Unforgettable Weight Stories: Tammy and Denise

Unforgettable Weight Stories: Tammy and Denise

"Food is a passion for my niece, Nicole. It's a total obsession," says Tammy. "Nicole feels like it's an accomplishment shoveling down a huge amount of food. It's embarrassing. I don't want to dine out with Nicole."


Tammy says Nicole learned this behavior from her mother. "When my sister and Nicole eat, it's like they're in this zone and nothing else is going on around them. Nothing else exists but the food ... For them it's eating tons of food. It's not a social thing. It's a contest — how big the piece of meat is or how

much is there for them to eat. At a family gathering, they stack their plate more than you would eat all day. Before the last bite's gone, they go back and get more."

Denise, Nicole's mom, was morbidly obese growing up, so she had gastric bypass surgery. She says Nicole has inherited her genes. "At the age of 6, Nicole weighed about 65 pounds. By the time she was 10, her weight had doubled to 127 and then just kept doubling and doubling and doubling," Denise explains. "When Nicole was young, I would
give the right portions and she would always come back and ask for more, so of course I would give her another spoonful. It's very hard to watch your child sit there and say, 'Mom, I'm still hungry,' and not want to feed her."

Denise realizes Nicole needs to change her eating habits. "If Nicole doesn't lose weight, she'll probably just live at home with her father and I for the rest of her life," she says. "My greatest fear is that in five or 10 years we may have to put her in a nursing home. It's very sad for me to see Nicole in this shape."

"Nicole is getting so big that I catch myself staring at her. You hate to see the obsession that's got such a hold on them," Tammy shares. She turns to Dr. Phil for help. "To see Nicole try to get off of a couch, it just breaks my heart. She's a heart attack waiting to happen. Dr. Phil, please help my niece, Nicole."


Dr. Phil asks Nicole for her reaction to seeing her mom and aunt talk so candidly about her situation.

"I just realized that that's how they felt about me. It's very hard to see that," Nicole says through tears.

"Are you out of control?" Dr. Phil asks.


"Yes," Nicole admits.

Dr. Phil points out that often when people make resolutions they are gung-ho at the beginning, but change quickly. "You know that when the emotions drain, old habits, old patterns, the lifestyle, would pull you back in. You know that, don't you? Because you've talked to yourself about this a million times," he says to Nicole.

"Very true," Nicole agrees.

"If you had the skills and abilities to turn this around, and you structured your world like you were committed — once you enter it, you're going to come out the other end with the positive results that you are looking for — would you do that?" Dr. Phil asks her.

"Yes, definitely," Nicole says.

Dr. Phil tells Nicole that it's all about structuring her world so she will complete her mission of losing weight. "I'm talking about changing your life, changing your lifestyle, changing the way you think, the way you value, how you measure reward, how you comfort yourself, how you entertain yourself, how you companion

yourself," he says. "Is that something that, if you had the skill and ability, that you would be willing to do?"

"Yes, yes I would," Nicole says.

"You deserve better than you're creating for yourself," Dr. Phil says. He points out that she is not going to be a better person once she loses the weight, and she is not a bad person now because she is overweight. "You are who you are," he says. He lists some of the daily tasks Nicole has trouble with that are keeping her from living her life to the fullest. She has difficulty taking a shower; shaving; driving; using public restrooms, because they are too small; and sitting in a movie theater, because the seats are too small. Her medical symptoms include: high blood pressure, sleep apnea, ulcers and a thyroid condition. "Those things are going to rob you of your quality of life," Dr. Phil tells her. "Will you do it if I tell you how?"

"Yes," Nicole says.

Reminding Nicole that she can't change what she doesn't acknowledge, Dr. Phil says, "You acknowledge that you eat way more

than you need. You're not feeding your body anymore; you're feeding your fat."

Before the show, Dr. Phil asked Nicole to keep a food diary of what she was eating. "We thought it would be effective if you could see how much food you are consuming during a week," he tells her. A table is wheeled onstage, piled with food. "We calculated and discovered that you're eating somewhere between 23,000 and 25,000 calories a week. That's an average of between 3,300 and 3,500 a day," he tells her. "That is a lot of food." 

Dr. Phil addresses Sarah and Shavon. "Do you guys enable her?" he asks. "Do you give her money sometimes, give her food sometimes when you know you shouldn't?"

Both acknowledge that they should not bring her food. "But we do it," Sarah says.

Dr. Phil addresses Denise, sitting in the audience. "Do you eat too
much with her?" he asks.

"Not anymore, I don't. Not since I've had my surgery," Denise says. "But I admit, over the years we've definitely eaten a lot."

Dr. Phil asks Tammy, "Do you think she's in a safe environment or do you think there's a lot of enablement around her?"

"I think there is a lot of enablement around her," Tammy says. "Dining out is a big thing." She adds that Nicole's parents eat out a lot.

"Are you willing to become part of the solution?" Dr. Phil asks Denise.


"Absolutely," she replies.

Dr. Phil addresses Nicole. "We're going to do this," he tells her. "You're going to have to change your lifestyle." He

explains that diets don't work, because people who go on them gain more weight in a year than people who don't. "When you're on a yo-yo diet, you're likelihood of dying from heart disease increases 70 percent," Dr. Phil warns. "We're going to change your lifestyle to one that is consistent with somebody who is not overweight. We're not going to have a lifestyle to support your obesity. He also tells her that she needs to visit with her doctors and start complying with what they tell her to do.


Dr. Phil addresses Sarah and Shavon. "You are my soldiers here. You've got to surround her. You've got to absolutely support all of the new lifestyle that we're talking about." He turns back to Nicole. "There's no easy way to do this," he says. "You're going to have to get your thinking right. You're going to have to get your emotions right.

You're going to have to clean your environment up. We're going to eliminate those impulse foods. And you're going to have to break a sweat."

Dr. Phil shows Nicole a picture of what she will look like at her ideal weight, 131 pounds. "I want you to get that image etched into your brain because that's where we're headed, and you're going to sit on this couch, on this stage just like that," he says to her.