Since her childhood, Darlene Medlock has battled obesity—and the many lifelong challenges that came with it. In 2019, after decades of struggling and putting others’ needs before her own, she was ready to make a lifelong commitment to weight loss and good health.
Darlene is a surgeon’s wife and part-time real estate agent who currently resides in Lumberton, North Carolina. She is passionate about the volunteer work and fundraising she’s involved with through a number of charities and foundations.
“I have always been a nurturer at heart,” Darlene explains. “And I have spent most of my life putting the needs of others above my own.”
This selflessness, along with genetics and factors in her youth, likely contributed to Darlene’s longtime struggle with weight—which began in early childhood. As she grew into a teenager and young woman, Darlene continued to struggle with anxiety and even added depression, bulimia, and anorexia to the mix. She met her husband and got married in her thirties, and she gained even more weight as they faced challenges in trying to start a family. After Darlene went through in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive her only child, a daughter, more weight piled on, and it would not come off after her baby was born. In time, she had reached 267 pounds.
“During this period in my life, it seemed that the harder I worked to lose weight, the more weight I gained,” Darlene reflects. “I was so depressed; I didn’t even recognize myself when I looked in the mirror. It was almost as if I was wearing a fat suit; the real me was inside, but I couldn’t get out.”
Darlene knew it was time to lose weight, but nothing she tried worked. From diet pills to Nutrisystem®, SlimFast®, and beyond, nothing helped her shed the pounds, and her health began to decline. In addition to depression and anxiety, Darlene was dealing with insomnia and pre-diabetes, and she was taking a strong statin prescription to keep her high cholesterol under control.
By 2012, Darlene felt desperate to try something more drastic and decided to have gastric bypass surgery. After an extremely painful and difficult recovery, Darlene ended up losing around 50 pounds—which was less than she’d hoped for. Soon thereafter, the chaos of life kicked in, and she became a devoted caretaker for her mother-in-law—and the weight loss stopped. She then fell right back into the yo-yo process of losing and gaining weight again—a process that continued for years as her mental and physical health continued to suffer.
By 2019, Darlene was fed up again and ready to take control of her life and weight. She realized that her obesity was a disease, and it must be treated as such in order for her to claim back her life.
Darlene discovered True You Weight Loss on Facebook and took the first step of calling for more information. During her initial conversation, she learned about the endoscopic gastric bypass revision procedure, and she could quickly tell that Dr. McGowan and the True You team could provide the support and treatment she needed. Endoscopic gastric bypass revision is intended for patients who had gastric bypass surgery in the past and lost weight but gained it back. It is an incision-less procedure that tightens the gastric pouch and outlet to its original size with new sutures.
“At first, I was hesitant about the cost, but after speaking with a dear friend who offered a different perspective, I was ready to move forward,” Darlene explains. “She encouraged me to compare the cost of the procedure to the cost of medications I would likely need to treat my obesity and other related health conditions in the future. In addition to saving money over time, I realized I would probably be saving myself.”
While Darlene had made up her mind by this point, she wanted her husband to connect with Dr. McGowan so they could speak physician to physician. She arranged a call, and the two doctors quickly hit it off. Their discussion further solidified Darlene’s decision to have the endoscopic gastric bypass revision.
“After the call, my husband told me he felt 100% confident with Dr. McGowan and that he believed an endoscopic revision would be the best option for me. We could both tell that Dr. McGowan would treat me with the same care he would provide his own family, which was comforting for both of us,” Darlene says.
Shortly thereafter, in September 2019, Darlene and her husband were traveling to Cary, North Carolina, for her gastric bypass revision procedure with True You. On the day of her procedure, Darlene weighed 204 pounds. Darlene felt relieved and excited—as if she had finally found the answer she had been searching for all this time. In the days that followed, Darlene was surprised at how quickly she recovered and how good she felt. By day two after the procedure, she even bounded out of bed and was ready to go about her business.
“It was amazing. I didn’t need any pain medication,” Darlene said. “I felt a bit full, but not like I had been operated on—certainly nowhere near the pain and exhaustion I felt after my gastric bypass surgery.”
In the first month post-procedure, Darlene rapidly lost 15 pounds and continued to lose approximately 10 pounds every month thereafter. While the holidays slowed her down a bit, it wasn’t long before Darlene had dropped to an astonishing 158 pounds, only three pounds away from her goal weight, and she was determined to keep going. Today (years later), Darlene’s weight generally fluctuates between 135 and 140 pounds, and she is so thrilled with her new life and body.
“I never dreamed it was possible, but losing weight this time around was actually easy, thanks to my revision and the guidance and support I received from True You,” Darlene adds. “I just followed the program and have been able to sustain my current weight for years.”
In addition to swearing off sugar, Darlene credits the team at True You, especially her dietitian, Laura Sebring, with helping her learn several strategies for long-lasting weight loss. These include listening to her body, finding a consistent exercise routine that she loves, proper hydration, and keeping up with her nutrition appointments.
Darlene is now very thoughtful about the food she puts in her body. She checks restaurant menus before eating out to consider the healthiest options in advance and starts her meals with bite-sized portions. She then sits back to figure out when and if her body really needs more food. She enjoys biking at home for one hour per day on her Slim Cycle stationary bike and walking. Most importantly, Darlene has learned how to cook and meal prep, and plan healthy menus. Her entire family has even joined her on this journey, making her diet their diet as well.
“I have used this time to really focus on me and make myself a priority,” Darlene says. “I like what I do, I love my routine, and it is really working for me. And all along the way, I have believed in myself, which has made a huge difference.”
In shedding so much weight, Darlene has regained her physical health and is back to living a full life again. She shares what an impact obesity had on her life for so many years.
“Being obese left me anxious about leaving the house—even simple activities like going out with friends or sitting on the beach were overwhelming at times. I’d worry about the judgment I’d felt so many times over the years, and it really affected my life every single day. It’s a huge deal for me to be able to leave my house without even thinking twice now,” Darlene says. “I used to be so hard on myself, but not anymore. It’s like I unzipped the suit, and the real Darlene came out.”
Above all else, Darlene’s health has also greatly improved. She no longer has pre-diabetes, and her doctors have significantly reduced the dosages for her cholesterol, depression, and anxiety medications.
Today, Darlene is happy to have the energy and stamina to live her life to the fullest. She’s eager to continue her charity work and related event planning. Additionally, in April, Darlene is thrilled to be traveling to Tampa, Florida, with her daughter, where they will attend a Taylor Swift concert. Darlene even plans to wear a fancy dress that is the replica of the dress Swift wore in her “Shake It Off” music video.
“I am so excited for this trip with my daughter, who I love and cherish so much,” Darlene says.
“It’s a thrill to be healthy enough to do things like this with her. I am also excited to pack all of my cute clothes and high heels!”
With all of the wonderful things Darlene has to look forward to in her life, she gives a great deal of credit to Dr. McGowan and the entire True You team.
“Pure and simple, this team saved my life,” Darlene says as she sheds a few tears of gratitude and joy. “I cannot say enough good things about Dr. McGowan, Tesha, Laura, and the entire team at True You. They are all in my heart because they take what they do so personally, and they sincerely care. Obesity is a disease, and because of True You Weight Loss, people like me now have the ability to reclaim their health and life. I am forever grateful.”
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