Success has never been a stranger to Jay Leonard. A Raleigh, North Carolina, native, he graduated from North Carolina State University and worked his way up to vice president of a clinical research organization. He had also enjoyed a years-long, happy marriage to his husband, Carl. But until May 2020, Jay’s weight was always an issue, even as he thrived in other ways.
“It was like a yo-yo. When I was younger, I would go through periods of being really sedentary and gaining weight. Then I would start running and playing tennis again, and the weight easily came off,” explained Jay. “But as I got older, that became harder and harder and harder.”
Jay had been fairly athletic throughout his youth and early adulthood, enjoying snowboarding and tennis, however, age and more responsibilities in his career started to take their toll. Long, sedentary hours in front of the computer made time for exercise almost impossible, and Jay turned to food for stress relief. Before he knew it, Jay was up to 350 pounds.
From medications to a paid dieting program and then a medically assisted weight loss program, Jay had seemingly tried it all. He would always have some success but was never able to sustain the results. Additionally, weight loss medications ruined his sleep patterns while making him feel irritable and constantly on edge. Meanwhile, Jay avoided the mirror as much as possible and disliked video conferencing with his colleagues because he was uncomfortable in front of the camera.
“I had reached a breaking point,” Jay recalled. “I was achieving my career goals, but my weight and health were out of control. And I was fed up with not looking good in my clothes. It had even become painful to wear a belt.”
After hiring a personal trainer and getting into a regular routine of intense exercise, Jay lost about 40 pounds. But his progress came to an abrupt halt when he severely injured his knee and needed reconstructive surgery.
“I worried that being so overweight would lead to more injuries,” said Jay. “I knew I had to do something.”
While rehabilitating his knee with nine months of physical therapy, Jay also began researching weight loss procedures online. He longed to play competitive tennis again and wanted to make a dedicated lifestyle change. That’s when he discovered True You Weight Loss and the endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) procedure. His further research confirmed that ESG was the right choice for him.
“Carl was fully supportive, so I just decided to do it,” Jay reflected. “It was the best decision I ever made.”
After an in-person consult in May 2020 with Dr. Christopher McGowan, founder of True You Weight Loss and world-renowned gastroenterologist, Jay was ready. A couple of weeks later, he was at WakeMed Cary Hospital in Cary, North Carolina, having his ESG. And because it was a non-invasive, endoscopic procedure, he was not apprehensive at all—no cutting, no removing parts of his stomach. Jay felt completely comfortable and prepared.
“I went into this knowing it would be a tool, not the solution,” explained Jay. “I followed all the instructions, took the advice, and have been extremely disciplined the entire way through.”
To date, Jay has lost more than 120 pounds and said he feels fantastic. He explained that the first 48 hours after his procedure weren’t easy, but everything since then has been exactly what he needed.
“Dr. McGowan and the team at True You have been absolutely wonderful. They are always available, check in with me regularly and give me great feedback,” said Jay. “Dr. McGowan has been very reassuring and straightforward since the beginning. It also helped that he was honest with me about the individual effort it would take from me to be successful.”
Jay’s weight loss journey led to the complete lifestyle change he had hoped for. From shopping to cooking to entertaining, everything is different now. Jay and Carl are very careful about the volume of food they eat and serve to guests. They soon realized that even with nutritious choices, the calories quickly add up. Jay now eats about one-third of the food he ate prior to ESG. He enjoys playing tennis four to six times per week, and sometimes plays multiple games per day. He weighs himself every morning and remains committed to making the healthiest choices possible. Habits like keeping junk food and ice cream in the house and mindless, repetitive snacking have been completely eliminated.
The positive effects of ESG have also trickled into other areas of Jay’s life. He sleeps better, feels much less stress, and actually enjoys getting dressed up and going out again. The mirror is no longer an enemy, and Jay is now happy to interact with colleagues face to face. He has added weight lifting and yoga to his weekly routine and is even planning to travel to Italy with Carl one day soon.
“To anyone considering the ESG procedure with True You Weight Loss, I would say DO IT,” Jay added. “The first few weeks take some adjustment and you must be committed to the lifestyle change. But it’s been such a great journey for me, and I can’t imagine ever going back.”