If you are into weight loss reality shows, one of the most interesting weight loss shows is “My 600-lb Life.” This is not your typical weight-loss show, because the show chronicles people that weight 600+ pounds.
It is hard for me to imagine how someone can get to 600 pounds, but on the other hand, I can certainly understand using food for comfort.
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The show starts out with a 600+ pounds person who is in the process of making the decision to seek the help of Dr. Now.
He is one of the few surgeons who will perform bariatric surgery on individuals who weigh as much as 600 pounds or more.
His program starts with a short consultation with the patient followed by Dr. Now handing them a copy of 1200 calorie a day diet and a weight loss target they are expected to meet over the next month or two.
It is usually the second and third visits to the doctor that get interesting. Here are the things I learned after watching this show many times.
1. Sticking to 1200 Calories a Day is Harder Than You Think
All of Dr Now’s patients have to go on a no-carb, high protein diet. They eat 3 meals a day and no snacks and it should be no more than 1200 calories daily.
According to TLC, it takes about 7,000 calories a day to maintain 600 pounds. They suggest that a person of average weight eat about 2,000 calories a day.
A person that goes from eating 7,000 calories a day could lose 60 – 80 pounds (or more) in their first month on the 1200 calorie a day diet.
Most of the patients do not even get close to reaching the goal Dr. Now sets for them. Most of the time the patient loses very little weight during their first few months.
Some even gain weight while on their “1200 calorie a day diet.” If a person can eliminate processed carbs, it seems easier to control the number of calories they eat each day.
From my previous experience with OA, the 3 meals and no more has to do with each meal opening the person up to the possibility of a binge eating episode. The fewer meals the fewer chances of a binge.
2. Psychotherapy is Essential
This one is huge. It is my belief that your mind and your emotions pretty much control what you eat.
There is not one person that is obese that shouldn’t have at least a few sessions of some type of counseling. It does not necessarily have to be an appointment with a therapist.
The right kind of group can provide support as well, but it has to be an environment where you are willing to talk. If you have dark secrets, private counseling may be best.
The patients that go to therapy and walk in with an open mind and an attitude where they want to change, are the ones that do the best.
I don’t know if I can think of one patient that was told to go to psychotherapy, that avoided it and was successful at losing weight.
Many say “I don’t think it will help” and eventually agree that they feel better after some counseling.
Many of the patients follow through with the advice and then end up being able to move forward with their weight loss results. The patients that blow it off, often end up gaining weight or never get past a plateau.
It is my feeling that psychotherapy is the most important part of the weight loss surgery process (besides the surgery itself). I think it should be started sooner rather than later.
3. Dysfunctional Families Are Part of Life
Like most addicts, these individuals are often surrounded by at least one or two dysfunctional family members. Most of the prospective surgery patients cannot get around very well.
So this means that someone else is fixing their meals, bring their food to them, doing the shopping for them and picking up takeout.
In many cases, the patient is also surrounded by people that also overweight. This adds to the challenge of making lifestyle changes. No one thinks counseling will help, but it often does.
The patient is going to struggle even more if the enablers do not stop enabling. I have seen instances when a person is in the hospital struggling to breathe and the enabler is still bringing in pizza and doughnuts.
Everyone has dysfunction in their family, but it has to managed if the patient expects to recover.
4. Goals Will Move You Forward
The patients that do well have goals (maybe not in the beginning) and they stick to them. Having goals should be part of the process.
After all, anyone that loses weight has a reason. The goals are part of the “why”. The goals represent the things the person was not mentally or physically able to do until they went through a weight loss transformation.
A person should pick 3 things that want to do when they lose weight before they get started. It can be hard to do this when you are obese because depression and negative thinking often come along with a lot of weight.
Wanting to be able to play with a person’s children has been one of the strongest motivators I have seen over the years of watching this show.
I saw a man that wanted to be able to play with his fiances 3 children and he was one of the very few individuals that followed Dr. Now’s advice just as it was given.
He did struggle during the first period of following the diet on his own, but he was able to make the adjustments very quickly and lost 400 pounds in a year.
5. Relationships Should Be Avoided for the First Year
You gotta deal with toxic relationships as well as those that are dysfunctional. If the patients leave something that has been buried for years unaddressed, it usually shows up in the form of extra calories.
When you are talking about a recovery process, deaths and relationships are the things that will trigger the greatest emotional reaction.
One patient was dealing with the death of a severely handicapped child. She gained weight very soon following her weight loss surgery.
Another lady was on a pink cloud due to a new boyfriend. When that boyfriend left, she gained about 150 in approximately a 3 month period.
It is hard for me to imagine a weight gain like that, but it is also hard for me to comprehend weighing 600 pounds.
I have always been told the first year of recovery should be about you. That means you do not get into a new relationship for the first year.
You are still learning how to deal with emotional situations without turning to food. Learning relationship skills will make or break you in these situations.
6. Surgery is a Tool and Not a Miracle
It is hard for someone to understand this statement until they have had the surgery and the first few years have passed.
Most of Dr. Now’s patients go into the bariatric process with the thinking that once they have weight loss surgery, all their problems are over and they will have the life they always wanted.
The unfortunate thing is that nothing is farther from the truth. For someone that was 100 pounds overweight, the weight should come off pretty easily in the first year.
Actually, the same is true for Dr. Now’s patients. Dr. Now watches that first year pretty closely because, after that period of time, the stomach will hold more food than in the first 12 months following surgery.
A person that follows his program as it is designed, will lose 300+ pounds in the first 12 – 15 months after going on the program (including surgery).
Final Thoughts – My 600lb Life
If I could only pick two of the above things to concentrate on, it would be psychotherapy and I would make the most out of that first year.
In order to get the weight off and keep it off, you are going to have to understand what caused the situation to get out of control in the first place.
This where a good therapist can help. Some of the most “put together” and successful people have therapists and “advisors.”
We can’t always do everything on our own. This is where a trusted professional can be of great value.
If you are overweight and have struggled and dieted over and over don’t dismiss that a therapist seeing a therapist. It can be the missing piece of the puzzle.
The other thing I observed is the first 12 -18 months is critical. People that are successful during that time can stumble after that period and they have the tools to regroup and reset. And many times they keep working at achieving their goal weight.
Even though this show is informational, it would not be nearly as entertaining without Dr. Now or the crazy excuses that some of his patients come up with for not being able to stick with the diet.
Being a bariatric patient, it reminds me just have fragile some of this stuff can really be.