Experimenting with Ozempic

Faulty wiring, hormonal dysregulation, and genetics have kept me in a complicated battle with weight gain

Dr. Linda Dahl

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Photo: Fuu J / Unsplash

Although I’ve never been skinny, my weight took a turn north last winter and kept going. Weight gain isn’t new to me. I’ve spent my whole life gaining and losing the same fifteen pounds over and over again; measuring my self-worth by how many calories I had consumed or whether I was thinner or fatter than the day before. But this felt different. My old weight loss hacks weren’t working. No matter how many meals I skipped or hours I spent on my Peloton, the pounds kept piling on.

My first thought was menopause. Losing my lady hormones could make me extra flabby. I’m 51, so the timing made sense. Most nights I woke up in sweaty panic attacks and, during the day, felt terribly depressed. It would have been easy to blame low self-esteem and the pandemic, but, erring on the side of hope, I paid a visit to my gynecologist.

“Depending on you’re lab results, we’ll start bioidentical hormones,” she said.“But I’m sure you’re in menopause.”

“But what about the weight?” I asked, angrily pinching four inches of belly fat for effect.

“Yeah. Menopause makes you gain weight.”

“But I can’t live like this. It’s too much.”

She nodded. “Semiglutide.”

“The ice cream?”

“No. That’s semifreddo. Semiglutide. It’s the generic form of Ozempic.”

She went on to explain that semiglutide is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) analog. It helps regulate the hormones insulin and glucagon when blood sugar levels are high. It also slows gastric emptying, so you feel full longer. At higher doses, semiglutide acts on the brain to decrease appetite. It was FDA approved as Ozempic in 2017 for diabetes and in June 2021 for weight loss–for those of us with at least one other underlying condition.

My height and weight easily placed me in the near-obese BMI range. I also had chronically high cholesterol. I had always suspected I had polycystic ovary disease, which would explain my overabundance of body hair and adipose, but I had never been formally diagnosed.

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Dr. Linda Dahl

Physician. Author of Tooth and Nail:The Making of a Female Fight Doctor & Better Breastfeeding, http://www.drlindadahl.com @doctorlindadahl