Weight management can be a true challenge. Sometimes, despite rigorous efforts with dieting and exercise, you might find it difficult to shed those extra pounds. In such cases, weight loss medication can be a valuable tool to help you reach your goals. However, it’s crucial to approach this option with care and caution, as it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. In this guide, we’ll explore the steps to obtain weight loss medication responsibly and safely that is right for you.
Start with a Candid Conversation
The journey towards weight loss medication begins with a candid conversation with a healthcare provider. Whether it’s your primary care physician or a weight loss doctor, this initial step is vital.
Here’s what to expect during this conversation:
- Assessment of Your Health: The provider will conduct a thorough evaluation of your health, including your medical history, current medications, and any underlying health conditions. This assessment helps determine whether you are a suitable candidate for weight loss medication. A reputable weight loss doctor will also review a comprehensive blood panel and measure your blood pressure.
- Weight Loss Goals: Share your weight loss goals and expectations. Be realistic about what you hope to achieve, as this will influence the choice of medication and treatment plan.
- Discussion of Lifestyle and Habits: Your provider will ask about your diet, exercise routine, and lifestyle factors. They may offer advice on improving these areas as a part of your overall weight loss strategy.
Understand Your Options
There are several weight loss medications available, each with its own mechanisms and potential side effects. It’s essential to discuss these options with an experienced provider to select the one that best suits your needs.
Here are a few common weight loss medications:
- Phentermine: This appetite suppressant works by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain. It’s typically prescribed for short-term use due to the fact that it loses its effectiveness over time. Most side effects are minor; extra thirst and sleeplessness are the most common, but these are easily managed when you are being monitored by a medical weight loss clinic. Phentermine is taken daily as a pill or capsule. It is a controlled substance that requires women of child-bearing age to be using contraception.
- Bupropion and Naltrexone (Contrave): A combination medication that helps control cravings and regulates appetite.
- Semaglutide (GLP-1) This relatively new medication helps you lose weight by activating a natural peptide in your stomach that tells it to empty more slowly and regulates your brain’s hunger signals. As a result, you feel satisfied with fewer calories which helps you lose weight. The medication is delivered with a weekly injection, and the dosage of the medication is increased gradually over 16 to 20 weeks to reduce the chance of any side effects. Side effects are generally gastrointestinal in nature; slight nausea, diarrhea, constipation or bloating have been reported but are generally tolerable.
- Tirzepatide (GLP-1/GLP) Similar to Semaglutide, Tirzepatide is a recently developed weight loss medication that is delivered in one small, painless injection weekly. It has two peptides that help you to feel full longer, so you forget about the carbs and sweets that put on the extra pounds in the first place. Tirzepatide has demonstrated fewer side effects, in general, than Semaglutide and is a good choice for many patients for that reason.
Your healthcare provider will help you decide which medication is most appropriate for your situation based on your medical history, family history, risk factors, and preferences.
Evaluation and Assessment
Once you and your healthcare provider have decided on a weight loss medication, further evaluation and assessment are needed.
This process typically involves:
- Physical Examination: A physical examination to check your overall health and monitor any changes during treatment.
- Regular Check-Ins: Regular follow-up appointments are essential to monitor your progress, adjust the medication as needed, and address any concerns or side effects.
- Lifestyle Adjustments: Your healthcare provider may recommend changes to your diet and exercise routine to enhance the effectiveness of the medication.
Know the Risks and Benefits
Every medication comes with potential risks and benefits, and weight loss medications are no exception. It’s essential to understand the pros and cons before making a decision.
Some common benefits of weight loss medications include:
- Weight Loss: Weight loss medications can lead to significant reductions in body weight, making them effective tools for people struggling with obesity.
- Health Improvements: Losing weight can improve or resolve various health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea.
- Enhanced Quality of Life: Shedding excess pounds often leads to increased energy levels, improved mobility, and boosted self-esteem.
However, it’s equally important to be aware of potential risks and side effects, which can vary from one medication to another. The list above does not include all potential risks and side effects. Your weight loss provider will discuss these risks with you and monitor your progress throughout your treatment.
Commit to Lifestyle Changes
Weight loss medications should not be viewed as magic pills. They work most effectively when combined with healthy lifestyle changes.
These changes can include:
- Balanced Diet: Embrace a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Minimize processed foods, sugary beverages, and excessive calorie intake.
- Regular Exercise: Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine. Aim to walk 2 miles in 20 – 30 minutes three times per week. It is perfectly fine to work up to this speed rather than attempt to achieve this in the first week. This is not a walk with your dog who stops to sniff along the way!
- Behavioral Therapy: Consider behavioral therapy or counseling to address any emotional or psychological factors that may contribute to overeating or unhealthy habits. Forming new habits while you are on the weight loss medication is essential. Find weight loss professionals who specialize in behavioral modification to keep the weight off after you stop taking the medication.
- Portion Control: Pay attention to portion sizes and mindful eating. Learning to recognize when you’re genuinely hungry versus eating out of habit can be instrumental in achieving and maintaining weight loss.
Have Your Progress Monitored
Keep a close eye on your progress throughout your weight loss journey. Maintain open communication with your healthcare provider and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan as needed. Regular monitoring is crucial to ensure you’re on track and to address any emerging issues promptly.
Be Patient and Persistent
Even with medication, weight loss is a gradual process, and it’s essential to remain patient and persistent. Set realistic goals and understand that there may be periods of slower progress or even temporary setbacks. Your weight loss doctor or weight loss coaches can offer guidance and support to help you stay on track and celebrate all your non-scale successes, which will in turn help you stay motivated.
Ensure Safety and Responsibility
Weight loss medication should only be obtained through a legitimate prescription from a qualified healthcare provider. Avoid purchasing medications from unverified online sources or relying on unproven supplements, as this can pose serious health risks.
Weight loss medication can be a valuable tool for individuals struggling with obesity or significant weight issues. However, it’s crucial to approach this option with responsibility, guided by a healthcare provider’s expertise. Remember that weight loss medication works most effectively when combined with lifestyle changes, including a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Want to find out if Phentermine, Semaglutide or Tirzepatide is right for you and what to eat while using these medications? LivLight Weight Loss offers comprehensive weight loss plans with these medications and other weight loss boosters at their weight loss clinic in Fairfax, VA and remotely in certain states.