Trigger Warning: Diet, medical

I was about 16 years old and around 210 pounds when the healthcare system failed me. My regimen was 500 calories a day with a shot in the stomach every morning; I wasn’t allowed to exercise because of the calorie intake (or lack of) and I could only eat a certain amount of protein every day.

I wasn’t sick, but I did this. Why? To lose weight. It is called the HCG diet.
According to the Mayo Clinic, HCG is human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone produced during pregnancy; and the diet itself has not been proven safe or effective. The Food and Drug Administration says to stay away from over-the-counter weight loss products that contain HCG. At the time I didn’t know this, but it can also increase the risk of certain cancers, fatigue, depression and the formation of blood clots.

We heard about the diet from a neighbor down the road who had found success with the diet. I don’t remember how much weight she had lost, but it was extremely visible. I wanted that. I wanted to be thin more than anything. So I talked to my family about beginning the diet, found the doctor and paid for a small vial of the hormone.

At first it was great. I was losing a pound a day. But if I didn’t lose weight one day, the next day all I was allowed to eat were apples. I’m not sure why apples, but I don’t remember how many apples I ate just to fill myself up.

During this I had a family member say behind my back that she didn’t think I could do it. So that made me want to lose the weight even more.

The medicine made me feel like I wasn’t hungry. Like I didn’t have to eat. I felt tired, but the numbers on the scale were going down, so I was happy. I would eat my lunch in my teacher’s classroom so I wouldn’t have to show what I brought to eat to my friends. It usually consisted of a puck of grilled chicken, spinach leaves flavored with lemon juice and of course, a shiny, red apple.

According to Healthline, this extreme of a diet can cause malnutrition and should only be done under the supervised care of a doctor. But after the second time I visited that doctor, I never wanted to go back.

The doctor I was using to get the HCG was not my primary care doctor. My primary care doctor would have never cleared me to use HCG and I understand why. But, the doctor I used was an old man. I would describe him as a quack. He was an old man, probably in his 60’s, had white hair, was balding and wore glasses.

The second time I went in was for a followup, to see how I was doing and if I was experiencing anything unusual. Because he was a doctor, I felt I should be comfortable explaining what was going on with my body while on the medication. I told him my breasts were sore. What he said to me next was inappropriate and I didn’t realize how bad it was until years later; I still regret not saying anything about it. He said it was normal for that to happen and to just not have anybody play with them, and he pantomimed with his hands in the air like he was. He laughed it off and I did too. I knew that it felt wrong, but I didn’t know what else to do.

A few years later my grandpa (I call him Pops) mentioned how he didn’t go to that doctor anymore and I told him that it was good that he didn’t, and explained what happened to me. He looked at me shocked.

Before I ended the diet I reached 187 pounds, the lightest I had been in years. When I was 16 years old, the healthcare system allowed me to get on this diet and made me feel uncomfortable with inappropriate comments. Now I am 21 years old and heavier, but happier than I was when I was injecting myself with hormones.

As always, my main goal for these kind of posts is to help people learn to love themselves the way they are. Please, do not subject yourself to this kind of extreme diet. Do not risk your health just to reach a “goal.” Also, know what you are putting into your body and find a doctor you can trust.

In the beginning I truly thought I wanted to lose the weight in that manner, but now I know it was not healthy and if I want to lose weight, to do it the natural way.