Transformation 2011 © lynette sheppard

Menopausal weight gain. Just when I think I have the answer of how to get to and maintain my ideal weight, the metabolism gets sneaky and finds a way to get even lazier. I kid you  not.

Up until now, I’ve been able to work reasonably well with the old “calories in, calories out” formula. But this last year, those pesky excess 15+ extra pounds returned with a vengeance, homesteading around my middle and thighs. And my butt. This extra weight refused to budge through the most well crafted, healthy exercise and diet regimens.
Then, I ran across a “new” diet called the HCG diet, which is actually old, researched and developed in Italy by a British physician in the 1950’s. Dr. ATW Simeons published his findings in a book called “Pounds and Inches” in 1970. While I’m suspicious of all diets, I still checked it out.

Here’s an oversimplification of the diet as I’m not writing a treatise on how this works. He asked himself why some people don’t gain weight no matter what they eat and others gain while eating the same diet, exercising, etc. He postulated that the metabolism controller in the brain would get confused and need to be reset. (Like post menopause.)

He developed a rigorous diet protocol using miniscule amounts of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) combined with a 500 calorie a day diet using only specific food, 23 days at a time. HCG is a hormone that pregnant women secrete that liberates fat stores for the fetus. Tiny doses do the same for those of us with abnormally stored, unavailable fat, usually located in the thighs, abdomen, buttocks, and back of the upper arms.
Now you actually have to “survive” on about 2500 calories a day, not the mere 500 you consume, because the fat is liberated from those storage depots, meaning that you are not hungry or uncomfortable at all. Best of all, once the metabolism is reset, you keep it off. Alas, he never received much recognition, and in fact, had most of his patients sign confidentiality agreements to partake. Sound too good to be true? Yep, that’s what I thought, too.

Still, the science actually made sense to my nurse mind, so I asked my holistic MD about it.  He told me that he and his wife had just completed it and lost 16 and 18 pounds respectively, all around the middle. He agreed that I was a candidate, stressing that it is not for everyone and sent me off with a big reading list to learn about it.

At first, it seemed overwhelming the amount of planning and care and discipline I’d have to muster. But I was really at my wit’s end. Gradually, as I learned more, it seemed easier.

Menopause Goddess sister M (you’ll remember her as the Menopausal Squirrel) did it under the supervision of her integrative medicine nurse practitioner – lost the weight, reshaped her body, and is keeping it off. And then I found out that another Venus and her husband had had equal success.

So I studied the books, located the necessary foods, and had my lab work done. I then did a 2 week cleansing diet prior to starting.

I started my excellent adventure on New Year’s eve. That’s less than a week ago. I’ve lost 6.5 pounds, all around my middle. I’m starting to see a waistline again. And no, I’m not hungry, I feel great, and am rediscovering spices in a whole new way.

Like all good adventurers, I’m chronicling my journey. Here are my journal notes so far:

Day One     December 31, 2010
Injected my HCG this am in my belly fat. Even though I am a nurse, I was a little bit squeamish at first, but it’s such a tiny amount in a tiny needle that I got over that pretty fast.

The first 2 days are fat- loading days to build up structural fat (which is different than the stored fat that will be liberated). My MD told me that it would be the hardest part, especially after the cleansing diet. I didn’t believe him.

Like any true girlfriend, Rae Venus supported me in my first pig out day when we went for pizza and ice cream for lunch. French fries, cheesecake, BBQ ribs. Whew. Yuck. I’m over the fat loading already, but they say it’s important.

Day Two   January 1, 2011
Took my second injection this am. Tired of fat food already. Still doing my best. More pizza, fetuccini, garlic bread, huevos rancheros with lots of cheese. I’m so glad this day is over and I can start the VLCD (very low calorie diet) tomorrow. I cannot eat any more fat!!!!

Day Three    January 2, 2011

Lost four pounds on the cleanse, put two back on the fat loading days. That’s to be expected, but still it bums me out some.
Am injection. Coffee, tea, and water for am.
Lunch    Burger grilled, 100gm (measured raw) (about 3/5 oz.)  handful of salad greens with apple cider vinegar. 1 Grissini breadstick.
Snack:     Organic fuji apple.
Dinner:     100 gm grilled chicken breast, handful of steamed spinach. 1 Grissini breadstick
Not hungry at all – felt a little empty after stretching my stomach with all the force feeding past 2 days is all.

Day Four   January 3
Weight first thing in am: lost 1.5 pounds
Am injection. Coffee, tea, and water
Food stays similar to day 3, just rotating chicken, beef, shrimp, and white fish like mahi mahi. with large (measured raw) handful of veggies and 1 breadstick.
I feel great, no hunger at all. Too soon to get excited, I think. But I am.

Day Five  January 4
Lost another 1.5 pounds. Feel great. Easy to stay on this so far.  Am injection – food as usual.  Getting used to the routine, now.

Day Six   January 5
Lost another 1.5 pounds; fully expect this to slow down soon, but loving it for now. Wish me luck!

Big Fat Disclaimer For Obvious Legal Reasons: This diet is not for everyone – you must be followed by an MD or nurse practitioner who prescribe it for you. The FDA has not approved HCG for weight loss (but a physician can prescribe it for this use.) It is rigorous and requires discipline. I am not recommending this to anyone, just passing on my experience as information. Do with it what you will. Talk with your own health care practitioner.

Oh, I have mostly heard of integrative medicine or holistic physicians prescribing this. Just like with bioidentical hormones. To find a practitioner near you, check out American Holistic Medical Association or Women in Balance. Okay, enough with the disclaimer. You’re women. You’re smart and can think for yourself.

This is my story and I’m sticking to it. Stay tuned for more as the adventure continues.