function correctly as you go about your new healthy diet and lifestyle.

  Why can’t I eat other protein, fruits or veggies instead of just the limited ones that are listed? – I can’t really speak for Dr. Simeon on this one, other to say that I’m sure he didn’t leave out turkey and green beans by accident!  He spent the majority of his life researching this hormone and diet, and being a well researched Dr., I’m sure he had heard of those things.  I can only guess that after much trial and error, and years of research, these were the items that he found to work best.  Stick with the exact diet for the best results and don’t think that you can outsmart the program by substituting a turkey burger for the red meat or chicken!  You’ll only be cheating yourself!

Why is this diet controversial?  I would think the diet is controversial mostly because of the 500 calories a day.  Whenever I mention that to someone, they immediately freak out that I’m anorexic and I’m going to starve  myself right into the hospital or looney bin!  The other controversial aspect I’ve found from people is that there are HUGE repercussions from cheating!  Just by not having enough water, or too much salt, or having a few too many ounces of your protein, you might not lose the weight you should have, or worse…might even gain weight!

Thanks, Ellie!

If you got through all of this–I could e-hug you!  Thanks for your support and sweet words you’ve already shared, it really does mean a lot.

Two more posts that on Healthy Living:

Striving for a Healthier Lifestyle: How I Eat & Exercise

6 months after my weight loss: How I’ve maintained

Kristen Duke

Kristen Duke

Thank you for stopping by my little spot on the web! If you enjoyed this post, you can subscribe to my future posts via RSS, Facebook, and if you are looking to improve your photography, see my beginner books HERE.
Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
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  1. our stories are nearly identical! i feel the exact same way about sharing my “secret to weight loss,” but it worked for me too, and now that i’m pregnant with #5 ,i’m planning on another round of hCG when i’m done nursing! great to hear you’ve been so successful with maintenance.

  2. I’m glad you posted this. I am seriously considering doing this now. Wish me luck. I can totally do something for a few weeks.

  3. I just wanted to say that my husband and I did the same diet about two years ago. We had AWESOME results! The interesting thing is I just followed the diet plan. I never did the supplements or shots, my husband did. After about a month of seeing me having the same results he quit the supplements and went on to lose 30 more pounds- just following the diet. We both reached or goals! I lost 25 pounds and he lost 40! And we’ve kept it off…

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  5. I have been doing a lot of research on this, reading, and listening ot many friends stories. Howoften did you use the drops and how many each day?

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  7. Hi, thank you for writing about your weight-loss story. I have studied this and actually bought some hcg drops from a friend of mine who is a pharmacist but they turned out to be imitation and didn’t work for me… Where do you go to get your hcg? Thanks!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I shared the link in my post where I got mine, but I’ve recently heard that it’s being more regulated and only through doctors? It was over a year ago, so not sure how it is being sold–sorry that’s not a lot of help, but look in the post for my link.

  8. This sounds amazing! I’m not sure it’s possible to get access to these over here, but I am so tempted! I lost 10lbs last month eating sensibly (I love cakes) but with our Disney holiday coming up in 5 months, I still have 32lbs to go…
    Sara-Jayne recently posted..The Jones Family Guide to Planning Your Walt Disney World Holiday (Introduction)My Profile

  9. Thank you so much for posting this. I actually found your blog through pinterest (I’m making a blue version of your yellow desk!) and stumbled across your story. I, too, have struggled with my weight for years. I’m very active, and yes, I was running half marathons too…and counting every calorie…with little change. With my activity level and caloric intake, my weight should be 40 lbs less than it is. I’ve been to see docs over the years…tests always come back “normal” for thyroid, etc. After ordering the hcg you recommended and being on the diet 10 days, I have lost 8 pounds…and counting. I can’t wait to see my end result. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  13. Darcy Peterson says:

    Just wondering exactly which hcg product you used and which website you used. There are many fake products out there. I’m trying to lose some weight to wedding dress shop for and am interested in making sure I keep the weight off in the long run.

  14. Can you take these drops while breastfeesing?


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