“My 600 Lb. Life” has given viewers years worth of things to think, talk and obsess about. In previous seasons, no one has caused a stir like James K, except for Penny.
We met her in early 2014 and each time the episode replays the same uproar is heard. Penny reappeared one year later in a follow-up show, and not only was she alive, she was still defiant about why her way of losing weight was superior to Dr. Nowzaradan’s method. She hadn’t gotten to a goal weight, but she had reduced a bit, insisting that Dr. Now didn’t know her body as well as she did.
Because the “My 600 Lb. Life” episode with James K stopped abruptly after he was sent away to fend for himself, we don’t know whether or not he straightened up. (Note: TLC told TVRuckus that there is no follow-up episode planned at this time.) The network left us wondering how he expected to stay alive and get healthy without strict adherence to the diet he and Lisa were handed at the initial visit to the doctor’s office.
Penny couldn’t or wouldn’t walk even after surgery. She did manage to get out of bed and sit in chairs after her time on the show. James couldn’t even sit without three people using all their strength to get him in that position. Of course, there’s a huge weight difference between the two with James topping out around 850 lbs. and Penny at around 600 lbs.
Speaking of the abrupt end, only the week prior Tanisha’s story covered a full 24 months in the life of the patient’s journey with Dr. Now. Here’s wondering shy she was the exception on the show. For sure, viewers are making themselves clear in the comments section under our published stories about James K that they want a conclusion to the case.
Throughout the episode we watched the couple “try”, then defend their efforts by copping to cheating a little. They looked dumbfounded when asked how a 150 lb. weight gain could be the result of a little cheating. Penny went further than that, asking Dr. Now and us to believe that she knew better than him, ignoring his warning of an early death. Unlike James, when she was weighed, Penny called out the scale in his office as malfunctioning.
The doctor’s plan has never varied. It’s so simple anyone can do it and that’s the rub. Stick to a 1,200 calories-a-day diet, or in extreme cases like James K, the calorie count shrinks to 800. The difficulty is twofold and both Penny and James K suffered from it.
Refusal to adjust to eating 10% of their previous daily intake is one, whether it’s called an addiction or just emotional eating. The other, and it’s unclear why this isn’t a focus, is the inability to comprehend the strict nature of the diet. There are no eating-bonus days, or splurge days as rewards for following the plan for a day, a week or even a whole month.
Some patients have rarely eaten a vegetable or a piece of fruit that was fresh from the grocery store. Many don’t cook at home because of their size and their enablers bring in food to satisfy them. Learning to cook lean meat and fish protein can be a first. Knowing what to buy to fill the void on their meal plates is a new phenomenon.
It’s time for it to be part of the regime to help patients who don’t know how to eat 1,200 calories-a-day. Rarely has the show gotten to the point of showing us how the doctor or his staff counsel patients about the eating plan. Shopping and cooking to save the life of a patient isn’t second nature to the enablers.
They also aren’t instructed about the damage cheating on the plan can do to the goal they’re given by Dr. Now. When he says lose 50 lbs. he doesn’t mean 30, or 40, or even 45, unless it’s the second or third time he’s turned them away.
Until last season, “My 600 Lb. Life” did not incorporate the use of a therapist in each show. If you look back at the early seasons, it was glaringly absent. Currently, a therapist has become a requirement in some cases, while in others it comes when the patient hits a wall during the first 12 months.
How about educating the patients about how to plan meals, shop for what is needed and some cooking advice? Will that be the magic potion necessary? Not for patients like James K or Penny, that’s for sure. Thoughts?
“My 600 Lb. Life” airs Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT Images: TLC, used with permission