What It's Like To Be On Ozempic Long-Term

Ozempic is one of the biggest beauty breakouts of 2024. From Oprah to Sharon and Kelly Osbourne, Hollywood is coming clean about weight loss medication. But would you do it? Fiona Golfar has – this is her story, one year on.

The Last Diet? A Deep Dive Into The Ozempic Experience

‘So, how long are you going to stay on it?’ It’s a question I’ve got used to hearing over the past year. It’s nearly always accompanied by a raised eyebrow. I’ve been on weight-loss medication for a year. It’s changed my body, my mental health and my life. My answer to that question is, never; I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.

When I first heard about the ‘miracle’ drug Ozempic – designed for type-2 diabetes – which works by mimicking the action of a naturally occurring hormone, GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1), to delay the digestion process and thereby manage hunger, I was curious to know if this could work for me, someone who has struggled with weight issues for years, even more so after hitting menopause.

I was hearing from friends that people were seeing startling results on it, but I hadn’t thought it was something I could even consider taking, until I spoke to my gynaecologist who confirmed that she felt it was a wonder drug for women struggling with menopausal weight gain.

I wasn’t obese, but was easily carrying 15 to 20lbs more than I should. I had worked for a fashion magazine for years and loved clothes, and was having to make decisions about what to wear based on what would fit rather than what I wanted. I felt heavy and sluggish; my thighs rubbed together, I had back boobs and wide hips, chubby arms, and my face was puffy. Getting dressed had become a minefield. Still, I didn’t get rid of any of my clothes because I held on to the dream that one day I’d diet myself back into them. I’m 62 and although I live in the era of body positivity, I saw nothing to celebrate about my extra pounds. I didn’t feel myself in my puffy body.

what it's like to be on ozempic long-term

Oprah

Oprah is one of the Hollywood set who has taken Ozempic for weightloss reasons (c) Shutterstock

I started the course in December 2022, injecting the ‘pen’ into my stomach once a week as instructed (at first, I was so nervous I didn’t take the plastic nozzle off the top of the tiny needle and wasted a dose). I took 0.25mg and built to 1mg over several months, increasing the dose very slowly. I had looked into the side effects – nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation – and the possible health risks, but my rationale was they were risks worth taking. I made sure I was taking a good probiotic, Symprove, and magnesium citrate, which takes good care of my colon. I sometimes had a little nausea, but it came in waves and it was not violent and would pass like mild car sickness. My appetite decreased; I ate the same foods but in smaller quantities. I stopped thinking about controlling my food all the time.

I had a mixed reaction from my friends about my weight loss. Some were thrilled for me, knowing it had always been a struggle. Some were very judgemental because of the shortages and the much-publicised difficulty for diabetics to obtain it. Others cheerfully listed the possible health risks. I often wonder why they suddenly felt the need to become health experts. Sometimes I think there was a touch of jealousy involved. But really, most of the raised eyebrows were about the idea that weight loss was something I was not disciplined enough to do without sticking a needle (albeit a tiny one) into myself. I can’t deny the truth in that. But it wasn’t for lack of trying every diet on the planet over the years. Peer-group judgement is something I have no problem with – I can laugh it off – but I do have friends who take Ozempic and keep it a secret.

One morning, I was sitting up in bed and my husband said, ‘Oh my God! Your back has lost so much weight. Your waist is back!’ He has been trained never to comment on my weight and I realised he was thrilled for me – his judgement came from the heart.

As for the pounds I lost? I don’t ever weigh myself. It’s the path to madness. However, I let my clothes tell me how I’m doing and they gave me a resounding ‘Welcome back’ as I slipped into pencil skirts I bought in the early 2000s.

Ozempic melts muscle as well as fat, and it is highly recommended to add weights to training. I tailored my exercise to include more high-intensity resistance, which paid off because, as I became leaner, my body started to look defined. My self-esteem sent me trotting to the gym with a spring in my step, which was never the case before.  My diet is essentially Mediterranean, including a lot of meat, fish and fibre-rich vegetables. I didn’t just change into a healthy eater overnight. I still crave the foods I love – Chinese and Thai – but I eat much smaller portions.

Sugar was the biggest hurdle. I craved it and heard from other ‘Ozempic’ friends who did too. It took a year for me to finally give it up; I’m amazed that after ten days without it I felt so much clearer in my head.

People warned me that ‘Ozempic face’ is a thing. It is. I lost a lot of volume in mine and I saw my aesthetic guru, Dr Maryam Zamani, who put gentle amounts of dermal filler into my cheeks, which had hollowed and made me look a bit gaunt. ‘I have also seen a loss of volume in the face from patients who are on Ozempic,’ she says. ‘I tend to use gentle fillers like hyaluronic acid along with biostimulation that helps the skin regenerate.’ Dr Zamani also sometimes uses lasers to tighten the skin. The results of the gentle amount of filler she used on me were amazing and I will refresh that about once a year.

I saw a slight loosening of the skin on my thighs, my breasts and underarms, but at my age, frankly, that’s the deal with skin and I’ll take it. There are options but they involve surgery and I don’t want that.

Taking Ozempic has freed me from constant anxiety about my weight and given my health a boost. I have much more energy and have regular blood tests to ensure everything is functioning well – it is.

I think far less about things I can do to make myself feel better. I tweak less, I work out more and I shop less, as I am getting such a kick out of wearing all my old favourite things. I got a pair of new hips last year and started to dance again, slipping into a pair of leggings and a black T-shirt and going to a class where I could bear to look at myself in the mirror. All these things I would never have dreamt of doing before.

Studies show that if you stop taking Ozempic then you’re likely to regain some of the weight. I think that happens with any of the gazillion diets I’ve been on. But although I am no longer shedding pounds, I have plateaued at a weight I am happy with and plan to stay this way. If that means staying on what I consider a wonder drug, I will. I no longer worry about other people’s judgement.

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