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How Jesper turned his life around in 6 months: "I would start sweating just from opening a cupboard."

We talked to Jesper, a member of ours who noticed a stigma around men losing weight, especially older men. When Jesper closed in on 100 kilos, his colleagues claimed that he was starting to look "like a real man." But why does weight have to define that? A man is a man, no matter the size. More importantly, weight is more about health than masculinity.

Sam Allen
Sam Allen
Community Lead
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How Jesper turned his life around in 6 months: "I would start sweating just from opening a cupboard."

About Jesper

Name and age: Jesper, 61

Home: A house in Kjellerup with his dog, Magnus

Occupation: Retired teacher

Life philosophy: "Carpe diem! Make an effort to have at least one good experience every day"

Weight loss: Lost 17.1 kilos from December 2022 to June 2023

Who is Jesper? I spend a lot of my free time outdoors with my dog and my bike. I also love books. I travel a lot and follow the Silkeborg IF football team. And I love cooking.

Embla sees me – the whole me

"The first thing I noticed about Embla was the picture of a nice, round man. 'That's me,' I thought. Embla wasn't just for women. So, I took the plunge, and it all started with an incredibly friendly chat with a nurse."

Jesper was recommended to Embla by a close friend who was also participating, and who knew about Jesper's challenges with his weight and high blood pressure.

"Of course, I listen to what good friends suggest. And he knew I was struggling with my sleep and stress too. I would break into a sweat just from opening a cupboard. So, he kindly suggested I reach out to Embla. It felt good that it was such a personal thing."

Unlike other weight loss programs, Jesper was surprised that nothing was off-limits. He didn't have to run 1,500 meters in the first week or eat four servings of broccoli. Embla looked at him and his life. What made the biggest difference for Jesper was his coach, Benjamiin.

"Benjamiin really helped me feel welcome at Embla. There was someone who listened without being judgmental. He asked, 'Why don't you eat lunch? You're more active, so it's important to refuel.' Benjamiin became my sparring partner and support, but I always set my own agenda."

Jesper appreciates the app and the communities within Embla, and is especially active in the men's group. But it's the comprehensive solution that made the difference.

"Embla is built on health professionals and great mentors. I feel like I'm part of a family. That might sound grand, but they really take care of things. I've found a safe and welcoming harbor."

A whole new culinary universe

Jesper has tried to lose weight several times but always lacked motivation. He wasn't serious about it and would maybe eat one less meatball than usual, but whenever he lost half a kilo, he felt it called for a celebration. That's when he'd allow himself an extra sausage from the grill.

"It's the classic 'guy thing.' When we're enjoying the grill in the summer, there's always room for an extra sausage – no matter how much we've already eaten."

Jesper compares his weight loss to quitting smoking, which was hard to start. But once he went cold turkey, he stuck with it.

"I signed up for Embla in December – right during the Christmas season. I told myself that Christmas was the perfect time. And it turned out to be a fantastic Christmas, even though I ate a bit less than usual. I didn't stop eating what I loved. But I could feel that mental shift as soon as I got started. It was like a rush of happiness.". 

As a member of Embla, you always start with the lowest dose of medication. For those on Ozempic, it starts at 0.25 mg. Then, every 4 weeks, you check in to decide if the dose should increase, decrease, or stay the same. Jesper was on the 0.25 mg dose for 4 weeks before moving up to 0.50 mg, and then increased to 1 mg after another 4 weeks. He's still on this dose but will soon start tapering off the medication.

Jesper now places more emphasis on treating himself and quality. Instead of buying a 3-liter box of wine, he now selects a smaller, but possibly just as expensive, bottle from the large wine selection at his local store. He occasionally enjoys a stadium platter with a sausage and beer while watching football. There are no restrictions or banned foods with Embla. He's even encouraged to try new things.

"Just yesterday, I hit 'order,' and soon a blender will arrive. Benjamiin mentioned something about smoothies and such. So, I thought, 'I definitely need one of those.' I never considered blending all kinds of exciting things, from broccoli to strawberries."

Jesper has always enjoyed cooking. He's used meal kits for a long time but is just as thrilled to experiment in the culinary world. And now, he's discovered a new exciting universe to explore.

"If it had just been through my own doctor, or if I were doing this alone, I would have increased the medication dose. I'm sure of that."

I'm so happy with my bike

Jesper has often joined gyms, but it's always been hard – and still is – unless he has a buddy to go with. Instead, he bought an expensive bike and hums Poul Kjøller's old song, "I'm so happy with my bike, I get around so fast," as he rides in his new cycling shorts.

Jesper's coach, Benjamiin, has also opened his eyes to different kinds of exercise and mindfulness. He has now downloaded a meditation app and is considering yoga.

"I've had a hard time picturing myself in swans, or whatever those strange poses are called, but it made sense. There's even a kind of yoga for men, which could be valuable. The mental and physical aspects really do go hand in hand."

Medication isn't the most important thing

For Jesper, weight loss medication was the boost he needed. It's not what makes him lose weight, but it has helped with feeling full so he can focus on his quality of life.

"The medication is a helping hand because it lets me focus on everything else around my weight loss. I could see it was working. The first kilo was actually the first victory. And that's when I realized, 'yes, you can do it!' And that was because of the medication."

However, Jesper has noticed a negative attitude towards medical weight loss in society and that the pharmaceutical industry profits from obesity.

"Yes, someone profits from my weight loss, but I don't care because I'm happy. And I'm also benefiting. That's my win. It's a choice. And it's been a huge help to many of us who feel inferior. If I had gotten the medication from my doctor, I would have been left to my own devices. But with Embla, I also get support from a mentor, a healthcare team, and an app where I can track my progress, get recipes, and meet others in communities. But most importantly, I get help making important decisions.”

Confidence delays buying new clothes

When his clothes no longer fit and he felt most comfortable in sweatpants, Jesper started buying clothes online. It was easier, and he could fudge the waist size a bit. However, he ended up having to return some pants. But his weight loss journey has changed this.

"It brings me joy to see that my personal effort is paying off. I mean, that I'm actually losing some weight. That my pants are starting to sag."

However, Jesper has told himself not to buy new clothes yet. He's gained so much confidence that he doesn't want to buy new clothes now, only to have to buy even newer ones the next month as more weight comes off. But he has something to look forward to.

"I just won a 1,600 DKK gift card to a clothing store in Kjellerup! So now I'm going to buy some proper pants. I need to update my wardrobe, and that's a reward waiting on the horizon." 

Slow down and appreciate the small things

If Jesper could go back five years and give himself some advice, it would be to slow down. But when he worked hard, he felt he deserved some kind of indulgence. After attending three meetings and working 10 hours, he felt he deserved a beer. But now, his focus has shifted.

"It's almost a national epidemic, this rushing around and working so hard to afford another car. I would tell myself to slow down and focus on what really matters. Find joy in a walk in the woods, birdwatching – spending hours watching for eagles in the rain and such."

Before his weight loss, Jesper's blood pressure was, in his own words, explosively, alarmingly high. He was medicated for it, but it was only after experiencing significant weight loss results that his blood pressure dropped to what is now considered that of a healthy young man.

"Nowadays, I almost get a high from going to the doctor because I'm healthy. And I really enjoy my daily experiences. I love my dog, Magnus, and our walks. I have the energy for everything now."

In this article
Sam Allen
Sam Allen
Community Lead
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