Getting desperate. My 600-lb Life's Wednesday, January 25, episode introduced Kirsten Perez, whose doctor told her he would stop weight-loss treatment following her gastric-bypass surgery if she didn’t visit a therapist. Luckily, his tough love worked, as Kirsten stuck with the prescribed program (including seeing a therapist) to lose a miraculous 170 pounds.
Hailing from Longview, Washington, 38-year-old Kirsten weighed in at 612 pounds before undergoing the show’s drastic weight-loss process, finishing at 442 pounds a year later. Kirsten struggled with anger issues and frequently snapped at her family, even as her kin were helping her.
Seven months after the surgery, during a period in which she was expected to lose weight, Kirsten gained about 20 pounds and canceled a doctor-mandated therapist appointment.
It drew the ire of Dr. Nowzaradan, Kirsten’s doctor, who threatened her with stopping treatment several months after her double surgery for hernia and gastric bypass, which was followed by a two-month recovery hospitalization.
“Let me be clear — you go to a therapist or there is nothing more I can do for you,” Nowzaradan told Kirsten, as her mom looked on in the doctor’s office. “Outside of a medical emergency, we are done. Do you understand me?”
In a post-appointment interview, Nowzaradan summarized Kirsten’s condition, saying, “This is not a good situation at all. I’m really disappointed right now in Kirsten.… She needs a wake-up call.”
Kirsten finally gave in and went to see psychiatrist Lola Clay, who effectively tapped into some of Kirsten’s most intense emotional trauma, including a brutal gang-rape experience at age 17.
Clay tied Kirsten’s need to eat as a self-inflicted punishment for feeling partially responsible for the sexual assaults. Kirsten then opened up about her past, which was crucial for Nowzaradan to continue to be on board with her ongoing treatment.
“You have written a narrative in your mind where you’re just as culpable as the perpetrators,” Clay told Kirsten during the appointment. “Let go of [the] responsibility.… It’s important that you skew your thinking toward the positive.”
The psychiatrist then recommended a self-affirmation mantra for Kirsten to continue thinking optimistically: “I will not abuse my body with food. Above all else, I will love and respect myself.”
Among Kirsten’s biggest obstacles to success, ironically, was her son, Neiko, who resented having to move to Houston for her intensive weight-loss process. Neiko attempted to sabotage Kirsten’s focus by burping, using curse words and eating junk food and sugary drinks in front of her. Neiko said he just wanted to return to Washington, and was eventually sent home by his mom.
In addition to her son, Kirsten’s father, Kurt, and mother, Cris, were frequent triggers for her, even if each tried to significantly improve Kirsten’s situation. Kurt was persistent about Kirsten being able to take care of herself, even though it was difficult for her. Also, Kirsten said that Cris needled her with comments such as telling her at the grocery store that she was too heavy to ride in the wheelchair shopping cart.
After Kirsten had lost more than 100 pounds, Kurt said in an interview, “I really didn’t expect her to do nearly as well as she has done with it.”
When treatment wrapped, Dr. Nowzaradan told her, “I’m proud of you," and Kirsten gave him a hug.
Tell Us: What did you think of Kirsten's journey?
My 600-lb Life airs on TLC Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
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