So far this season “Heavy” has taken on diabetes, child abuse and abandonment, various stomach and lymph-draining surgeries and emotionally-driven eating disorders, but in episode 9, we get two heavies, Tim, a 4’2”, 240.2 lb. 33 year-old dwarf, and Stacia, a 435.2 lb. 36 year-old married woman, whose health issues and physical limitations have made their weight loss even more immediate than some previous cast members.
Tim’s weight problems are causing a variety of health problems for him, including sleep apnea, acid reflux, borderline diabetes and narcolepsy, as well as practical issues–his stomach is so large he has to roll himself off of the couch. He can’t find a job. He can’t find love. (He met a woman online, but the relationship fell apart when they met.) And, worst of all, Tim has become so large for someone his size–he’s three times the ideal weight for his height–that his fat is putting pressure on his vital organs, increasing his risk of death. Like every other heavy, Tim’s weight has gotten out of control for a reason:
when he was 16, his mother, who he admits was his “rock,” his brother’s girlfriend and he were in a car accident. Tim’s mother died instantly. Food quickly became Tim’s support system, replacing the bond he had with his mother, and seventeen years, he could lose his life, too. “I am bigger round than I am tall. I am over five-feet wide.That’s scary,” Tim says when he finds out his measurements.
Stacia wasn’t always fat, but began eating as a method of coping after being molested for six years beginning when she was six years-old. Now as an adult, her eating has spiraled out of control, limiting her everyday life to the point where she can no longer function. She is unable to sleep in bed because it’s uncomfortable for her to lay on her back. Stacia isn’t able to have sex with her husband, with whom she has an odd codependent relationship. He takes care of her, feeding her a steady diet of fast food, take-out and microwaveable meals, and they enable each other’s overeating. Stacia has even had to sacrifice her true love, theater; she can no longer perform or direct, much less attend shows because she can’t fit in the seats. “This fat has become my identity,” Stacia says at rock bottom, a feeling that also motivated me to begin losing weight, too. Like Kevin, or, Big Kev, of episode 5, I was Big B–among other, less flattering nicknames for fat people (Chunk, Piggy and Gomer Pyle come to mind.)–for most of my life, a title that I was both proud of and embarrassed by because it turned a physical attribute into, at the very least, a job title. And, eventually, it became my identity when, in college, I could no longer walk around campus without a towel to dry the sweat from my body, among other restrictions–which you’ll hear more about if you come see “Fat Fuck”–like Stacia.
Upon arriving at “the facility,” Stacia and Tim are surprised by the portion-sizes of their meals as well as their complete lack of fitness, quickly realizing how far gone they were. Initially, Tim is limited because of his size and his health issues (There’s a great scene where he is completely asleep on a mini-cardio machine.), but Stacia’s eagerness pushes him. Although they both have physical limitations, the two clients both accept the regimen early on and don’t put up a fight with the trainers, unlike every other episode where there’s always one heavy who doesn’t buy-in whether it’s because their emotional issues are so deep or the salad is getting on their nerves. After they both finish the first week losing 12 lbs. each, Stacia and Tim are fully invested in the regimen and don’t look back.
While Stacia has more than two hundred pounds to lose, much of her work occurs in therapy with Beth Leermakers. Stacia has little confidence or self-worth, stemming from her molestation as a child, which has caused her to believe she’s “damaged.” She doesn’t take care of her body because she doesn’t believe she “deserves” to be healthy, yet she understands that food “has put [her] life on hold.” Working with Beth helps Stacia get at the reasons for her weight issues, and after participating in a food burial with Tim, Stacia not only buries the food that was killing her but “the child that was lost, the innocence that was lost.” Gaining control back over her life and her decisions, Stacia begins to question everything in her life, including her relationship with her husband, who visits at the three-month mark, shortly after Stacia, fighting back tears, has a breakthrough, “I’m going to keep on pushing and doing the best I can…because I know now that I deserve to be happy.” Before her husband even arrives, I have the feeling that Stacia is ready to move on, and that becomes clearer when he tries to work out with her and has to stop because he’s going to vomit. Stacia knows her husband loves her, but now she’s finally able to love herself. Over the course of the six months, Stacia transforms into a different person. She really feels she’s “back to being me” and wants more.
Tim’s progress follows a similar curve as Stacia. As he addresses the issues that are the cause of his unhealthy relationship with food, Tim understands the reasons for his problems and begins to make the changes. The fact that he is physically able to do more only builds Tim’s confidence, too, and after finally taking on his greatest fear, swimming, in honor of the seventeen-year anniversary of his mother’s death, with the help of Beverly (She’s still no David Robertson, but I’m really beginning to love this woman.), Tim is victorious. He begins pushing himself harder and hits his stride, losing more over his final three months than in his first three, culminating in a vicious beach work out that Tim most certainly was not able to do when he arrived.
At the final weigh-in, Stacia’s transformation becomes more evident when she steps on the scale and clocks in at 286.4 lbs., a total of 148.8 lbs, basically the size of an average-sized woman. Stacia still has a whole other woman to lose, but she’s on the right path and now has the tools to change her life. Tim’s final weigh-in isn’t quite as drastic as Stacia’s, but, for his height, is pretty phenomenal. He weighs-in at 173.4, a total of 66.8 lbs., and, like Stacia, Tim is a new person, too, declaring, “I’m going to look like a mini-God.”
I’m still not sold on “the big reveals,” so we’ll skip to the follow-ups: Tim has maintained his weight loss and was able to find a job when he returned to Arizona. Stacia has lost another 15 lbs., and, after many attempts to reconcile, has separated from her husband. But I don’t think that’ll slow her down. Both Stacia and Tim want more from life, and I think they’ll get it.
As long as they keep believing in themselves.