If you secretly watch My 600lb Life, you're not alone. Every episode boasts over one million viewers on TLC, which means there's definitely people tuning in to watch people change their lives.
Every episode follows the same formula, as people who are morbidly obese try and take back their life. Most of the time they are immobile, bedridden, and unable to control their eating. With the help of Dr. Nowzaradan, these people undergo weight loss surgery and a strict diet regimen to get their lives back on track.
While the show is fairly open about the struggles of changing bad habits, there are some things that even big fans of the show may not realize.
1. It started off as a one-off
Jonathan Nowzaradan, the son of the acclaimed weight loss doctor, got it all started when he documented the struggles of Renee Williams, who weight 841lbs when she approached Dr. Now. Williams had been denied surgery from other doctors, as the risks of operating on someone so heavy were to large.
Dr. Now agreed to operate, and his son put all the footage together for a TV special called Half Ton Mum.
“I want to be able to care for my daughters and see them graduate high school," Williams said on the program.
She received the surgery, but sadly passed away 12 days after surgery due to cardiac arrest. Her program sparked other shows about extreme weight loss, such as Half Ton Teen. Eventually, when they realized people were willing to watch shows about overweight people, TLC started up the show My 600lb Life.
2. It's not always a happy ending
When the episodes first start, often times the spouses of the patients are seen helping them bathe, eat, and do basic chores. To stick around when someone is that ill, it seems like a testament to true love. However, many of the participants actually end up divorced after they lose weight.
Christina Phillips shed about 500lbs thanks to her new lifestyle, but her husband couldn't handle it. Zack began to resent Christina's independence, and finally she realized her husband only wanted to enable her, so they two split up.
Zsalynn Whitworth was also married when she started her journey, meeting her husband on a website called "Shopping For A Fat Girl." He didn't approve of her weight loss, and after her gastric bypass surgery he took her to a fast food restaurant. They have since gotten divorced.
3. One patient was temporarily paralyzed
Susan Farmer, who lost 100lbs in a few months prior to her surgery, was dedicated to making sure she lived a healthier life. However, after the surgery she found herself unable to walk. At first doctors thought it was her unwillingness to help herself, but they soon realized she was temporarily paralyzed. Doctors feared that the paralysis would be permanent, but Susan was wasn't giving up.
“The surgery was my second chance at life, and I’m not going to let a setback like this take that from me," she said. "I’m going to fight. I’m going to do everything I possibly can to get better.”
It took months, but Susan completed agonizing therapy and is back on her feet. She's lost over 400lbs.
4. Some patients earn money in an interesting way
I know that when I watch the show, I wonder how these people can afford their homes and lifestyles. Sure, there's disability money, but it's almost impossible to fuel their intense diets and medical costs on that money alone. Some work as telemarketers, while others choose to sell their bodies.
At least two, if not more, of the patients on My 600lb Life, have sold photos of themselves on fetish sites like SuperSizedBombshells.com. Pauline Potter sold her photos to the site and still continues to do so despite her weight loss.
Zsalynn Whitworth was also found to be selling fetish photos to these types of sites, but she only did so in order to raise money for her surgery. Her depression due to her weight became too much to bear, so she did whatever she had to in order to achieve her goals.