Why I’m taking the ‘slow and steady’ approach to weight loss

Despite the popularity of weight-loss injections, I'm going a different route

Jennifer van Amerom avatar

by Jennifer van Amerom |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner for

The Hare and the Tortoise” holds a special place in my heart among Aesop’s timeless fables. It’s a narrative I revisit often in my life, finding in its conflict and resolution a source of enduring hope. For patients like me who have neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD), hope is something we heavily rely on.

For those unacquainted with the tale, it unfolds as a race between a tortoise and a hare. While the hare has superior speed, the tortoise maintains a steady stride. Yet in a twist of fate, the hare’s overconfidence leads to a prolonged nap, allowing the tortoise to claim victory. From this unfolds the enduring adage: Slow and steady wins the race. Aesop, an ancient Greek storyteller, crafted this tale that transcends time and is often relevant to my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather be the hare. It’s how I typically operate. But NMOSD has taught me patience — something I’ve never been a fan of. Perhaps it’s because I’m part of the first generation that transitioned from paper to computers. Recognizing that things can be done more quickly has certainly fed my impatience.

Recommended Reading
A person weighs two different types of treatments.

Enspryng stops relapses, helps some end glucocorticoid use: Study

Patience and weight loss

In previous columns, I’ve addressed the weight gain many NMOSD patients experience. It’s often attributed to steroid use, which can result in what’s colloquially termed “moon face.” To manage my fluctuating weight, I’ve organized my wardrobe into three categories: my usual weight, a midweight, and a “witness protection wardrobe” for when I feel I’m at my heaviest and prefer to retreat from social interactions.

Additionally, I’ve written about my efforts with a physiotherapist to improve strength, stability, and overall physical well-being. I can feel how NMOSD is making me weaker; on awful days, even the stairs feel challenging. My regimen involves sweating to a killer playlist during three intense workouts with my therapist and two additional sessions at home every week. I’m already seeing improvements, and people love to comment on the weight loss I’ve experienced, but my progress hasn’t happened overnight.

At several points on my health journey, I’ve contemplated the allure of weight-loss injections. These medications are heavily marketed by pharmaceutical companies — even here in Canada, where advertising from drug manufacturers is more heavily regulated than in the U.S. The ads are everywhere, tempting me while I watch a hockey game or my favorite reality TV show. All of my friends are talking about the drugs. So should I try them?

Taking the tortoise’s approach

I’ve tried to do as much research as I can. I watched the much-discussed Oprah Winfrey special, in which the talk-show host spoke positively about the medications, and listened to a podcast by fitness expert Jillian Michaels, who is adamantly against them. When I asked my doctors, they also gave me mixed reviews. They reminded me that these drugs are meant for diabetic patients, which is a feasible option for me since I was recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, but they noted that I’d have to take the medication for life.

Although I’m tempted to be the hare in the race to lose weight, I’ve decided to take the tortoise’s approach instead. Not a day goes by when I’m not sore, but that isn’t different from any other day with NMOSD. This pain, the one gained from working out, secretly fills me with pride over the hard work I’m doing. Plus, my improved mental health can’t be duplicated with an injection.

I’m apprehensive about potential side effects associated with these medications, especially considering my body’s sensitivity to drugs. In Canada, the approval process for new medications is thorough, reflecting stringent government standards for safety and efficacy. It surprises me how swiftly these weight-loss treatments have become available, given this rigorous process.

Perhaps with more time and research, I might consider these injections, but for now, I’ll take the “slow and steady” approach.

Note: Neuromyelitis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Neuromyelitis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.