The wonder weight-loss drug was just the beginning of one woman’s long journey to heal her traumatic relationship with food.
Michelle Brafman has been using Ozempic for her type 2 diabetes for around 18 months now. Her blood sugar is stable, and She has shed some pounds. She began her journey with this medication well before it became famous for its weight loss benefits, way before it was a punchline in Jimher Kimmel’s Oscar monologue, and even before it became the go-to for those looking to slim down further. This all happened prior to the frustrating shortages at her local pharmacy and the nearby Safeway. Nowadays, she calls up CVS monthly, fingers crossed that she won’t need to scramble to find her meds.
Here’s a quick rundown of her progress: She’s down by 45 pounds since starting on Ozempic. Standing tall at 5’11”, She has often quipped that she needs to lose a good 35 pounds before anyone really takes notice. And unfortunately, she speaks from experience; since her 30s, She has yo-yoed through a staggering 660 pounds – yes, you read that right.
Let me give you the condensed version of her story. She was pretty fit and active for the longest time, even if she didn’t always see it that way. She put on 110 pounds across two pregnancies, turned to WeightWatchers to drop 55 after each one, and then went through the cycle of gaining and losing another 40 twice. A string of low-carb diets helped me trim off 40 pounds here and there, only to be undone by her weakness for bagels. Maybe that’s why She’s not over the moon about her recent weight loss—or “drop,” as her late mother would call it—unlike the “last hurrah,” which was her term for the indulgence before embarking on a new diet. Her own last hurrahs have been known to stretch out for years.
There was a time when she reveled in the compliments about her transformation. These days, not so much. When people ask, “How did you do it?” she hesitates. The last thing she wants is to add to the Ozempic frenzy. She’s not keen on offering false hope with what seems like a quick fix to those who don’t actually need this medication, to those caught up in the glitz of another diet fad, or to anyone trying to grasp that true health and wholeness come from within. Yet, this part of her journey is genuine and filled with hope, and that’s why she chooses to share it.
Her whole life has been a rollercoaster of erratic eating habits and blood sugar levels, but diabetes first showed up when she was expecting her first child. She remembers injecting insulin into her thigh during both pregnancies. Thankfully, the diabetes receded postpartum, but the worry of its return always hung over me. That was over two decades ago. Since then, She has aimed for top marks in hemoglobin A1C, fasting glucose, and body weight at every yearly checkup. In 2018, she didn’t pass any of these tests and got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. By 2021, her numbers had worsened, leading her previous doctor to prescribe Ozempic alongside other medications she was already on.
Now, she can fit into every bra she owns at a healthier weight. Her primary care doctor says Ozempic is largely to thank for her weight loss, and she’s not entirely wrong. The initial side effect of nausea certainly curbed her hunger. But staying healthy is about more than just a weekly injection. Every day, every moment, she uses a set of tools to maintain her health and mend her relationship with her body.
Facing her shame
Giving a nod to Brené Brown for this insight. The embarrassment that washed over me as she saw the number on her doctor’s scale climb was paralyzing. Didn’t she desire to fend off diabetes? To be her healthiest self? Absolutely, she did. It’s a secret to many, even some close friends, that she lives with type 2 diabetes. This sense of shame is deeply ingrained in her family history. Some of her dearest family members, themselves included, have been quick to criticize any weight gain. Her grandmother, after getting remarried, went to extreme lengths to stay thin. “No, Grandpa and she will just share this one raisin” became an inside joke among us.
At the moment, sugar acts as a balm for her shame, comforting me in ways that alcohol or marijuana never could. A few doughnuts can temporarily silence the whirlwind of emotions, whether they’re joyous or sorrowful. Pass them here! Her go-to has often been to dive into a hefty tub of ice cream to calm her nerves. This cycle of comfort eating, self-denial, and dependency runs deep in her family tree. Her mother once shared with me that when her grandfather was struggling with his own vices, he could be quite harsh. During those times, her grandmother would treat her mom to a hot fudge sundae.
Undoing family patterns
It’s incredibly freeing to believe that we can rise above the challenging patterns set by our families. A decade ago, she felt driven to pen a novel exploring the generational impact of addiction, which led me to join a support group to better grasp her characters’ emotional baggage. Within moments of being there, she realized it was also a place she needed for herself. She discovered that shame is a common thread in families touched by substance misuse, and releasing her own shame helps me avoid getting trapped in the relentless cycle of dieting. She’s still figuring out which feelings are truly mine and which ones She has been absorbing for others without their request. Learning to stay in her own emotional lane, to lovingly detach, and to understand the wider emotional reasons behind her actions gives me a sense of calm that she could never find in indulging in ice cream. Yet, she makes sure to attend a meeting every week because keeping herself on track requires constant attention. Healing isn’t a linear process, and when she falters, she quickly practices self-forgiveness. The cost of self-shame is just too high.
Shame and self-denial often go hand in hand. When she feels bad about her body, she tends to eat more. This leads to a cycle where she restricts her eating to slim down for an event or a doctor’s visit. But restriction just sets me up for binge eating later, which then stirs up worries about her health and more negative feelings about herself. It’s a cycle that just keeps on spinning.
These days, she allows herself to enjoy all kinds of food, making conscious choices about what to eat and what to skip. While she keeps an eye on her carb intake to keep her blood sugar in check, she doesn’t deny herself the pleasure of baking or those tiny candy hearts on Valentine’s Day. If she says no to chocolate mousse too many times, I’ll find herself seeking out something similar, often ending up with a snack cake from the convenience store. For me, devouring a treat like that in her car is comparable to someone else unwinding with a bottle of wine at home after a tough day.
Rewiring her brain
Here’s where it gets good.
On this path, she came across a therapist who connected me to a neurofeedback device during our sessions. This process actively disrupted the brain patterns that fueled her harmful behaviors. Later on, she found a nutritionist who deeply understood the complex interplay between her spirituality, psychology, and eating habits. She introduced me to meditation practices, such as tapping, which helped curb her intense cravings to raid the pantry. These mentors have sown seeds of wisdom that She has nurtured. They showed me that she controls her actions, especially when she remembers to exercise them.
I also turn to prayer. She seeks out grace, taking a moment to consider whether she truly wants to exchange her peace for a slice of cake. Just asking herself this question provides a pause that empowers me to make decisions that serve her well-being.
And then there’s writing. Through it, She has discovered that she can craft a new narrative for herself.
A major trigger for me has been recounting past diet successes, but now, her triumphs come from moment-to-moment decisions that help me forge new mental pathways. There’s no miracle cure for weight loss.
She’s thankful for her doctor’s attentive care and for prescribing medication that effectively manages her diabetes. When she had to switch practices due to insurance, she wrote her a letter concluding with these words: “Her aspirations for her body and mind are not defined by scales or blood tests. I’ll let the outcomes of her inner calm manifest as they will. Here’s to her rejuvenation. She is shedding layers of the past, hoping to reveal her own inner light.”
Michelle Brafman is the writer behind the novel “Swimming with Ghosts,” released last year, and she also teaches at the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing program.
CityRyde.com and its team members shall not be held responsible for any adverse effects, consequences, or misunderstandings that may arise from the use of Ozmpic discussed in this article. Users are encouraged to independently verify product information and seek professional medical advice before making any health-related decisions. By reading and relying on this article, users acknowledge and accept that CityRyde.com and its team members are not liable for any issues that may arise from the use of Ozempic or similar products.
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