Ask Dr. Phil: Anita, Kenny

Getting Back on Track

"Last time we were on the Dr. Phil show, I was wanting my hot, sexy wife back," Kenny says. "I learned that some things that I would say to Anita were very hurtful, and I have tried to curb that." 

"My biggest wake-up call was when Dr. Phil said I had a 10-times-higher risk of having a heart attack, and what good am I to my children if I'm not there?" Anita remembers. "I was on Dr. Phil's Ultimate Weight Solution. I went from 235 pounds to 170 pounds. The big thing that changed everything for me was in January of 2007."

"We had a house fire and lost virtually everything," Kenny says.

"I was under a lot of anxiety and stress, and I started binge-eating," Anita says. "I have gained every bit of weight back. As of now, I weigh 233 pounds. Kenny still has moments."

[AD]"I never try to hurt her feelings, but sometimes it happens," he says..

"I know that Kenny is not trying to hurt me intentionally. He's very raw around the edges," she says. "When I look in the mirror, I am literally disgusted with what I see. It's hard trying to make these changes to lose the weight, and you're not getting anywhere. I have been looking at forms of gastric bypass surgery."

"I am desperate to get Anita not to do this," Kenny says. "I'm scared for her. I want Dr. Phil to tell Anita that the gastric bypass surgery is not the best solution for a weight loss problem."

Dr. Phil asks Anita, "Why do you think you've gained this weight back?"

"A lot of it, I think, is stress, medical issues that I have, and a lot of it falls on my shoulders because I've allowed myself to fall off the wagon, so to speak. I've been making some pretty bad choices here of late," she says. She also blames the stress of losing their home in a fire while Kenny was in Iraq, and also almost losing their 5-year-old son in the fire.

"So, there's been a lot of stress and pressure," Dr. Phil says, "and you've comforted yourself with food." He asks Kenny, "What are you doing to help?"

"Me? I'm not doing a whole lot to help, Dr. Phil," he says. "Since I've gotten back from Baghdad, we've tried to do a little better as far as eating, but it has been such chaos this past year."

"He's not helping in terms of the comments and judgments that he visits upon you, true?" Dr. Phil asks Anita.

[AD]"No, he's not, but it's not as bad as it used to be," she says.

"I have learned a little bit, sir, from you," Kenny says.

Dr. Phil tells Kenny he appreciates the sacrifices he's made in being in the armed forces and working in Iraq. He asks Kenny why he feels gastric bypass surgery is not right for his wife.

Kenny says from what he's seen as a nurse, the people who've lost weight from the surgery have all had life-altering side effects. "And some of those scare me," he says.

"Gastric bypass can be a very viable alternative. It can be a safe surgery. There are also a lot of gastric bypasses gone bad. No question about that. It is not risk-free surgery," Dr. Phil says. "When you were here before, we got you started on the right track. I sent you to the PNP center in Dallas, Texas, had you worked up completely, and we found out that you do have some things that are challenges for you that make you what I refer to as weight loss resistant, and that is difficult. I'm going to tell you that it also, in my opinion, makes you a poor candidate for gastric bypass at this time, and I'm going to say that based on what the medical doctors have related and secondly, psychologically. You have said you are stressed right now, that you have never really grieved the loss of your home and the trauma. You're probably experiencing a lot of anxiety and depression associated with the disruption of your life. All of these things make you a poor candidate for gastric bypass surgery because you would very likely sabotage that surgery exactly the way you're sabotaging yourself now."

Dr. Phil clarifies that although many people think the surgery is an easy way out, there's nothing easy about gastric bypass surgery. "It is a major lifestyle realignment. It is a change that is more demanding than anything you could possibly do to control this yourself, and this may become an option for you, but you have work to do before you even consider that. You have proven that you can lose the weight, because you lost 65 pounds, right?" he asks.

"About 70, yeah," she says.

"So, you've proven that you can do that, and you say, ‘If he saw my pantry, he would choke me.' ‘I go into that exercise room, but I don't exercise. It's tough.' So, you're not exercising, you're not eating properly, and you are emotionally balled up right now," Dr. Phil says. "What we need to do is unravel that ball and get you constructively back doing the things that you need to do, and maybe you don't want to do this alone. Maybe you want to let me get a nutritionist involved. Maybe you let me get a personal trainer involved. Maybe you need me to get you exercising outside your home in a significant place where you can really have some camaraderie." He tells Kenny, "Maybe you can begin to support efforts and modify your lifestyle in support of hers, because anything that's bad for her to eat is bad for you to eat as well."

[AD]"Right. I need to lose a few pounds myself," Kenny says.

Dr. Phil reiterates that he doesn't think Anita is a good candidate for gastric bypass surgery. "Let me help you get back on track and see whether or not this is something you can do without going the surgery route. Not that it's not right for some people, but it's not right for you … I really believe we can do some things first, and then you make up your mind."

"OK," she agrees.