The Diet Diaries: Petronella van Dommelen, HcG Dieter

Welcome back to The Diet Diaries- true stories of ordinary people working to lose weight.  For previous entries, check out Sharon, Samantha and Tyler.  The fourth entry in this series stars one Petronella van Dommelen, because I told the Diet Diaries participants that they could pick their own pseudonyms.  We like to have fun around here. 

Petronella is following the HcG Diet, a controversial diet in which you eat 500 calories a day while injecting HcG, a sex hormone that triggers testosterone production.  She’s married with 2 children, and has spent years struggling to lose weight.  Weight Watchers has worked for her in the past, but she’s always experienced rebound weight gain. 

Petronella does a few things right, and a few things wrong, but overall she’s clearly making progress.  There are several good lessons to learn from her story- I’ll explain them at the end.

Starting weight: 178.5 pounds, 37% body fat. 


Slept in until 9:00 Weighed myself: 178.5, up .2 lbs since yesterday, which is frustrating since I was below my calories of 500 for the day, I only ate 439 yesterday. This diet is so tricky, maybe because I ate my snack of apples (11 oz) AFTER dinner. Sigh.

Note from John: I’ll take water weight for 500, Alex.

I took my hCG and B12 injections and made a cup of black coffee with cinnamon. I may need to be super strict and rigid until my hCG is gone, which means eating chicken breast and white fish. I’ve decided I only like Halibut, beer-battered and deep fried with tartar sauce and lemon. Unfortunately, that is not on the hCG protocol. Had two cups of black coffee with cinnamon.

9:30am: Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of lemon juice & 4 drops of Stevia (I only started last week using the Stevia…I should have started right away, because just shooting down vinegar and lemon juice is HARD!). Ate 4oz of raspberries for


Noon: More coffee, iced this time, and black. I’m not feeling hungry, though I should eat, I just don’t want to.

3:00pm: Snack of 4oz of blueberries with cinnamon. Before this diet, I sugared most berries, now it’s just not an issue.

6:00pm: Dinner of 5.5oz of cauliflower and 5.5oz of Boar’s Head no-salt deli turkey. This has been a diet saver, as I really don’t like cooking meat.

Total for the day: 365 calories, 47 grams of protein. 


Woke up at 8:00am. Weighed myself: 176.7. l gave myself my hCG shot and B12 shot. Had my “normal” hCG breakfast which includes a hard boiled egg white and grapefruit.

10am: I stopped by Starbucks on the way to work and had a grande Cold Brew (which does not have added sugar, like their “classic” iced coffee. Because of the National Night Out event we had going on at work, where I was putting up a booth, and then manning the booth.

2pm: Ate some of my low-sodium deli ham. I felt there was a lot of fat in it today, I’m not sure why, the texture was just weird.

6pm: Ate some of my no-salt deli turkey.  I was unable to eat all my meat today, and I didn’t drink as my water as I normally do. I didn’t even bother with the side vegetables,

because I wouldn’t have had time to eat it. This diet is weird because you are just not hungry, at our booth, we were selling slices of pies, whole pies and having a pie-eating contest, and none of the pies looked appealing. I’m sure they were delicious, but I’m just not interested.

Total for the day: 383 calories, 42 grams of protein. 


7am- Woke up early due to an appointment (although in a few weeks, when the kids go back to school, this will be my regular time, if not earlier!). Weighed in at 176.

Gave myself my injections of hCG and B12. Since I haven’t boiled eggs in I just had low-sodium deli ham, along with my two tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar (I haven’t squeezed any lemon juice recently either, it’s just been too busy). I dreamt last night that I was cutting off mold from a brick of cheddar to make something for my kids, and I just popped a cube of it in my mouth and ate it. In the dream, I thought “Oh crap! What have I done? I just RUINED all this work I’ve done the last 46 days!!!!” It’s a similar feel to the dreams I had when I was a vegetarian and would eat meet in them. Such a guilty feeling!

Anyway, when I woke up I was relieved that it had just been a dream. I have been very good about staying within the protocol of the hCG diet, I’ve only had 2 sips of alcohol. That, sadly, is the thing I miss most. When my friend comes over, I make her a drink with this local vodka, Wild Roots marionberry Infused Vodka and soda water. I did have a sip of that. It was delicious, I have to stop making that for her, because I want some for myself when I can drink again! The other time I “cheated” was when a friend had some wonderful looking Sangria, so I tasted that too. Neither time, it did not affect my weight the next day, but they were truly little sips. Other than alcohol, I haven’t had any real cravings. Some things smell good, but for the most part, I’m not yearning for anything.

Since I was so addicted to sugar, I’m glad I’ve had these 46 days off it, and there will be at least 32 or so more. It would be so easy to slip back to my old habits of 2 sugars and at least 3 tablespoons of cream in my coffee this morning. I’m happy I got my water consumption up. I grabbed a hot coffee from a local coffee shop on this morning, and an iced cold brew from Starbucks this afternoon. I ate dinner too late tonight (9:45pm), it’s really getting hard to eat my 500 calories, if I don’t make a concerted effort soon, my body is going to go into starvation mode right before maintenance, not good.  (Note from John: You’re already in starvation mode.  You’ve been in starvation mode ever since it became hard to eat 500 calories)

Total for the day: 397 calories, 51 grams of protein. 


7:00am: Weight stayed the same at 176. Had a 1/2 cup of coffee and started the laundry. Took my hCG and B12 injections, the hCG is only in the next of the wee little vial, so I’m hoping that there is just a few more days at most!

9:00am: Had a lovely massage, even thought the hCG protocol frowns upon that- apparently, moisturizer will get sucked into your body and will be stored as fat. (Note from John: What the fuck?  No.  See previous note on water weight) Stored fat be damned, I needed a massage! 

10:30am: I got home and ate breakfast (ham and apple) around while trying to get my family ready for our 3 day road trip. It’s always stressful for me, because I’m in charge of myself, 2 kids and the food. You would think my kids (who are 12 years and 14 years) would be more helpful, but they aren’t. My husband is very good at packing the car efficiently and doing the chores around the house, so I can’t complain about him, just my lazy kids ;-).

3:30pm: Reached our destination and had cottage cheese and blueberries. The hCG protocol states you should eat your protein with a vegetable, but I didn’t want to prep anything. Even though the original protocol says that non-fat cottage cheese is a choice for protein, the naturopath I’m seeing said I shouldn’t do any dairy, but I really need a non-meat option.

6:30pm: I had dinner at a reasonable time tonight (no-salt deli turkey and cucumbers), so no eating for me this evening, which is a relief. Tomorrow we are attending a Scandinavian Festival, and there will be aebleskiver, split pea and lentil soups, lefse and all sorts of Nordic treats that I won’t get to imbibe in. The third day of this protocol, we went to a different Scandinavian festival, but I think my body was in shock, so I didn’t have much trouble. It will be interesting about tomorrow.

I haven’t been really wanting to eat, so maybe it will be as easy as that first one. I know when December rolls around, there will be lots of tempting treats around, sandbakkle cookies, krumkake, fattigmann cookies and I can’t wait until I get those “cheat” days. I’m not even Scandinavian, it’s my husband’s side of the family.

Total for the day: 473 calories, 59 grams of protein


9:00am: Weight was 175.7. Gave myself my hCG and B12 injections and ate my “normal breakfast” of a hard boiled egg, grapefruit and black coffee. I started my period, which might be why I’m not losing weight so quickly (Note from John.  Yep, water weight again). We headed to the Scan Fest at around 11:00am, and I packed my snack and lunch, so there would be fewer temptations.

We had a great time, and there were a lot of food booths, but the only one that made me go “Oh, that smells SO good!” was the kettle corn. Fortunately, I don’t like beer, so that was not an issue hanging out in the beer garden. There was no admission to the festival, so I spent a lot of money on gifts, and because my food costs are minimal, I felt good about spending the money.

11:00am: Bought a black iced tea in a souvenir cup and added lemon.

12:30pm: I at my snack of raspberries while watching that band “The Polka Dots”.

3:00pm: I ate my lunch (low sodium ham and cucumbers) at the beer garden while my husband had a beer and my kids had pretzels and Doritos.

6:30pm: My family when out to Killer Burger, and I stayed at our friend’s house and had the same dinner as I had last night: no-salt turkey breast and cucumbers. I realized that if I dice the food, it’s much easier for me to eat. I’ve been very boring in my choices on this protocol, because since I am not really enjoying eating, I see no reason to try to spice things up.

I believe tomorrow will be my last injection (yay!), so there will be only 3 more days of this, and then I can start eating more of the same foods. The goal in Phase 3 “Maintenance” of the hCG protocol is 1200-1400 calories a day. That will be interesting, though in the 2nd, 3rd and 4 weeks you may start adding healthy fats (nuts, avocados, no-sugar nut butters) and I think cheese, though I’m not sure. The idea is that you are setting your hypothalamus to think that this weight is your “new set” weight.

What I’m excited about is going through any type of maintenance. The last 3 times I’ve lost 35-45 pounds, I was on Weight Watchers, but never did get to their “healthy” weight for my height (depression, pregnancy, and another bought of depression derailed my progress). Regardless of where my weight is tomorrow, that is going to be my “maintenance” weight for the next four weeks. A vegan diet is seeming really appealing to me after all this meat I’ve consumed.

The other nice thing about maintenance is I can start exercising, I’ve really noticed how weak I’ve become, and I don’t like that. I have a work out plan my cousin, who has her Fitness Tech AA devised for me, and I can start it. It’s a combination of cardio and weight training. I really don’t care what weight I end up at in the end, I just want to be fit and healthy (and never have cod or tilapia again in my life) 😉

Total for the day: 519 calories, 64 grams of protein


8:00am: Weight was 175.4. Gave myself my hCG and B12 injections….I think there’s one more injection in the bottle. I ate my regular breakfast of a hardboiled egg white, grapefruit and my delicious 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Fortunately, the friend we are staying with has stevia, which makes that cocktail so much more palatable.

11:00am: We were spending most of the day at the Scandinavian Festival, so I packed my lunch. This time I tried low-sodium deli chicken, which is good. I’ve realized how important salt is to making things taste better. I know I’m not supposed to eat the same thing everyday, but I’m not going to cook vegetables when it 85° outside, and I’m going to be eating outside. The festival was fun.

Tonight my husband, who went to this festival many times as a child said that he didn’t remember it having so many food booths, that he thought it was mostly food vendors. I didn’t really notice the disproportionate number of food vendors, because I was focused on the craft vendors. Again, I spent a lot of money on gifts, and felt good about it, these are one-of-a-kind things that I could probably find on Etsy, but they were right there in front of me! It’s funny our different perceptions of how many vendors, because he can eat whatever, and I’m restricted so I just put the food vendors in my blind spot.

12:00pm: Ate my snack of blueberries and cinnamon while watching our local Leikarringen Dance Group.

2:00pm: Had some black iced tea from the Viking Sal Senior Center.

3:30pm: My family left me at the festival to meet a friend, they had enough of it (which is funny, because they have the Scandinavian blood, and I don’t). I ate my lunch while waiting for a friend, a little late in the day, but that’s just how I roll.

8:30pm: Finishing my dinner of cucumber and no-salt turkey breast. I’m dragging today, but it may be the two days of being outside.  In the last two years, I have developed a sun sensitivity, so I have broken out in a polymorphous light eruption rash for the second

time this summer. My teenage dreams of becoming a vampire I think are coming true.

Total for the day: 450 calories, 63 grams of protein. 


9:00am: Weighed 173.9! This was officially my last hCG shot, there is no more to eek out of that little vial. So, 3 more days of 500 calories (72 hours AFTER one’s last shot) and then I bump it up to 1200-1400 calories a day for ‘maintenance’.

9:30am: I was out of grapefruit, so after my 2 Tbls of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 Tbl of Lemon Juice and Stevia, I had an apple and a hard boiled egg white. We got ready to leave and drop the daughter off at camp.

2:00pm: Ate lunch while on the way to camp.

5:00pm: Came home, and started all the chores that had been left undone the last four days. Got the laundry started, unpacked the food, unpacked the clean clothes and put them away, got distracted with uploading Scandinavian videos I took at the festival, changed the sheets on our bed, watered the garden, scooped the cat poop (we did have a house/pet sitter, so it wasn’t GROSS), fed the rats and by the time I was done with all those chores, it was 10:30pm, so there was no dinner for me.

I try not to eat 3 hours before bedtime, because I have GERD, and that really helps me not cough (so has losing weight!). Anyway, it will be interesting to see what the maintenance phase is like. I’m excited that next week I can start eating nuts and avocado and WINE!!!!

Even though this is the end of the 7 days of logging in this way, I will continue it, I have really enjoyed reflecting back on what each day has brought. I’m also looking forward to being able to work out (not strenuously yet, I feel so weak physically) but gently working my way up to a sweat (which I HATE doing), I wish exercise didn’t have to be so sweaty! 😉

Total for the day: 274 calories, 34 grams of protein

Final weight: 173.9 (from 178.5). No body fat percentage given, but presumably 35-36%.    

Final Thoughts

I’ve been emailed by several readers who have followed the HcG Diet.  This is a really interesting diet diary because Petronella’s experience, in my opinion, is pretty typical of what you could expect if you followed the HcG Diet (and that’s a big if- it’s hard to follow).  Here are my thoughts and notes:

She’s losing weight fast, as one would expect.  She’s probably burning between 1700 and 2000 calories a day.  Since she’s eating a little under 500 a day, she should be losing 2.5 to 3.5 pounds a week.  Taking water weight fluctuations into account, it looks like this is basically what’s happening.

Speaking of water weight, she doesn’t really seem to understand how that works.  She doesn’t seem to understand that, given how well she’s following the diet, her actual rate of fat loss is extremely steady, regardless of what the scale says.  This is why I don’t normally recommend people weigh themselves every day.

You don’t need a lot of knowledge to succeed.  Petronella has some weird ideas, particularly that thing about moisturizer (water weight again), and probably doesn’t know how HcG affects the body either.  Doesn’t matter- if you eat less, you’ll lose weight. 

She’s definitely losing muscle, and she seems to realize it, since she notes she’s getting weaker.  Her protein intake is actually not terrible for how little she’s eating, but when you eat at a 1500 calorie deficit with no exercise, you’ll lose muscle, and fast.  She can’t exercise when she’s eating so little.  The HcG might slow the muscle loss, but won’t prevent it entirely. 

Notice how shockingly easy it is for her to follow this diet.  She actually struggles to eat 500 calories a day!  The good news is, if you force yourself to eat less, your body adjusts to it fast.  The bad news is, she’s in starvation mode.  She went into starvation mode whenever she stopped feeling ravenously hungry and started having trouble eating- that’s basically the body giving up on finding food, and focusing on minimizing energy expenditure. 

She’s incredibly disciplined.  Even though I don’t approve of the HcG Diet, I’m impressed that she can follow it.  The good news is, if she can follow this diet, she can follow a more reasonable diet and see great results.