Trying an Anti-Obesity Medication Changed My Life

As told to Jacquelyne Froeber

When my sister turned 13, I bought her a ring that said, “I hope you dance.”

I cried the first time I heard that song. The lyrics said everything I wanted for my sister. I want her to be confident and strong. I want her to take chances and live with no regrets.

I want her to dance.

This idea resonated with me because I’ve always wanted the same for myself. As a woman living with obesity, I’ve worked hard — very hard — to feel confident in my skin and love myself. But when I turned 40, the weight started to feel different.

One night I was getting ready to go out with my husband and our friends and I started dancing to the song “Work Bitch” by Britany Spears. Before I could say, “Look hot in a tankini,” I was sweating my makeup off. I was so out of breath I had to sit down. Perched on the edge of the bed — sweat pooling in my cleavage — I realized my body no longer worked like it did when I was in my 20s and 30s. Before I could sing and jump around. Now I couldn’t make it to the chorus.

Panic started to creep up my neck, and I tried my best to push the realization away. But I didn’t push too far. I needed to remember not to dance. Not in public. Maybe never again. And that stirred a restlessness within me.

A few weeks later, I went to my doctor for a routine visit. He asked me very casually if I wanted to try a new medication for weight loss. He explained the drug would help my stomach digest food more slowly and it also would signal to my brain that I was full.

At that time, I’d heard a few rumors about celebrities taking weight-loss drugs, but anti-obesity medications (AOMs) weren’t a household name then.

To be honest, it sounded too good to be true, but I was game. I’d tried many fad diets and weight-loss programs over the years in an effort to be healthier. I knew extra weight wasn’t good for me — I knew it wasn’t good for anyone. But when nothing really helped, I had to move forward and accept that I was living in a larger body. And that was OK.

But leaving the office with the prescription, I felt the restlessness dial back in my chest. Maybe this was the change I needed.

The next day my insurance company called and told me they wouldn’t cover the medication. My heart sank. I felt like a fool — a completely devastated fool. The detached voice went on to say that I could, however, buy it without insurance for about what I pay for my mortgage each month.

And that was that. I hung up and cried. I cursed myself for feeling like something could change. I cursed myself for thinking I should change. I cursed myself for telling my husband about it. Now both of us were stuck on this roller coaster.

Like everyone else on the planet, I turned to TikTok to distract myself. I was only a few swipes in when I saw it: a coupon for the medication. Was it real? I did a quick calculation, and if the discount was legit, and there was more than one coupon, I could afford it. I called my doctor, confirmed the coupons were real, and started taking the medication that night.

Jessi in her hometown of Fenton, Michigan (2024)

It felt like Christmas morning when I woke up the next day. I was excited and nervous to see what the day would bring. I didn’t feel bad in any way, so that was good. I went about my morning and forgot about the AOM until I made a breakfast sandwich. After eating about half the sandwich, I realized I didn’t want to eat anymore. “That’s weird,” I thought. Then it hit me: The medication worked. I felt full and satisfied. I wasn’t starving. Another upside: I also had lunch. I wrapped up the rest of the sandwich and took it with me to work.

That was the first day I started to realize how much of my time revolved around food. I’m someone who gets excited about meals and trying new foods and restaurants. But looking back, I was always thinking about food and/or planning to eat. I never stopped. My husband once told me that he didn’t think about food constantly like I did. I didn’t really understand what that meant until I started taking the AOM. Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited about food, but now it’s more of an occasion vs. obsession.

Every day, I wake up grateful for the medication. But I know not everyone who is living with obesity has access to an AOM. Without the coupons, I may never have been able to get the treatment I needed.

I’ve been taking an AOM for more than a year now and I’ve lost a significant amount of weight. The other day, I asked my husband what’s changed the most about me since I started taking it. He said I dance more. Of course it was a cute answer — I love my husband — but it was a dagger to my heart. It was a sad realization that I spent a lot of time not dancing and not moving because my body wouldn’t let me. I think it’s hard for people not living with obesity to understand that there may be things you can’t physically do even though you want to. That’s why I’m so thankful for the medication. It’s given me the chance to turn that restlessness into rhythm. Now I dance all the time.

I hope you dance, too.

HealthyWomen does not endorse getting medical advice from social media.

This educational resource was created with support from Eli Lilly and Company, a Corporate Advisory Council member.

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Our Real Women, Real Stories are the authentic experiences of real-life women. The views, opinions and experiences shared in these stories are not endorsed by HealthyWomen and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HealthyWomen.

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