diet, Health, Weight Management

VLCD 22 & 23 (and Apple Day)

On Tuesday (VLCD 22), I woke up to a 0.2 gain! While I had been singing about the greatness of coconut oil, could it be stabbing me in the back? Maybe it just doesn’t work with HCG? I think I’m going to stop using it until after the diet. 

I haven’t lost much weight since beginning this diet, but I’m officially in a stall. Dr. Simeon’s said that a stall was four or more days without weight loss. It was exactly four days for me. 

While Dr. Simeon’s believes a stall eventually corrects itself, he developed a few strategies to help break it. One such strategy is Apple Day. This is eating up to six apples between noon one day and about noon the next. Have your coffee/tea for breakfast then have apples until lunch the next day while still taking your HCG drops. Dr. Simeon’s said this should get the scale moving again.

The thought of eating apples all day did not sound appetizing to me. I was going to give it another few days before taking this drastic route. 

I ended up doing an unplanned Apple Day yesterday (VLCD 23). I spent all day tiling my kitchen. (Yes, I felt very capable after watching a how-to video on YouTube!) What I expected would take a few hours ended up taking the full day…and I’m still not done. By 5 pm, I realized I had not eaten, but it was time to pick up my daughter, so I grabbed an apple. I went home to prepare something to eat, but my daughter reminded me that she had to go to choir rehearsal. By this time, it was 7 pm. I planned to grab an orange, but there were none, so I took another apple. We returned home just after 10 pm and by then, I had no appetite, so I ate another apple. 

Today, I had a loss of 0.8 lbs. While I’m happy to see the scale move in the right direction, I’m still 0.4 lbs over my Saturday weight. 

Before giving up, I think I’ll wait and take my measurements on Saturday and at least finish up week 4. Then I’ll make a decision. Let’s see if the scale continues to move…

Here’s a before and after photo of one portion of my kitchen:  

I worked all day yesterday and never even stopped for my plank and squat challenges. However, I feel like I’ve been lifting weights. Every bone in my body aches today. I slept like a baby last night.  I may not do the challenges today either. I just may finish my kitchen and retire early. 

Grace and peace,

Raquel

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Health, Resoures

100+ Uses for Coconut Oil

I’ve been consuming coconut oil for the past few days. However, I didn’t realize there were so many other uses for it. I think I might buy a 2nd jar so I can keep one in the kitchen and have the other for non food use. Here is a nonexhaustive list of the many ways coconut oil can be used:

1. Use as a nontoxic wrinkle cream

2. For ink smears/smudges on hands, rub coconut oil over it and let sit for a minute or two. Wipe off with a dry, clean, cloth.

3. Use as an anti-micorbial or anti fungal to treat athletes foot, thrush, ringworm, candida, and more

4. Coconut oil promotes weight loss. Consume 1-2 TBS/day

5. Treat an ear infection (use a dropper)

6  Season a cast iron skillet

7.  Add to tea or coffee for a flavor boost (I tried this in coffee and it was delicious…smooth and creamy!)

8. Make a coconut oil detox cleanse

9. Mix with cinnamon and oatmeal for a DIY face scrub

10.  Use it on houseplants instead of chemical filled leaf shine products

11. Moisturize the inside of your nose when suffering from a cold or nose bleeds

12.  Clean your shower with it…remove soap scum. Wipe with coconut oil, then spray with white vinegar and wipe dry

13. Consume a spoonful per day to improve thyroid function, improve digestion, boost your immune system and cure migranes

14. Apply to bee stings to heal the pain

15. Use it to soften rough heels or calluses

16. Apply it to nail fungus twice a day to kill it and grow strong nails

17. Mix with baking soda for a non toxic Goo-Gone

18. Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to make an at home vapor rub

19. Reduce blisters or use on sore spots for rubbing shoes

20. Eliminate dandruff by applying coconut oil to the scalp on a regular basis. (Apply the oil and leave it on for an hour or more. Wash or wear a shower cap to bed and wash in the morning)

21. Apply to eyelashes as a strengthener

22. Use as your daily moisturizer

23. Soothe burns

24. Prep your skin before/after waxing

25. DIY deodorant – 1/4 cup baking soda with 1/4 cup cornstarch, then add 3 TBS coconut oil and apply to arm pits

26.  Oil pulling – to whiten teeth and improve gum health (among other benefits). Swish 1 tablespoon of coconut oil for 10-20 min. Do not swallow. Spit and rinse with sea salt water.

27. Prevent scarring from everyday cuts and scrapes

28. Use as a makeup remover

29. Use as shaving cream

30. Use as  lip moisturizer

31. Apply it as belly butter for pregnant mommies

32. Use it to prevents diaper rash

33. Use as a frizz tamer

34. Use as a cuticle treatment

35. Use as massage oil (mix with essential oil)

36. Use as deep hair treatment

37. Make a homemade toothpaste – Mix equal parts of coconut oil and baking soda. Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil and brush

38. Make a salt or sugar scrub scrub

39.  Lubricate guitar strings

40.  Remove gum from shoes, hair, carpet

41. Substitute for WD-40

42.  Polish your wood furniture

43. Maintain your wooden cutting boards

44. Take 1 TBS to get relief from constipation (the oil penetrates the digestive track, killing off harmful bacteria and “makes things smooth”)

45. Get rid of head lice – rub coconut oil into your scalp before bed, rinse it off in the morning with the dead bugs

46. Treat and soothe eczema

47. Use on skin rashes, poison ivy rash

48. Use on sunburns

49. Apply to cheekbones over makeup to highlight specific areas

50. Use to fade age spots

51. Mix in bath water for a relaxing soak

52.  Rub it on elbows and knees to help manage dry skin

53. Add it to the ends of your hair to help prevent split ends

54. Eat a TSP of coconut oil for a burst of energy

55. Use as a diaper cream

56. Reduce redness and acne with tea tree oil and coconut oil combined. Mix and spread evenly on face before bed and wash off in the morning

57. Reduce bruise swelling

58. Apply directly to bug bites to stop the itching

59. Use as a simple and easy hair gel

60. Use as a pre shampoo treatment for hair – Rub a little onto the scalp and hair before shampooing

61. Tattoo healing and moisturizer

62. The saturated fats in coconut oil help treat parasites and fungi that cause indigestion

63. Use as a decongestant by rubbing it on your chest

64. Apply around and in the eye to help heal pink eye

65. Use to moisturize and clean leather products

66. Polish bronze by rubbing a little onto a cotton towel and then wipe on statue or whatever you’re polishing

67. Use to heal cold sores and to diminish redness and inflammation 

68. Use as an SPF 4 sunscreen

69. Remove earwax

70. Use in baked goods…replace unhealthy fats 

71. Use as an egg substitute in recipes

72. Substitute for butter when cooking…even use it on toast

73. Soothe sore throats – gargle with 1 TBS coconut oil, 3 TSP apple cider vinegar, and 1 TBS warm water

74. Rub under eyes to diminish dark circles 

75. Flavor popcorn (yum!)

76. Coat eggs to extend shelf life

77. Dab on lines and creases to reduce wrinkles 

78. Add 1 TBS to smoothies to make thrm thicker

79. Mix with unsweetened cocoa powder and sweetener (Splenda/stevia). Cool/freeze. It’s a healthier alternative to milk chocolate bars 

80. Clean make up brushes

81. Soften and shine leather 

82. Use as an after shave

83. Use as a primer before applying make up

84. Apply to wet hair to detangle

85. Use when washing dishes to reduce stuck food

86. Use to unstick a zipper

87. Use to degrease hands 

88. Use to get a stuck ring off your finger

89. Polish shoes

90. Remove soap scum by letting it sit for 20 min before removing

91. Make DIY eyeliner by mixing coconut oil and cocoa powder 

92. Remove stubborn stickers and labels 

93. Polish metal faucets

94. Apply a thin layer to furniture to repel dust

95. Use it remove stickers/labels and overall tackiness/glue (e.g., something sticky in rug)

96. Rub on eyebrows to keep them in place all day

97. Make a mouthwash. Mix equal parts of coconut oil and baking soda, and then add a few drops of peppermint essential oils

98. Fight cellulite! Mix 1 TBS of coconut oil with 10 drops of grapefruit essential oil and massage into cellulite in a circular motion. Follow with dry brushing, using a natural bristle brush, to unclog pores and excrete toxins that become trapped in the skin

99. Use as a treatment for ingrown hair and razor bumps

100. Reduce rust on silver wear, outdoor metal furniture, car parts, etc. by rubbing coconut oil in it. Let it sit 1-2 hours, then wipe or wash off. 

101.  For pets:

  • Add to your pets’ water dish to give them a healthy boost
  • Put 1-2 TSP into food if they have digestive upset
  •  Use topically for skin allergies, irritations, and wounds to soothe and heal 
  • Rub into your pet’s paws for a shiny coat and less hairballs

102. Medicinal benefits for major health conditions:

  • Known to protect from various types of cancers
  • Blood Sugar Stabilizer and Diabetes Preventer
  • Helps to balance cholesterol levels by increasing HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL cholesterol, supporting heart health. 
  • Helps to fight heart disease and lower high blood pressure
  • Reduces risk (or effect) of Alzheimer’s 
  • Massage into joints to ease arthritic pain
  • Helps ease osteoporosis 

This list was compiled from the below listed websites. Please visit then for more specific information about any of the aforementioned tips:

https://strandstylefashion.com/2014/04/29/99-uses-for-coconut-oil/
http://www.doctoroz.com/gallery/99-amazing-uses-coconut-oil
https://draxe.com/coconut-oil-uses/
http://everydayroots.com/coconut-oil-uses

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diet, Health, Weight Management

VLCD 20 (picture day)

Today is my 20th day on HCG 1234 so that means it’s picture day! I share photos every 10 days wearing the same dress. After all, this diet is called pounds and inches. Therefore, I weigh myself, take my measurements, and take photos. Here are photos taken earlier this morning:

Side view; by day 20, I look a little more confident

Arms out; hips getting a little smaller

Better view of arms; why don’t they look any smaller?

By the way, I can stay on this plan as little as three weeks or as long as six weeks. Tomorrow makes exactly 21 days, so I can end then, or any day thereafter. However, I think I’m going to continue. I plan on giving it a go another 2-3 weeks. 

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning here in NJ. I’ve done my squats and planks for the day, and now I’m sipping green tea on my deck and reading a book. Life feels good now…

My view on my deck

My Bichon, Snowflake, rests at my feet

Enjoy the rest of your day! Grace and peace…

Raquel

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Challenge, diet, Exercise, Health

VLCD 19 (Coconut Oil and Measurement Saturday)

I guess you could say I went rogue on this HCG diet. I’ve eaten all of the right foods, I just added a little coconut oil. Egad! Coconut oil is not an item listed in Dr. Simeon’s original HCG protocol. Yesterday, I sautéed my shrimp in about 1-2 TBS of coconut oil and sprinkled a little Old Bay Seasoning on it. It was heavenly! I felt tremendously guilty afterwards, but it was soooo good!

I hesitated as I got on the scale this morning. I did not need a repeat of last week when I ate too much of the wrong foods and gained 1.8 lbs! I’m just gonna say it: I WAS AFRAID! However, I promised that I would not run away from the scale or from this diet ever again. With both feet on the scale, I slowly looked down and a 0.8 lb loss was staring back at me. I lost 0.8 lb the day before that as well. Prior to that, my daily losses have fluctuated anywhere between 0.4 and 0.6 lbs. 

So what has accounted for 0.8 losses recently? The only thing different compared to other days was the coconut oil. Was it a mere coincidence? I went to the Web. One website, Livestrong, reported that certain oils (saturated/ hydrogenated vegetable oils) are not allowed because they are high in calories. It also insisted that low calorie oils like coconut oil are allowed. In fact, Livestrong highly recommended the use of coconut oil on the HCG diet.  


Another website, Miracle Skinny Drops, reported: “Coconut oil has been much discussed by those on hCG as a way to lose weight. We believe that coconut oil can boost energy, while decreasing cravings for carbohydrates and sweets. It is known to stimulate metabolism, improve digestion, and release fat cells.” 

This site also said: “Coconut Oil is low in calories, low in fat, and nutritious, while providing the body with an energy source instead of carbohydrates. You do not need to count coconut oil in your daily calories since it is not stored in our bodies. Coconut Oil will indeed assist in raising Ketone levels which causes the release of fat.” Two to three TBS per day were recommended. Wow! Could it be true? Can I really enjoy some coconut oil, in moderation, for the rest of this diet and lose weight?

In other news, I satisfactorily managed 125 squats yesterday on day 11 of my squat challenge…and I did it with ease! I planned on doing five sets of 25. Instead, I did three sets : 50, 50, and 25. It’s unbelievable how my heart was racing by the time I finished. I then moved on to bicep and tricep work with my dumbbells. Today, I’ll take a rest from arm work. (Remember my post on VLCD 18 about the importance of rests?)

I’ll give you one guess to figure out who held her plank for 40 seconds. Okay…do you give up? It’s ME, ME, ME!!! I’m so proud!


It’s Saturday and that means it’s measurement day. Let’s go!

NOTE: In parentheses () is the amount lost since last Saturday. Total losses appear below:

Neck 13 1/2″ (-0″)

Chest 37″ (-1/2″)

Left upper arm 14 1/4″ (-0″)

Right upper arm 14 1/2″ (-1/4″) 

Waist 32 1/2″ (-3.0″)

Hips 45″ (-1/2″)

Left upper thigh 28 3/4″ (-1/2″)

Right upper thigh 29 1/4″ (-1/2″)

Left lower thigh 23 1/2″ (-1/4″)

Right lower thigh 24″ (-1/4″)

Left knee 16″ (-1/4″)

Right knee 16 1/2″ (-1/4″)

Left calf 17″ (0″)

Right calf 17″ (0″)

Lost This Week= -6 1/4″ 

TOTAL LOST = -16 3/4″

OMG! Three inches from my waist! I always lose from my waist/stomach first. I wonder if the planks are helping. I notice the need to work on my lower abs so I might try some reverse crunches. I wish I had greater losses in my hips and thighs, but I’ll get there! 

Happy Saturday…grace and peace!

Raquel

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Challenge, diet, Exercise, Health

VLCD 18

I DID IT!!! I held my plank for 35 seconds yesterday!!! It got shaky for the last five seconds or so, but I did it! It may not sound like a big deal to you, but it is to me. I am soooo proud of myself!


So for my great achievement, I am rewarded with an additional five seconds. Yes, folks…beginning today and for the next two days, I have to hold my plank for 40 seconds. Yikes! However, like yesterday, I’m going to give it my all. Further, after a day of rest from squats, today I have to do 125. The squat is an exercise I actually enjoy, but 125?


My plan is to do them in five sets of 25 with short rests between each set. My thighs haven’t hurt at all during this challenge. Let’s see how I feel after 125 squats!

I recently added a little arm work out. Nothing big, but I’m just trying to tone. Using 3 lb hand weights, I perform a few sets of bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and tricep extensions. I also do a few shrugs. I’ve noticed that my biceps are stronger than my triceps.

Now on to my daily weigh in – the scale showed a loss of 0.8 lbs. Today makes exactly three weeks before I leave for Martha’s Vineyard. I’m hoping to make a lot more progress before then. It would be great to be in the 160s by that time. I’m hoping to bid adieu to the 180s by this time next week.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow is measurement day. I’ll be up bright and early with my measuring tape. See you then!

Grace and peace!

Raquel

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Challenge, Exercise, Health

VLCD 17

I dropped another 0.4 lbs. I feel like this is going soooo slooooow! There are various tips for stalls, but this is not a stall – I am losing, albeit rather slowly. I’m praying for patience. 🙏🏾

Today I’ll be officially 1/3 done with my plank and squat challenges. It’s day 10 of 30 and I move up to holding my plank for 35 seconds. I’m a little nervous about that. For the past three days, I’ve had to hold it for 30 seconds. I did it, but it was challenging. Thirty-five seconds might be pushing it today, but I’ll give it my all. When you struggle by the 30th second, going an additional five is tough!

As far as my squats, today is a rest day. This will be my second rest day during the squat challenge. In fact, I have a rest day every five days. During these days, I feel like I’m wasting time and should still do squats on my own. In my mind, rests hinder my progress so I must do squats daily if I want my thighs to get thinner. Not true at all! 😱

An article I read on VeryWell.com stated: “Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen.” Apparently while I’m resting, my body is still working. Rest is an important part of the process and I wasn’t aware of this. From now on, I’ll accept my rest days and be grateful. 

I just downloaded a running app on my iPhone called C25K by Zen Labs. It’s one I’ve used before and with which I had tremendous success. 


A few years ago, I began running and was in the best shape I’d ever been since high school. Then I stopped. I want to get back to that. (NOTE: See the photo below. It was just a few short years ago. This is my goal!)


I’m not sure when I’ll begin, but when I do, I’ll be running three days/week and working toward running 5k. The app combines walking and running with more walking during the first weeks and building up to more running in later weeks until you’re running a full 5k by week 8. t week. This was a no no.

You can download the app to your iPhone or Android phone. Click C25K to find out more about this app. 

That’s all for now…

Grace and peace!

Raquel

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diet, Health

VLCD 16 – I’m a Snail, but I’m Winning the Race 

I just got off the scale and I’m down another .6 lbs today. As usual, I’m slow and steady. I feel like I’m losing at a snail’s pace and it’s driving me crazy!!! 


I don’t want to be a snail anymore! Now…I’m not demanding to be a hare (although it would be nice), but at least let me move up to turtle status!


HOWEVER, excluding my cheat day, I consistently lose daily and have not yet stalled; so I suppose I am still winning the race. I’m thinking about cutting the fruit for the next few days to see how that impacts my losses. 

In other news, I’m beginning to see a difference in my stomach. When laying in bed, I used to be able to grab a lot of skin; now it’s getting flatter. When standing and looking down at the ground, I can see my feet. I know it sounds crazy, but I couldn’t see my feet over my stomach before. In my own way progress is being made. Honestly, I would rather see physical changes than changes on the scale. For me, my goal is to have a smaller me and fit into and look better in my clothes. Nonetheless, I hope these pounds and inches become friends soon and work together to show losses. 

Day 9 today on my plank and squat challenges and I’m hanging in there. Until tomorrow…

Grace and peace!

Raquel 

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