Ozempic is the much discussed drug created for those with Type 2 diabetes but now widely used for weight loss. Woman Alive’s deputy editor Jemimah Wright finds out from a friend who used it, why this drug has been so popular.
I first heard of ozempic (one of the brand names, like wegovy and rybelsus, for the generic drug, samaglutide) a few months ago. Earlier in 2023 the drug was made available for weight loss on the NHS, with the pre-requisites that the patient had to have related health conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.
Ozempic was originally a drug for Type 2 diabetes. It works by mimicking a naturally occurring hormone. As those hormone levels rise, the molecules go to your brain, telling you that you are full. It also slows digestion by increasing the time it takes for food to leave the body. This is similar to the effect of bariatric surgery.
Sharon Osbourne, Oprah and Amy Schumer have all talked about their experiences with the drug, and their diminishing figures are proof of the weight loss success (or over-success) of the drug. Sharon Osborne, 71, apparently now weighs under 100lbs (just over 7 stone) after taking ozempic.
I need to be really clear when I say that Ozempic will help you lose weight, but it will not help you keep the weight off.
So if it is now available on the NHS, should Christians take it? Here is the experience of my friend, Nicky, 50, in the USA:
‘Ozympic has been a tool to help me lose weight, but it is not the only thing I have employed to help me on this journey. I need to be really clear when I say that ozempic will help you lose weight, but it will not help you keep the weight off. The emotional baggage, the scars that caused you to become an unhealthy eater need to be dealt with. Let me tell you how I started a year ago.
‘I’ve struggled with weight since I was in my 20s. I even had gastric bypass surgery. I’ve tried many diets, too many to mention, when what I really needed was to deal with some very deep hurts from childhood sexual abuse, and a bitter divorce between my parents when I was 13.
‘These traumatic events led me to have little value for myself. At one point someone pointed out to me that maybe I stayed overweight so I didn’t have to deal with men. That hit me hard. I realized that my weight was symptomatic of a way bigger issue. No diet was going to cure my lack of self-esteem and insignificance. I had to attack that issue. I turned again to the Bible, but this time I focused on my identity in God.
‘I developed a three-pronged approach. First, I laid my eating disorder at the cross and gave control to the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not a one time deal. It took months of every day visualizing laying this disorder at the cross. Even now I resort to unhealthy habits, but I know what to do. Every day I am spending time reading the Bible. I am also reading from authors like Lysa TerKeurst, women who have been through this struggle as well and have a Christian perspective.
’My second prong was working out. I knew that to make a difference I needed to go to the gym more than once or twice a week and break a tiny sweat on the elliptical. I go four times a week now and do high intensity, interval, training mixed with strength training. Do I like it? It depends on when you ask me…walking in, or out of the gym.
I was warned of the side effects of stomach cramping and possible nausea, but I didn’t really have any side effects. I know others who have though.
’Prong three is ozempic. I started on the smallest dose in January of 2023 and in December 2023 I moved onto the largest dose. I have been told I can stay on it as long as I want. I was warned of the side effects of stomach cramping and possible nausea, but I didn’t really have any although I know others who have. Ozempic makes me feel less hungry. I don’t have cravings at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, I eat smaller portions and the weight has come off quickly. Since January I have lost over 60 pounds. I have energy. I sleep better. I’m doing things I never imagined I would do, like paddle boarding.
‘My time with God has grown so much. I think this has been such a huge piece of my weight loss - coming to him, my father, and giving all of it to him. I know that on my own I cannot keep this weight off. I am only one bite away from an avalanche of bad habits and reckless tendencies that lurk close by. I rely every day on the Holy Spirit. He gives me that extra measure of strength when I’m tired, when I’m hungry or when I’m just discouraged. He speaks words of love not condemnation to me when I am up a pound or two.
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‘I will say this, have a very strong ‘why’ in your head before you start a long weight loss journey, or consider ozempic. Your ‘why’ needs to be something so significant that it will motivate you when you are hurting and exhausted on the treadmill, or starving, and looking at a packet of biscuits. Personally my why was to be a fun grandma for my kid’s children when I’m older. I want to be a huge part of their lives. God has so much in store for me and I want to be ready and able to take it on. So for me, I have felt ok with taking ozempic, but everyone should make their own choice.’
Laura’s experience has been good, but as she says, no drug is going to heal you of the cause of over-eating or binging. As women of faith, we know that Jesus is the ultimate answer to all the desires of our heart. So if you are considering taking ozempic, I would recommend you research it well. There have been documentaries on the drug which give more information. For example, a recent Channel Four documentary, ‘The truth about the Skinny Jab’ found that unapproved versions of ozempic have been advertised in beauty salons on British high streets, so take caution.
Taking a pill to lose weight will have risks, so what is important to know is that you are loved as you are, whatever size. Ozempic may be named a ‘wonder drug’ but it won’t change how you feel about yourself. Follow Laura’s example and go to the Bible first, ask God to show you how he sees you, and let the truth sink in.