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before and after

My Personal Weight Loss Story… and my thoughts on Ozempic & Mounjaro

I want to share my personal weight loss story with you. An intimate encounter that led me to where I am today. Then I would like to share my thoughts on Ozempic / Wegovy (semaglutide) and Mounjaro / Zepbound (tirzepatide) along with the other GLP-1 agonist medications.

It was the February of 2016. I was standing in a wedding dress store, staring at myself in the mirror trying to relish in what was supposed to be one of those greatest moments in my life. It was, but not for the reasons it should have been. This was the moment I realized I had to do something different. Drastically different.

I had struggled with my weight since I was a kid. My weight had always been a “problem” that I was working on. I would go back and forth from extreme calorie restriction and obsessing over every morsel of food and exercising hours a day. OR I was eating from a tub of ice cream on the couch watching Real Housewives. Never in between. My weight controlled my mood, my self-worth, and my life.

This resulted in my weight steadily climbing until I found myself in the plus size section of the wedding dress store – the part with significantly less options, all of which were options made to cover up heavy body parts. I had recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and met the love of my life. I was terrified that I would end up in a wheel chair and lose my ability to workout altogether. I was afraid I would never get the chance to lose the weight “once and for all.”

That was the moment I decided I would have a gastric sleeve surgery. I had been debating it for a while, since I was working as an ER & ICU nurse and part time in PACU recovering bariatric surgery patients. Most of which were smaller than I was.

I had only heard of Ozempic and Mounjaro for diabetic patients. I had tried phentermine and topimax in the past, but it only resulted in heart palpitations and awful side effects. I had tried meal prepping and I lost 20-30 pounds, only to gain 40-50 back when I got tired of the constant fight against myself. I worked with numerous personal trainers, I went to the gym several times a week and I actually was doing Orange theory fitness AND Camp Gladiator at that time. It wasn’t for lack of trying. In my eyes, the only option was surgery if I wanted to get off the merry-go-round of my weight loss attempts.

According to studies, only 5-25% of people who managed significant weight loss using diet managed to maintain their loss weight for more than 5 years. Versus bariatric surgery, in which 25% of patients gain all of their weight back over the next 10 years. So 1 (or less) in 4 patients maintained their weight loss with diet alone versus 3 in 4 with a gastric sleeve surgery. The way I saw it, I have always been at least the top 10-15% of success in everything I put my mind to – so I would be the perfect candidate for a gastric sleeve surgery.

The problem was, my insurance explicitly excluded paying for bariatric surgery. I actually decided to go to Mexico to have my surgery. I was that desperate. Would I have made the same choice if I was faced with it today? It’s hard to say, because I am so glad that I afforded myself the ability to make lasting lifestyle changes – no matter how drastic it was. It was life or death or disability for me in my mind. If I knew then what I know now about weight loss, I wouldn’t need to have the surgery. It was what I learned during the journey about what really matters when you are trying to lose weight – or make any lasting lifestyle habit changes.

I was right. I started losing weight and soon found myself in front of another mirror at another wedding dress store, this time fully engrossed in the moment and ecstatic that I was getting to marry my guy soon. Even if I had no clue what size dress I would be in 4 months later… the dress ended up being way too big for me but I couldn’t have cared less!

The great news for YOU, is that there are now new medications available that I call “the Liquid Gastric Sleeve” surgery. The goal is the same: less hunger and food noise, you get full very quickly, certain less healthy foods don’t taste as good or make you feel kind of crummy. They even improve your cardiovascular risk factors and level out your glucose levels, which surgery doesn’t even do! These medications are the GLP-1 agonists.

In fact, a very good friend of mine came to the clinic and told me about her plans to have the gastric sleeve surgery. I told her about this medication I had been prescribing my patients and was seeing tremendous success with it – and she should at least try it before she went the surgery route.

The surgery was amazing for me, but it isn’t for everyone. There are risks with the surgery itself: leaking stomach, infection, dehydration, there are life long limitations in what you can eat and the way you eat: no liquids and solids at the same time, no carbonated drinks, no NSAID medications, risk of ulcers. There are risks of vitamin deficiencies: B vitamins, iron. There are risks with rapid weight loss itself – hair loss, sagging skin, malnutrition.

She was very skeptical, but decided to give it a try. Her surgery was already scheduled for 8 months from then, so she had time to at least give it a shot. We got her on the medication and I gave her my insight to the significant weight loss I had maintained. She lost 80 pounds and cancelled her surgery.

All about Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Tirzepatide

You have probably heard a lot about these medications lately. GLP-1 agonists such as semaglutide and tirzepatide reduce your blood sugar levels, and help with weight loss by reducing appetite, evening out your glucose and insulin spikes, block your body’s ability to make its own glucose, delay gastric emptying therefore making you feel full for longer, and also works in your brain to reduce hunger signals and trigger early satiety (feeling full).

Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro and Zepbound are the commercially available brand names of some of this class of drugs – the two that have FDA approved indications for weight loss. Due to limitations of manufacturers to keep up with demand, they are frequently not easily found at local pharmacies, and if they are available, sometimes insurance won’t pay for it. The cash price of these medications for a 1 month supply with a GoodRX coupon are: Wegovy (approved for weight loss) – $1,619, Ozempic (approved for diabetics only) – $998.87, Zepbound (approved for weight loss) – $1,092 and Mounjaro (approved for diabetics only) – $1,116. There are savings cards available from the manufacturers, so sometimes we are able to get them cheaper if your insurance will approve it, but you can only use those savings cards if eventually they will be paid from your insurance company.

There are other GLP-1 agonists available that are taken by injection daily, orally, and other forms of them, though they are less effective than semaglutide and tirzepatide. Tirzepatide is typically better tolerated than semaglutide with less side effects however, it is more expensive.

Due to the popularity, expense of these medications, and lack of manufacturers being able to make enough to keep up with demand, there are compounding pharmacies that make it in their sterile compounding pharmacies using the same ingredients: semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy) and tirzepatide (Mounajaro, Zepbound)

The semaglutide and tirzepatide you get from the compounding pharmacies are legitimate products with 3rd party testing as long as you are going to a provider who ensures this safety. Unfortunately, there are also versions available online that are not legitimate and can cause safety concerns. It is important that you thoroughly vet your provider and the source of the medications. If you see semaglutide or tirzepatide being sold online for much less than you can find it with providers, it is likely an unsafe product.

At R&R Aesthetics & Wellness, we ensure that every pharmacy we source from has 3rd party testing reports available. We also are able to provide a prescription for the commercially available forms of the medication, and help you get the patient savings cards. But what sets us apart the most is my own experience with weight loss and sharing that wisdom with my patients. The accountability, support, and focusing on the right things are more important than any surgery or weight loss drug. That is where we shine. When you become part of our weight loss program, we walk the walk with you every step of the way. The medication (or surgery) is just a tool in your arsenal of tools we provide you to help you lose weight – but most importantly, keep it off.

Along with the accountability and support, we have other tools to support your weight loss efforts such as continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for non-diabetics, Fit3D body analysis scans, full functional health report to optimize your hormones, address vitamin deficiencies, and reduce inflammation, full meal plans and recipes library along with nutrition and exercise guides, and resources on lasting behavioral and lifestyle changes. We also have Lipo-B “skinny shots,” and a plethora of vitamins that support enhanced metabolism and muscle support.

Today, I stand before you not just as a survivor of the battle with the scale but as a victor. And I want to use my victory, my knowledge, and my experience to help others who might be facing the same bully I once did. I want to make it easier for you.

Stay tuned for more blogs where I’ll share the big ‘aha’ moment that permanently changed my approach to weight loss, along with other tips and tricks for weight loss.

Till then, remember: You’re bigger than that number on the scale.

Kelli Vickrey, MS, APRN, FNP-C

Give us a call, text or email if you are interested in our weight loss program and seeing which, if any, medication weight loss tools would benefit you most.

You can also click HERE to schedule your initial visit with me!