Plain and simple. There are actually a couple of reasons why I went with what some critics might consider a “safe and easy” dinner option. Let me begin by stating the obvious; dieting is mostly psychological. In order for one to be successful physiologically, you first have to convince yourself that what you are doing is working.
During the HCG diet your convictions are put to the test quite aggressively after Phase 1 (loading) is completed. If you followed it to the T like I did, you probably gained 5 lbs in the first two days. DO NOT PANIC, this is good news.
Which is the reason why I always begin my Phase 2 with a very lean meal, so that the third day shows noticeable results. Reason numero dos for grilling all items of my meal is that I have officially kissed olive oil, butter, and all other fats goodbye. If your grill pan is anything like mine, it probably already has a sturdy coat of the later and has been cured and pre-seasoned, which will help you transition without loosing the flavor. Cheating? not really.
Lemon Garlic Chicken
Remove all fat from the chicken breast. In a separate glass bowl mix the juice of half the lemon, Bragg’s and the garlic clove, crushed and mince. Marinate your chicken breast in the mix for about 15-20 minutes, while you prepare the asparagus.
While your chicken marinates, rinse the asparagus and trim to remove the tough ends of the stalk, then season with the infused salt. Grill asparagus crosswise, turning once or twice on high heat for about 8 minutes, using the lemon juice sparingly to deglaze the pan. Once tender, set aside.
Deglaze the pan one last time and use the flavors to grill the marinated chicken. Remember to follow food safety and always cook the vegetables BEFORE the meat. Unlike the asparagus, the trick for the chicken to not stick to the pan is to lower the heat and let it cook until the bottom is completely brown. Turn once and finish cooking, using the marinade to continue deglazing the pan.
Tips: I grilled two slices of lemon and used them to decorate the plate. Filling up the empty spaces of your plate with colorful garnishes helps you fill up visually. Also, make sure you follow your mother’s advice and you savor every bite by chewing longer. The slower you chew, the fuller you feel, the less you eat.
As anybody who begins a dieting process will tell you, I have struggled with my body weight ever since I can remember. I’ve done it all; exercise regimes, taken all kinds of dietary supplements, read all the trending diet books, even gotten hit by a car (yes, indirectly this traumatic event in my life was directly related to my weight issues). I have fluctuated in a 20 lbs. range on and off since I was 13, and after successfully achieving my number one goal to date and beginning a successful career (ironically, as a professional foodie), I decided that I had to put end to this irregularity once and for all.
I first learned about the HCG diet by word of mouth. I was at a crawfish boil (my favorite is an understatement) and as I pillaged through pounds of the boiled critters, I noticed that two friends of mine had not even attempted to peel one. It wasn’t until I saw them make themselves what seemed like water and lemon drinks that I finally drew the line; what the hell is going on here? I quickly poured two shots of tequila and headed their way.
Needless to say my efforts were futile, no matter how much I tried they were not having it. “We’re on a diet, we don’t want it” they told me, with the most austere stance anyone who is not eating or drinking at a crawfish boil could possibly have. I was baffled, and embarrassed. There I stood with two shots of tequila and stains of crustacean brain randomly splattered over the mumu that covered my overweight body. I had to hear more about this.
The HCG diet kept randomly popping up during the next couple of months, peaking my interest with every story, conversation, and article. I couldn’t resist so I began to research it. One thing was definitely certain, the HCG diet was quite controversial and I had to be as educated and informed about it as I possibly could. I read through the writings of Dr. A.T.W Simeons (founder of the protocol) and the later The Weight Loss Cure They Don’t Want You To Know by Kevin Trudeau. I also read multiple articles written by all kinds of health and nutrition experts that had mixed feelings about the diet, going as far as calling it “the anorexic junkie diet”, critiquing the hormone injections and 500 daily caloric intake. I found that most of these negative reactions didn’t come from individuals who had followed the protocol themselves, but by those who sternly believed in FDA regulations, which state that the Human Chorionic Gonadotropin hormone has not been found to directly make you lose weight, and therefore the diet does not have their trusty seal of approval.
Now, one of the things about begin a foodie is that I have an active interest in the food industry, from restaurant trends to agricultural practices. I’m a big fan of Michael Polland’s writings and have followed closely the FDA malpractices throughout the years. Forgive me if blindly following the disposition of one of the most corrupt organizations in U.S history is not part of my agenda or repertoire. If anything, it only encouraged me further. But as I continued researching I found that there was some truth in their statements, the HCG hormone does not help you lose weight, the diet does. The HCG’s role in the protocol is to help cut down on hunger while on the low calorie diet, and to target your stored fat so you burn that instead of muscle, its natural role.
I was ready to give it a go. On July of 2011, I made an appointment with Body by Chemistry (www.bodybychemistry.com), a weight loss, hormone replacement therapy, detoxification and nutraceuticals clinic that pretty much changed my life. I particularly chose this clinic because the M.D that heads it has been a practicing internist in the South Florida area for over 20 years, is a board certified physician in Internal Medicine and Geriatrics and a fellow of the American College of Physicians. 28 days later I was 20 lbs lighter. But that’s not it, the best part about this story is that it has officially been more than half a year since I went through the protocol and I haven’t gained a pound back (and I haven’t been holding back with my meals).
So here we are ready for round two, and believe it or not I’m very excited to start experimenting again with my restricted menu. I love a culinary challenge more than anything, so in attempts to help those who are beginning their journey, I will be documenting my meals and recipes, giving tips that have helped me through it, proving that the 500 calories a day can be actually very fulfilling and enjoyable.