On My 600-lb Life‘s Wednesday, February 1, episode, Doug Anderson went from nearly 700 pounds and needing a cane to losing 222 pounds and having excess skin removed in less than a year — after being emotionally liberated by confronting his mother for leaving him and his brother at a young age.
With the help of a therapist, Doug tapped into the anger behind his decades of overeating pizza and fast food. The 36-year-old Wichita Falls, Texas, native had a series of breakthroughs, ultimately saying about his old self, “It’s almost as if that other person didn’t exist.” Here are our favorite moments from the episode.
1. The big coffeehouse showdown between Doug and his mother, Julia, who Doug says have rarely spoken in the past two years. The meeting was after Doug had written a letter to Julia, as suggested by his therapist, Dr. Tiffany Stewart. Doug wanted to know why his mom had walked away from the family, and he said that the abandonment made him want to reach out to her in person. Her answer: She was afraid of the violent potential of her temper. That was news to Doug, he said.
“I’m really glad I did this today,” Doug said in a postmeeting interview. “My whole life, I never knew why my mom left. Hearing the reason wasn’t because of me has been something I wanted to hear since that day. I feel like, for the first time, it’s possible to forgive my mom.”
2. Ashley, Doug’s wife, who was a reliably steady presence through Doug’s weight loss and did not waver in her support for Doug once he committed to the process. She carried the bulk of the family’s chores, including taking care of him; did her best to curb his snacking; encouraged him to get in touch with his buried feelings; and spoke from a perspective of having lost more than 100 pounds herself. “Ashley helped me do this, and I’m just so thankful we did it as a team,” Doug said in an interview during the weight loss.
3. Doug showing extra physical energy and going to a local gym for bench-pressing, cardio and weights. He lost so much weight that his clothes began to fall off. One pair of pants that didn’t fit one leg before, he said, now fit snugly around his waist. Doug rooted through his closet for old clothes he said he hadn’t worn in years. What was left was massive amounts of loose, chafing skin, and surgeon Nowzaradan said the skin was hanging so far as to impede Doug’s progress.
4. The evolution of dad. When Doug was 684 pounds (at his initial weigh-in), he was too immobile to play with his 4-year-old son, Cooper, and newborn daughters, Harper and Parker. As his weight fell to 462 pounds, Doug jumped into an inflatable play area with Cooper, bonded with him over breakfast cereal and changed the girls’ diapers first thing in the morning. Doug said he wanted to improve his father/son relationship from the one he had with his mother. “Our relationship is finally starting to become what I’ve always wanted it to be,” Doug said of being Cooper’s dad.
5. No more covert trips to fast food drive-thrus. Before he started treatment, Doug frequented restaurants where he could get quick food to scarf down before arriving home, and said he thought he was getting away with something. Ashley and Dr. Nowzaradan were on to him, though. Doug was forced to confront the stealth eating because his weight loss slowed when it should have been going faster.
Once the post–gastric bypass effects had settled in, and Doug had started a new active lifestyle, he said he still was drawn to snacks, but that he was managing temptation. “I still feel cravings occasionally, but I don’t give in,” Doug said. “Ashley and I are both losing weight and sharing healthy habits with Cooper.”
Tell Us: Do you think Doug’s issues with his mother were the reason for his overeating?
My 600-lb Life airs on TLC Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.