TLC’s My 600-lb Life features the sobering stories of extremely obese people who need to lose a dramatic amount of weight in order to regain their health. Those featured on the show have often been turned down by other doctors when they sought weight-loss surgery. As a last resort, they turn to Houston’s Dr. Younan Nowzaradan.
Dr. Now will work with people that other doctors might turn away. But becoming his patient means some serious lifestyle changes. First, patients are put on a strict diet so that they can lose weight. If they successfully shed pounds and meet other criteria, they might be approved for bariatric surgery.
With a combination of changes in diet, increased exercise, and surgery, many of Dr. Now’s patients on the show are able to lose a stunning amount of weight.
One woman on My 600-lb Life lost 536 pounds
When Christina Phillips first appeared on My 600-lb Life, she weighed 708 pounds. After working with Dr. Now and undergoing gastric bypass surgery, she lost 540 pounds, weighing in at 183 pounds.
Phillips said losing hundreds of excess pounds was life-changing. “It’s been pretty amazing having my life back. I’m able to do so much more now. It’s pretty great,” she told People magazine last year. “Before I couldn’t walk eight feet without feeling like I was gonna die. Now, I could do just about anything I put my mind to.”
Other weight-loss success stories
Phillips is hardly the only person on the show to lose hundreds of pounds. Amber Rachdi weighed 660 pounds when she started seeing Dr. Now, but was able to lose more than 400 pounds. Based on her Instagram, it looks like she’s kept the weight off.
On Facebook, she had some words of wisdom for those who were trying to lose a significant amount of weight.
I can’t offer real advice about diet or exercise beyond this: Talk to your doctor. Talk to a nutritionist. Measure and track what you eat HONESTLY for at least a week beforehand,” she wrote. “Find an accountability buddy. Reach out. You deserve both personal and professional allies!”
Brittani Fulfer, who appeared on Season 4 of the My 600-lb Life, also lost nearly 400 pounds, according to Women’s Health. Fulfer told the magazine that after the surgery she changed her relationship to food and is continuing to get counseling to avoid regaining the weight she lost. Chuck Turner lost 433 pounds, going from nearly 700 pounds to 260. Donald Shelton lost 380 pounds off his 675-pound frame. After surgery, an illness left him confined to a wheelchair and he regained some of the weight, but was eventually able to lose it again.
Not every story has a happy ending
While some of the stars of My 600-lb Life have lost weight and gained a new lease on life, others have struggled. One woman quit the show, saying she was “humiliated” on national television. She was not able to stick to Dr. Now’s 1,200-calorie-a-day diet and didn’t attend the therapy sessions he recommended.
L.B. Bonner lost more than 400 pounds on the show. Sadly, he was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in August 2018. Several other people, including Henry Foots, Robert Buchel, and Lisa Fleming have also passed away.
Many of the people who appear on the show have underlying trauma, like childhood sexual abuse, that led to disordered eating and weight gain. Even with surgery, patients need to address their underlying issues if they hope to make the weight loss permanent, Dr. Now says.
“Severe obesity is a complex physical and psychological condition with many components. Not realizing how much of their struggle is psychological and not just physical can be the biggest obstacle for change with patients,” he told People magazine. “Many refuse to admit they have any emotional compulsions or compulsive psychological disorders driving them to overeat.”
My 600-Lb Life airs Wednesday at 8/7c on TLC.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!