The spin-off series, “My 600-lb Life: Where Are They Now?” aired on the TLC network had been providing follow-up stories of what had become of those morbidly obese individuals who had undergone amazing weight-loss journeys documented by the original series, “My 600-lb Life.” Not all of their journeys were successful, but most of them who followed their doctor’s medical advice had experienced a life-changing transformation, that not only altered their physical appearance but also restored their self-worth, and reclaimed their independence. The series had been on air since 2015, answering questions on how the patients were able to successfully pursue a healthy, normal lifestyle after losing weight.

The Medical Team and Weight-Loss Surgery

Morbid obesity is a health problem that needs medical attention, and the show made sure that the patients would have the best help, under medical staff headed by Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, better known as “Dr. Now.”  He has been a general and vascular surgeon for the past 30 years, specializing in bariatric surgery for two decades.

His use of laparoscopic surgery for various procedures had been well recognized in Houston, including his success in treating morbidly obese patients weighing over 600lbs which had been well documented. The Iranian-born surgeon was known for his no-nonsense attitude when dealing with his patients, and he didn’t turn away anyone, but insisted that patients should want to be healthy for him to fully help them. He would make them prove to him that they were committed to changing their lives, by having them undertake a rigid diet and workout routine before any surgical procedure was performed on them.

Weight Loss Success Stories of Stars from “My 600-lb Life”

The original series has been on air since February 2012, and is currently on its 9th season, with the spin-off, “My 600-lb Life: Where Are They Now?” is now on its fifth season. The show has documented changing the lives of over 100 people; here are just some of the successful weight-loss journeys:

Melissa Morris – She became a mother of three (653 lbs. – to approx. 157lbs, (297 – 71kgs))

The success of a weight-loss TV series would depend largely on how the first morbidly obese individual they featured overcame the weight problem, and continued on to live a normal, healthy life. Melissa Morris was the first patient who Dr. Now had helped in the TV show to make a life-changing transformation. In 2019, she paid tribute to her favorite doctor by posting a photo of him, whom she considered the coolest man on the planet. She reminisced about the first day she spent consulting with the doctor, with the promise of having kids after losing weight, and she made good with that.

When Melissa went to Dr. Now back in November 2012, she was extremely overweight at 653lbs. She had her bariatric surgery after completing the doctor’s rigid requirements, and had amazed everyone by losing close to 500 pounds. She was overjoyed that she was able to achieve a 157lbs weight, which meant she had the chance to fulfill her dream of having children – she later had three kids, Allona, Elijah, and Austin.

Her weight fluctuated many times over due to her pregnancies, but she continued to follow Dr. Now’s diet plan and workout regimen to make sure she never went back to her unhealthy lifestyle of the past. She’s still watching the show, and believes in the mantra that ‘the scale does not lie.’

Christina Phillips  – From 2-Yrs in Bed to 5km Race Finisher (708lbs. – to approx. 172lbs (322-78kgs))

It was back in 2014 during the second season of the original show that Christina Phillips appeared weighing a whopping 708 pounds. She was confined to her bed for two years as she couldn’t get past walking eight feet without feeling exhausted and about to pass out. After losing the required weight dictated by Dr. Now as proof of her commitment, Christina was given gastric bypass surgery, and after eating healthily, and having a workout routine, she lost 525 pounds. However, her husband, Zach, wasn’t that supportive, and they divorced. After a while, Christina developed an anxiety issue, and each time her weight increased on the scales, she wouldn’t eat for days. This created a problem for her excess skin removal procedure, as she couldn’t go through the surgery.

After working out her fears with a therapist, she was able to undergo surgery and lose more pounds. She has successfully participated in a 5km race, and now enjoys taking care of her baby boy.

Zsalynn Whitworth  –  A New Man and Her Tiktok Videos – (694 lbs. – approx. 316 lbs (315-144kgs))

Choosing between losing a husband, who had a fetish for bigger women, and losing a chance of a future with her daughter wasn’t really that much of a struggle for Zsalynn Whitworth. Divorcing a husband was difficult, but when she realized and accepted that her husband had manipulated her to become dangerously obese, she said it was time that they went their separate ways.

Zsalynn was 42 years old and weighing close to 700 pounds when she consulted with Dr. Now in the second season of the “My 600-lb Life” series. After taking the necessary steps in losing the required pounds, and undergoing bariatric surgery, she lost 378lbs. However, her husband, Gareth didn’t like the new ‘her’, and just after having her surgery, he tried to sabotage her weight-loss journey by bringing her to a fast food joint, and ordered a burger.

While she had to deal with depression and loneliness after her divorce, she continued her battle in trying to live a healthy lifestyle and kept pushing for her weight goals. In her recent Instagram posts, she looked great, having undergone excess skin removal surgery. She now lives happily with her fiancé, Jack Lapp, a man she met in 2018, and enjoys making TikTok videos with her daughter.

Amber Rachdi  – The Instagram Star (657 lbs. – approx. 267lbs (298-121kgs))

There was a time when 23-year-old Amber Rachdi depended on a mobility scooter to move around, as she tired easily having been overweight since she was a kid. When she grew so big at 657 pounds and couldn’t stand for more than 30 minutes, she decided to consult with Dr. Now. The good doctor said that if she didn’t do something with her weight, there was a huge chance that she’d expire before her 30th birthday.

Amber followed the doctor’s strict diet and exercise routine, then Dr. Now approved her gastric bypass surgery. She continued to change her eating habits and became more active, and after a year had lost around 257 pounds.

She also called it quits with her former boyfriend, who had proven to be an enabler of her unhealthy habits. Due to her shocking transformation, she gained more than 200,000 followers on her Instagram account, and become some sort of social media influencer. From her recent photos, one could surmise that she shed more pounds, but due to contract obligations she couldn’t divulge exact numbers. Suffice to say that she’s having a great time with a new relationship that she wants to keep private. She used humor to cope with her battle with her weight problem, as could be seen on her Instagram’s bio description, “I was REAL fat. Now I’m just normal-fat.”

Joe Wexler – New House, New Girlfriend (777 lbs. to 270 lbs (353-123kgs))

Food addiction can go hand in hand with a traumatic childhood, and could result in morbid obesity as experienced by Joe Wexler. The separation of his parents and his father’s way of maintaining a relationship with him were seen as one of the factors that led to his unhealthy lifestyle. He wanted his father’s attention, but his father’s way of dealing with it was to give him junk food and video games.

My 600-lb Life

Joe said that he picked up his bad habits early on in life, turning to food to deal with the neglect he felt as a child, which blew him up to nearly 800 pounds.

After the first consultation with Dr. Now in the third season of “My 600-lb Life,” Joe was told that losing his job was just a small price to pay if he continued with his eating habits, as he would ultimately lose his life much earlier than normal if he didn’t do something about it. Joe lost 140lbs on his own, so the doctor saw his determination. Dr. Now approved Joe’s bariatric surgery, and by the end of his first episode on the show, he was 200lbs lighter.

Joe continued to shed more weight, and lost 500lbs and more. He also underwent an excess skin removal procedure, and married in 2016. It was unfortunate that in 2019 they filed for divorce, that led him to go back to his old bad habits. However, it didn’t take long for him to reclaim control, and has now been living happily with a new girlfriend, maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Lupe Samano – Unstoppable Miz (642 lbs. to 300 lbs (292-136kgs))

In 2016, Lupe Samano enrolled in Dr. Now’s weight-loss program at 39 years old, weighing 642lbs. She had been confined to her home for the past 12 years, as she had a hard time moving around, and had been dependent on her husband, Gilbert. The staggering weight was a result of a traumatic childhood experience, in which her father left her and her sister sitting inside a bathtub telling them to stay put until he came back. However, her father never came back, and from that day onward, she turned to food for comfort.

Her story was one of the most talked-about during the time it was aired, due to the treatment she had from her husband. Since she proved to Dr. Now how committed she was in the program, bariatric surgery was performed on her. Her insensitive husband forced her to have sex even if her wounds weren’t healed yet, and so the wound became infected as the stitches were opened. Anyway, Lupe lost close to 300lbs and eventually separated from her husband. She continued to follow Dr. Now’s medical advice, and shed more weight bringing her to a total weight loss of 400lbs.

She found another man named Andrew to love in 2017, but unfortunately he died after two years due to kidney problems. Recently, she decided to check herself in to live in a nursing facility, since her parents had already passed away. She continues to have a positive outlook on life, and looks great in her recent Instagram post, with the caption “Mz Unstoppable.”

Justin McSwain – Wall Climber and Mountain Hiker (687.5 lbs. to approx. 231 lbs (321-105kgs))

One of the most dramatic transformations seen in the series was Justin McSwain in 2019. He came from South Carolina driving a rental car, having had trouble fitting into the driver’s seat. From the get-go, it was obvious that he was trying his best to be positive about his situation, as he confessed on air that he was beyond his limit at that time. It shocked him that upon the weigh-in at Dr. Now’s clinic, he found out he was close to 700lbs. He knew he would probably hit 600 but not at 687.5lbs, and his biggest worry was that he would be turned down by the good doctor.

Fortunately, Dr. Now saw Justin’s determination to change his life, and worked with him. After two years, he had lost a total of 450lbs through gastric bypass surgery at first, and then by following the doctor’s recommended healthy diet and workout regimen.

He shared through his social media accounts that he had a great time wall climbing and taking hikes through mountains whenever he felt like doing them, sharing that he never thought he would be able to do those activities in his lifetime. Due to his successful transformation, he was recently invited to speak at the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America. His weight still fluctuated, particularly during the pandemic, but he’s continued to battle it out. He also celebrated his 30th birthday, an age he never thought he would reach due to his unhealthy lifestyle, attributing this achievement to Dr. Now and the support of his friends. He also shared, ‘I’ve realized that I may be somebody who deserves a chance at life.’

Tragic Deaths in My 600-lb Life

The hit reality weight-loss TV series might have encouraged overweight people to manage their eating habits properly and perform daily exercises, but not all of the patients met their desired goals. Dr. Now might be quite skilled, but he’s not God. Here are some of the deaths that may or may not have been medically related:

Sean Milken in 2017

When Sean Milken was weighed in, he hit over 919bs (418kgs) and he knew that if he didn’t ask for help he would not get past 30 years old. He was one of the heaviest stars in the series, and had only left his house in California to seek treatment from Dr. Now in Texas. He underwent gastric bypass surgery, and after following the strict diet, he lost about 455 pounds and his new weight of over 500lbs (227kgs) was manageable. He was doing great until his mother died, and then he lost all his possessions to Hurricane Harvey. Everything spiraled downwards; he deleted all his social media accounts, and in February 2017, his father announced that Sean had died at 29 years old.

Kelly Mason in 2019

Dr. Now considered Kelly Mason as one of his most hard-working patients, and fully determined to live a normal, healthy life.

My 600-lb Life

When he met her, she had health issues including type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, blood-clotting in her leg, a thyroid problem, and a host of other diseases. She lost around 320lbs (145kgs) and was on her way to losing more, but her heart gave up. Apparently, her heart was already severely damaged by the time she decided to seek medical intervention.

Unnecessary Footage Drew Criticism from Viewers

While it inspired many people to change their eating habits, and spread awareness on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the show also incurred negative feedback from some viewers. A few people believed that the show lacked empathy, and their approach helped perpetuate the fat-shaming culture. The program also showed unnecessary footage such as bathroom struggles with nude patients taking a bath even with blurred parts, that dehumanize the patients and making them a humorous spectacle. However, some of the successful former patients said that those humiliating scenes gave them the motivation to never lose control again, and to try their hardest to maintain their current weight.

Author

Robbie is currently a reporter for TheBiography based in Santa Monica, CA. Prior to joining TheBiography in December 2020, he was an entertainment reporter in People.

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