There tends to be a lot of drama surrounding reality TV shows, but some series depict incredible personal transformations, where the cast are able to overcome obstacles and change their life for the better. This is not only encouraging to see that they’ve turned their lives around but similar stories can be inspiring for people at home to make changes to their own lives.
If you watch TLC, you would be familiar with the show “My 600-lb Life.” It is one of the network’s longest-running reality shows that spans nine seasons with over 100 episodes. Each episode focuses on a single individual struggling with morbid obesity.
One such story is Melissa Morris’, who appeared on “My 600-lb Life” in its first season back in 2012. While she was on the show, Melissa weighed 692 lb at the start of her journey. Despite her weight, Melissa’s dream was to be a mother, but her weight was holding her back from achieving her goals.
During the course of her time on the show, Melissa underwent gastric sleeve surgery and got her weight down to an incredible 206 lb. After that, she was able to fulfill her dream of becoming a mother. She and her husband Chris wasted no time in starting their family and today she has three beautiful kids named Allona, Elijah and Austin.
However, in a follow-up appearance on “My 600-lb Life” that aired in 2016, Melissa revealed that although she lost a lot of weight in order to have kids, she had gained some of it back. This was in large part due to her pregnancies. But that didn’t hold her back and since then, she’s continued to lose weight and today looks incredible. Let’s take a look at her journey.
Melissa was the first patient to feature on the show in 2012 and she was also the first patient to feature in more than one episode of the show. She was 31 years old at the time. Melissa, a Livingston, Texas native, weighed in at 692 pounds at the start of the show. Her husband, Chris Morris, who she met in 1997, had difficulty dissuading her from unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices and as a result, she led a sedentary lifestyle and spent her days binge-eating. The couple both knew each other was the one when they met and their dream was to start a family together.
But Melissa became obese to the point she could barely walk or even participate in normal everyday activities. She desired to become a mother but her state of health made it near impossible. That’s when she knew she had to take action if she wanted to achieve her goals in life. Heartbreakingly, Chris said on the show:
“It’s been tough. I worry about her getting sick. I worry about coming home and finding her dead because her body killed her.”
“She’s got her whole life ahead of her. And I’m to the point where I’m ready to start a family and settle down. And with her being the size that she is, we can’t do that.”
When the couple would go to the grocery store together, Melissa couldn’t walk around so she’d ride around on an electric wheelchair, which Chris would load up in the back of his truck. In a series of clips featured on her episode of “My 600-lb Life,” Melissa rode around her local grocery store and it’s truly heartbreaking to watch what happened when she was there.
In a voiceover she said:
“What everybody takes for granted every day I can’t do. The hardest thing about being in public at my weight is you get lots of looks, and some are sympathetic, some are ‘Ugh, you dirty waste.'”
In one of the clips, random strangers in the grocery store make jokes about her weight and to see the reaction on her face is upsetting. She added:
“Think what you want in your head. Whisper what you want to someone who’s with you. But to say it out loud is the worst. The only thing I want to do is just fall into a deep hole and just never come up.”
Melissa felt awful at how bad her situation had become, not only for herself but because she relied so much on Chris for everyday things. That was when she began to visit doctors in a bid to get healthier and turn her life around.
Unfortunately, the first doctor she saw told her she’d have to lose 100 pounds before they could do anything, which sent Melissa into a depression. She quickly gave up at that point and it took a whole year before she found another doctor who would help her.
That’s when she met Dr. Younan Nowzadaran — more commonly known as “Dr. Now” — who is based in Houston. He specializes in both vascular and bariatric surgeries and has built a reputation for helping people who are morbidly obese lose weight on “My 600-lb Life.” He’s appeared on the show since the first season in 2012.
Dr. Now’s approach to helping patients lose weight begins by getting them on a strict diet first, and then, depending on the progress of the individual, he potentially offers them gastric bypass surgery or sleeve gastrectomy.
In 2017, Dr. Now spoke with People about working with patients on the show. “It’s a daily challenge to work with some patients that can be self-destructive,” the surgeon said. He continued:
“My job is not to get aggravated, but to find a way to motivate them to work hard to get to their goals. There are times where I think it’s necessary for some tough love and I have to be stern with them, so I show some of my concern and frustration.”
He added that a patient’s loved ones and family members can either be enablers or encouragers to their weight loss journey and that having a supportive circle is an important component to reaching their health goals. Dr. Now also spoke about a patient’s weight loss journey as being not only physical but mental too. He said:
“Severe obesity is a complex physical and psychological condition with many components. Not realizing how much of their struggle is psychological and not just physical can be the biggest obstacle for change with patients. Many refuse to admit they have any emotional compulsions or compulsive psychological disorders driving them to overeat.”
But he added that once the physical compulsion to eat is removed with weight loss surgery, they have the “best window to get them to see that and address those issues that will lead to long term success for them.”
After meeting Dr. Now and being placed under his care, Melissa underwent gastric bypass surgery but it wasn’t without risks. However, considering her situation she didn’t believe she had a choice. Melissa listened to Dr. Now’s recommendations and immediately began to change her lifestyle. After her surgery, which went well, Melissa stuck to a low-carb diet and regular exercise and soon enough she began to see positive results.
After she began to lose considerable amounts of weight, Melissa even went in to have excess skin removal surgery. And as for her dream of having children? Thanks to her incredible weight loss journey, Melissa and Chris became parents. They initially had two children named Allona and Elijah. But while Melissa’s dream of parenthood came true, she also gained some weight again after her second pregnancy, which brought her weight to about 275 pounds. This was around the time she appeared on “My 600-lb Life” in a follow-up episode in 2016. She told TLC:
“It’s been 10 years since my weight-loss surgery and life is so different now. She added that she “was miserable and barely living life,” before she lost the weight. “Now, I’m able to be active all day and I have two wonderful kids, Allona and Eli,” the mom said.
Melissa lost almost 500 pounds after getting gastric bypass surgery and got down to 157 pounds at one point. But she did not remain at that weight. “The last time I got my weight checked I was back up to around 270 pounds,” she said. Melissa attributed most of that weight gain to her pregnancies. She added:
“I gained around 20 pounds when I had Allona four years ago. But during my pregnancy with Eli I gained almost 100 pounds.”
The stay-at-home mom said that having food around her all the time because she had to prepare meals and snacks for the kids made it hard to resist eating. “I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be when you have kids,” she lamented.
At the time of filming, Melissa had a total of four kids in her house because her nephew and niece had moved in as well. She said:
“I’m feeding kids all day long so it’s hard to stick to a diet. And I didn’t expect how much my world would change being a mom, and the struggles that would bring.”
Besides the excessive eating, Melissa added that feeling “depressed” — because she quit her job to raise the kids — had contributed to her weight coming back too. She explained:
“I was happy to be a mom but I was depressed because of everything I had to give up.”
Although she had fallen back a bit, Melissa didn’t let that get in the way of all the progress she’d made up until that point. Using the knowledge and experience she’d acquired during her earlier weight loss, she continued to work hard and by 2019 she had lost the weight again. At that point she weighed just 206 pounds, making her weight loss total, since the start of her journey, an incredible 447 pounds.
But things got even better. According to Melissa’s Instagram, she is now a mom of three kids. Her youngest, Austin Wayne, is now 4 years old. She has also rejoined the working world, and regularly posts pictures of herself at her workplace.
However, sadly Melissa and Chris’ marriage did come to an end in 2018. The single mom is now raising her three children on her own. That same year she posted a selfie in which she looked gorgeous, but she kept it real in the caption. She wrote, “Just me doing the best I can right now.”
About a year later in Sep. 2019, Melissa posted that she was looking for a job. Then in the same month, she announced that she landed a job at the office of none other than Dr. Now! And it looks like she still works there. In Nov. 2020, Melissa shared a picture of her three kids with the doctor and captioned the post:
“November 17, 2005 the first visit I ever had with @younannowzaradan it was an eight hour visit with the promise I would have kids. Here we are 15 years late[r] and my kids believe he is the coolest man on the planet. Thank you Doc for giving me everything I ever wanted. So much love.”
Melissa is still incredibly grateful to Dr. Now. Just this week she posted another heartfelt thank you message. She wrote:
“16 years ago on 17th, 2005 I had my very first 8 hour appointment with Dr. Younan Nowzaradan he had faith that day he could get me to lose 75% of my excess body weight and he said I was sure to have a baby.
“I knew that day if he took a chance on me and gave me the surgery I so desperately wanted that I would do EVERYTHING in my power to do my part. I now have 3 beautiful children and have managed to keep off over 80% of my weight.
“I can not thank or do [enough] for Dr. Now he saved me, had faith in me, made my dreams come true. Happy 16 yrs Doc I love you more today than I did yesterday and I will love you more tomorrow than today!!!!”
She ended her message and said she is part of the “5% that makes it” and wrote she is “#teamnowzaradan.” Melissa’s journey has been an incredible one and she is no doubt helping to inspire countless other people just by following her own path.