After experiencing a lot of trauma during her upbringing, Destinee turned to food for comfort. This went on for quite a while until she decided to pull herself together and take back the control she had lost over her life. Unfortunately, the circumstances of her life led her to end them. This is her story.
Destinee Changed Her Life, But That Wasn't EnoughPublished 3 months ago
Meet Destinee. You may recognize her if you watch the TLC show, My 600 Lb. Life. Destinee showed up on the program and began enchanting hearts immediately. You see, Destinee never felt like she fit in-- at school, among friends, and even within her own body.
Destinee was actually born Matthew, and she is the second transgender woman to participate in My 600 Lb. Life, a show that aims to help morbidly obese Americans lose weight, keep it off, and find their own happiness. Destinee appeared on the show's seventh season and immediately developed a cult following.
My 600 Lb. Life has been airing on the TLC television network since 2012, where it has gained both a following and many scandals. Show participants must be over 490 lbs (220 kgs) and must be committed to losing weight. Each episode follows a year in the life of a participant, although the first season gave participants seven years.
Each participant is given bariatric surgery-- usually either gastric bypass or a sleeve gastrectomy-- to set them on their weight loss journey. The average participant loses anywhere from 200-300 lbs, providing hope to many and proving that anyone can take up a healthy lifestyle-- even when it seems impossible.
But since its inception, My 600 Lb. Life has been followed by scandal. Many fat-activists claim the show is a modern-day freak show, where the average person can gawk at people who are so mentally unsound, they abuse their bodies. Activists also claim the show does not help these troubled people in the long run.
At least six former participants have died during or shortly after their episodes were filmed. Many of these deaths were as a result of their weight, although none were as a result of their weight loss. Proponents for the show say that showing this grim reality of morbid obesity educates viewers on why it's important to maintain a healthy weight.
But let us get back to Destinee. As a young person, Destinee was brought up in foster care and developed bad eating habits as the result of an emotionally turbulent childhood. Born to a teenage mother in a biracial relationship, Destinee's mother got no support for her three kids. By the age of four, Destinee and her two brothers had ended up in foster care. At the age of nine, Destinee (then Matthew) was over 150 lbs, and by the age of fifteen, she weighed 350 lbs.
By the time Destinee came out as transgender at the age of 22, she weighed over 400 lbs. Five years later, she appeared on the show at a grand total of 669 lbs. Destinee knew that it was time for a change, but she did not even know where or how to begin.
After her horrible upbringing, Destinee was still struggling. When she, as Matthew, came out as gay at eighteen, not everyone in her sprawling family accepted it. And when she came out as Destinee at the age of 22, things simply got worse.
Right before TLC began filming the show, Destinee had suffered another horrifying situation: her brother, who she was very close to, died in her arms. Anthony had just come back from the hospital after minor surgery but wound up having a blood clot. Destinee blames herself for her brother's death, by saying if she were more fit, she could have better cared for him.
Destinee's depression was severe at the beginning of her episode, and she described her life as laying in bed, waiting to eat, while the simple act of getting out of bed was exhausting for her physically and emotionally. 'Food is the only thing I have to turn to," she confided, and sadly shared that "[she] can feel it killing [her]."
"My body can't take getting any bigger than I've already let it" she added, "they're going to be burying me next." But Destinee was ready and committed to making a change. In charge of her sexuality and her gender, now it was time to take charge of her weight and be the beautiful woman she always knew she was on the inside.
TLC's program follows. Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, also called Dr. Now is a celebrity bariatric surgeon who is committed to helping morbidly obese patients, like Destinee, lose weight, get into healthy routines, and live their best lives. Destinee traveled to Houston from her home in Louisianna to meet with Dr. Now and begin taking the first steps into her new world.
Reportedly, less than 5% of Dr. Now's patients wind up conquering their challenges and losing the weight they need to live a healthy life. With the crucial support of her sister and mother, Destinee was ready to make some serious changes.
Destinee did not have an easy time whatsoever. Before her surgery, she made a goal of losing 80 lbs within the first two months. But after her mother got sick with heart problems, Destinee made some bad food choices in order to comfort herself. She only wound up losing 24 lbs.
Dr. Now told Destinee he was sorry for all of her problems, but reminded her that stress was always going to be a part of her life. No matter what was going on, she needed to find a way to deal with it in a healthy manner. "You're not showing me there is any real desire to put effort into saving your life," he told the frustrated woman, before giving her one more chance to lose that 80 lbs before he would approve her surgery.
After two more months of hard work, Destinee begged Dr. Now to permit her once more to make changes. While she was working hard, Destinee didn't feel that she was quite ready. But by the third month in her journey, she began to have severe stomach troubles. Her mom made her go back to Dr. Now, who took this pain very seriously.
Dr. Now discovered that while Destinee was working hard, she had barely lost any weight at all-- only about 17 lbs. He checked her for physical problems and determined that her pain was coming from binging: Destinee was doing well on her diet, but whenever she faced emotional troubles, she would overeat.
Dr. Now has dealt with many patients like Destinee, and he knew exactly how to help her. He arranged for her to begin meeting with a local therapist, knowing that psychotherapy would help her get her emotional health into proper order so that she could begin working on her physical health.
Dr. Now told Destinee that he thought she was relying on the surgery to heal her completely, which is a setup for failure. The surgery can only help so much-- the rest of it has to be done by the patient. If Destinee can't manage to heal her emotional hurt, she would be kicked out of the program and never receive her surgery.
Destinee soon started therapy, and really hit it off with her therapist. Dr. Lola Clay. "You have to give yourself permission to be who you are, no matter what others think," was the lesson repeated over and over. "You're more significant than the body that you're in."
Her work with Dr. Clay helped Destinee to cement her identity and also find things to work on and move towards. Dr. Clay helped her look back on her past and solve the issues that lead to all of her weight troubles-- such as losing her brother. Most importantly, she taught Destinee how to give herself permission to be both happy and healthy.
After her first two months' failure, she decided to change her environment completely-- by moving to Houston. Living in Louisianna made it difficult to change her bad habits. And being in Houston meant she was closer to Dr. Now, making it easier to get better help. Dr. Now requires patients to have family living with them-- but Destinee knew she would be better off alone.
Once she was by herself in Houston, Destinee really buckled down on eating well and exercising. By the end of her first year working with Dr. Now, she was permitted to have gastric sleeve surgery, which dropped her down to 440 lbs. It may not seem like much, but she lost over a third of her original body weight to get there.
The picture below is not a MySpace angle or even a Snapchat filter. After her 220 lb. weight loss, Destinee looks like a whole new person. But even more important, she feels like a whole new person.
Where many of the pictures of her prior to her weight loss showed a sick, young woman, lying in bed and not taking care of herself, now, you can tell that her confidence is soaring. She wears makeup. She dresses up nicely. And most importantly, she smiles and looks beautiful while doing it.
These pictures were shared on Destinee's Instagram account not long after her episode aired. Seeing the number 220 lbs is one thing, but seeing the actual, physical difference between the Destinee before and the Destinee after is absolutely stunning. With her confidence skyrocketing, nothing seemed to hold her back anymore.
Now that she knows weight loss is possible and she knows how to do it, she feels like she can do anything she sets her mind to. And her positivity is infectious, as you will see. Those who have been following her journey since the beginning continue to follow her-- whether she's having a good weight loss day or still struggling.
A single look at any of Destinee's social media will prove that fans are super involved in her continued success. Often, they use these spaces in social media to talk about their own, similar troubles, whether it be coming out as gay or transgender to their family, or dealing with their own weight issues.
And Destinee, positive and loving as she is, is only too happy to reach back out and comfort her fans. She believes that sharing her journey will help countless others come to discover their own, true selves.
Want to reach out to Destinee about your own troubles? Well, her social media is easy to discover. Her Instagram, for instance, chronicles her post-My 600 Lb. Life weight loss journey. But she also uses it to celebrate her new life.
If you are looking for someone who will tell you the weight loss journey is easy, look somewhere else. Destinee shares her truths, and that includes the bad days. But each and every message is tinged with Destinee's positive outlook, love, and joy. For instance, check out this recent picture she shared...
This little fan found Destinee at her job at Lowe's Home Improvement and asked for a snapshot. Destinee appears to have lost even more weight, and she's not only looking like she is taking better care of herself is that she is happy in her new body. In total, Destinee was able to get rid of nearly 500 lbs and weighed about 207 lbs in 2021.
One of Destinee's biggest fears was losing her curves as she lost weight, or losing the feminine form that the extra weight granted her. It's clear to see that Destinee still has, 'all the right curves in all the right places,' despite her dramatic weight loss. A true success story!
Unfortunately, Destinee's story ended abruptly and tragically in 2022. On February 10th, 2022 Destinee's brother confirmed via Facebook that the beloved young woman was found dead. "I’m sorry you felt alone, I’m sorry you felt you had nobody else to turn to... I’m sorry you felt you had no other option Destiny wouldn’t [have wanted] this," he wrote in a heartbreaking post.
Destinee's death is believed to be a possible suicide. She had attempted suicide in the past. Although Destinee's death is a tragedy, her life did inspire those who bore witness to her journey and her transformation, and there's always hope that she will go on to motivate those who knew her to never give up on themselves.
Paul Mason was born in 1960 in Ipswich, England. Sadly, he went through an abusive childhood whose effects followed him into adulthood in the form of extreme food addiction. At one point in his life, Paul Mason was considered to be the fattest man in the world, and he is, to date, the heaviest person ever recorded in the UK.
This is the story of Paul's journey through weight ups and downs, relationships beginning and failing, and the ultimate realization he's come to to help him win his battle once and for all.
We often hear about addiction and how it can ruin your life, but it’s usually used in the context of drugs and alcohol, not food. For Paul Mason, food was his source of comfort during a difficult childhood. Instead of working through what happened to him and what he’s had to endure, he ate...and ate, and ate.
Paul Mason is now in his 60s and once again finds himself struggling with his addiction to food. At his heaviest, Paul weighed in at 980 pounds and was known measured as being the heaviest man in the world. Like it has for most of us, the pandemic has been hard on Paul. But, let’s take a step back and take a look at his food journey together.
For many children, their childhood memories bring a smile to their faces. However, for many others, it only brings tears and nightmares. Sadly, Paul’s childhood memories bring on the latter. Throughout his childhood, he suffered years of child abuse that left him traumatized. Children are strong and have the ability to bounce back from anything. However, this is only possible if they receive the correct care.
Unfortunately, Paul never received the care needed to help put healthy coping mechanisms in place. Instead, his twenties involved binge eating as a form of emotional detachment. As he got older, it only got worse.
As you can imagine, there isn’t much that a person Paul’s size can do on their own. He was never able to bathe himself, dress himself, or even go buy groceries. However, worst of all was that he was unable to work and earn an income. So how has he survived and how was he able to keep up his eating habits?
Unfortunately, the answer may make you angry. Paul needed continuous care that cost United Kingdom taxpayers £100,00 (~$133K) a year! To put that into perspective, that means that up until now, £1.5 million (~$2M) of taxpayers' hard-earned money has been spent on Paul Mason.
Paul knew that he had a problem with eating, but he never felt the urge to do anything about it. That was until 2002 when he needed help and nobody could get him out of his apartment. Paul Mason was 42 years old when medical emergency teams and fire crews were called to his home. The only way to get him out of the apartment was through the window.
So emergency teams removed the window and some brickwork. This allowed a forklift to gain access to Paul and he was lifted out. By 2009, Paul’s obsession with food was at its peak where he was consuming 20,000 calories a day. It was determined that if he wanted to survive, he had to have surgery.
As shown by what happened in 2002, Paul admits that leaving his house had become extremely difficult. So he reserved it for emergencies only. To any of us, severe tooth decay would be considered an emergency. However, Mason was used to being by now and knew how to handle it.
From his diet of 40 chocolate bars a day, it's easy to understand that his teeth were suffering. Paul revealed to The Sun that when a tooth crumbled or was cracked, he would just pull it out himself. He would start the process by heating up needles and sterilizing his mouth. After that, he would just insert the needle directly into his gum. He claims to have removed at least a dozen teeth this way.
You may be wondering, how does someone like Paul Mason get found? He’s just an average person like you and me, except that he doesn’t leave his home unless it’s to go to the hospital. Well, it was during an incident that took place at the hospital that the world found out about Mason and his situation. He made headlines when he spoke out about the inhumane treatment that he received during a visit.
According to Mason, hospital employees handed him a form and asked him to sign it. The form gave them permission to cremate his body in an abattoir designed for animals should he pass away. The hospital explained that this would need to happen as they wouldn’t be able to handle his size themselves. Paul was “disgusted” and ran straight to the media.
How is it possible for a person to reach 980 pounds by the time that they’re in their 40s? Well, you may find your answer in the list of food that Paul ate in a day. For breakfast, he would eat a whole packet of bacon, 12 slices of bread, two eggs, and ketchup. After breakfast, he would snack on boxes of chips and $20+ worth of chocolate. Lunch consisted of take-out in the form of either pie and fries or pizza.
As a snack between meals, Paul ate sausage rolls and pork pies. Dinner was similar to lunch in that it was takeout, however, it was usually Chinese, Indian, or kebab. Before dozing off, Paul ended his night with a snack of boxes of chips and more chocolate.
Paul knew that his weight had become dangerous and that he needed to undergo surgery if he wanted to keep living. For those of you who don’t know, gastric bypass surgery is when a doctor operates on the stomach and intestines to help reduce obesity. During surgery, the stomach is divided into a small upper pouch and a much larger lower pouch. The small intestine is then rearranged and connected to each pouch.
While the people who need this surgery are classified as obese, their size can make the surgery extremely risky. To minimize the risk, patients have to have a BMI of 35-39 with specific significant health problems. If these conditions are not met, patients will not be allowed to receive the surgery.
Paul was desperate to get the life-saving gastric bypass surgery. It would not only save his life but would give him the kickstart that he needed to turn his life around. Unfortunately, for years, he was unable to meet the requirements and his applications were turned down by the National Health Service. Thankfully, Paul never gave up hope.
After 10 long years, Paul’s application was a success and he underwent surgery in 2010. The impact that this had was unbelievable. In that same year, he lost a total of 644 pounds and by 2014 was weighing in at 308 pounds. This meant that the surgery had helped him shed almost 672 pounds!
In 2013, Paul had recovered from his surgery and was well on his way to living a normal life. Just when he thought that life couldn’t get any better, he received a Facebook notification from a woman named Rebecca Mountain. She had seen a documentary about him and had fallen in love. Despite being 13 years his junior and weighing only 112 pounds, love was definitely in the air (or in their case, on the internet).
In January of 2014, the couple took their relationship to the next level and got engaged. They seemed happy and in love. Unfortunately, one bad decision tore it all away.
The couple were smooth sailing, with Rebecca helping Paul to meet his goals and stay on track. But one day she came home and there was a loaf of bread in their kitchen - something that was against the strict diet Paul was meant to be on. As Rebecca recalled it, that was a turning point where Paul started reverting back to old habits.
"He said he was getting bored with what we were eating, and his portion sizes more than doubled. His bedroom was the living room and he was eating at night," she said. The relationship ended and Mason decided to move back to the United Kingdom - alone.
Before his relationship with Mountain crumbled, Paul underwent further surgery while living in the States. The gastric bypass surgery had been a success, however now he was left with excess skin that needed to be removed. Unfortunately, the surgery cost a pretty penny totaling around $40K. For this reason, the NHS refused to pay for his operation until his weight had been stable for at least two years.
In May of 2015, doctors performed a nine-hour procedure and removed excess skin weighing around 50 pounds. Paul said that once the skin had been removed, that “I didn’t really feel any benefits from it in that way, of course moving around was a lot easier but I still felt the same as before in my mind.”
The surgery had been a success, but now it was up to Paul to carry on the weight loss process through a diet change. When he was at his lowest weight of 266 pounds, Mason would have one piece of toast, a banana, and a cup of coffee for breakfast. This would be followed by fruit as a snack and a small chicken breast with salad for lunch.
A snack of yogurt came before pasta with a side salad for dinner. After having seen what he used to eat in a day, one can understand just how difficult this transition must have been! Was he able to keep it up?
Paul decided to process his failed love endeavors with Mountain back in the United Kingdom. He had not been attending therapy sessions while in the States and Mason felt that his weight was proof of that. Sadly, his weight went back up to 546 pounds after their relationship ended. This weight brought on chronic arthritis and caused Mason to lose most of his mobility.
At this point, he needed multiple surgeries to regain mobility. Mason needed new knees, a hip, and multiple hernia surgeries all of which would cost the NHS over £100,000 (~$133K). In 2019, Paul was ready to undergo the necessary surgeries and get his life back on track. However, the COVID-19 pandemic had different plans.
Paul’s weight was back up and he was in a lot of pain. To relieve his pain, he would have to undergo a number of surgeries, all of which were canceled when the pandemic hit. During the pandemic, all non-urgent elective surgeries were suspended. While these surgeries would have made Paul’s life more comfortable, they weren’t life-saving surgeries.
Like many others, Paul struggled during the pandemic. However, it wasn’t due to loneliness as he said that “I am used to living in sort of isolation.” For him, the struggle came in the form of delays. Despite trying to be positive, all he could do was lie around and wait.
Feelings of helplessness and depression crept back into Paul’s mind and overtook any progress that he had made up until this point. He reverted back to his old ways of coping and once again found comfort in chips. According to Paul, “Crisps [chips] because that’s always been my go-to snack. I use them to keep the edge off because I’m in terrible pain through the arthritis.”
His lack of pain management and unhealthy coping mechanisms heightened his depression. The harder that Paul tried to focus on recovery, the harder the pandemic hit and the slower every process became. Paul took it in his stride until it all became too much and he didn’t know what else to do.
During the global pandemic, Paul felt as if his life was in limbo. Despite knowing that everyone else felt the same way, he was running out of ways to cope. His weight was up, his body was in pain and his mind was in a dark place. In May of 2021, it all became too much to handle and he overdosed on a cocktail of his own prescription drugs.
He was desperate but as soon as he swallowed the pills he knew that he had made a mistake. He called the ambulance and was carried out of his apartment in a sling because the lift was broken. Two fire trucks and eight men later, Paul was out and on his way to the hospital. After two weeks he had made a full recovery and was discharged.
Too often, people underestimate the power of the mind. However, over the years Paul has realized that therapy is the key to his success. According to him, “They can fix your body really quickly with all the surgeons but your mind, that needs more, and it’s vital too because it’s the mind that obviously controls everything.”
He realizes now just how much of a setback moving to the States and giving up therapy had been to his process. Mason believes that the NHS could save a lot of money by investing in long-term therapy for patients rather than pills.
Paul has made a full recovery from his overdose and is committed to his journey of living a healthier life. This is not only limited to his body’s health, but also that of his mind. It is never too late to work through the hardships that life has thrown your way, something that the 61-year-old chooses to live by.
At the moment, Paul is living by himself in sheltered housing in Plymouth. Here he has access to round-the-clock care and is focused on getting “through it.”
All 61 years of Paul’s life have been a rollercoaster journey, one that is being told through a documentary on ITV. The documentary is called The World’s Fattest Man: 10 Years On and has been filmed over the course of a decade. It demonstrates everything that he has been through and had to overcome throughout his life and weight loss journey.
During the documentary, Paul reiterates how important mental health is and how therapy has helped him to tackle his demons. He hopes that this documentary will help others like him realize that they need help before it’s too late.