Challenge, diet, Exercise, Health


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!




Time to weigh myself! I actually awakened much earlier and had this thought before going back to sleep:

3:37 AM: I feel three pounds lighter! (I told myself that if I wished it and believed it in my heart, it would be true.) I thought about how well I ate yesterday and how I would be rewarded with kindness from the scale in a few hours. 

After a few more hours of sleep, the time was here. I got on the scale, with the number “3” on my mind. I couldn’t help but sing “3 is a Magic Number” from Schoolhouse Rock. 

3 is s Magic Number – Schoolhouse Rock

Well…I did not get my wish. The scale read 190.8 for a loss of only .6 lbs. I cursed the scale and insisted that it must be broken or the batteries are dying. That number on the scale is simply not correct!

I can’t help but wonder why my first week losses have been so small. In my reading, I learned that many people lose 3-4 lbs in the first day alone and have lost 10+ lbs in the first week with weight loss slowing down after that. I’ve read that one loses less if there is less to lose overall. I definitely do not fit this category…I have a lot to lose. Could it be because the HCG 1234 that I’m using is homeopathic? (I’ve been researching so I’ll share more about homeopathic HCG in a later post.) Well, that can’t be because there are many others who’ve had great losses on homeopathic brands, including HCG 1234. Could it be because of how I initially stopped the diet after three days, binged for nearly a week, and restarted? If that’s the case, it’s totally my fault and I’ll have to stick with it and pay the price. 
I’ve searched the web for ideas and this is my plan for today and the next several days to see if I can increase my losses:

  • I’m going to pay careful attention to serving sizes of both onions and tomatoes. I’ve read that they’re higher in carbs than other allowed veggies. 
  • I’m going to drink two TBS of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) in a cup of water each day. ACV is supposed to help raise the metabolism. I’ll add a little stevia if necessary. 
  • I’m going to increase my fiber intake and have a big, healthy salad each day for at least one of my meals – topped with ACV dressing. I’m not constipated, but more fiber can only help. 
  • I’m going to stay away from beef for a few days. This will be hard because beef is one of my favorite proteins. I like eating HCG friendly chili, hamburgers, meatballs, steak, etc. Instead, I’ll have more chicken, fish, shrimp, crab. 
  • I’ve read that Green Tea supports weight loss so I’ll have a cup or two daily. 
  • I relish in my two servings of Melba toast each day. This week, I’ll have only one serving per day…or maybe I’ll not have it at all. 

In addition, I must remind myself that even if I’m not losing pounds, I might be losing inches and that’s just as important. (See my posts for VLCD 4 and 5.) Who wants to lose just pounds if the body isn’t changing? My next measurement day is Sat, July 16th, so I hope to see some losses on the measuring tape. 

Now that I have a plan mapped out, I’m feeling encouraged. This is my last day of week one. I’ll have my end of week (VLCD 7) results tomorrow. Wish me luck!
Grace and peace….




Today I was hoping to say goodbye to the 190s. It didn’t happen 😞. The scale showed 191.4 for a loss of 0.4 lbs. I was certainly expecting a greater loss, but I’ll take it. That’s one stick of butter gone.

Last night, I went to a friend’s house for a meeting. She served refreshments and unlike last week at my brother’s birthday party, I did not indulge! I had already eaten dinner, but not my 2nd serving of fruit for the day. At the meeting, I ate strawberries which is totally on protocol and sipped on seltzer water. The host served hummus (which I love) but I didn’t have any. She had a tray of Melba toast for the hummus dip and I ate two pieces which is allowed on this diet. The finger sandwiches and hot wings looked good, but I didn’t have any. Yay me! I left feeling proud. A nice reward would’ve been a loss of at least a pound this morning, but that’s all I’m going to say about my limited weight loss today.

As promised, I did take my measurements. It was really eye opening. I knew I was big, but didn’t know I was that big! Here they are:

Neck 13 3/4″
Chest 38″
Left upper arm 14 3/4″
Right upper arm 15″
Waist 36″
Hips 46 1/4″
Left upper thigh 29 1/2″
Right upper thigh 30 1/2″
Left lower thigh 24 1/2″
Right lower thigh 25″
Left knee 18 1/4″
Right knee 19 1/2″
Left calf 17″
Right calf 17 1/2″

Egad! My hourglass is totally gone and I am completely a pear. I was flooded with questions. When did my arms become bigger than my neck? Are my chest and my waist really nearly the same size?  I remember a time when my thigh measurements used to be my waist size! Oh the agony! I looked in the mirror today and saw rolls in my back. When did that happen? I held my arms up…they were as big as Popeye’s – without the muscles.

I think had the opposite of anorexia…I saw myself as smaller than I am. However, the scale and the measuring tape, who are both clearly my enemies, reveal something else. Today I had a true picture of myself.

Nonetheless, I remain encouraged because I am already doing something about it! I am on the hCG 1234 plan and I won’t be this size forever. You just wait and see!

Until tomorrow…grace and peace!




It’s been four days of very low carb eating and taking my HCG 1234 drops. I woke up and went directly to the scale. I weighed in at 191.8 lbs – so I’m down another pound since yesterday. That’s four more sticks of butter gone…GO ME! While I’m happy about the loss, it is still devastating to see how much I weigh. Nonetheless, I’ll try to remain encouraged and motivated.

I’m trying to remember when and how I gained this weight. A cheerleader in HS, I always maintained a weight of about 110. I know that’s because I was young and active. I had my first child at age 29. Within months, I was back to 110 lbs. I had my second (and last) child at 31 and have been up and down with my weight ever since. I questioned my doctor about why I was having such difficulty losing weight after my second pregnancy and he simply said that a woman’s metabolism changes after age 30. WTH?

The HCG diet supposedly resets the hypothalamus. (NOTE: I used the word supposedly because this is not my area of expertise; so I’m not certain.) I did a Google search and found that the hypothalamus is “a region of the forebrain below the thalamus that coordinates both the autonomic nervous system and the activity of the pituitary, controlling body temperature, thirst, hunger, and other homeostatic systems, and involved in sleep and emotional activity.” Perhaps this diet will speed up my metabolism. I also don’t sleep well so maybe this will also improve over the course of the diet. Dr. Simeon’s discusses the hypothalamus in his book Pounds and Inches. (see my VLCD 2 post for a copy of the book).

And speaking of pounds and inches, that brings me to something else I wish I had done. I recorded my starting weight, but failed to take and record my measurements. It’s still fairly early in the diet, so I’ll do that in the morning and post. Dr. Simeon’s said that it’s possible to lose inches even when you don’t lose pounds. Both are causes for celebration!

Here are some tips for measuring:

  1. I read that it’s best to measure yourself weekly, on the same day and at the same time. This will give you a true comparison.
  2. Measure yourself in the thickest area possible and be sure to measure yourself in that same area weekly. (I have a lot of thick areas!)
  3. Use a soft, flexible, moldable measuring tape that wraps/folds easily around your arms and thighs and other areas. I plan to use a long measuring tape like the ones used by seamstresses/tailors.
  4. When you take your measurements, the tape should be firm, but not too tight and not too loose.
  5. Measure the following body parts and record: chest, waist, right upper arm, left upper arm, waist, hips, buttocks, right upper thigh, left upper thigh, right knee, left knee, right calf, left calf. I might even measure my neck. 

Here is my lesson learned bullet for today:

  • Take and record your measurements before starting the diet. Then take your measurements weekly during the diet. Always measure on the same day, at the same time, and in the same areas. Monitor the inches lost as you monitor the pounds lost.

Gotta go…time for me to eat my 100 g of grilled chicken and my salad!

Until tomorrow….grace and peace!






VLCD 3 (for real)

So…let me clarify the title of today’s post. I fell off the wagon last week.

I began my HCG diet without knowing that my sister-in-law was going to throw a last minute birthday party for my brother. I arrived to their house on Monday, June 28th with the best of intentions. However, when I got there, I saw (and smelled) BBQ chicken, fried chicken, shrimp and rice, burgers, hot dogs, and of course there was cake. And my sister-in-law makes the best homemade ice cream cakes. Surprisingly, it was none of those items that made me lose control so early in my diet. It was the chips, pretzels, and onion dip. Can you believe it?!?!? How embarrassing! I planned to eat just a few, and then I couldn’t stop. That one taste led to my desire for more and then it encouraged me to eat everything else. Instead of giving myself a pep talk and going back on the diet immediately, I continued to enjoy foods of all kinds for the next few days.

By Saturday, July 2nd, I found my clothes to be even tighter than before. (Yikes!) Fear kept me from getting on the scale to confirm my weight gain.

Should I forget about this diet or should I press on? The desire to reduce my belly, coupled with an upcoming family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard in August, was my motivation to do it right this time and stick to it.

On July 4th, I started over – VLCD 1. I had no real plans for the 4th of July so it was perfect for me. My children went to a family BBQ and I elected to stay home. I did fine and I’ve been doing fine ever since. I did not weigh myself because I could not bear to see a weight greater than with which I started (195.8). In hindsight, I wish I had.

This morning, I weighed myself after completing VLCD 3 and I’m now 192.8 lbs. Whatever I gained, I obviously lost. So now I’m down 3.0 lbs from my initial starting weight. I hope to be in the 180s by Saturday (in two days). I wish I knew what I gained during my binge and what I lost. I will never NOT weigh myself again.

What really helped was buying, prepping, and preparing food in advance. I weighed all of my proteins and put them in separate baggies. On Sunday, I precooked a lot of chicken, fish, and some beef. — enough to last through the work week. I have a lot of fresh vegetables and a wide variety of them. The temptation to cheat is reduced if the food is already prepared.

Now, I’ll add to my lessons learned:

  • Buy your food in advance. Weigh your proteins and ensure you have the right amount per meal (100 g or 3.5 oz). YOU MUST HAVE A FOOD SCALE!
  • Precook your food when possible…especially your protein. You’re less apt to cheat if your foods are prepared in advance.
  • If you’re going to an outing where food will be served, take your own meal if possible. Be mindful of the venue. This would’ve worked at my brother’s house, but would be unacceptable at a wedding reception!
  • Just a sample of a food not on protocol can lead to major cheating. In fact, eating just a sample is cheating! Refrain from doing it.
  • If you cheat, it’s not license to continue to go off protocol as I did. Figure out what tempted you and try to remove that barrier. Then pick up and carry on! (NOTE: There are tips for what to do after a cheat day, but I don’t want to get into that now. At this point, I feel like I would be giving myself permission to cheat knowing that there’s “a fix”. However,  I promise to research it soon.)
  • Don’t be afraid to get on the scale regardless of what happened on any particular day. This is what I regret. I should’ve weighed myself and continued on the plan the day after I cheated.  Instead, I took the cowardly approach. DON’T BE LIKE ME! I wonder how much further along I would have been in my weight loss had I continued on the plan. I’ll never know.  Instead, I wasted about a week. Ugh!

So now, I’m on my fourth day eating low carb and I’m feeling great. I haven’t had any major problems and any hunger is easily satisfied with water. My new thing is liquid, flavored Stevia drops.  I put a few drops in selzter water and it tastes like soda. I also put the dark chocolate Stevia in coffee for a mocha kick. Today, I baked an apple and put in a few drops of the cinnamon vanilla Stevia. Mmm!

I used Better Stevia; purchased at a local health food store. Other popular brands are Sweet Leaf and NuNaturals. 

That’s all for now…moving onward.

Grace and peace!





I drank sparkling water in the middle of the night so I had “to go” when I woke up this morning. I attempted to make a quick run to the restroom and was stopped by soreness in my body. I had forgotten that I did a workout yesterday. While the HCG plan doesn’t require exercise, I opted to do a 20 minute session from Gilad’s Bodies in Motion. My workout included a warmup, lite cardio, toning, and ab work. I found the video on You Tube and enjoyed it so much that I ordered a few of Gilad’s workouts on iTunes. The workouts can be easily modified for even those who don’t workout regularly. You can find the workout I did at

Today was my official weigh-in after eating VLC for the first day yesterday. I was filled with excitement as I prepared to weigh myself, but then fear set in. I was almost positive I lost weight after my first day’s sacrifice. But…what if I didn’t? Or what if I didn’t lose enough? I’ve read about people having amazing first day/first week losses on HCG 1234. What if I didn’t fit in that category? Besides, although I wasn’t expecting a miracle (OK…yes, I was), my stomach didn’t look or feel any different to me and that’s where I carry my weight. Maybe I’m expecting too much to see a noticeable change in my tummy, but a girl can hope, right? 

It was time. I took the plunge and stepped on the scale. Wait….what? I lost only one stinking pound! Are you kidding me?!?!? I stepped off the scale. Surely something must be wrong. I stepped on again. The scale read 194.8. Yep…one itty, bitty pound. The Me that makes excuses said, “The batteries in that scale are dying and need to be replaced. That’s why the scale is wrong.” Then logical Me took over and said, “Let’s reflect and figure out what went wrong.”

I decided to skim Dr. Simeon’s book again, Pounds and Inches. You can find it here:

I think I see where I made my error. My coffee yesterday didn’t include my allotted one tbsp of milk…it had cream and lots of it…exactly how I like it from Dunkin Donuts. Could that be the problem? Unable to drink coffee without cream, I opted for green tea with stevia today. 

Secondly, I don’t think I drank enough water. My guess is that I had about five cups; surely that wasn’t enough. Dr. Simeon recommends two liters of water each day, about 8+ cups. 

Lastly, I read on a website (Livestrong, I think) that exercise can be counterproductive on this diet. Yikes! I didn’t know that! I read that if exercise was something I was already doing before the diet (which I wasn’t) I could continue. Otherwise, I could do something very lite like walking. Perhaps I should just enjoy leisure walks with my Snowflake moving forward. 

My adorable 7 year old Bichon, Snowflake

I’m disappointed in the small loss, but happy that it wasn’t a gain. In fact, if I compare my loss to something visual like sticks of butter, I’ve lost four! On second thought, instead of being disappointed, I’ll take my four sticks!
Today for lunch, I had 100 g of London Broil (grilled), asparagus, and an apple. For dinner, I’ll have garlic chicken and spinach and maybe a half grapefruit. 

Lessons learned so far: 

  • No cream – only 1 tbsp milk/day
  • drink at least 8+ cups of water/day
  • No strenuous exercise; try walking
  • Appreciate small losses; they’re better than gains

Still motivated….

Grace and peace, Raquel



I knew it was time to diet/lose weight when I found myself exhausted and breathing hard after climbing steps. None of my clothes fit…not even my “fat clothes”. I began to wear dresses every day because they were….er…forgiving. My size 6-8 body was gone. I looked pregnant although my children are 18 and 16. Summer had arrived and I didn’t want to wear shorts and tanks…I just couldn’t. Anything sleeveless made my arms look like tree trunks. HCG 1234 to the rescue! Although I should have…I did not weigh myself prior to loading. I regret it and recommend that you weigh yourself before beginning this plan. 

I began with two days of loading and taking my sublingual drops three times each day. Let’s just say that God blessed me because it was the perfect time for me to load. I had a family dinner at Chart House (Weehawken) and a cookout to attend for my husband’s family reunion as well as a 50th birthday celebration at a local soul food restaurant this weekend. At the family dinner on Friday, June 24th, I ate beef, salmon, rice, pasta, and assorted desserts. On Saturday, June 25th, I ate the regular cookout foods at the family BBQ along with southern fried chicken, candied yams, cornbread, and cake at the birthday party. I was stuffed. 

Today,  June 26th is my first day on P2 or VLCD1. I woke up early and went into the bathroom. I didn’t want to know; but wanted to know at the same time. How much did I actually weigh? What was I really working with here? I stepped on the scale, reluctantly placing my feet on each side as if the scale would be forgiving if I moved slowly. I even took off my earrings and removed my hair rollers like it would help me weigh a few pounds less. I closed my eyes, said a prayer, and bravely looked down. No…it couldn’t be! Was I being punked??? I weighed more than I ever had in my life!!! I was 195.8 lbs. I was devastated, but only had me to blame. I knew that only I could fix it. Right then, right there – I knew I had to be serious and stick to this diet. That would mean grocery shopping. 

This morning, I bought boneless/ skinless chicken breast, white fish filets, and 93% lean ground beef. I grabbed apples, grapefruit, oranges, and strawberries. I got asparagus, and cucumbers, celery, cabbage, lettuce, and spinach. I bought sparkling water. I was ready!

For breakfast, I had black coffee with stevia. Lunch was ground beef with taco flavoring (chili powder) over a bed of lettuce, and six strawberries. 

Dinner tonight will be grilled chicken over shredded cabbage and a chopped apple with dressing made of ACV, mustard, and stevia. 

I believe I have the tools to stick to protocol and my plan is to be strong and just do it. For the first time in a long time, I’m looking forward to getting on the scale tomorrow. The way I see it, I’m sure to weigh less than 195.8 lbs. (Yikes!)

Here are a couple of pictures me taken today. OMG!

P2 D1 (tree trunk arms)

P2 D1