Here's Why I Don’t Feel A Way About Using A Weight Loss Drug To Heal My Body
Her Voice

Here's Why I Don’t Feel A Way About Using A Weight Loss Drug To Heal My Body

By now, you have all heard of Ozempic, Wegovy,Mounjaro, andZepbound. These are the newest drugs on the market prescribed for weight loss and obesity. Deemed as the "cheat code" for summer body goals, celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Al Roker, Whoopi Goldberg, Amy Schumer, Tracey Morgan, Elon Musk, and Chelsea Handler have gone public about their use of the medication to aid in their weight loss journeys. And their results are giving. I mean, have you seen Oprah lately? The woman is 70 years old, and she is serving and giving it all.

Before these drugs were reclassified as weight loss medications by the FDA, these GLP-1 drugs hit the pharmaceutical market solely as a diabetes medication. The side effect of the drug is suppressed hunger and reduced “food noise.” These medications help overweight and/or obese patients successfully lose 25% of their body weight or more. Continuous debates on social media and news outlets are trending on the success of the drug in the fight against obesity, but also on the medical dangers and long-term side effects of using these drugs.

Nonetheless, the demand for these weight loss drugs continues to skyrocket, creating mass shortages from manufacturers Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk.

The demand for these types of medication has created an unprecedented effect when it comes to access for patients with a medical diagnosis or not. Health insurance providers only cover the drug with a diabetes diagnosis or through an authorization process, thus creating an expensive out-of-pocket cost to patients. The cost of these medications is not cheap. Any variation of these GLP-1 drugs ranges from $1000-$1,500 per monthly supply.

Times that by three, six, or nine months – that is the equivalent of a luxurious international vacation or a down payment for a new car. Primary care physicians and medical specialists are writing prescriptions with no hesitation. And patients are willing to pay whether it is a medical necessity or not.

My truth: I am a 39-year-old woman who was previously 49 pounds overweight. I was prescribed a GLP-1 medication to heal my body, and I feel no type of way about it.

But before I share my story and justify my reasoning for using a weight loss medication, let’s first examine the facts to provide perspective and understand the underlying causes of weight gain because no two individuals's health and wellness journeys are identical.

2015 - the last time I was 135 pounds

Courtesy of the writer

The Weight Loss Drugs Facts Presented By Oprah

On March 18, 2024, ABC Network airedAn Oprah Special: Shame, Blame, and the Weight Loss Revolution.The purpose of the interview is to release the stigma, shame, and judgment for individuals who are overweight and how they choose to lose or not lose weight. The interview provides a 360-view of the biology of obesity, the use of weight loss medication, and the pharmaceutical industry. Invited to the conversation are users of the drug, medical specialists, representatives from the manufacturing companies of the medications, and the CEO of Weight Watchers.

The audience is comprised of current and past users of a GLP-1 or semaglutide medication. Oprah begins her interview special by openly discussing her struggle with her own weight. She states, “For 25 years making fun of my weight was a national sport.” In 1990, TV Guide referred to Oprah as “bumpy, lumpy, and downright dumpy.” Oprah also openly admits she starved herself for five months to lose 67 pounds on a liquid diet, which she gained back in less than days.

What The Experts Say About Obesity

Oprah states that the American Medical Association defined obesity as a chronic disease 10 years ago. Dr. W. Scott Butsch, Director of the Obesity Medicine in the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic shares in the interview that obesity is a complex disease. Think about genetics, environments, food, sleep patterns, and microbiome changes. He states that it is the brain that controls body fat, food intake, and metabolism.

Obesity is defined as dysfunction of the regulatory system – when you lose weight, it intentionally slows your metabolism down, and your body is built to maintain your weight. Dr. Butsch continues to explain that some people are prone to hold on to their body fat. Therefore, it is wrong to shame people about obesity as they are subtypes of the disease in the obesity spectrum.

2018 - probably 160-175 lbs.

Courtesy of the writer

Types Of Weight Loss Drugs

Dr. Amanda Velasquez, Assistant Professor of Cedars-Sinai Surgery and Director of Obesity Medicine & Center of Metabolic Health states to date there are seven medications available to treat obesity, including glucagon-like-peptide 1 hormone (GLP-1s). This hormone is produced by the gastrointestinal organ and GLP-1s mimic what the hormone does and does it better. This means reducing food noise, feeling satiety faster, and slowing digestion. For people who are living with obesity, their GLP-1 hormone isn’t working properly. With that said, the medication reprograms the gastrointestinal organ.

Data does show that obesity patients would have to be on medications for the rest of their lives as the disease does not stay in remission. However, Oprah maintains her weight by hiking, walking, running, weight training, and a healthy diet. It is important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs like Ozempic 20 years ago for type II diabetes. Dr. Velasquez further states the side effects of choosing not to take the medications are higher than the mild side effects of nausea and vomiting – obesity is a disease, not a character flaw.

Weight Loss Issues

2021- 170-180 lbs

Courtesy of the writer

Now that we are clear on the biology of obesity, let’s get into my weight issues. I was born 0.9 pounds as a premature twin baby. I graduated high school at 115 pounds, graduated college at 125 pounds, and graduate school at 128 pounds. Given these numbers, you can see I was never a heavy-set person. Picture runway model skinny with tig ol’ bitties. Yes, that was me. It wasn’t until I transitioned into a high-stress career that my lifestyle habits began to change. I began to gain some weight. I went from 135 pounds in 2016 to 150-something pounds in 2017.

At the time some of my friends would say, “I look healthy” or “you look good” given I was in my early thirties. Now, combine a high-stress career with mental health issues, emotional trauma, and a worldwide pandemic together. Add 32 more pounds to the weight I previously gained – your girl is now THICC at 182 pounds. Even though I carried this new weight well, it was too much for my height of 5 '4 and small frame. Not only did I know this, but I felt it too. It was the way my clothes slowly stopped fitting me and the heavy breathing. It’s true – the body really does keep the score.

Returning To A Healthy Lifestyle & A Medical Diagnosis

March 2023- 150 lbs

Courtesy of the writer

In 2019, I left mycorporate career which eliminated my main source of stress. As the pandemic came to an end in 2021, fitness clubs fully reopened. I returned to the gym and my healthy lifestyle habits seamlessly. Please note I have always been a gym-goer or someone who enjoyed working out and eating healthy since 2011. I went back to my normal workout routine – running, climbing the stair mill, lifting weights on my own, and enlisted the help of a personal trainer twice a week.

It wasn’t until January 2022 that I noticed that the weight was not moving despite my clean eating and disciplined efforts.

In February 2022, I decided to seek medical assistance from my primary care physician, gynecologist, endocrinologist, and holistic/functional medicine doctor. It took a whole eight months before I received a proper medical diagnosis and clarity as to why my body was not responding to my normal weight loss efforts.

The answer was rooted in trauma and ahormonal imbalance, which gave me an autoimmune diseaseHashimoto Thyroiditis.

A Heavy Decision

June 2023- 133 lbs

Courtesy of the writer

It was September 2022 when I decided to pursue functional medicine to heal my body. I detoxed for 8 months with Chinese herbs, a paleo diet, and daily workouts. And it was the end of October 2022 when my endocrinologist said to me, “I am going to help you.” He said, “Have you heard of Eli Lilly?” I replied, “No.” My endocrinologist went on to explain that Eli Lilly manufactures the newest diabetes drug Mounjaro. A medication that beat clinical trials against Ozempic and Wegovy.

This new medication helps patients lower their A1C, and glucose, promotes insulin sensitivity, and helps patients lose 25% of their body weight. Keep in mind this was my first time hearing about medications for weight loss in general. I never had to be on medication for anything in my life outside the normal cold, sinus infection, flu, birth control, and hormonal acne.

The idea of prescribed medication to lose weight sounded absurd.

We are constantly told by the fitness industry to eat clean, eat our macros, stay in a caloric deficit, and work out. However, the body is complex – what they don’t tell women is that the problem is very much hormonal, and a holistic approach is required. At first, I was against using the medication because I did feel like it was cheating. I felt a sense of shame and anxiety too. “What are my family and friends going to say?” was my first thought.

I am the type of person who believes in discipline, consistency, hard work, and making the right decisions always gets you where you need to be. BUT, what my endocrinologist explained to me was that my body stopped responding due to my hormonal imbalance. He further explained that Mounjaro will stimulate my insulin (FYI insulin is a hormone) to function properly so that my body can naturally lose and/or maintain weight.

What I needed was what my endocrinologist referred to as a metabolic reset. This is achieved by losing 25% percent or more of my body weight. I had waited a good three months to secure an appointment with this man. And he wasn’t just any endocrinologist – he was the director of an endocrinology and diabetes institute. So, I decided to appease him and told him to “write the script.”

The Journey To Healing My Body

Currently 137 lbs

Courtesy of the writer

After I was prescribed Mounjaro and before I administered my first dose, I went down the rabbit hole of looking at TikTok videos from users who were prescribed a GLP-1. I wanted to listen to their reviews, success stories, and experiences with the side effects. I wanted to see what their diets looked like and if they gained any weight after coming off the medication. What I found was that most people did lose the weight they needed to. I also found that women who have insulin resistance (my initial diagnosis) and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) were using GLP-1 medications too. They were also successful in achieving a healthier weight.

There were a few TikTok users who reported experiencing the known side effects of nausea, vomiting, bowel changes, and loss of appetite. When it came to diet, I noticed that either these people were not eating clean, unprocessed foods or they were barely eating at all. A lot of the content found on TikTok when it comes to diet was packaged, processed foods or fast food (i.e. Chipotle or Chick-fil-A salad). As for exercise, there were some people that worked out daily and others that did not.

With that said, my approach to using Mounjaro was completely different. I know myself, and my goal was to be healthy regardless of choices and sacrifices I had to make. I wasn’t interested in instant gratification, I was interested in longevity and sustainability.

Having started a holistic detox, I had previously adopted a paleo diet in conjunction with the medication. Organic meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit. I started to read food labels and if it had some long scientific ingredients – I wasn’t buying it. I also eliminated soy, dairy, sugar, caffeine, gluten, alcohol, white carbs, legumes, and inflammatory oils (seed and vegetable oils). I continued my daily workouts five times a week, controlled my stress, and adopted a new sleep routine.

Come November 2022, I injected my first dose of Mounjaro into my belly. I did experience changes in my bowels for one week as my body adjusted to the medication. It wasn’t enjoyable, but I survived.

I think I vomited a total of two times but I cannot confirm if it was a reaction to the detox phase I was in or the medication. By the end of December 2022, I had lost 15 pounds and by the end of February 2023, I had lost an additional 13 pounds. I continued to stay disciplined and consistent with everything I was doing. I was motivated by the results, more so because the medication wasn’t cheap and neither was the holistic detox.

By May 2023 I had achieved a metabolic reset by losing 25% of my body weight. My bloodwork showed an insulin level of below ten. The endocrinologist said going forward metabolic indicators are how flat my stomach is. Pay attention to my sugar and salt cravings – not the number on the scale.

Let me tell you my stomach is flatter than it used to be and I don’t crave any sugar or salt.

Courtesy of the writer

May 2024 will make it one year since I am Mounjaro free. And guess what? I have maintained my weight by strictly adhering to my paleo diet, lifestyle habits, and gym routine.

In May 2023, my weight was 137 pounds; in December 2023, I weighed 134 pounds. As of today, I currently weigh 137 pounds. I have achieved an insulin level (3.5) of a pro-athlete, which shocked my endocrinologist. In eight months, I will be 40 years old. I can run a mile in under nine minutes and three miles in under 35 minutes, and I lift moderately heavy for a girl.

I have no regrets about using a weight loss medication to heal my body nor do I feel any shame around my decision. My medical issues and circumstances are unique to me. I didn’t do anything different other than advocate for my health, seek the right answers, and execute accordingly.

For me, it is very rewarding to know that I am in good health thus far and the lab work shows. I am so grateful to have the information and resources accessible to me so that I could heal my body.

My physical transformation wasn’t just about losing weight – it was about getting back to myself. For years, all I wanted was to get me back. And that’s exactly what I went and did. I would say when it comes to navigating the decision to use weight loss medications to heal your body – listen to yourself first.

It’s okay to ask for help from your doctor – especially when it’s deemed medically necessary or if your body isn’t functioning properly. It’s not just about how you look and feel but it’s also about your general health too. Good health surpasses any negative opinions formed against you.

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