My family is genetically predisposed to obesity and I myself struggle with my weight every day. When I first saw this series on TLC I was hooked. Now MY 600-lb LIFE returns to TLC following the lives of eight people – each weighing over 600 pounds – through their year long journey as they collectively try to lose thousands of pounds. MY 600-lb LIFE premieres January 7 at 9PM (ET/PT) on TLC.
Each sixty minute episode tells the powerful story of one morbidly obese individual – many who are home bound, relying on care just to live day to day – as they make the courageous decision to undergo a dangerous gastric bypass surgery in an effort to save their lives and change their world forever. Their motivations for making the drastic change vary – some do it for their loved ones, others to be productive members of society, but all of them have one thing in common – they want to be free from a life trapped in a body. MY 600-lb LIFE documents the life-saving, but traumatic experience of surgery, the ups and downs of struggling with addiction and dependence, the transformation from being completely dependent to gaining a sense of self worth and the inevitable impact – positive and negative- that change has on close personal relationships. High-risk surgery, addiction, dependency, fear, pain, helplessness, victory, pride – this story is as much about heart as it is about weight loss.
Here are the Featured Stories:
Zsalynn, 43-years old (San Antonio, Texas):
Zsalynn was never too ashamed of her weight. “She was the fat girl rock star!” A wife and mother of a 9-year-old daughter, Zsalynn no longer thinks of herself as this proclaimed rockstar, although her husband loves her larger figure. Her life has become a daily routine of immobility. She watches 7-8 hours of TV a day and deals with her feelings of inadequacy by eating sugar. As a young child, Zsaylnn was of normal weight until she reached 8-years-old. From freshman year to senior year in high school, Zsalynn went from 170 to 375-lbs. After graduating, Zsalynn found NAAFA (The National Association to Advanced Fat Acceptance); she was flown around the world to visit men who enjoyed the company of large women. This became her life – a life of parties, overweight women, and men who paid Zsaylnn’s way to travel the world. Now, a wife and mother, Zsalynn has deteriorated to living her life secluded in her home. Weighing close to 600-lbs, she no longer accepts herself because she relies on other people to take care of her daughter and do what normal sized mothers can do. Zsalynn is at her breaking point. She “hates being this size” and finally wants to do something about it.
Christina, 23-years old (South Haven, Mississippi): Christina is not living the life of a typical young adult. Married and weighing over 670-lbs at the age of 23-years, Christina is limited in almost everything in life. Confined to her wheelchair and her couch, Christina confesses that she is “trapped inside her body.” Her mother and her husband, Zach, are her daily caregivers, which humiliates Christina. Growing up was the oldest of all her siblings and was usually referred to as the “bigger” one. Her weight continued to climb as she got older. In the seventh grade, Christina was 300-lbs. At 17-years old, Christina was over 400-lbs and at 22-years, Christina weighed in at 678-lbs. After shutting herself away from friends, Christina got married at a young age and has not left her home since. It wasn’t until a suicide attempt two years ago, that Christina and her family have realized her desperate need for weight-loss. Christina wants to lose the weight so she can go to college and finally have a normal marriage. She doesn’t want to be taken care of anymore – she wants to take care of herself and prove that her life doesn’t have to be one of hiding anymore.
Chuck, 45-years old (Beaumont, Texas): Chuck is a 45 year-old tow truck driver from Beaumont, Texas. He has always beenheavy, but his weight got out of control in 2006 after his wife was murdered. Shortly after that his mother and stepfather passed away and his weight continued to climb. He hid away from the world and wanted to die. He has since remarried and adopted a son. Chuck’s weight limits everything he does and is threatening to tear his family apart if he doesn’t make a change. He cannot do any basic functions for himself; though amazingly he continues to work. Chuck has an estimated 40-pound lymphedema on his leg and the doctors say he will lose his leg soon if Chuck does not lose weight. He cannot participate with his family and is confined to the couch most of the time. He has gained most of his weight by eating large amounts of fast food. Chuck wants to see his son grow up, be the husband he needs to be and provide for his family. Ultimately, he wants to renew his vows and give his wife Nissa the proper wedding she deserves.
Tara, 35-years old (Lafayette, Louisiana): Tara is a thirty-five year-old single mother of two who lives with her mother and stepfather in Lafayette, Louisiana. She describes herself as the life of the party, always laughing, even when it’s to cover up the pain she’s really feeling both inside and out. She started gaining weight when she was 11 years old. She was ridiculed as a kid and continues to be stared and laughed at in public. She has two kids that are her life and her reason for wanting to lose weight and get healthy. Tara’s size limits everything she does. All of her joints hurt, so she basically stays in bed all day. When the kids need to go somewhere, her parents take them while she stays at home. She says she feels like she’s a prisoner in her own body. Tara doesn’t want to live the rest of her life in her bedroom. If she doesn’t start losing weight now, she knows she won’t live long enough to see her children graduate high school.
Penny, 46-years old (Atlanta, Georgia): Penny is no ordinary wife or mother. At 46-years old, she has spent her last 4 years living in her hospital bed. Growing up with an abusive father, Penny continued to gain weight and found that her body was a defense tool that she could use to protect herself and her two sisters. Her weight continued to climb and as a young-adult, Penny found herself to be over 400-lbs and admitted to having a food addiction. After marrying her husband, Edgar, Penny had four miscarriages before giving birth to her first son, Liam. She has not walked for the majority of Liam’s life. Shortly after Liam was born, Penny’s weight forced her to become bed ridden, making Edgar the primary caregiver for her son. Penny experiences her son’s life through technology. She gets to see him arrive at school for the first day through pictures sent on her iPhone. She cheers him on at karate matches through videos emailed to her and Penny participates in family dinners through Skype as she sits on her hospital bed, eating. If Penny does not lose the weight, she will never regain the mobility and strength to walk. Ultimately, Penny must make a change or she will never take part in her child’s life and have a marriage that will last. This is her last chance to have a family and life worth living.
Paula, 39-years old (Atlanta, Georgia): Paula is a 39-year-old mother of four children who lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. Weighing just less than 550 pounds, Paula still manages to work the only two jobs she can keep while juggling the schedule of her kids. “No one wants to buy something from me after they see my size,” Paula explains. That’s why she’s forced to work sales from home. She’s more comfortable making sales over the phone than working with customers in person. Paula’s weight was not always an issue until she reached her adolescent years. She really gained the pounds after her husband died from obesity-related complications in 2012. Bitterness drove her to eat and at the same time was the only thing that gave her comfort. Fed up with being forced to work from home and not able to take part in her kids’ life, Paula is determined to lose the weight. She is afraid that she will end up like her husband, which would leave three teenagers and an 8-year-old daughter to take care of them.
James, 38-years old (Frankston, Texas): James is 38-years old, single, and comes from a family suffering the horrible aftermath of debilitating obesity. Both James’s father and older sister have passed away due to obesity related issues. Now, at a staggering 650-lbs, James is facing the exact same fate. He hides himself away during the day at his accounting office, dealing with the stress of his clients and demanding deadlines. James confesses, “Most people when they get off of work want to go grab a beer … I just want to eat.” James lives with his mother and eats whatever she cooks him, even though he’s already stopped through the drive-thru on his way home. James continues to hide away from people as he actively works in the field riding tractors and stacking hay. He has said multiple times, “It’s the only place I feel free.” James knows that he must lose the weight or he too will leave his mother prematurely. He wants to lose the weight in hopes of having a family someday and a life of his own.
Olivia, 46-years old (Cicero, Illinois): Olivia is a 46 year-old single woman who lives in the basement of her parents’ homebullying growing up. She dropped out of high school her senior year because she couldn’t face the constant ridicule. This is what started her on her path toward morbid obesity. Two years ago she attempted suicide after she lost everything she had in a flood. She has not left the house since. Olivia has decided to move to Houston, leaving her twin sister behind, to live with family members in hopes of receiving bariatric surgery. Olivia’s weight controls her life and prevents her from being able to do most anything. She has extreme lymphedema on her legs, which makes it very painful to move around at all. Olivia wants a life free from her body – what she claims to be her prison. She is ready to be a member of society again and hopes that she can one day soon live on her own, free from her dependence on her family for her every need.