Big Changes, Bigger Problems

Big Changes, Bigger Problems
These guests lost weight, but gained other problems.
Two years ago, Nicole became dedicated to diet and exercise, and went from a size 14 to a 2. She thought her friends and family would support her, but instead she often heard negative comments, like "You should gain more weight," and "You look anorexic."

She asks Dr. Phil: "What can I say to the people close to me when they make these thoughtless comments?"

Dr. Phil tells her: "I have two choices for you ... One is you can tell them to kiss your narrow ass!"

He also suggests that she consider the criticism. "There might be a real pearl of wisdom in there," he says. "I've told people when they get feedback, whether they want it or not, a great thing to say to them is, 'Thanks for caring enough to share, and I promise to weigh it carefully."

Then, Dr. Phil explains, you can disengage and consider the comment and the motives behind it, "but you really do need to weigh it carefully because there might be something there that you're not seeing."

"I weighed 270 pounds for most of my adult life," says Kerry. "In November of 2001, I woke up with this revelation that I was not going to settle for any unhappiness in my life whatsoever. I filed for divorce, I told my employer that if I wasn't transferred, then I was not going to stay there, and I decided that I was not going to settle for the weight that I was at."

Over the past year, Kerry lost 140 pounds, and says she's much happier at her new weight. But she is bothered by the response of her parents and two daughters. "It seemed to me that nobody liked the new me," she says.

Kerry writes to the show: "Losing this weight was definitely a big change, and I would like Dr. Phil to be able to help my family accept that this is who I am now."

"When you make a big change like you've done here," Dr. Phil tells Kerry, "sometimes it changes the balance with everybody. So you feel like people just have a problem dealing with you now?"

"Yeah, I feel like a one-man army fighting this war on my own," she says. "I don't feel as though I've gotten support."

Initially, Kerry explains, she thinks her family was concerned. Now she thinks they're uncomfortable. "I think that they feel I'm judging them because of what I've done," she says, "and that I'm trying to push that on them, which I don't agree with at all."

Kerry says she is not anorexic or bulimic; she is not afraid of food, she does not want to lose more weight, and she has never purged. "I just kind of feel as though I'm always being confronted with this as supposed to just being left alone to just continue to do it the way I want to do it," she says.

Kerry's mother, Joan, is concerned, and thinks Kerry ought to gain 15 to 20 pounds to look healthier. She also says that Kerry used to laugh more. "She has a very short fuse," Joan says. "It's almost like you want to stay out of her way."

Kerry admits that she can be short-tempered, especially when she's preparing herself meals in the kitchen. She also recognizes that she lost too much weight too quickly, and deprived herself too much. "Now I am slowly normalizing," she says.

Dr. Phil asks Kerry what her mother is saying that she ought to take into consideration. "To somehow not snap at people as quickly, not feel as persecuted," says Kerry. "I have to figure out a different way to react."

Dr. Phil tells Kerry, who is living with her parents temporarily, "You are a guest in their home. I don't think I'd be ordering them out of the kitchen."

Kerry's two young daughters have also not responded positively to their mother's weight loss. They are getting overly concerned about their bodies and food consumption. Dr. Phil reads letters written by her two girls.

Lindsay, 10, writes: "When Mom was heavier, I thought she was a lot nicer...Now she gets mad a lot easier... At first I was happy for her, but then she got thinner and thinner and I got kind of upset because I wasn't thin and I want to look like her."

Courtney, 8, says, "I don't like to sit on Mom's lap because she's too boney. I think she's worried about us getting bigger. We come home from school with full lunch pails because we don't get as hungry now."

Dr. Phil tells Kerry, "You don't want to see them get in a way that they have some eating disorder or they're too focused on the superficial aspects ... You don't want them confusing body image with self-image because those are distinctly different things."

Kerry agrees.

Kerry refers to her issues with food as an "addiction" that she's fighting. Dr. Phil tells her she's living in extremes. "That pendulum needs to swing and settle in the middle so your daughters understand what really is important here," he says. "It is really important that you not model this extreme behavior for your daughters. If you want your daughters to be healthy, you need to set up a balanced lifestyle."

Dr. Phil also tells Kerry that she should not question her parents' motives. "You've made a lot of changes in your life," he says. "It looks to me like they've stood by you real solid. You're living in their home ... they're concerned about your daughters ... I don't think they're saying they want you to go back like you were. I think they're just saying 'Lighten up and get out of our face about it.'...I've got a sneaking suspicion that if you would trust yourself enough to lighten up a bit ... I think you'd find that your support system would close ranks around you and try to support your reasonable goals."

Pam lost 130 pounds after having gastric bypass surgery. She's thrilled with the weight loss, but her daughter Wendy sees downsides. Wendy says that her mom, who now wears a size 2, rubs it in her face, and points out to Wendy that her butt is getting big. She also told Wendy's husband, who weighs nearly 300 pounds, that an amusement park ride he was about to go on was not made for fat people.

"I can't believe my mom would say these things now, because she had her feelings hurt so many times when she was heavy," says Wendy.

"I feel like my mom thinks she's better than everyone now that she's lost all this weight."

Pam, who thinks the surgery saved her life, says she's simply concerned about her family's health. "I worry because of the diseases that are associated with being obese," she says. "I know how hard it is to live that life, and I wish for them that they could get that under control."

"I've made comments, but I think they're the same comments I made as a fat person...I'm not a mean person, and I would never say anything to my family to hurt their feelings," says Pam.

Wendy thinks that her mom's surgery was extreme. "I'm happy that she lost the weight," she says. "But the whole time that she was losing this weight, I had to watch her throw up to the point where veins were breaking in her face."

"I think there comes a point in every relationship where you have to stop complaining and start asking," Dr. Phil tells Wendy. "What do you want her to do that she's not doing? What do you want her to stop doing that she is doing?"

Wendy answers, "I want her to start being happy again. She was always so confident ... She looks uncomfortable the way she is."

"My skin doesn't really feel like my skin anymore," explains Pam. "I don't recognize the person I look at in the mirror even."


"You miss your mom, and that's what this is all about, isn't it?" Dr. Phil asks Wendy.

She agrees, and says, "She's still a prisoner of her weight, because now she has to know all the time, almost to the ounce, how much she weighs, every single day ... I want her to not concentrate on the way she looks on the outside all the time."

Dr. Phil tells Pam: "What your daughter is telling you is, 'I miss my mom.' She doesn't like saying it because it sounds selfish."

He continues, "You didn't get as heavy as you got for no reason ... You used that food for a purpose ... You're saying 'I felt safer and more confident when I was tucked inside this cocoon,' and now it's like your laid bare. That protective outer shell is not there anymore."

He asks the two women to look at each other, and tells Wendy: "One thing I believe about people, particularly moms ... you can change the wrapper any way you want, but their eyes are absolutely the windows to their soul. Now look at your mom in the eye and tell me that's not your mom."