They say the camera can add 10 pounds, making you look heavier than you really are. But for video producer Ammon, it was his position behind the camera that was the catalyst for his weight gain over the years. Like many hard-working small business owners, Ammon prioritized his career and work for years—while putting his health and personal wellness on the back burner.
The owner of a thriving video production business based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Ammon wasn’t always overweight. Born and raised in North Carolina, and growing up alongside his nine siblings, Ammon spent his childhood exploring the Tarheel State’s southern woods and streams. He discovered his interest for video at a young age while participating in high school theater. At 14, he made the decision to pursue video production as a career, never knowing how the stress of running a small business would affect him physically later on down the road.
“As a young adult, I maintained my weight at a steady 130 pounds,” Ammon says. “But after I got married at age 23, I slowly started to gain. By my early 30s, I was approaching 200 pounds. There was a period of time that I didn’t even really notice the extra weight—I just got used to it. But at some point, I stopped feeling good about myself, and I wasn’t feeling good physically either. That’s when I knew it was time to make a change.”
Due to his career, Ammon spent long hours sitting in front of the computer editing video and managing various aspects of his business, which also played a role in his weight gain. He often used food as a stress management tool, binging on snack foods late at night after a long day. Sleep was challenging, and he felt tired all the time. Although he was never diagnosed, Ammon suspected he had sleep apnea due to symptoms such as snoring and waking with a dry mouth. As his weight increased, Ammon feared he would eventually end up with diabetes, a disease that runs in his family.
Ammon spent more than five years attempting to lose weight on his own—and after putting forth a lot of effort, the returns were minimal. At times he would have the energy, willpower, and discipline to put in the work, but the most he could lose was five to 10 pounds. He used many of the right tools and strategies, but nothing seemed to work in terms of achieving a significant amount of sustainable weight loss. His most successful attempt involved counting daily calories for a full year. This full year of hard work resulted in a weight loss of just nine pounds, which became frustrating and deflating. He also tried exercise, but never made much progress due to an overall lack of energy.
“My work made me a very sedentary person, and then the stress of running a business didn’t help either,” Ammon explains. “At night, I used to stress eat to the point of feeling uncomfortable and then I would go to bed. Also, mindless eating—things like chips, donuts, cake—was my way of coping with emotional and work stress. It was like I needed that dopamine hit to manage things. By the time I reached 205 pounds, I stopped believing I could ever make progress on any type of long-term weight loss.”
Coincidentally, during this time, Dr. Christopher McGowan, medical director and founder of True You Weight Loss, contacted Ammon to help produce a few educational videos. The project involved filming the doctor as he performed a live endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) procedure on one of his patients, and Ammon was impressed and intrigued with this non-surgical approach to weight loss.
“The idea of modifying my body wasn’t something I had ever considered; it was not part of my upbringing or culture,” Ammon says. “Up until that point, I had never even had any anesthesia, surgical procedures or hospitalizations. But when I saw Dr. McGowan performing that ESG, I saw how simple the procedure was, and how confident and skilled he was throughout the process. Then, my wheels started turning—I wondered if this was something that could work for me.”
Ammon then approached Dr. McGowan about undergoing ESG, and they had several in-depth discussions about next steps. Within a few months, Ammon had a date scheduled for his ESG procedure, and in October 2020, he arrived at the True You Weight Loss office in Cary, North Carolina, ready to take the plunge. He felt excited and a bit nervous, especially about having to completely transform his eating habits.
“My greatest concern before the procedure was about how I was going to stay on this diet. The required foods were things I had never really eaten before,” Ammon says. “Even when I had to fast for two days before my procedure, I didn’t think it would be possible, but I was also determined not to mess this up.”
Ammon says the True You team did a great job of making him feel comfortable and prepared on the morning of his ESG. Additionally, he felt totally safe in the hands of Dr. McGowan.
“Dr. McGowan is such an expert in his field, and his confidence instilled a level of comfort in me,” Ammon says. “Watching him and interacting with him on a professional level for months before even considering the procedure gave me the peace of mind that this major life decision was what I needed to do to get my health on track.”
The procedure went smoothly and afterwards, Ammon felt absolutely no pain or discomfort. The team even went above and beyond to help manage his fear of needles while inserting the IV, and Ammon was so thankful that Dr. McGowan called him personally three times shortly after his procedure to check on his recovery.
For the next few weeks after his ESG, Ammon’s biggest challenge was overcoming his mental desire to eat. He did not feel physically hungry, but he remembered his cravings for certain foods. Fortunately, all of his sacrifices started to pay off when the weight began coming off quickly—Ammon lost one to two pounds per day for the first couple of weeks, and then continued to lose consistently until he reached a healthy weight. Ammon went from his highest weight of 205 down to 162—a number he has maintained now for well over a year.
“With the help of Dr. McGowan and the True You team, I was finally able to achieve the sustainable weight loss I had attempted for so many years,” Ammon says. “About a year after my procedure, I did experience some fluctuations and jumped back up to 168, but with the support of Laura and Emily, the True You nutritionist and nurse practitioner, I quickly got back on track. Laura always gives me great advice and holds me accountable for my progress. She’s a great cheerleader—and that accountability piece, as well as the support, are my most powerful motivators.”
Now that Ammon has lost approximately 40 pounds, his energy level is way up, and he is feeling great and exercising regularly. This journey has allowed Ammon to completely rethink his diet and the way he eats. He has whole-heartedly committed to this new way of living because the ESG process has been a huge investment—one that he never wants to throw away.
“While 40 pounds may not sound like a lot to some, my ESG journey has been the most dramatic change of my entire life, in every way—emotionally, personally, physically, and intellectually,” Ammon reflects. “Everything is different now, in a really good way. I see myself in a much different light, and the way I relate to the outside world is so much better now, too.”
Ammon’s non-scale victories continue to add up. He has the energy and confidence to exercise, and he’s sleeping better than ever. He explains, “Honestly, it’s the small things. I wouldn’t even wear a T-shirt or swim at the pool before my ESG. I do those things now without even thinking, and it feels so good. I can carry my heavy video equipment and engage in long, grueling video shoots without struggling because my energy levels are sky high.”
Today, Ammon and his team continue to support Dr. McGowan’s video production needs—filming educational videos about endobariatric weight loss, ESG, and much more. He is responsible for dozens of True You Weight Loss videos that help patients from all over the world learn all about what to expect from an endobariatric procedure—all of which are now coming from a patient with real life experience.
Moving forward, Ammon is eager to travel more with his wife and family, the Caribbean being their targeted destination; and, he is embracing the positive impact his weight loss has had on his relationship with his family.
He concludes, “My family, wife, and kids are the most important part of my life. I feel so gratified after this weight loss journey that I can now bring a better version of myself to them.”
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