This post is quite different from our usual Engaging Leader topics. Although I originally planned to wait until late 2013 to write this, several people have asked how I lost 25 pounds last spring and kept it off, and how I lost another 20 pounds in the first six weeks of 2013. I had previously lost 20 pounds in 2009, for a total of 65 pounds, so I decided to share this information now.
The Short Answer
The primary method I used to lose my extra weight and keep it off was the HCG Weight Loss Cure as outlined in the book HCG Weight Loss Cure Guide. When I first heard about this program from my parents back in 2011, I was not interested. It sounded like another fad diet, and I had previously tried too many of them (see below) to have faith in any quick-fix programs.
My interest was piqued, though, when my mother used the HCG Weight Loss Cure to lose weight in the fall of 2011, and by Easter 2012, she had kept it off. Her success prompted me and two other family members to do one round of the program in the spring of 2012. All of us lost around 15-25 pounds, and we all kept the weight off through the end of the year. With that success under my belt, I embarked on another round at the beginning of 2013. I completed my second round, down another 20 pounds and am now at a weight that feels very healthy. It’s also a great racing weight that will help me be more competitive as an amateur triathlete.
The Long Answer
First, some background about my history with weight loss:
- As a kid, I carried a few extra pounds off-and-on. I was never obese, but some years I looked “average” and some years I looked 5%-10% overweight. But I’ve always been an active, athletic guy.
- My real problem with weight began about six months after I got married; during Erin’s first pregnancy, I gained 20 pounds of “sympathy weight” and gradually I continued to gain throughout my 20s and 30s, tending to be 30-50 pounds overweight.
- Starting in my early 20s, I had varying levels of success losing weight using several structured approaches — The Cabbage Soup Diet; Fat Loss Coach; Atkins; Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet; Weigh Down Workshop. Each time, it was frustrating to gain all the weight back, usually starting the very day I began transitioning from “dieting” mode to “healthy maintenance” mode!
- At other times, I also tried and sometimes had a little success using less-structured approaches: making small changes in diet or exercise, increasing and varying my usual exercise schedule, avoiding high-fat foods, portion control, daily weight charts, food diary, etc.
- My all-time high weight occurred in 2009, when I hit the scale at 65 pounds more than I currently weigh.
My healthy weight turnaround actually began in the spring of 2009, three years before I tried the HCG Weight Loss Cure. Although the short answer is that I lost the weight using HCG, the long answer is that I essentially lost my excess weight in three stages:
- In 2009, I began training for and competing in triathlons. Due to the extra exercise and my increased focus on nutrition, I lost about 30 pounds. However, over the next two years, I gained 10 pounds back despite continued triathlon training.
- In Spring 2012, I did a round of the HCG Weight Loss Cure. I lost 25 pounds and kept it off for the rest of the year, until the holidays when (without a real plan) I regained about five pounds.
- In the first six weeks of 2013, I did another round of the HCG Weight Loss Cure. I lost my five-pound “holiday weight gain” plus an additional 20 pounds. I identified the pitfalls that caused me to gain the holiday weight, and developed a plan to ensure I wouldn’t gain it again during future holidays.
A Little More Information about the HCG Weight Loss Cure
As recommended in HCG Weight Loss Cure Guide, I purchased an inexpensive bottle of homeopathic HCG drops (costing about $30) which are available from various manufacturers. The specific product I used was HCG Lean 2000. A single bottle was enough for me to use in both of my HCG rounds. For those who are unfamiliar with homeopathic remedies, they are a non-pharmaceutical health supplement, typically found in health food stores.
I followed the book’s guidelines very carefully, which involve a “round” of four phases that last a total of about 10-12 weeks until you return to “normal” eating patterns. (However, by then you’ve retrained yourself to be a bit more careful and moderate about eating the things that put on the weight in the first place.)
- Phase 1: Two “loading days” when you begin taking the HCG drops.
- Phase 2: A period of 21-40 days (depending on how much weight you want to lose) of actual weight loss while you continue taking the HCG drops and follow a very prescriptive diet.
- Phase 3: Three weeks when you no longer take the HCG drops, you can eat anything except sugar and starches, and you focus on maintaining the lower weight you have achieved, at the same time resetting your metabolism at a higher rate to enable you to maintain your weight loss. During phases 3 and 4, your body will naturally be trying to return to your heavier weight, so you must be very careful about what kinds of foods you eat.
- Phase 4: Three weeks when you gradually and carefully add other foods back into your diet.
Although HCG Was the Main Factor, Athletic Events Were Still Key for Me
Even though the triathlons and other endurance events have had only a limited direct impact on my weight loss, they have played a vital role in my success. There are four reasons for this:
- In 2009, I lost weight directly as a result of my athletic training.
- In 2010-2011, the athletic training was no longer directly helping me lose weight. However, I was increasing my knowledge and interest in overall health. I wanted to be healthier, stronger, and lighter — not just so I would look better, but so I could perform better and keep up with my teammates. In 2012, after HCG helped me achieve my 25-pound weight-loss goal for the year, I no longer looked at triathlon training as an opportunity for further weight loss. Surprisingly, with that goal out of the way for the balance of the year, triathlon training became more fun, for the competition and camaraderie aspects.
- By late 2012, I set a goal that had been previously unthinkable for me … getting back to the weight I’d had in my best moments of high school. This happened because two teammates with similar height had achieved that exact weight in 2012, so it seemed possible to me. Furthermore, their lighter weight was a serious competitive advantage over me; we aren’t super-competitive, but it is fun to try to beat each other, and I didn’t want to fall behind. The athletic experience gave me a vision, confidence, and focus to take my health to the next level.
- Throughout all these moments, having an upcoming competitive event to look forward to has been key to keeping me energized and focused on eating healthy and getting regular exercise. Anytime I have a gap with more than two months before an event, I notice that I start to slack off.
If you have a sport or hobby with a similar athletic aspect, it may help you achieve your health goals as well.
Maintaining My Healthy Weight
As you can imagine, I am excited by my success. But since I’m still pretty new at maintaining the most recently lost 20 pounds, I’m also nervous about the very real potential of gaining the weight back (as has happened so often over the past two decades). For that reason I was reluctant to publish this post. But based on my success in maintaining a loss of 25 pounds since last year, I am responding to the requests from people and sharing this information now. I don’t have a long track record with this latest 20 pounds yet, but it’s long enough that I’m encouraged that I can be as succesful keeping these pounds off as I have been with the 25 pounds I lost last year. I’ll provide an update later in 2013 about my ongoing success in maintaining my new, healthy weight.
Jesse Lahey, SPHR, is the host of the Engaging Leader podcast and the managing principal of Aspendale Communications. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.