• John and Lonnie Hambrick, siblings on TLC's "My 600-lb Life," started out estranged but became emotional support for each other and lost a combined 539 pounds
• They have kept the weight off since the show and are both living their dreams
• Christina Phillips, Chuck Turner, Milla Clark, and James Jones are success stories from the show
• Penny Saeger, Schenee Murry, Angela Johns, and James King are worst patients from the show
• Lee Sutton and Rena Kiser, Mercedes Cephas and Pauline Potter are also featured on the show as patients with complex stories
About John & Lonnie Hambrick
When talking about brother duos who participated in the TLC weight loss series “My 600-lb Life”, most fans think of the Assanti siblings. However, we’ll be focusing on John and Lonnie Hambrick, who were estranged at the start of their episode, but became each other’s emotional support system throughout their rollercoaster year-long journey on the show.
At the start of filming, John and Lonnie weighed 687 and 613 pounds respectively; when the 12 months were up, John had lost 294 pounds (133 kilos) compared to Lonnie’s 245 (111 kilos). The brothers not only encouraged each other, but they also admitted that their food addiction and crippling obesity was preventing them from living their dream lives, which is often one of the most important steps to long-lasting weight loss.
Viewers of “My 600-lb Life” will be pleased to know that John and Lonnie have kept the weight off since their time on the show. These days, Lonnie works as a hairstylist in Texas, and is enjoying his new life to the fullest. His social media posts often include gym selfies, meaning that Lonnie is keeping himself active, and he’s also found love with a man named Richard Gavadin.
As for John, Lonnie revealed that he is working as a school district football coach – John always loved the sport, but was unable to play for years due to his weight. Despite being less active than his brother on social media, he posts the odd selfie here and there, and thrilled fans after uploading a photo of himself and Lonnie paying Dr. Now a visit two years after their weight loss journey started. As for John’s love life, his current relationship status remains unknown.
Although participants of “My 600-lb Life” are offered many perks – such as the opportunity to work with Dr. Now and a $1,500 fee – being on the show is anything but easy. To be approved for gastric bypass surgery, they must stick to Dr. Now’s 1200-calorie diet plan, and lose a stipulated amount of weight within an allotted time period to qualify for any necessary surgery.
The surgeon’s high-protein, low-carb, and low-fat program comes as a shock to participants, and taking into account that the majority have been battling food addiction for most of their lives, it seems like an almost impossible challenge to lose the weight and keep it off. Various episodes of “My 600-lb Life” have ended in tragedy, as participants either put the weight back on, refuse to work with Dr. Now, or die. However, this makes the show’s success stories even more inspirational.
After undergoing gastric bypass surgery, participants must stick to a liquid diet before working their way up to solids. To achieve maximum results, they must also do plenty of exercise. Many times, individuals on “My 600-Lb Life” become lax after surgery and begin putting weight back on, which often leads to confrontations and showdowns with the blunt Dr. Now.
Dr. Now has at times been criticized for his tough love approach, which he previously defended in an interview. “I have to be stern with them, so I show some of my concern and frustration,” he told People magazine, describing severe obesity as a “complex physical and psychological condition”. According to the respected surgeon, the biggest obstacle for change is recognizing that their struggle is not just physical, but psychological. “Many refuse to admit they have any emotional compulsions or compulsive psychological disorders driving them to overeat,” he explained.
On to the success stories – Christina Phillips was a patient on the show’s second season and weighed over 700 pounds when filming began. Christina had struggled with her weight since childhood, and didn’t leave her house for two years, which is when she realized that something needed to be done. Christina vowed to lose 500 pounds (226 kilos) after her gastric bypass surgery; by the end of her on-screen journey, she weighed just 183 pounds. These days, Christina has two sons named Ethan and Ezra and is living life to the fullest.
Chuck Turner also appeared in season two of “My 600-lb Life”, but unlike Christina, his struggles with food didn’t begin until later in life. After years of overeating to compensate for the loss of his first wife, Chuck went on the show and lost over 400 pounds (180 kilos). Being on the show truly changed Chuck’s life for the better, as prior to filming, his relationship with his second wife was on the rocks due to her feeling more like a caretaker than a spouse, and he was unable to enjoy doing father-son activities with his only child. Although Chuck would ultimately divorce his second wife, he treated the experience as a learning curve and even began dating again.
Milla Clark, a married mother of five who had been bedridden for over a decade, won viewers over in season four due to her distressing backstory and inspirational positivity. During filming, Milla’s husband died, leaving her heartbroken, but motivating her to lose enough weight to qualify for gastric bypass surgery. Similarly to Christina, Milla shed over 500 pounds, and stunned Dr. Now with her perseverance and dedication.
Last but not least is James Jones, yet another season two participant. James’s family history of obesity, coupled with his father’s untimely death due to health complications caused by weight gain, inspired him to fly to Houston and seek Dr. Now’s help. James lost 511 pounds (230 kilos) in an unspecified time period – one of the biggest weight-loss feats in the history of the show. Although we’re not sure what James is doing right now, he remains active on social media and recently posted a picture that assuming it’s recent, proves he’s kept the weight off.
From eating forbidden foods and lying about it, to openly defying Dr. Now and refusing to follow his diet and exercise plan, “My 600-lb Life” has seen many difficult patients come and go. One of them, Penny Saeger, appeared in the earlier part of season two – but unlike her co-stars Christina, Chuck, and James, her episode was a spectacular failure.
At the beginning of her journey, Penny shed 40 pounds while hospitalized and qualified for weight loss surgery. After the operation, Penny became compliant and somehow managed to gain more weight than she’d lost. In a follow-up episode, Penny claimed to be seeing improvements in her health, but the wise Dr. Now disagreed with her assessment and branded her delusional.
Schenee Murry is another tragic “My 600-lb Life” story. It’s believed that her food addiction stemmed as a trauma response from being sexually abused by a cousin at a young age; when filming began, Schenee had recently suffered two miscarriages, which exacerbated her mental health issues and food addiction.
Despite turning to Dr. Now for help, Schenee was unable and unwilling to stop overeating or deal with her underlying emotional issues. Many fans of the show will remember that she claimed to have gained “water weight”; while hospitalized, her boyfriend also snuck a family-sized pizza into Schenee’s hospital room, which led to a huge row with Dr. Now when he found the empty box.
Unsurprisingly, Schenee didn’t make enough progress to qualify for weight loss surgery. After leaving Dr. Now’s care, she took matters into her own hands and started a GoFundMe to raise money for any future operations. Later on, she was lambasted for filming and uploading an eating challenge from her hospital bed. We don’t know what Schenee’s up to in 2023, but if her past behavior is anything to go by, she has yet to make any lasting changes.
Angela Johns is another of the show’s most controversial former participants. From being raped and sexually abused to serving time behind bars, Angela’s life was full of traumatic experiences which led to her turning to food for comfort. By the time the brunette got in touch with Dr. Now, she weighed 643 pounds, but appeared willing to change. Alas, that wasn’t the case.
During Angela’s episode, she claimed that Dr. Now was “punishing” her, and described his program as “bullsh*t”. She also manipulated her frustrated family members, tested positive for heavy cigarette smoking and opiate use, and lied to Dr. Now about it when confronted. When Angela had lost just 48 pounds and was still abusing drugs, the doctor gave her a much-needed ultimatum: check into rehab or end her journey with him. Sadly, Angela preferred to end her “My 600-lb Life” experience instead of recognizing her mistakes. She also said that Dr. Now was lying about everything.
'My 600-lb Life' Star James King Dead at 49 https://t.co/TVcAeJEbLM
— TMZ (@TMZ) April 7, 2020
James King, who weighed a staggering 791 pounds at the beginning of his episode, became one of the most-loathed figures on “My 600-b Life”, when viewers saw how he was bringing his whole family down to accommodate him. Despite admitting to overeating as a way to cope with childhood trauma, James refused to comply with Dr. Now’s program and didn’t take his diet plan or counselling sessions seriously.
James’s selfish ways became evident in the episode when it was revealed that he had forced his daughter to drop out of school to take care of him – and although his father took out a second mortgage to pay for his son’s move to Houston shortly after suffering a stroke, James refused to change. In fact, many netizens believe that James emotionally blackmailed his father into giving him the money for reasons unrelated to the move, as TLC pays participants $2,500 to relocate.
His girlfriend, Lisa, also enraged viewers – and Dr. Now – when she was caught sneaking food into James’s hospital room during his follow-up episode. At the time, James was suffering from multiple organ failure, and Dr. Now was so furious that he called Adult Protective Services to report the incident. After appearing on the show, James set up a GoFundMe which is no longer active; as is to be expected, people weren’t exactly rushing to donate their hard-earned money to such an unappreciative individual.
Worst Patients – Part 2
Some episodes of “My 600-lb Life” feature not one but two morbidly obese patients, such as Lee Sutton and Rena Kiser, who had met and fallen in love at a bariatric rehabilitation facility, prior to appearing on the show. Although Lee and Rena eventually lost enough weight for gastric bypass surgery, Lee’s anger management issues and verbal and physical abuse of Rena overshadowed their feats.
Lee was so out of control that Dr. Now sent him to see a therapist, but even so, the unpleasant reality show participant continued to treat Rena cruelly in their follow-up episode. Rena, who tried and failed to de-escalate his aggressive behavior, broke viewers’ hearts as she appeared unable to leave the abusive relationship. Although the internet rejoiced when it was reported that Rena had left Lee after being cheated on, the couple got back together shortly afterwards.
Mercedes Cephas was yet another desolate patient on “My 600-lb Life”, who began overeating at the age of 11 to cope with the repeated sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. Unable to deal with her feelings of guilt and shame, Mercedes weighed 300 pounds at the age of 15 and was trapped in a vicious cycle of overeating as a trauma response.
When Dr. Now confronted Mercedes about her eating habits, she claimed that she wasn’t overeating despite weighing 773 pounds. Months into filming the episode, she moved to Houston and was berated by the surgeon for having lost just 50 pounds. It became evident that Mercedes wasn’t following Dr. Now’s program when she began putting the weight back on; by the end of her episode, she’d lost just 80 pounds overall. The doctor gave Mercedes three days to decide if she wanted to be checked into the hospital or not, but ultimately, her unsuccessful weight loss journey ended there.
Last but not least is Pauline Potter, who was already well-known before her reality TV stint after winning the dubious accolade of World’s Heaviest Woman in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records. Pauline had also appeared on Dr. Phil, and sensationally claimed to have lost weight by having sex up to seven times a day.
When Pauline turned to Dr. Now for help, she weighed 678lbs and was suffering serious health complications. However, she claimed that the surgeon was overreacting when he suggested she stay at the hospital to control her weight. Viewers became increasingly angry at Pauline as she butted heads with Dr. Now several times over the course of her episode and showed her unpleasant attitude.
Luckily, Pauline eventually got it together. In her follow-up episode, she shared that she’d lost 300 pounds after surgery, and was looking into excess skin removal. Despite being one of the most difficult patients in the show’s history, she is considered a success story and has yet to put any weight back on.
“My 600-Lb Life” returned for a new season in February 2023, so we’ll be sure to keep you updated with news, trivia, and gossip related to the show.