Margaret Johnson was one of the morbidly obese individuals who participated in the popular reality-television series “My 600-lb Life.” Her journey was one of the most heart-breaking stories in the show, as her weight issues started when she was a young child, surrounded by dysfunctional people living an unhealthy lifestyle. While her weight-loss progress was quite slow given the reason behind her food addiction, she touched many hearts when her episode was aired in 2022. Viewers wondered how Margaret was doing after battling all her demons, and working with the weight-loss specialists.

“My 600-lb Life” and Dr. Younan Nowzaradan

The cable network TLC, short for The Learning Channel, started airing “My 600-lb Life” in February 2012, and it now has 10 seasons. The show was inspired by the documentary “World’s Heaviest Woman,” which was created and produced by Megalomedia Inc.

It featured a woman who weighed 880 pounds, and at that time, was believed to be the heaviest woman who underwent gastric bypass surgery by renowned bariatric surgeon, Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, also known as Dr. Now.

After the documentary gained the attention of the viewing public, Megalomedia then created a docuseries that later became “My 600-lb Life,” which aired on TLC. Many lives were transformed, and given a chance to live a normal life. Not every patient who was featured in the reality-TV series was successful in losing weight – some didn’t undergo weight-loss surgery for failing to meet the strict requirements given by Dr. Nowzaradan. Patients had to lose a certain amount of weight, at least 100lbs, before they could qualify for the life-changing operation.

Dr. Now explained that the surgery could only do so much for the patients, and it was up to them to change their eating habits and overall lifestyle. It was one of the reasons why he insisted that his patients commit themselves to his weight-loss program completely.

Unfortunately, not all of his former patients who had successful operations stayed on the right path to achieve their desired weight goal. Some of them slipped up, and went back to their unhealthy lifestyle.  He didn’t charge his patients who participated in the TV show, saying that he didn’t need to make a living out of every patient that he saw.

Margaret Johnson’s eating disorder

“My 600lb-Life” featured cast member Margaret Johnson in the 10th season, introduced as a 5ft 4ins tall, 35-year-old woman from Baytown, Texas. She had one of the worst Body Mass Indexes (BMI) Dr. Nowzaradan had ever seen in the show.

How Margaret’s eating disorder started

There are many reasons why a person ended up being morbidly obese, most of the time it’s connected to their childhood. Her parents separated when she was a young child – when her mother, Millie, left their home, she only took one child and left Margaret with her father, who was verbally abusive to her.

Her eating disorder and binge-eating started because her overweight controlling father didn’t take care of her properly growing up. He was so selfish that he would rather have Margaret and her two older sisters starve instead of sharing the food in the house. The only time they were allowed to eat was when her father was finished, and they could only eat his leftovers. With this kind of abusive environment, Margaret didn’t have any choice but to steal food at night, raiding the refrigerator and the pantry whenever her father was asleep.

Getting back at her father led to more eating

Her father would constantly tell her that Millie left because she didn’t want Margaret anymore. She was compelled to eat more because she found comfort in food, and stealing his food supplies was also her way of getting back at her father. However, the more she ate, the more her body demanded more food. By the time she was six years old, she weighed around 120lbs, or 55kgs.

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Her eating habits became even more dangerous for her health over the years. She didn’t realize that what started as a necessity for survival, and then as a way to get even with her father, did more harm to herself than to anyone around her. Her unhealthy lifestyle led her to a breaking point.

Margaret Johnson’s “My 600-lb Life” journey

During one of her interviews in “My 600-lb Life,” Margaret said, ‘I know this is my last chance to turn my life around. So I’m not going to mess this up. I’m not gonna let up no matter what.’ The fans loved her because she gave her all to the whole weight-loss program, even as she encountered many hardships along the way. She initially resisted any help from the physical and psychological therapists sent to her, but she eventually embraced it all. She further said, ‘Now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m just running faster towards it.’

How she met Dr. Nowzaradan

Margaret Johnson wasn’t the biggest woman Dr. Now handled in his career, but she was certainly one of the biggest in the “My 600-lb Life.” She was about 750lbs, over 330kgs when she first appeared in the show. Due to her size, she was homebound, but when she had a dangerous fall, she was taken to a local hospital to be treated. However, the hospital didn’t have the facility to handle someone as big as her, so she was transferred, and taken under the wing of Dr. Nowzaradan.

She was completely dependent on her mother

When the doctor initially met her, he told her that she had to do something about her weight, because her life was in danger; her situation was worse than the others because she was immobile, either sitting in the wheelchair or lying in bed most of the time, which made her totally dependent on her mother. She was quite receptive to his advice, and told him that she was willing to do anything just to lose weight. Dr. Now told her they could control her eating habits while she was still in the hospital, but when she was back at home, she had to control it on her own; she had to want the change really badly to succeed.

She was forthcoming when she shared that she manipulated her mother in giving her food at home, as she would constantly accuse her of not loving her enough if she refused to do what she wanted. Due to their history, her mother would give in to her demands, since she felt guilty for having left her behind with her father.

The road to getting weight-loss surgery with her mother

Dr. Now was completely onboard in giving Margaret the gastric bypass surgery, but he said that she had to do her part in the whole weight-loss process in “My 600-lb Life.” She was first treated for her infection issues, and was then put on a strict nutrition regimen. Her mother was also committed to following the doctor’s orders, and would sometimes lash out at her whenever she wanted to give up -iIt was quite tricky for her to be put in the dual roles of being a mother and an enforcer. Dr. Now was overjoyed to see that Millie was doing her best to make sure that Margaret qualified for the weight-loss surgery, and had stopped being an enabler.

Physical therapists were sent to her home

Dr. Now appointed a couple of physical therapists to visit her home and provide professional help in making her more mobile, instead of just being on the bed all day long. Initially, she didn’t want the physical therapists to work on her, but she eventually relented. They started by giving her a simple routine while lying on the bed and later on gave her a more arduous workout regimen, in which she needed to stand. With her mother’s encouragement, Margaret could be co-operative, but at other times she was as stubborn as a mule.

Margaret relapses

Her commitment to the weight-loss process was questioned many times by Dr. Now, because she had a few relapses in her progress. There were times when she was quite frustrated with herself when things didn’t work the way she thought they would. For instance, during one of their monthly follow-up appointments with Dr. Nowzaradan in “My 600-lb Life,” they found out that she only lost half the amount of their specific weight-loss monthly goal.

The doctor said that she’d returned to her old eating habits, but she insisted that all she ate was those in the nutrition plan that was given to her; even Millie argued that they both followed the plan.

The doctor said that logically if Margaret’s calorie intake was only that amount, she would have lost more than was seen on the weighing scale. He also told them that he didn’t want to see any tears or drama the next time they meet. If the desired monthly goal wasn’t achieved, it only meant that they were not doing it properly. They could argue and debate what had happened, but the weighing scales didn’t lie – it was later discovered that Margaret took twice the protein drink allotted for a specific period. The doctor also mentioned that she was not fully co-operating with her therapists, and was warned that if she continued on this path, then the surgery would not push through.

Posted by My 600 lb life on Monday, February 14, 2022

Psychological therapy sessions

In “My 600-lb Life,” a patient was given psychological help, because losing weight drastically in a short time can be stressful. To help her confront her issues, Margaret was appointed a psychotherapist by the name of Dr. Matthew Paradise, From the get-go, the doctor had a problem with Millie treating her as a baby, even though Margaret was already 35 years old. Apparently, she was bullied when she was a child and developed some trust issues, causing her to continuously doubt everyone around her. Her mother became overprotective, and that made Margaret dependent on her in every aspect of her life.

The doctor wanted Margaret to practice being independent, and that Millie could be there for her but in a healthy and appropriate manner. Margaret didn’t want that, because she felt that her comfort zone would be gone, but the doctor reassured her that it wouldn’t happen. She rejected the idea and stood up on her own from her bed to go into another room, as she didn’t want to talk with Dr. Paradise anymore.

The doctor was proud of what Margaret did because she expressed her feelings and fought for them independently; he knew that she would be capable of sorting her feelings later on. The doctor was right, and eventually, she became more open to his suggestions, and followed his advice.

After six months of pre-surgery preparation

When they next weighed her in at the hospital, she was less than 600 pounds, under 265kgs, but still four pounds off the expected weight loss after the six-month plan was over. Dr. Now was happy that Margaret was trying her best to follow the nutrition plan, but saying that they had a long way to go, and she had to show more consistency in losing weight. The doctor said that it was probably the result of having the mother and daughter willingly undergo psychological therapy together. He gave her another month to lose 30 pounds more, and if things went smoothly from there, she would be given the green light to have the bariatric surgery. An endoscopy was performed on her because there was pain in her stomach, and the doctor was worried that it might be something serious.

The medical procedure showed that her stomach was generally in good condition, but there might be some gall stones that caused the discomfort, which would be taken care of during the surgery.

Finally, the weight-loss surgery

Margaret eventually qualified for the weight-loss surgery, as she proved to Dr. Now that she took everything seriously, and lost the required 160 pounds. She did more than that, because on her last weigh-in, she was down to 516lbs, 230kgs, which meant she’d lost 235lbs, well over 100kgs. The gastric sleeve surgery went smoothly as planned, and was successful. While the surgery was an important tool for Margaret to get back to living a more normal life, the weight-loss journey didn’t stop there, as it was only the beginning for her. Dr. Nowzaradan told her that she had to continue with her psychotherapy sessions, because it was crucial in the weight-loss process.

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What happened to Margaret Johnson after her bariatric surgery?

For some reason, TLC’s “My 600-lb Life” didn’t show the aftermath of the weight-loss surgery. Margaret Johnson’s episode ended with only her voice being heard, and with old video clips being shown. She shared that she was still recovering from the surgery, and that she was doing great. She felt stronger and better, with her food cravings almost totally gone. Margaret couldn’t believe that she made it that far, because a year before she entered the weight-loss program, she thought her life wasn’t worth fighting for.

Her take on psychotherapy now and losing her dependency on her mother

Margaret excitedly told everyone that she wasn’t only living in the present, but also planning her future. Her views changed as she began to really understand what the psychotherapist meant when he said that she should practice doing things on her own, as Millie wouldn’t be there for her forever.

Margaret said it was good to finally be able to say that she could take care of herself without her mother’s presence, and that she’s now an independent woman.

Fans were wondering if there was any update on her status, and wanted to see the new Margaret Johnson. Upon checking with social media apps, it was reported that both Margaret and Millie’s accounts were kept private. The only ones shown publicly were the profile photos, and Margaret’s photo was an old one, which was similar to the time when she appeared on the TV show. Whether it was because of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) they signed with the TLC network, or that it would be better for her mental health not to be publicly exposed after the airing of her episode, no one knows for sure.

From the way she battled all her demons during her weight-loss journey, one can only hope that she’s living the quality of life she truly deserved, having tried so hard to achieve.

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