It was a messy road full of bumps and false starts, but Erica Wall lost almost 200 pounds in a year on My 600-lb Life‘s Wednesday, February 8, episode — despite taking more than six months to pick up steam and weathering feelings of self-sabotage.
The 44-year-old Lompoc, California, woman, who started the show at 661 pounds, was a house-bound pathological eater who had mostly unsuccessful results with stomach stapling surgery as a teen. Now looking at another weight-loss surgery as an adult, and with two grown siblings with busy lives of their own, Erica found herself having trouble summoning personal willpower without a strong support network.
To her credit, Erica’s sister Molly joined Erica on the trip to Texas from California several times to see her stomach surgeon, Dr. Nowzaradan, but her brother, Robert, didn’t, despite her pleas. Thus, Erica was prone to losing focus and pushing responsibility onto someone else.
Still, Nowzaradan said, Erica needed to take responsibility for her weight loss: “Erica is making progress, but her attitude can still be very poor. That just means I need more evidence that she’s not going to fall back into bad habits.” Near the end of the process, she lamented that “there’s really not much for me to eat,” and she’s “hungry all the time.”
Here were five memorable moments from watching Erica go from 661 pounds to 471 — a total weight loss of 190 pounds.
1. The sisterly bond of Molly and Erica
Even though the two went back and forth with snipes, Molly, in the end, was there for her sister, joining her on trips to Texas, and waiting in the doctor’s waiting room as Erica’s stomach staples were removed. Molly wasn’t always nice about it — and neither was Erica — but Molly gave of herself when no one else would. “I’m sorry I’m a pain in the ass,” Erica told her sister in a bonding moment toward the end of treatment. “I will do what I need to do, Molly — promise.”
2. The backstory of Erica’s antagonizing dad — who, she said, teased her about her weight mercilessly when she was growing up
As Erica gained pounds as a teenager, he asked her what had happened to his beautiful little girl. “She went to sleep one night and woke up Godzilla,” Erica recalled tearfully of what her dad said. “I just wanted my dad to love and tell me he wasn’t disappointed I was his daughter.” Dad’s absence on the show is conspicuous, given that he still seemed to be in this picture — Erica mentioned that her dad didn’t know her history “to this day.”
3. The “stomach stapling” procedure was obsolete, Dr. Nowzaradan said during the show, and potentially a mess for Erica, who underwent it 27 years prior, at age 17.
The stapling surgery did little to help Erica’s long-term weight loss. But it did give her both scar tissue and rogue staples, the latter of which Nowzaradan removed before giving Erica the 2017-standard gastric-bypass surgery. “Erica has shown me that she’s willing to try,” the medical professional said. “So I’m willing to do all I can to give her the tool to keep her on track for the long term.”
4. Erica’s bittersweet missing of her mom, who died several years previously in a car accident
It was Mom, Erica said, not Dad, who knew of Erica’s devastating teenage secret — that she was gang raped at age 16, which was also her first intercourse experience. Erica said her mom truly understood Erica’s pain and would have done anything for her — including helping to facilitate her teenage stomach stapling surgery. “She never gave up on me,” Erica said in an interview.
5. The battle of the nutritionist vs. food-delivery service
While Erica was still living in California — not fully committed to losing weight and with a more hands-off family — she was struggling to find the discipline and stamina to lose weight. At the mandate of Dr. Nowzaradan, a nutritionist named Susan Swadener visited Erica’s house and essentially raided the abode of junk food as a distressed Erica watched on. “I can’t believe she just wasted all that food,” Erica said in an interview after the nutritionist left. “But I can just order more, and there’s nothing she can really do to stop me from doing that. So she completely wasted her time.”
Tell Us: What did you think of Erica’s journey?
My 600-lb Life airs on TLC Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET.