One of the reasons we love our jobs here at VIVA Wellness in Brookfield, WI is the chance to walk with our patients throughout their health journey. Nothing makes us happier than seeing total health transformations as a result of our personalized medical weight loss programs. Daniell’s story is one of these amazing weight loss stories that we have the privilege of sharing with the world!
The Journey Toward 50-Pound Weight Loss While Regaining Her Power
Daniell Sobelman is a 26-year-old former college athlete, aesthetics provider, and tattoo artist in Milwaukee who connected with our clinic in 2021. She met with our founder and head Nurse Practitioner, Jennifer Hruz. The two had already formed a relationship since Daniell was Jennifer’s provider for aesthetic services at Gädis Beauty. This is when Daniell remembers first opening up about her struggles with weight. In Daniell’s words, Jennifer never pushed, but she made her feel safe and hopeful about the options. As Daniell continued to share about her other health issues in connection with the weight gain, Jennifer had a hunch that our services at Viva could help. She suggested that she come to the clinic, where we would explore all the available options to reach her weight loss goals. And thankfully for Daniell, that’s exactly what we did!
A former athlete who had dreamed of a career in professional soccer.
When she was an athlete, Daniell was in incredible shape. Unfortunately, her coach’s methods to push her were demeaning and abusive, often criticizing her body and physical abilities. While she once saw her body as the ticket to her career as a professional soccer player, now she viewed her body as something that had betrayed her. As a former athlete with a traumatic exit from the sport, Daniell watched herself form an unhealthy relationship with diet and exercise and build bad habits over the weeks and months following her break with soccer.
She had gained weight after her exit from the sport.
As Daniell started experiencing weight gain, she also started experiencing symptoms of extreme hormonal imbalance, to the point where she needed to be on birth control in order to achieve regular periods. She noticed extreme mood swings and often had episodes of depression and anxiety which had not occurred when she was in better health.
Food was a support and a tool. Because she had experienced high levels of activity throughout her entire life, she’d never worried about having a healthy diet or paying much attention to what she was eating, as she easily maintained a healthy weight for her athleticism and size. After leaving soccer, Daniell began drinking, partying, and eating processed foods for entertainment and self-soothing. Weight management was now a serious struggle without consistent soccer in her life.
At 5’2”, she had reached around 223 pounds. She couldn’t look at the scale. She did not recognize the person she saw in the mirror. The doctor used the term “obese,” and informed her that she was pre-diabetic. She already knew that the absence of her period was a bad sign, but when she received a PCOS diagnosis, that was a key indication something had to change.
She finally felt accepted, encouraged, and empowered.
For Daniell, finding a healthcare provider she can truly connect with is crucial. Jennifer is that person for her – someone who understands her on a deeper level. With Jennifer, Daniell feels comfortable discussing her health journey and overall wellness over the past few years without judgment. In the past, other care providers seemed to overlook Daniell’s accomplishments as a soccer athlete at both national and collegiate levels, which left her feeling unheard. But Jennifer sees the whole picture, recognizing the trauma Daniell experienced and the resulting impact on her body and weight. That empathy and understanding are what set Jennifer and our whole team at VIVA Wellness apart.
Of course, if someone tells you that your body is inadequate, it is going to impact your self-image. Unwinding from the stories of abuse and trauma and the grief of the chapter that ended prematurely was a brave step in her goal of losing weight. Her relationship with food provided Daniell with a sort of protection, and this was no small task to overcome. But with Jennifer’s help, it happened.
Formulating a custom plan to lose weight.
Just like any of our clients, we worked to find a personalized weight loss plan that was comfortable for her. Daniell and Jennifer talked through all their options, including weight loss drugs, to bring her out of obesity and into healthy living. While phentermine is a good fit for some (it’s often Jennifer’s starting point for younger patients due to its efficacy and cost), Daniell felt that taking the medication multiple times per day would be challenging. Not only would it be difficult to take the medicine consistently, but it would also fuel an unhealthy mindset that she was “medicating” her body as if the weight gain was an illness in itself.
At VIVA Wellness, we recognize that everyone has their unique context and understanding of weight and wellness, and that the medical community can be deeply rooted in their own mindset. As a practitioner, Jennifer knew that if Daniell saw a red flag in any part of her plan, that protocol would be much less successful for her.
Compounded semaglutide was the right fit for Daniell.
Because of the other symptoms Daniell experienced alongside her excess body weight, such as inflammation, hormonal issues, and mood swings, Jennifer knew that compounded semaglutide might be the right fit. Known under the brand names Wegovy and Ozempic, it was initially used to reduce excess weight and manage blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. It is now frequently used off-label as an anti-obesity drug because it reduces food cravings and lowers appetite.
However, before Daniell started taking compounded semaglutide, Jennifer wanted to run more thorough blood work than Daniell’s Primary Care Physician had suggested. Jennifer only felt comfortable coming up with a plan if she had the fullest picture Daniell’s overall physical health. She wanted to devise a plan to lose weight and support Daniell’s WHOLE BODY and WHOLE LIFE experience through holistic health.
While Daniell was nervous about starting Ozempic for weight loss, the caring VIVA Wellness staff eased her anxiety by having solutions that addressed each of her concerns. We try to begin with the lowest dose and increase to a higher dose when necessary to minimize common side effects. The first week, she realized that taking weight loss injections was much easier than she expected, and soon Daniell began to have less fear around using a weight loss drug. She started to feel confident in herself and her body and knew that the negative criticism she had encountered in the past wasn’t true. Her body was not broken or flawed; it was, in fact, RESPONSIVE AND RESILIENT.
And while some may opt for taking the compounded semaglutide once-weekly injection as an at-home treatment, Daniell loved the in-person experience she found at VIVA Wellness. She wanted support and accountability, but she also loved the reassurance and camaraderie of the entire VIVA Wellness Team. This helped her feel ‘in the flow’ and on the right path, and she genuinely enjoys her time in the clinic and talking with the team members.
The AH-HA moment once she lost weight.
“I was sensitive about sharing my journey because I didn’t want anyone to know what I was up to until I felt like this shift was really real. A part of me doubted it at times, but there was an undeniable moment this past year when I put on a pair of snakeskin pants. Just a year earlier, I had to leave them open during a photo shoot, which meant I couldn’t do any standing photos. This year, they were roomy. I knew I’d reached the tipping point. I was ready to start opening up and sharing.”
Do what’s best for you—TRUST YOURSELF
Ever a proponent of authenticity, Daniell’s biggest piece of advice for someone on a wellness or weight loss journey is, “Don’t listen to the opinions of others that you have not sought for expertise.” Everyone is quick to insert their beliefs about the ‘right way’ to lose weight. Many people voice their opinions about why taking medication off-label is a bad idea or didn’t work for them. Daniell learned to tune out unhelpful advice, keep her blinders on, and her chin up. Trusting herself and not comparing her health decisions to others gave her the freedom to continue to make her own progress.
She also makes it clear that you need to give yourself time. Change doesn’t come instantly. For her, it took an adjustment period and at least three months to feel completely certain that things were working. She did not compare herself to others. She trusted the long game that worked.
Compounded semaglutide comes with a number of side effects, but they were not surprises. Daniell was calm as she experienced side effects the VIVA Wellness Team had previously informed her about. The mild nausea, constipation and gastrointestinal upset would go away, and she allowed herself time and kept an open mind with VIVA Wellness’s solutions. According to Daniell, “It’s worth experimentation to arrive at the best results.”
Words Daniell wrote to herself at the beginning of her journey.
From Daniell to Daniell on Day 1: “Give yourself grace, but know you’re going to be so proud of yourself. You can trust yourself and you can take your time, but also start being healthy now. Yes, compounded semaglutide makes me feel good, but if you start to be a bit more mindful with eating, movement, and the way you’re taking care of yourself, it’s all going to get easier. Start now.”
Daniell feels that her journey to return to healthy habits makes sense based on her past. She didn’t have the confidence to immediately step back into a gym (her former comfort zone) and start an exercise routine because she felt like people were judging her for her size. Also, she was not mentally able to see all the ways she was using food as a crutch. She wants to assure anyone else on a similar journey that you don’t have to wait until you have the confidence to do the things you want. Take action by doing the things that make you feel good in a healthy way and that will help you build that confidence more quickly.
Her new chapter as a healthy girl living her best life.
Her weight loss plan was life-changing for Daniell; she is thriving now. She feels lightness in her body, mind, and soul. She has relief from the previously consuming food thoughts and insatiable appetite—no more thinking about Starbucks and Jimmy Johns first thing in the morning! She’s staying active, going to the gym by herself, boxing weekly, and has learned to eat in response to true hunger. She’s begun exploring new wellness strategies for herself.
Going on this journey also gave her confidence in a new chapter in her career: the business-owner era! You can visit her website at danielltattoos.com, or follow her personal and business Instagram accounts. She’s been able to make decisions about what does and doesn’t suit her preferences. She’s investing in her future. Her business is so successful that she’s now booking appointments for tattoo work months in advance. She was an employee at the beginning of the journey, but now she is proudly self-employed. She credits this building of self-trust in her body to feeling safe enough to take bold moves in her career.
Daniell has now lost 50 pounds.
She is continuing to lose weight. As of early May, she’s down 50 pounds from when she started, her confidence is soaring, and she feels like herself again. Daniell went to buy her boyfriend a birthday present at a soccer store and walked out with a pair of indoor shoes for herself. She shared, “I’m going to start playing again.” When she shared this with her VIVA Wellness team, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!
Soccer was the thing she loved, the thing that made her feel most at home in her body. When that chapter initially ended, she was temporarily lost. She’s now come full circle to find herself. Daniell has re-connected with who and what she loved and has left her past behind.
Start your own weight loss program with VIVA Wellness.
When you’re ready to create your own story of transformation, please get in touch with our compassionate team of Weight Loss and Wellness professionals in the Brookfield and Milwaukee area. Our team has a wealth of knowledge, support, and experience in weight loss. When asked to comment on Daniell’s journey thus far, Jennifer was quick to respond: “Daniell is such a positive light and creative force. I am so happy that she was able to reconnect with her power. Now, she’s unstoppable! She’s going to do big things in this world and is already proving that with her artistry and tattoo business! Who knows, maybe I’ll get my first tattoo from her ;)”
Everybody’s health story is different, so individual results may vary. Testimonials are not intended to represent typical results. Any images or anecdotes we share are from real patients, but just like all things in life, there are no guarantees—not every person will achieve the same or similar results to any product or service. We are here to inform and guide you, but any health decisions are done at your own discretion. Social media, blogs, and newsletters are not substitutes for medical advice. Please consult a healthcare provider before beginning any medications, exercise, or diet program. We have plenty of caring healthcare professionals on staff ready to learn your story and give you a consultation. Contact us today – it could be the game-changer you’ve been searching for!