I always had a massive appetite and most of my life, I was able to eat what I wanted. I never worried about my size, assuming I had a fast metabolism to thank. But when I turned 45 and perimenopause came knocking on my door, I started steadily gaining weight each year. Then, during the pandemic, I put on almost 20 pounds.
Food is my love language and I’ve always been a big overeater. And as a mother, wife, and business owner, food has always been my comfort and what brings my family together. Portion size wasn’t on my radar. I would eat three servings of pasta for dinner and not even bat an eyelash. It honestly felt like my brain never signaled I was full or told me to stop eating. On top of that, I’ve never been a big exerciser. I’ve tried yoga, Pilates, running, and even bought a Peloton, but I always burn out and struggle to stay motivated. Instead, daily walks with my dog are my go-to.
To put things in perspective, I’m about 5’5’’ and at my heaviest, I was 180 pounds. For some, this isn’t considered big, but personally, that was heavier than when I was pregnant with my daughter. I’ve always been naturally curvy, but now I was noticeably packing weight in my mid-section, face, and arms. My calves were also thicker than ever because I could no longer pull on some of my favorite boots.
Aside from aesthetics, I was constantly out of breath and chronically tired. My doctor also expressed concern about my weight and high cholesterol. I was discouraged and the weight kept coming. I just didn’t feel like myself.
I started researching weight loss medications and considered my options.
Within the last year, I’ve seen tons of ads for weight loss medications on social media and heard success stories through friends. I was intrigued, so started researching medical weight loss drugs and considered my options. I wanted any medication to be effective and safe, but I also had to stay financially practical since most options aren’t covered under my insurance.
One day, I saw an Instagram post for a new medical weight loss clinic in my area. The monthly price was within my budget, and I knew the lead nurse practitioner so felt comfortable with the process and trusted her expertise. I immediately signed up and booked an appointment.
After a physical, bloodwork, and in-depth medical history, my nurse practitioner and I decided at the end of April 2023 that I would start on 0.25 milligrams of the generic version of semaglutide, the active ingredient of Ozempic and Wegovy. (FYI: Wegovy is FDA-approved for long-term weight management, while Ozempic is FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes but often prescribed off-label for medical weight loss.)
My practitioner discussed the possible risks and side effects such as nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, and even pancreatitis, but explained that starting at a low dose of semaglutide would be best to keep side effects at bay and see how my body reacted.
The weekly medication is administered through an injection, but the first dose was easy and painless.
I experienced some side effects, but my body quickly adjusted.
Side effects are common when taking semaglutide, and the first couple weeks I experienced headaches. Luckily, they were bearable and easily managed with Advil.
I also immediately noticed that I had no desire for food. I wasn’t hungry and nothing sounded good. The only food I occasionally craved was cottage cheese, but after a few bites, I was stuffed.
Mentally, this was a little weird for me. I’ve always loved food and pride myself in cooking three meals a day for my family. When I’m not cooking, I’m meal planning. Now, I could barely even think about food without feeling a little queasy.
After about three weeks, my dosage increased to 0.5 mg, and I quickly experienced more side effects. I was frequently nauseous and had severe heartburn if I ate anything when I wasn’t hungry. One afternoon, I split a chocolate chip cookie with my daughter and after a single bite, I had such bad heartburn I was in bed for the rest of the day.
As a result, I became extremely aware of what I was putting in my mouth. Instead of snacking and mindlessly eating when I wasn’t hungry, food became fuel. I prioritized moderate portions of fresh, whole food (in addition to cottage cheese, I sometimes craved meat) and ate to nourish my body.
I also significantly cut down on alcohol. Before my weight loss journey, I was drinking wine on the daily. Now, my craving for alcohol is completely gone and I’d honestly almost always rather have water.
I started exercising with a personal trainer and realized how strong I was.
As mentioned, fitness has never been my jam. However, I know the importance of exercise, especially at my age. My nurse practitioner continues to tell me that lifestyle changes are extremely important while on semaglutide, and weekly exercise is a must to maximize the medication’s effects. So, I signed up for personal training at my local gym since they offered 30 minute sessions. I told myself I can do anything for 30 minutes and committed to two training sessions a week.
I never knew (or thought) I was strong, but after a few workouts, I feel stronger and more confident than ever. Previously, I lacked discipline and could never stick to regular exercise on my own, but finding a trainer who I like and connect with is huge. My personal trainer, Lyndsay, is the motivation and extra push I need. She holds me accountable.
I still love walking my dog, but I’m also learning new ways of moving that make my mind and body feel good. So far, I’m really enjoying the process and just signed up for another month.
I continued increasing my dosage until I hit my goal weight.
Along with a healthy diet and weekly exercise, I continued to increase my dose of semaglutide every few weeks, with the guidance of my medical provider. At my peak, I was taking 1.5 mg a week, and by the end of August, I officially hit my goal weight. I was down 30 pounds.
Today, I’m about 147 pounds and I feel like myself. My face and mid-section are slimmer, I can work out without gasping for air, I’m stronger, and my boots fit me! Aside from some lingering nausea and reduced appetite, my other side effects also subsided and I feel really good.
The goal is to eventually work my way off semaglutide, so my nurse practitioner recently reduced my dosage as I enter more of a maintenance mode. I’m now taking 1.0 mg every two weeks and the plan is to slowly decrease doses as I wean my way off. I’m a little nervous about weight regain, but I’m certainly more mindful and appreciative of my lifestyle changes. I will continue to work out, limit alcohol, and focus on portion control and a balanced diet.
Semaglutide changed how I nourish my body—and I’ve never felt better.
Personally, I believe this medication is a miracle. I’m so thankful I had access to semaglutide, and I’m fortunate that my body adjusted. I feel like myself again and couldn’t be happier.
Aside from the weight loss, semaglutide taught me to be mindful of how I fuel and treat my body. After years of dieting and attempting every weight loss hack on the planet, semaglutide gave me an opportunity to lose weight without feeling restricted.
Instead of giving up my love of food to lose weight, semaglutide changed my mindset. I’m learning that it’s okay (and healthy!) to eat my favorite meals and weight loss should not be a punishment. By prioritizing whole foods, staying mindful of portion size, scaling back on alcohol, and learning to embrace fitness, my weight loss journey has been a major success.