For the past decade, “My 600-lb Life,” shared many inspiring weight-loss journeys with its viewers. The creators of the reality-television series used its platform to help many morbidly obese individuals to transform their lives. While many of the patients who were featured in Season 9 had successful surgery and eventually lost a lot of weight, there were tragic moments as well.
- 1 How “My 600-lb Life” changed the world of the obese
- 2 The tragic moments in Season 9
- 2.1 Samantha Mason: Found the show horrible (lost 478lbs)
- 2.2 Shannon Lowery: Couldn’t use the weighing scale (lost 41lbs)
- 2.3 Cindy Vela: Went home without the surgery (lost 39lbs)
- 2.4 Krystal Hall: Her surgery was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic (lost 38lbs)
- 2.5 Carrie Johnson: Came from a family with shared obesity issues (lost 194lbs)
- 2.6 Kenae Dolphus: The Drama Queen (lost the required weight, but still didn’t qualify)
- 3 No deaths in Season 9
How “My 600-lb Life” changed the world of the obese
The TLC cable network started airing the weight-loss TV series back in February 2012, developed after Megalomedia Inc. successfully pitched the documentary, “Half Ton Mum,” originally called “World’s Heaviest Woman.” The production company began working on a series with the same theme, and it eventually evolved into “My 600-lb Life” when TLC came into the picture. In the first season, the producers chronicled the patient’s journey for a number of years, but in the following seasons they shortened it to just 12 months.
Dr. Now, “My 600-lb Life” weight-loss expert
Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, also known as Dr. Now, was the weight-loss expert behind the success stories of the patients who were featured in the show. When it started, he was the only one willing to take the risk of treating people with extreme obesity, those who weighed 600lbs and more, hence the title of the show. He was from Tehran, Iran, and after graduating with his medical degree from the University of Tehran, flew to the US to take his internship at St. John Hospital in Michigan, then his residency at St. Thomas Hospital in Tennessee, and his cardiovascular fellowship in Houston, Texas. He then opened a practice in Houston, which initially focused on cardiovascular procedures, and then later switched to bariatric surgeries using the laparoscopic technique to help the morbidly obese lose weight. Today, he supervises a team of medical professionals to assist those who seek a solution for their excessive weight.
Dr. Now’s weight-loss program
“My 600-lb Life” wouldn’t become one of the hit TV series on TLC if not for Dr. Now’s expertise. He helped many individuals who struggled every single day to regain the quality of life that they once knew. Each participant in the show underwent a comprehensive weight loss program designed by the doctor on a case-to-case basis, but most of the time, Dr. Now required his patients to lose a certain number of pounds before they could qualify for bariatric surgery. After the first consultation, all of them were given instructions and a diet plan to meet their initial goal. If or when the patient needed psychological therapy, he would refer them to a psychiatrist, and no patients under his care who participated in the TV show were charged for his services.
The tragic moments in Season 9
Despite the expertise and years of experience of Dr. Now and his team, it was never a forgone conclusion that each patient would reach a happy ending. Dr. Now had repeatedly informed his patients of the serious risks that they would take if they entered his weight-loss program. While the good doctor had been mostly successful in pushing them in the right direction, he was not an Omnipotent God. During the ninth season of “My 600-lb Life,” patients were reminded that change would have to come from within. Here are some of their heartbreaking stories:
Samantha Mason: Found the show horrible (lost 478lbs)
The 35-year-old Colorado resident Samantha Mason was one of the most unforgettable patients featured in “My 600-lb Life,” for the simple fact that she achieved the largest weight loss of all patients in its entire series. She was a little over 940lbs when she first met Dr. Now. She was already overweight ,but had gained more after she took a job on the dark web catering to people who paid to see her eat online. After her surgery, she lost close to 120lbs, and then eventually lost a total of 478lbs. Fans were awe of what happened to her, but much later on, she shared on social media that she had a difficult time with the production people, calling it an abomination, saying ‘I also want to say, I found my own surgeons and I have never been in the same state as Dr. Nowzarden.’ Samantha also said that she would write about her horrible experience, and claimed that she was exploited by the show. In a recent TikTok video update, fans noticed that she wasn’t happy at all, even after losing that much weight.
Shannon Lowery: Couldn’t use the weighing scale (lost 41lbs)
In the show, Dr. Now’s requirement for his patients to qualify for weight-loss surgery was to lose a minimum of 100lbs. Shannon Lowery from Arizona was one of those who didn’t qualify for the surgery. She was close to 740lbs when she first appeared in the show, claiming that she had been heavy ever since she was a young girl. At 40 years old, she wanted to improve her health and change her life, just like her father who’d also had a weight-loss procedure. Unfortunately, at that time, Samantha wasn’t devoted to doing her best in losing the required weight. During her second consultation with Dr. Now, the clinic couldn’t take her weight because she was too heavy for the scale. By the end of her episode, it was revealed that she’d only lost 41lbs. After she realized all the wasted time and resources given to her, she continued with her diet at home, and hired a trainer to work with her in the gym. In one of her video updates in February 2021, she told fans that she would try to have the surgery, but was having financial difficulties because she needed to move to Houston temporarily to enter Dr. Now’s weight-loss program once again.
Cindy Vela: Went home without the surgery (lost 39lbs)
Another patient who struggled with Dr. Now’s weight-loss program was Cindy Vela, who came into the program at 614lbs. Like many othrse who participated in “My 600-lb Life,” Cindy experienced childhood trauma. She was molested by a family friend many times when she was a kid, and found solace in food. It worsened when her parents divorced, and contributed to the reason why she weighed more than 500lbs at 30 years of age. People around her believed that something died inside her when she was a kid, due to the abuse. She couldn’t stand up for more than two to three minutes, so was in bed most of the time. Her everyday needs were provided by her paid janitors, and her situation certainly made her highly dependent on them, but one of them was an enabler, who initially even advised Cindy not to see Dr. Now. Fortunately, she was convinced by one of her former paid janitors to seek medical help in Houston.
Dr. Now and his medical team did everything that Cindy needed to help curb her food addiction, as well as deal with her mental health issues. However, nothing worked for her, and at the end of her supposed weight-loss journey on the show, she’d only lost 39lbs, and didn’t qualify for bariatric surgery. No one knew what happened to her after this failure, because she didn’t have a social media presence. Fans hoped that she’d continue to strive to qualify for surgery back home in Portland, as that was what she claimed she would do after her stint in Houston.
Krystal Hall: Her surgery was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic (lost 38lbs)
While not all morbidly obese individuals had a terrible childhood, Krystal, unfortunately, was one of those who suffered physical and sexual abuse from when she was five which went on for eight years. She turned to food for comfort, and by the time she was 10, she was already 250lbs. When she realized that her abusers didn’t like her getting heavier, she deliberately continued eating unhealthily, and because of this, at the age of 13 she weighed 350lbs. That was when the abuses stopped, however, her large consumption of food didn’t stop, and by the time she finished high school, she was over 400lbs.
When she first met Dr. Now, she weighed 618lbs, and like all other patients, she was ordered to lose weight to qualify for the surgery. Initially she had a hard time, only losing 27lbs, but she worked harder. On her next visit to the doctor, she’d lost enough weight, and Dr. Now gave his approval for the surgery. She was excited about it, but the Covid-19 pandemic happened, and everyone was ordered to stay home by the local government. During that time, she easily regained about 50lbs of the 91lbs she’d initially lost, and while the doctor understood the challenges Cindy took on during the pandemic, he couldn’t perform surgery on her unless she lost the required weight once again. Since “My 600-lb Life” only chronicled a year of the patient’s weight-loss journey with Dr. Now, fans don’t have any idea if she was able to get the surgery after her episode ended. Her social media posts were limited, but her recent close-up selfie showed that she probably did, because it appeared that she’d lost some weight.
Becoming dangerously fat meant that someone or something enabled that person to eat more than they needed to. In the case of Carrie Johnson, obesity ran in the family; her overweight father had a botched weight-loss surgery 20 years before the time she appeared in “My 600-lb Life.” It wasn’t a surprise to the family that by the time she was 18 years old, she was over 400lbs; she had low self-esteem and it became worse after her father died. It didn’t help that she had an abusive boyfriend, and suffered a miscarriage, which led her to drop out of college. Things started to become rosy again when she met her future husband, Chris. However, she woke up one day and realized that she needed to change her lifestyle to enjoy a quality life with Chris and their daughter, Haleigh. One of the things she feared the most was that her devoted husband would one day leave her, as due to her weight, their relationship changed from husband and wife to caregiver and patient.
On the day she met Dr. Now, she weighed a little over 600lbs. She had a difficult time losing weight and only lost 12lbs by second consultation with the doctor. Due to her traumatic past, the doctor knew that she needed psychiatric help to face her demons and focus on losing weight. After a series of therapy sessions with a psychiatrist, everything became a little easier for her. By the time she next stepped onto the scale, she’d lost 111lbs, which qualified her for bariatric surgery. Her husband, who was about 300lbs, was inspired by her and lost around 60lbs himself. At the end of her episode, it was revealed that she’d lost a total of 194lbs; she said that she’d continue with the diet and workout routine Dr. Now gave her, to shed more pounds. In her social media accounts, her subsequent photos showed a much slimmer and happier Carrie.
Making healthy changes! One week after their first visit to Dr. Now, Carrie and her family vow to set healthier habits. See the full journey TONIGHT at 8/7c on #My600lbLife. pic.twitter.com/ARZvBLqQaw
— TLC Network (@TLC) January 13, 2021
Kenae Dolphus: The Drama Queen (lost the required weight, but still didn’t qualify)
Fans of the reality-TV show dubbed Kenae Dolphus, a 41-year-old woman from Nacogdoches, Texas, a ‘Drama Queen.’ During the initial weigh-in at Dr. Nowzaradan’s clinic, she tipped the scales at close to 615lbs. She was given the usual instructions, and was reminded that she wouldn’t qualify for weight-loss surgery if she couldn’t shed 100lbs within the next two months. When she returned for another consultation with the doctor, she’d only lost 22lbs. Naturally, the no-nonsense surgeon told her that it wasn’t enough and that she clearly wasn’t focused on her goal. Kenae defiantly replied with ‘So no 22 pounds is not even close to the 100 you had asked me for but it’s not zero.’
Apparently, she felt that Dr. Now was diminishing her progress, and further elaborated that she felt good about herself and that she’d made changes such as not needing anyone to walk her to the car, which she hadn’t been able to do for many months. She said obesity was her fault, and owned up to the consequences of her decisions. The doctor was a bit perplexed by her attitude, especially when she sarcastically said that she could have easily Googled his diet, but that wasn’t why she came to him. She implored, ‘So I am trying to tell you that I am trying.’ The doctor, who was quite used to the many excuses of his patients, replied to her, ‘I’d be lying to you if I say that you’re doing good, but the reality is not that.’ Kenae must have felt that the doctor was sincere with his intention to help her, so she persevered, and with a little bit of therapy, she lost 133lbs after 12 months under Dr. Now’s weight-loss program. However, despite achieving that, she still didn’t qualify for the surgery, because of some issues with her heart.
No deaths in Season 9
Those patients who participated in the ninth season of “My 600-lb Life” are all believed to be alive today. While fans couldn’t get an update on some of the patients because they chose not to have a social media presence, there had been no news of any deaths from the season. Some of their stories in the show ended with a cliffhanger, which viewers found frustrating, but others believed that the continuation of their journeys might be featured in one of the spin-offs, “Where Are They Now?”
Financial difficulties of the patients
It had been reported that some patients claimed that they had financial difficulties in securing a way to move to Houston temporarily, so that they could fully benefit from Dr. Now’s weight-loss program. Fans were confused, because supposedly patients were given an appearance fee as well as an additional bonus if they decided to move to Houston. However, it was said that the deal was for only 12 months, and the patient would have to shoulder all costs beyond that period, which was deemed long enough to complete the program and surgery. Some were lucky to have social media followers who sent help to support them during their time of need, but there were those who didn’t have any choice but to return home even if the treatment wasn’t finished.
There had been many controversies surrounding the reality-TV series, including showing shower scenes that allegedly degraded the patients, with some viewers feeling that it was a form of exploitation. However, others felt that it was necessary, so that viewers would have a concrete picture of what morbidly obese people went through each day, plus serving as a warning to everyone who had unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles. Some bashed the show for being scripted, but forgot that it’s a ‘guided’ reality-TV series. There were former patients who even sued the producers of the show for not providing enough financial help and mental care for them, but “My 600-lb Life,” wouldn’t last for 10 seasons and counting if they’d not done something good for the morbidly obese. People can look at the same exact subject, but see someone very different.