Name and age: Kamilla, 48 years old
Lives in: Denmark with her husband, Thomas.
Occupation: Marketing Manager and HR Consultant in an engineering and automation consulting firm.
Passion: To travel! “It’s in my blood”.
Life philosophy: “Life is too short not to seize the opportunity when it is there”.
Disease: was 2020 diagnosed with hypothyreosis (low metabolism).
Weight loss: 24.7 kg / 54.4lbs / 3.8st
Best weight loss tip: “Do not starve under a weight loss. It is important to feel full.
There is room for all the right amounts and with the right frequency.”
An experience with a hypnotherapist marks a turning point
In 2020, Kamilla attended a hypnosis session as one of the many weight loss methods she had tried. During the session, the hypnotist unexpectedly remarked, "I think you should see a doctor because it's unusual that you're not losing weight." Kamilla had the same thought earlier but couldn't reason why. She felt like she was running in circles, and nothing was happening.
After seeing the doctor, Kamilla was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which causes low metabolism. This means that Kamilla generally has a more challenging time losing weight than other people but also gains weight more easily. When Kamilla expressed her desire to lose weight, the doctor advised her to take it slow and not take any action until the disease was under control. Kamilla found the doctor's words unsettling as she struggled to feel comfortable in her body.
At that point, Kamilla had gained 20-25 kilos, which was a significant amount. She avoided looking at herself in the mirror because she was tired of seeing her reflection. "It wasn't how I felt."
“At that point, an extra 20-25 kilos had crept on, so it was really a lot. (...) I had actually reached a point where I almost avoided my own reflection because I was just tired of what I saw in the mirror, and that was not how I felt”.
The Embla method
Around two years after being diagnosed, Kamilla saw an advertisement for Embla, which became a turning point for her. She quickly booked a screening with a nurse who, contrary to Kamilla's expectations, did not see her metabolic disease as an obstacle to weight loss.
"Apparently, there was no reason not to enter the coaching-only programme, but I was also offered the opportunity to start on the medication programme if I wanted to. And then I just thought to myself, I would like to try it."
Kamilla starts and describes how her initial motivation was weight loss and improving her quality of life: "The primary goal was solely to lose weight, but it was also driven by my wish to have a better quality of life."
"I had reached a point where I was so tired of myself, and that is not where you are supposed to be. (...) So I reached the point where something had to happen."
After being a member for nine months, Kamilla is now transitioning to a new phase where she can cut out the medication completely.
As an Embla member, you always start with the lowest medication dosage. If you are on Ozempic, it starts at 0.25 mg. An evaluation is done every four weeks to determine whether to increase or decrease the dosage or to continue using the same dosage. Kamilla was on the 0.25 mg dosage for 6-7 weeks and then increased to 0.5 mg. She continued with the last dosage until the end of her program.
"I really felt a positive effect immediately. And it was already from the lowest dosage of medication (...)"
The fact that Kamilla only took a relatively low dosage of 0.5 mg highlights that medication played only a small part in her weight loss journey. The rest can be attributed to lifestyle changes. Kamilla always felt motivated to push the limit and move forward, and this was essential in her determination to continue:
"I think it was extremely motivating to see results immediately. (...) I have not been in other programs where I felt so motivated in nine months, and I really do not feel like it is a program to follow anymore. I feel like it is becoming part of my daily life."
Kamilla lost weight throughout the program, but if you had asked her in the middle of the program whether it was happening quickly enough, she would probably have said no. During periods when she felt her progress was slow, she would not hesitate to ask her coach if the medication dosage could be increased. But Kamilla's coach, Emma, continued to tell her that losing 0.5 kg/week was a good rate and the best approach for sustainable weight loss.
"If I had been alone in the decision, I would probably have pushed for a higher medication dosage."
If Kamilla had taken a higher dosage of medication, she would have potentially lost weight more quickly. However, as she experienced during her Embla program, the focus was on long-term solutions rather than quick fixes. Taking a higher medication dosage could make it harder to stop the medication in the long run.
It is about a lot more than medication
Kamilla must emphasise that medication was never the sole factor in her program. Beneath her weight loss lies a plethora of crucial habit changes. According to Kamilla, these habit changes primarily revolved around reducing the quantity of main courses and comfort foods, such as cake.
“It was a change for me to limit snacking and cake consumption to once a week. However, this change made it tolerable as I could still indulge. Nothing was forbidden; it was just about modifying how much and how often I consumed such foods. There was still room for burgers and chocolate, just less frequently than before. Each time I craved something, I would save it for Saturdays, so I never felt like I was missing out completely”.
Kamilla's family's support played a significant role in her weight loss journey. Kamilla acknowledges that it is easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle when loved ones are on board and making similar efforts. She knows she has this kind of support from her family.
The next step: phasing out the medication - and a lot of different emotions
Today, Kamilla is in the final phase of her program. She will leave her medication behind now and embark on a new journey without it. She plans to reduce the dosage gradually until she can stop taking it altogether, which has brought up a range of emotions. Kamilla describes feeling both confident and nervous, optimistic yet also somewhat petrified, all at the same time. This is because she's worried about regaining the weight she has lost. As a result, Kamilla intends to continue working with her coach for a while longer, explaining:
“I'll keep up with the coaching program. I'm afraid to stop taking the medication because I fear that I'll put on the weight again. So, I'm not yet ready to let go of the thing that makes me feel safe”.
Reducing the medication dosage often makes it easier to stop taking it entirely (compared to those on higher dosages). Kamilla says that Emma, her coach, told her that since she hasn't been on a high dose of medication, it's not 100% certain that she will notice a difference when she stops taking it. So far, she hasn't noticed any difference after halving her medication dosage.
“If it had just been with my own doctor, or if I had been in the process myself, I would have increased the medication. I am absolutely sure of that”.
Kamilla adds, “Maybe I've been lucky because I was on such a low dose that I won't feel much when I stop completely. I hope so.”
Tired of prejudice and taboo
"There are often underlying reasons for excess weight gain that are not visible to the naked eye”. When others comment on her weight or make hateful comments about obese people, it can be both irritating and emotionally charged for Kamilla. She has never experienced prejudice in her social circle but has encountered cruel tones when searching for tips and inspiration online.
“People have all sorts of opinions and comments, suggesting just closing your mouth instead of using medication to lose weight. Still, I have already tried all the advice people suggest”.
In Kamilla's case, she has a metabolic disease that makes weight loss more challenging. From the outside, no one realises this, and she has to put in much more effort than others.
“There is a lot of taboo about being fat, and sometimes it felt like people saw me as spineless because I let it happen. But it's a bit unfair because there are other parameters involved that you can't control”.
Prejudice about being too lazy if you are overweight was not the impression we got when we met Kamilla. She comes across as a strong and determined woman, describing herself as a "project woman."
She previously lost 20 kilos by starting an intense running program and making changes to her habits. However, it turned out to be too much for her, and she ended up with an injury that forced her to stop running. Over the next ten years, the excess weight crept back up, and no diet or boot camp worked this time. It wasn't due to Kamilla's lack of determination but rather her low metabolism.
Kamilla reached a point where she felt like she obliged to tell her story
Sharing the story of weight and weight loss is one thing, but for Kamilla, sharing her chosen method of using medication was another. Despite the growing body positivity movement, being overweight is still taboo. Kamilla initially only shared her journey with her family because of this.
“In the beginning, I did not involve anyone other than my family. Exactly because it is seen as taboo and very private, what your weight is, and how you feel about it.”.
However, she now shares her story because there is no reason to be ashamed of a tool that worked for her. Kamilla emphasises that the Embla program is not a quick and easy fix based solely on the use of medication. It took a lot of determination for her to stay in the program for nine months and create better habits.
“It is not just that the Embla programme has been problem-free and easy to get through. It also took a lot of determination to stay here for nine months, to eat healthy and create better habits. But it has surely given me the toolsets and the last help it took to accomplish my weight loss (...), so I decided not to be embarrassed by it.”.
Kamilla admits that she was sceptical about sharing her story, but she wants to help others who are struggling with weight gain and have tried everything. She believes there are many people out there who are like her.
“I imagine there are many just like me, who had 20 extra kilos sneaking up on them and who are maybe even entering menopause or other challenges who’ve tried it all, whilst nothing seemed to be working. (...) So, if I can help, I want to. In the beginning, I just wanted to keep it to myself”. She says, "If you really find something that works well, then you feel like sharing it with everyone who could use it for something”.