Jul 31, 2023

One woman lost 30 pounds in 4 months on Ozempic. The drug ended years of binge

Lana Rodriguez loved food. It was how she coped with stress, happiness, or sadness.

"I find comfort in food," the 37-year-old who works in real estate told Insider.

But Rodriguez, from Colorado Springs, struggled with binge eating for seven years, which caused her to gain and lose weight repeatedly.

After a particularly bad binge in September 2022, she wondered if the buzzy new weight loss drug semaglutide, which her friend had told her about a month prior, could help.

Known by the brand names Ozempic for diabetes and Wegovy for weight loss, semaglutide is usually taken as weekly injection and works by suppressing appetite. It originated as a diabetes medication but was FDA-approved to treat obesity in 2021.

Rodriguez did some research, contacted a doctor, and "never looked back."

"It's the best thing that's happened to me," she said.

Rodriguez started taking semaglutide as a weekly injection in September 2022. By January 2023, she had lost 30 pounds and was happy in her body so has since transitioned to one shot every two weeks with the hope of maintaining her weight.

In her first week on the drug, Rodriguez experienced anxiety and nausea and still felt hungry, but this faded when she stopped taking a vitamin B12 supplement she was using at the same time. There is no evidence that vitamin B12 supplements interact with semaglutide.

Not long after, she was eating some leftover mac and cheese and noticed it stopped tasting good after after four or five mouthfuls.

"It tasted like rubber" and was the "weirdest feeling ever," she said, adding that semaglutide has made everything taste different.

She also no longer craves things she used to, like Sprite or alcohol. And while she used to eat her own meals and finish her kids', she's now "full and content" after eating half of her own.

Rodriguez no longer looks forward to food like she used to, which is both a blessing and a curse, she said. She neither has the excitement, nor the stress or guilt, associated with eating. Going out to eat is now more about socializing than the food, she said.

"The best thing this medication has done is cutting the emotional attachment to food," she said.

Side effects of semaglutide include bloating, nausea, and stomach cramps. In Rodriguez's case, she got a dry mouth and tasted bitterness after each injection

For the first month, Rodriguez had nausea, headaches, and constipation so started taking a probiotic to help her bowel movements. The FDA approved a 2.4mg weekly dose of semaglutide, but you start at a much lower dose and gradually build up over months. When Rodriguez increased the dosage too quickly, she was "sick as a dog" and threw up every day, but then went back down briefly and was OK, she said.

Drinking a protein shake in the morning helps with the nausea, Rodriguez said.

She noticed she had less of an appetite within a day or two of taking the weekly shot, she said.

Semaglutide has been "amazing" for Rodriguez. She's scared of her hunger coming back and notices it returning when the drug wears off towards the end of each biweekly injection.

"I don't like that feeling, I don't miss that feeling," she said.

Rodriguez pays $200 per shot. She admits this is expensive, but feels safe in the knowledge that she gets her medication from an in-person doctor who is there to answer any questions, unlike her friends who've ordered the drug online for less don't have that, she said.

Rodriguez hopes to gradually reduce the frequency of her doses further, going down to once every three weeks then hopefully four — provided she can maintain her weight. She's waiting to see, however, how she feels and whether her urges to comfort eat return.

"I'm in a much better place and I would like to do whatever it takes to stay here," Rodriguez said.