My 600-Lb Life Stars Who Didn't Listen To The Doctors

One of the best parts of "My 600-lb Life" is seeing people turn their lives around, develop healthier habits, and heal old wounds that caused their lives to spiral out of control. With the help of renowned weight-loss physician Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, also known as Dr. Now, many guests receive life-changing bariatric surgery, lose weight, and regain control of their lives.

However, not all the individuals on the show follow Dr. Now's advice. It's important to keep in mind that this is not because they just stubbornly go against Dr. Now or intentionally self-destruct. Instead, it often comes down to deep-rooted psychological issues. "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," Dr. Now told People in 2017. "Many refuse to admit they have any emotional compulsions or compulsive psychological disorders driving them to overeat." Below, we'll discuss 11 "My 600-lb Life" stars who struggled with their weight loss plan or flat-out refused help from the doctors.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Mark Rutland

Mark Rutland, a 42-year-old from Orlando, Florida, was a guest on "My 600-lb Life" Season 11. On the show, we learn that Rutland, weighing in at 715 pounds, struggles with a binge-eating disorder and a fast-food addiction. This affected him negatively in more ways than one. "When you get to be this size, you're definitely broken mentally," Rutland said (via People). "I know I'm fat, and I have the ability to change, but I can't stop eating because when I'm eating, it's the only time I get relief from the physical pain. It's the only time I'm happy."

While bariatric surgery is often the light at the end of the tunnel for other guests on "My 600-lb Life," that isn't the route that Rutland wanted to take. Despite what the doctors suggest, he wants to lose the weight on his own. His family is incredulous about his decision, but Rutland understands that not everyone gets it. "I got the greatest weight loss doctor in the entire world, and all you guys want me to do it. It's not an easy decision for me not to do this," he says. Nevertheless, it's the path that he wants to take. "Surgery will probably never be off the table for me, the doctor might be right, and I might really have a zero percent chance, but until I know that I can't do this on my own, surgery is not an option," he tells Distractify. So far, Rutland's plan is working. According to People, he's lost 160 pounds naturally.

Steven and Justin Assanti

The Assanti brothers are some of the most notorious guests on "My 600-lb Life," and it's easy to see why. Steven was known for relentlessly bullying his brother, Justin. Steven's behavior reached its peak abusiveness when he stole Justin's pain pills after his brother underwent weight loss surgery. Many viewers sympathized with Justin, who was not quite as abrasive as his brother, especially after learning he'd been plagued by Steven's physical and emotional abuse since childhood.

Though Justin, who weighed 600 pounds at the time the show was filmed, was mostly compliant with Dr. Now's weight-loss recommendations, Steven, who weighed around 800 pounds, regularly argued with Dr. Nowzaradan. He didn't follow the diet plan, complaining that it was too strict, and he also binged unhealthy foods regularly. It was also revealed that Steven had an addiction to painkillers. Dr. Now refused to treat Steven until he went to rehab for his addiction, and he did eventually receive treatment.

Despite many bumps in the road, both brothers had weight loss surgery, though it seems that Steven continued to resist the doctor's advice. He did not appear to lose much weight post-surgery. For his part, Justin lost 200 pounds and continues to follow Dr. Now's weight loss program, per Heavy. As far as we know, the brothers have been estranged since Steven stole Justin's pain medication.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Penny Saeger

Many people who appear on "My 600-lb Life" have experienced trauma in their lives that have contributed to their weight issues. Penny Saeger, who appeared in Season 2, is no exception. Growing up with an abusive father, Saeger found comfort in food, and a food addiction began to take over. At the time her episode was filmed, the 45-year-old had gained so much weight that she relied completely on her husband as a caregiver and needed assistance with basic tasks like using the bathroom.

Though Saeger lost weight per the doctor's orders and underwent weight loss surgery, she struggled to stick with the healthy diet post-op. Weighing in at 530 pounds pre-surgery, Saeger hoped that bariatric surgery would allow her to start losing weight. But even after surgery, Saeger couldn't seem to stick to the diet and tried to have nurses sneak unhealthy foods in for her. In the show, we also learn that she gained five pounds after having surgery. When Dr. Now tries to talk to her about how serious her condition is, she opts to leave the show and disregards the doctor's recommendations.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Schenee Murry

Viewers may remember Schenee Murry and the many challenges she faced during the sixth season of "My 600-lb Life."  The 28-year-old had suffered two miscarriages and was dealing with mental health issues due to a traumatic past. "My weight is ruining my life. I feel like it's suffocating me. I feel like a burden ... I feel like a burden to my family. I feel like a burden to everyone in my life," Murry said.

Although weight loss surgery was on the horizon, Murry ultimately did not listen to Dr. Now's recommended diet plan and did not attend any of the recommended therapy sessions. "I don't think you're grasping how dangerous your health situation is, Schenee," Dr. Now told her on the show. "With all the health issues you've got, you may not make it to 30." Whether she grasped the gravity of her situation or not, she opted to cut contact with Dr. Now and quit the show. However, it seems that, since then, she has been able to lose some weight. In a 2019 YouTube video, Schenee said she lost over 300 pounds.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Bethany Stout

Season 8 cast member Bethany Stout was a controversial figure. Viewers were upset by the 40-year-old Oklahoman's inability to commit to Dr. Now's weight loss plan and her eventual decision to voluntarily withdraw from the program. This particularly angered viewers since Bethany relied on her daughters to take care of her.

After her episode aired, Stout wanted to clear the air. She wrote on her Facebook page Bariatric Mama (via Starcasm), "I am truly sorry if my episode made you angry. I had no control over what they choose to show. I had a positive experience with Dr. Now and up until this moment, enjoyed the process. I lost weight and I feel good about where I am now ... Please do not worry about my daughters. They are well taken care of and always have been. What you see on the show is a snippet that is orchestrated for TV."

Despite her decision to stop working with Dr. Now, things have improved for Stout. It's clear from her Instagram page that she has lost a significant amount of weight and seems to be doing well overall!

Angie J

Season 8 guest Angela Marie Dunham-Johns, better known as Angie J, was another "My 600-lb Life" cast member with a traumatic past. On the show, we learn that Angie J was dealt a tough hand in life. She experienced sexual abuse, addiction, homelessness, and divorce, which exacerbated her weight issues. Working with Dr. Now and losing weight would qualify her for weight loss surgery, but we see on the show that Angie J is resistant to the changes that need to be made.

Though Dunham-Johns initially refused help from Dr. Now and even argued with him about her proposed diet plan, she eventually committed to the weight loss journey. According to Starcasm, Angie J continued working with Dr. Now after the show and lost more than 330 pounds. Judging by her Facebook, she continues to lose weight and seems to be living a much healthier and happier life.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Joyce Del Viscovo

Joyce Del Viscovo from Season 8 experienced many complications from her weight. According to Heavy, she hadn't left her house in years and was forced to shut down her daycare business due to her struggles with mobility.

Though Joyce knew she needed help, she resisted Dr. Now's advice and even said the program failed her. Her food addiction had a strong hold on her, with Del Viscovo admitting, "as much as it [being overweight] bothers me, there's part of me where I don't care. I almost have the attitude of 'duh, I don't get this big eating small amounts, so why would you expect me to do so?' So I just want to say, 'Shut up and give me the food! And leave if you have a problem with it.'" 

Unfortunately, Del Viscovo went against Dr. Now's advice and dropped out of the program. She did lose some weight, however. At her last check-in with Dr. Now, she had lost a total of 134 pounds.

Nicole Lewis

Per TLC, Season 5 guest Nicole Lewis' episode synopsis reads, "At over 700 pounds, Nicole risks leaving her two young children motherless." The Ohio native's weight problems increased as she got older, and in the episode, we learn that she was raised by parents with addiction issues — likely causing Nicole trauma and leading her to rely on food for comfort. "Even as a toddler, I remember food was what made me happy," she said on the show, explaining that her mom would frequently lash out at her while her dad would comfort her by giving her a snack. As we see in the episode, this pattern of relying on food for comfort spiraled out of control and was taking a major toll on Lewis's life.

Despite the rough place Nicole found herself in, she was able to work with Dr. Now to get on a healthier path. However, things weren't smooth sailing initially, and Lewis couldn't stick to her weight loss plan when life got stressful. In her episode, we see that she misses doctor's appointments and relies on fast food for comfort. However, Lewis eventually had bariatric surgery and lost weight.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Jeanne Covey

Jeanne Covey was a guest on the seventh season of "My 600-lb Life." Viewers likely remember her story, as it is yet another case of childhood trauma leading to food addiction. As a child, Covey was treated badly by her grandmother and coped by eating sweets. By the time she was on "My 600-lb Life," Covey, then 39, was around 700 pounds and living with her parents, relying on them to help her with basic tasks. "It's so humiliating to be almost 40 and rely on my mom and dad to do everything for me," she said on the show.

Working with Dr. Now was Covey's second chance at life — but things didn't exactly go as planned. Though Covey was beginning to make progress in the first six months of following Dr. Now's weight-loss plan, she faced a tragedy in her personal life that forced her to drop out of the program — her father's sudden passing. In her episode, she says, "I talked to my mom, and we both decided we're not going back to Houston. With my dad gone, we can't leave the dogs alone, and I can't go by myself. So I'm just not in a place to do Dr. Now's program."

Despite all the challenges, Covey seems to be doing well, and according to the Cinemaholic, may have even continued her weight loss journey offscreen.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

Lee Sutton

Season 6 alum Lee Sutton is a Missouri native who joined the show with his girlfriend, Rena Kiser. Sutton weighed in at around 714 pounds, while Kiser weighed 549 pounds. Though Rena took on a caretaker role for Lee, it was clear that both needed Dr. Now's help, so they joined the show together.

While Kiser was able to mostly follow Dr. Now's diet plan, Sutton struggled to stick to the rules. We see him becoming frustrated with his inability to change his eating habits. Unfortunately, this leads him to take out his anger on Kiser. While Dr. Now recommended therapy for Sutton's anger issues and trauma, he apparently did not take the doctor's advice. However, both Kiser and Sutton lost weight, and Sutton ultimately got his weight down to under 400 pounds post-bariatric surgery. As far as we know, Kiser and Sutton are still together to this day.

Maja Radonovic

Losing weight is not a matter of simply eating less for patients on "My 600-lb Life." As we quickly learn, weight loss depends upon an individual's ability to get to the root of their issues with food. This can be an incredibly difficult task, particularly when overeating is related to traumatic experiences.

For Maja Radonovic, addressing her abandonment issues was key to improving her health and habits, but it took some time for her to commit to Dr. Now's plan. Viewers were frustrated to see how easily the Oregon native got off track each time a challenge arose in her life. Despite her struggles to stick to the diet, Radonvic knew how dire her situation was. "When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is I thank God that my body didn't give out during the night because my health is so bad now. I never know when my body is going to hit its limit," she said.

Despite the difficulties she faced and her initial struggles to listen to Dr. Now's advice, Radonociv successfully lost over 100 pounds by the end of her episode. Plus, it seems like she's continued to stick to Dr. Now's plan since photos on her Facebook page seem to indicate that she has lost even more weight (per Heavy).