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Michelle and Jason Kovalik

Michelle and Jason Kovalik
Posted on: 11/14/2022

Take Me to St. Mark’s Hospital: For a healthier pathway to life

Michelle and Jason Kovalik have been married for 19 years. During that time, they’ve taken many journeys together, including moving their family from North Carolina to Utah. In 2021, they embarked on a weight loss journey, partnering with the Weight Treatment Center at St. Mark’s Hospital to achieve their goals.

Though they took this life-altering journey together, Jason and Michelle’s motivations for improving their health were distinctly different. 

“My family doctor sent me in for a sleep study to check for sleep apnea,” explained Michelle. “At my first appointment before the study, I was in a waiting area shared by a lot of different clinics, so there were a lot of old, sick people in there. I looked around and realized that in 20 years, I’d be one of them, or I’d be dead.”

A combination of events and circumstances made Jason decide that his lifestyle needed to change.

“First, I tore my meniscus getting off a step ladder and had to have knee surgery – just from getting off a step ladder! Then I had a really serious attack of gout. On top of that, I found myself at the front of the line for the COVID vaccine because I was considered ‘high-risk’ due to my weight. I wanted to fix this.”

In June of 2021, Jason met with Elizabeth Hanna, DNP, at the St. Mark’s Weight Treatment Center to begin a medical weight loss program.

Michelle met with Elizabeth to start preparing for weight-loss surgery, a process that involved weight-loss classes and appointments with a behavioral specialist and a nutritionist. As Michelle put it, “They had to drill it into my head through dietary counseling that I had to make lifestyle changes.”

She had gastric bypass surgery in November 2021.

“I’ve always loved to work out, and I still go to boot camp-style training,” said Michelle. “After my son was born, even with working out, I’d lose, maybe, 20 to 30 pounds. But then the weight would creep back up. When I had surgery, I was 315 pounds; now I think I’m probably at 180. I went from size 20 to a size 8.”

Jason felt that he hadn’t exhausted all options for losing weight, and surgery seemed too permanent. At the Weight Treatment Center, Elizabeth helped Jason develop a weight-loss plan that was customized to his goals and needs; and what Jason needed most was a new lifestyle.

“I was never the kind of person who enjoyed exercising, and I needed to make better food choices,” Jason explained. “I started weight loss with some medications, one to help me get over my soda addiction and an appetite suppressant. I worked on upping my activity levels every day and focused on calorie deficits.

“The level of accountability provided by the Weight Treatment Center was great. I knew that every month I had to go in and report. It was really helpful to have someone there who understood that this wasn’t just a ‘me problem.’ Lots of people have the same problem.”

Jason has lost 160 pounds so far. He’s gone from waist-size 48 to 34, and from shirt-size 3XL to Large. He is also working on becoming a certified trainer and nutrition coach so that he can help other people.

Michelle is happy with the results of her weight-loss surgery too, and she credits the on-going support at the Weight Treatment Center for boosting her success.

“They [the Weight Treatment Center] were really helpful about telling me exactly what I can and can’t eat, and they gave me a whole binder full of dos and don’ts. They’ve been really supportive.”

This particular journey is nearly over for Jason and Michelle, as they both are within about 20 pounds of their overall weight-loss goals. They are happy to be on a new, healthier pathway to a long life together.

To learn more about starting your weight loss journey, visit Weight Loss USA.

Michelle and Jason Kovalik
Posted on: 11/14/2022

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