Please note: This article is not a substitute for medical advice. Please see a medical professional if you are considering weight loss. I am a Calibrate affiliate and will receive a small commission if you join using a link from this article. If you do join using a link in this article, thank you for supporting Adulting With ADHD!
This isn’t a story about thinning into my favorite pair of blue jeans.
I needed to get my weight in order for cardiovascular reasons, not to please a BMI-obsessed doctor. Basically all I want is to take labs and not have my cholesterol or blood sugar flagged.
I’ve known for quite a while now that my weight issues are less about have nothing to do with willpower and more about how my body and mind were built. My GP and gyno had been nudging me to consider bariatric surgery, and just – No. When further pressed, my gyno suggested consulting with an obesity specialist to see what else is out there.
Around this time I started seeing the Calibrate ads. What immediately drew me in was that obesity doctors were providing the treatment. And that the program would do all the work with your insurance to access medications that are extremely hot on the market right now. Could you imagine the executive function needed to pull that off on my own?
In this case, the meds in question were GLP-1s, previously used for diabetic patients and now being repurposed to help obsese patients. Because of their reward-system properties, GLP-1s are interestingly being looked at for alcohol dependence and binge eating treatment as well.
GLP-1 medications are not stimulants and are non-habit forming. But you do need to be comfortable giving yourself injections. They work on the same receptors as your naturally occurring GLP-1 hormones, which help you improve metabolic function, regulate digestion, reduce inflammation, and decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease.
What Is the Calibrate Weight Loss Program?
GLP-1s are a major part of the Calibrate system. This is combined with curriculum that gently helps you establish and affirm daily health habits in the areas of water consumption, food choices, sleep, emotions, movement, and more. You check in with a coach for 15 minutes every other week.
In addition to haggling with insurance people for you, the program provides all of the tools you need to get started. This includes a smart scale (you don’t even have to look at the number if you don’t want to), a blood pressure monitor and educational printouts (that are also available on the app). All you have to do is show up (remotely!) and follow directions. It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been simple and judgment-free.
How Much Does Calibrate Weight Loss Cost?
The total cost to participate is $1,641 billed upfront, plus the cost of lab work and medications. This price point admittedly isn’t accessible for a lot of people, and I hope that changes in the future. This expense is FSA eligible and 0% APR financing is available through Affirm.
Calibrate aims to work with insurance so that you’re paying no more than $25 a month on your prescriptions. If they are unable to do this, you can cancel and get your money back. Additionally, while I haven’t had any customer service problems, there are definitely members who have run into issues.
Customer service requests can take up to 3-4 days to receive a response, although I typically hear back within a day. Recognizing that this is a new way of doing weight loss medicine, I’m good with being patient while they figure this all out.
You are guaranteed to lose 10% of your body weight or your money back. As of writing this, I am pretty close to that benchmark. Members are currently losing 15% of their body weight on average.
How Does Calibrate Weight Loss Work?
The Calibrate program is rooted in research that shows the combination of doctor-prescribed GLP-1 medication and 1:1 coaching is the safest and most effective way to improve metabolic health and achieve sustained weight loss. As a result, Calibrate members have 2-3X better results than those taking GLP-1 medications alone.
There are four 3-month levels of the program: learning, practicing, setting, and sustaining. Courses include nutrition basics, good sleep 101, mindful eating, walking, and much more. Even though most of the material wasn’t mind-blowingly new to me, I always picked up something useful from these lessons.
Doctor & Meds
After I registered and paid for the program, I completed a health intake form and completed my fasting lab work with Quest (covered by my insurance). My first doctor appointment happened shortly after this, and it was definitely a dense meeting.
The good part is that all of the information you need (including lab results) can be found in Calibrate’s portal. The lab work included: a standard lipid panel, a high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) check, a comprehensive metabolic panel, insulin testing, thyroid testing, and a hemoglobin A1c check.
My first impression after this doctor’s appointment was that I don’t think I’ve ever had such an in-depth sit-down about my weight with a doctor who is deeply knowledgeable about obesity. It was refreshing, actually, and I felt really safe with the program after our meeting.
Equally impactful was what I didn’t feel: judged. She did matter-of-factly point out my areas of concern, which were already expressed by my doctors at the time. It was great to know I had options aside from going under the knife.
After you meet with your Calibrate doctor in a video appointment, you’ll have access to the medical team in the Medical Channel and scheduled medical check-ins through the Calibrate app at the 1-month, 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month marks of your year.
Meanwhile, the Calibrate team went to work on securing my meds. It’s been a minor pain having to verbally confirm some information on the phone every time I’ve needed a refill, but other than that smooth sailing. Nothing compared to the drama I’ve endured after decades of being on mental health medications.
Again, your mileage may vary.
Coaching & Curriculum
One of the worst-kept secrets among Calibrate members is that they tolerate the coaching and program materials in order to access the GLP-1s. This wasn’t the case for me. My coach provided an extra dose of accountability I wouldn’t have otherwise. Also, it’s 15 minutes every other week. These are quick check-ins.
I think who you have as a coach matters too, and I lucked into a good match right from the get-go. She understood my issues as a neurodivergent adult, and this informed how we worked together.
(Side note, while your coaching team will be your accountability partners, your Calibrate medical team will make sure you’re on track medically and seeing measurable improvements in your health.)
My Weight Loss
My weight loss definitely wasn’t one-and-done. I didn’t just start the meds and watch the weight fly off. With the help of the coaching and curriculum, I needed to break my addiction with sugar. Until I had made that connection, I was running in circles trying to learn the plan just well enough to “game” it. (Those of you who have done any time at Weight Watchers know exactly what I mean.)
Except there is no gaming because nothing is forbidden. There are red foods to avoid and you need to track them. Tracking is basically just noting that you had X red foods in a day. That’s it. You also temporarily track things that you’re learning about in the course. For example, during the sleep section you’ll get asked on your app every day if you practiced your sleep routine.
I lost some weight initially, then hit a wall.
The program actually had me flagged at a high risk of not succeeding.
Then my coach made the connection that this was a sugar problem for me. (Mental and sugar to be exact. I was addicted to the stuff.)
This is a good time to stop and say I trusted her before we got to this point. She hates diet culture as much as I do, this was about getting healthier so my kid doesn’t have to bury me too soon. It really was that simple.
After a stern talk involving some interesting pancreatic imagery, she helped me re-calibrate my approach and sent me on my way with some homework (that I freaking aced). I was back on track and as of writing this I am super close to hitting my 10% and am no longer flagged as a flight risk or whatever.
I should also point out that we very rarely discussed my weight and only did when it was pertinent to the plan. As in, “hey, you may be hearing from your doctor soon because you hit a plateau”. I don’t get that Biggest Loser-esque scale anxiety. It’s just a data point to me.
Where I’m At Today
I’m not posting before and after pics because that’s not really the point. But people who haven’t seen me in awhile notice, and I’m seeing it now in pictures too.
More importantly than that, I drink enough water now and almost always get a good night of sleep. I have a whole stable of activities for when I’m emotionally overwhelmed. I can recognize when reaching for food out of real hunger or something else. I stop when I’m full. I go outside if I’m mentally wobbly. I take nature walks when I can to reduce my chances of getting mentally wobbly.
You will notice a lot of these same things help ADHD management.
It’s really been that simple.
And just like my late-in-life ADHD diagnosis, I try not to think too much about how my life could have been different if I had just known.