Married Couple’s Weight Loss Journey Leads to Better Health & Promising Future
On a family vacation to Chimney Rock, North Carolina, in summer 2022, Michelle and Sean Fallmann had much to celebrate. Not only did they accomplish their very first hike to the top of a landmark mountain together, but they were also reveling in their recent weight loss success. Their inspiring story and husband/wife teamwork demonstrates the power of working together toward a common goal.
Over the years, Michelle and Sean both struggled with their weight—a problem that was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2022, both were ready to make a change—a change that was greatly needed to improve the couple’s long-term health and ability to care for their family. Yet, after years of failed weight loss attempts, neither knew where to start. Fortunately, some serious Google searching led them to True You Weight Loss—and their impressive journey to losing more than 100 pounds together in just a few months is one worth celebrating.
Michelle’s personal challenges with weight date back to her childhood. Even though she was an active softball player during most of her early years, she often struggled with being overweight, and with family challenges that contributed to some unhealthy eating habits. Later on in her early adulthood, Michelle faced significant fertility challenges and the stress of a difficult first marriage, followed by a tough first pregnancy—all contributing to continued weight gain. She eventually reached almost 330 pounds.
After her divorce in 2005, Michelle was strongly advised by her doctor to lose weight and get healthy, or risk not being around much longer to raise her daughter. This was enough motivation for Michelle to pursue gastric bypass surgery—and the results were impressive. After only a year, Michelle lost more than 100 pounds, but life’s challenges made it difficult to sustain the weight loss.
Soon afterward, she met and married Sean, they moved to North Carolina, and became pregnant with son Peter. Their son was born about seven weeks early, suffered a stroke, and spent a considerable amount of time in the neonatal intensive care unit. The stress of this difficult experience sent Michelle back to food for comfort, and the weight gain began again.
In the years that followed, Michelle faced numerous heartbreaks and challenges that exacerbated her weight gain, including a severe injury that shattered her left leg, required nine surgeries and rendered her unable to walk for two years; the death of her father; and a full hysterectomy and removal of her ovaries. Her leg injury also led to the diagnosis of complex regional pain syndrome.
“All of these experiences made it impossible for me to maintain a healthy weight or stay in shape,” Michelle explains. “Our son was also diagnosed with severe autism, and we learned that he would need 24/7 care for the rest of his life. It was so overwhelming that I became an emotional eater, and I had absolutely no time for exercise. Food was my friend, and the vicious cycle continued.”
Over the years, Michelle had experimented with countless weight loss strategies, including a popular meal replacement plan and counting calories on her own, but nothing gave her steady results. By 2020, Michelle suffered from pre-diabetes, was diagnosed with high cholesterol, and struggled with a great deal of pain, anxiety, and depression. All of these challenges were only further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When 2022 came, Michelle was desperate to lose the weight, especially when she took a serious look at her son’s future. She knew that she and her husband needed to be there to care for him for many years to come—and that was a powerful incentive to make another serious decision to lose the weight for good.
Michelle’s determination took her online, where she discovered there were non-surgical options for patients who’d already undergone bariatric surgery—something she’d never heard about before. When she found out that Dr. Christopher McGowan and True You Weight Loss offered a non-surgical bariatric surgery revision procedure, she was instantly excited. Michelle talked to her husband about it—and while he was skeptical at first, after doing some more researching and watching some videos, he was sold and ready to make the investment—for both of them and for their family.
“Not only did Sean agree that it was a good idea for me, he asked if he could make an appointment to learn more, too. It turns out that Sean had his procedure first—and his early success and encouragement paved the way for our successful journey.”
Sean, too had been somewhat overweight for much of his childhood. While he admits to slimming down during adolescence, he consistently gained weight through his adult years. As he got older, Sean grew busier with work and family life. He found it harder to stay active and keep the weight off. He also joked that his Italian background didn’t help.
“I am part of a big Italian family, and my wife also has Italian roots, so everything we do is centered around food and enjoying meals together,” Sean says. “By the time I was in my mid-40s, I was happily married and well fed.”
Over the years, Sean had tried many weight loss strategies, including the P90X® fitness program and countless diets, but nothing had a lasting impact. By 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he was already heavier than he liked and quarantine didn’t help. To pass the time, Sean and his family were frequently cooking, baking, and trying new recipes. Soon, he was up to 290 pounds.
“On the cusp of turning 50 years old, I decided I didn’t want to enter my retirement years overweight, unhealthy, and unable to enjoy the time I’d worked so hard for,” Sean explains. “Plus, I wanted to ensure I could be there for my family for as long as possible.”
Sean also realized that his weight was starting to have a real impact on his health, due to issues such as painfully swollen feet and ankles that required him to wear compression socks; sleep apnea, and unhealthy bloodwork indicating high cholesterol and high triglycerides.
Sean explains his declining health was the determining factor that led him to take the plunge. “When Michelle first mentioned having a non-surgical weight loss procedure that wasn’t covered by insurance, I initially rejected the idea not wanting to make the investment. When I took the time to do the research, not only did I want Michelle to move forward, I was ready to join her!”
Sean chose the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) and was especially drawn to the fact that it would be an incisionless, minimally invasive procedure.
“I was desperate to lose weight and knew I needed something more extreme than a diet or workout plan in order to make real progress,” Sean says. “Thanks to True You, I now realize that all of my efforts to that point had been rooted in beliefs and strategies that just weren’t accurate. I now have the tools and knowledge I need to be successful and to keep the weight off for good.”
The day of Sean’s ESG arrived on March 10, 2022—and he admits to being cautiously optimistic, not wanting to be disappointed by another failed weight loss attempt. His procedure went smoothly and he was sent home after a brief recovery. The next day, he only experienced minor gas pains and a sore stomach.
“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is nothing!’” Sean says. “I never experienced any of the potential side effects, even during the phases where I introduced food back into my diet. I carefully followed all of the guidelines True You provided and read their instructional manual word-for-word. The only thing that felt challenging was the liquid phase of eating, but otherwise, it was all pretty easy for me.”
By August of 2022, Sean had dropped 70 pounds and most of his more serious health conditions were resolved. He had also introduced a dedicated exercise regime into his life, with the help of a personal trainer. He continues to work out every day, incorporating a mix of cardio, weightlifting, squats, and core-strength exercises.
Currently, Sean weighs 202 pounds, and his bloodwork is now almost all within normal range. He hopes to lose about 25 more pounds to reach his “working target goal.” In just over five months, he’s gone from a triple-XL shirt to a medium and is feeling great.
“This is the most exercise I’ve ever done at a sustained rate in my entire life,” Sean says. “But I knew that if I wanted to see certain results, I had to put in extra effort and challenge myself to do more and more.”
Sean says he’s learned a lot from his nutritionist about diet, including the importance of macronutrients and balancing protein, carbohydrates and fat, as well as the ratios of these units that work best for him. He feels healthier than he has in a very long time and is enjoying the full range of new experiences his weight loss has offered him.
“I’m amazed at the little things, like how I can bend down easily and tie my shoes,” Sean explains. “In terms of the bigger things, I’m more willing to get dressed up and attend social events without being worried about how I look. And never before was I interested in outdoor activities. Now, I am all in for hiking trips and adventures in nature. Before, I couldn’t do those types of things, but now I really enjoy myself. Michelle and I want to take more hiking trips and explore more mountainous areas, like Hanging Rock.”
By the time Michelle’s gastric bypass revision procedure day arrived, she was completely ready to change her life. On March 20, Michelle weighed 213 pounds and was nervous, but excited.
“This was the jumpstart I needed to start a new life,” she says. “Especially after making the financial investment, I didn’t want to fail or let my family down, so I committed to it 100 percent.”
Michelle’s procedure went smoothly. And, while she experienced a reaction to anesthesia that wasn’t uncommon for her, Michelle soon found a path to success. Within six months, she had lost 50 pounds, and most of her weight-related health complications had vastly improved.
“Today, I feel great! There are two things I like to say: ‘no pain, no gain’ and ‘slow and steady’,” Michelle says. “By sticking straight to the program True You laid out for me, and challenging myself every day, I was slowly but surely able to achieve awesome results. When I look at myself now, I can actually see how my body has changed.”
In addition to changing her diet and finding creative ways to make healthy versions of her favorite foods, Michelle joined her husband in committing to daily exercise and working with a personal trainer, who has given her lots of great exercises that work given her mobility challenges. Today, Michelle is walking five miles per day—something she could have never done just a year ago due to debilitating pain that she’s now able to work through to stay active.
The diet plan laid out by her nutritionist has also been very helpful. Michelle never deviates from the instructions or advice she’s been given, and has learned so much about reading labels and balancing macronutrients. She no longer uses food for comfort and knows how to manage cravings.
“This entire experience has been absolutely life-changing,” Michelle says. “To go from being a person who was immobile just a few years ago to now walking five miles a day, it’s incredible. Being able to exercise has also helped with my anxiety. When I’m out walking, with just me and my music, I am not that anxious mother anymore, worried about the needs of my family. I’m simply Michelle, a woman who is taking the time to care for herself.”
She credits this new perspective and her ability to hike a mountain over the summer with her husband to True You Weight Loss.
“The encouragement and responsiveness I’ve witnessed from my True You Weight Loss team made me feel valued, cared for and respected from day one,” Michelle explains. “After my procedure and during my difficult recovery, I was so impressed that Dr. McGowan continuously reached out to me to make sure I was okay and even gave me his personal cell phone number. I felt like a member of his family, and it was the cushion I needed to persevere during the rough times.”
Today, Michelle is also enjoying a newfound confidence. Dressing up has become fun, and she has transformed from a size 18 to a size 8 in just a matter of months. She is excited for many more climbing and hiking trips with Sean. However, Michelle also has bigger goals in mind.
“For both me and Sean, this has not just been about losing some weight to look better in photos,” Michelle adds. “It has been about getting healthy together so we can help our children and be there for them for as long as we possibly can.”
Sean and Michelle both acknowledge that their weight loss journey would not have been the same without each other. Eating the same foods and modifying recipes together, sharing similar emotions, and understanding their joint mission to get healthier for their kids, created a safety net that helped them avoid set-backs and motivated the couple to keep going. “Throughout this process, I never wanted to let Sean down, so that was hugely motivating for me,” Michelle concludes. “Now I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to. Sean has been a major part of that, and I am eager to see where the rest of our lives take us. One thing I know for sure is that we will be happier, healthier, and ready for more adventures as a family.”