Sandy Minchew has struggled with her weight for as long as she can remember. Born and raised in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, where she still lives today, Sandy is a happy wife and mother to two children, ages 8 and 12. She manages a busy career in pharmaceuticals and works hard to keep up with her children, both of whom are very active and enjoy playing basketball. Amidst her busy and full life, Sandy hadn’t been able to find the solution to her lifelong battle with the scale—and she knew that after decades of yo-yo dieting, it was time to get the help she needed to lose the weight for good.
“Over the years, I had tried so many times to lose weight—diet after diet, year after year,” says Sandy. “From a young age, I was often thinking about how to drop the pounds. My mom even convinced me to do WeightWatchers® with her when I was in high school. I did lose some weight, but then I went to college, gained the ‘Freshman 15’ and things snowballed from there. At some point, I tried to just accept who I was and feel happy about the body I had, but if I was being honest with myself, I wasn’t happy with it at all.”
As an adult, Sandy went back to WeightWatchers and later tried the prescription weight loss medication, phentermine. She lost about 50 pounds but then gained much of it back.
“For years, I was really missing that coaching piece that is really essential to losing weight,” says Sandy. “I needed a better understanding of nutrients and serving sizes and how to blend things together to make them work for my body.”
After years of frustration and feeling generally unwell, Sandy was ready to get the help she needed to be successful in losing weight once and for all. The idea of surgical weight loss had always made Sandy nervous; however, she did have friends who experienced success with gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgery. While she didn’t think her physical condition was extreme enough for complex surgery, Sandy wanted medical assistance for weight loss—especially since her family history included diabetes, heart disease, and mobility issues due to obesity. She wanted to do everything she could to prevent future health problems.
Sandy learned about True You Weight Loss and its founder, Dr. Christopher McGowan, through a colleague whose spouse was a former patient and advocate. She then did some online research of her own and watched videos to learn more. When she discovered that the recovery downtime for a non-invasive endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) procedure was far less than with gastric bypass surgery, Sandy was intrigued. She was glad to have found an option that could provide the benefits of a weight loss procedure without the invasive nature of a major surgery. Sandy scheduled her consultation with True You nurse practitioner Emily Weaver, BSN, RN, AGPCNP.
“Emily answered all of my questions and was really encouraging,” says Sandy. “She confirmed that I was a good candidate for ESG, and from there, I was ready to get things started.”
In January 2022, Sandy arrived in Cary, North Carolina, for her ESG with True You—at that time she weighed in at 220 pounds. She was nervous but was also ready for her procedure and excited about the journey. Sandy recalls being comforted by the thorough communication and support her care team provided throughout the day. After her procedure, she left with Dr. McGowan’s personal cell phone number, which was very comforting to her. The following day, Sandy experienced minor cramping—but by day three, she was feeling good and was able to resume her normal life.
“I was most nervous about the post-procedure eating plan and only being able to consume liquids for a while. But it was never an issue for me,” says Sandy. “In the first phase, I had broths and protein liquids and didn’t feel hungry at all. I was amazed at how good I felt just a few days after the procedure, and I wasn’t craving any other foods. The eating plan was actually pretty easy to follow, and I realized I could get creative with my liquids and soft foods.”
Sandy credits True You nutritionist Laura Sebring, MS, RD, LDN, with guiding her through the post-procedure diet plan and helping her find new recipes and ideas, such as her favorite treat—adding cocoa powder and butterscotch pudding mix to a protein drink to make it taste like Butterfinger candy! Laura also provided Sandy with vital encouragement during her journey.
“During the first month, I loved seeing proof that the pounds were melting off when I stepped on the scale,” remembers Sandy. “However, as the months went on, I did endure some stalls and plateaus. When I would get discouraged, Laura helped me power through and trust the process. Thanks to her help, I could figure out what to do, implement new strategies, and start moving forward with my weight loss again.”
To date, Sandy has lost 64 pounds and can’t say enough about how good she feels. She has much more energy now, which is very helpful when running around after her kids or playing basketball with them in the yard, and she loves her new routine of going to the gym on a regular basis.
“Now, when I get off my gym schedule, I feel terrible!” says Sandy. “I really enjoy that time to exercise and now I find I feel physically and emotionally disappointed if I miss it.”
Additionally, Sandy loves shopping now that she has gone from a size 16 to a size 8. She is thrilled to enjoy the act of trying on clothes and appreciates her new self, looking back at her from the dressing room mirror.
“Since my ESG, I have much more confidence in how I look and feel,” says Sandy. “For someone who has been on the bigger side for most of my life, I am amazed when things actually fit like they are supposed to. I am excited to feel good in my clothing, and in my own skin.”
Sandy is very grateful to Dr. McGowan, Emily, Laura, and the entire True You team for their encouragement and support throughout the ESG process and for all she has learned along the way. She says this journey has transformed her eating habits and the way she thinks about food.
“This has been quite a journey for me, physically, emotionally and mentally,” says Sandy. “ESG is a tool, not a solution—you have to be ready to put in the hard work and have patience and discipline throughout the process. Now, I have an exercise routine and I know my limits with food. I can treat myself, but I have the knowledge and self-control to not go overboard and sabotage my weight loss progress.”
In the future, Sandy looks forward to lots of outdoor adventures with her family. She enjoys kayaking and actually owns her own kayak. She is excited to get back out on the water with it. Additionally, Sandy wants to travel more with her husband and kids. They are looking forward to a trip to Universal Studios in Florida this summer.
“Before my weight loss, I didn’t want to do anything outdoorsy or active—some of it was due to low physical energy, but some of it was mental,” reflects Sandy. “I didn’t feel good in my skin, and I was embarrassed about how I looked in a bathing suit. Now I’m finally ready to get out there and enjoy life. I am so thankful to the team at True You for helping me reach this point and for reminding me what is possible for my future.”