Cicero native’s story told on ‘My 600-lb Life’

SHARE Cicero native’s story told on ‘My 600-lb Life’

Staff reporter Denise I. O’Neal talks with Olivia, who grew up in west suburban Cicero, about telling her story on TLC’s “My 600-lb Life.”

BY DENISE I. O’NEAL

Staff Reporter

“My life could be a country song,” says the once 600-pound Olivia.

Many of her problems stem from her weight, something she has struggled with since her teens, according to the 46-year-old Cicero native. But now she’s on a mission to change her life, and will be featured Tuesday, Jan. 14, on TLC’s “My 600-lb Life.”

Olivia, a fraternal twin (her twin sister is undergoing her own weight-loss plan), dropped out of high school because of badgering and bullying from classmates. “In high school I was one of those girls who ate lunch alone,” she says.

Dropping out was the beginning of a snowball-effect of issues to follow: knee surgery, sleep apnea, job loss, divorce, dependence on oxygen and eventually needing a walker, which would lead to a deadlier self-destructive path. Following two floods in the summer of 2012 — the second after she moved into her parents’ basement — that destroyed her belongings, Olivia gave up.

“I was trapped in my body, standing in sewage because I couldn’t get up the stairs,” Olivia says. “Once I got out, I just cried.”

Olivia’s first solution — suicide— failed. “I never knew how people got to the point of committing suicide and then I was there.”

Frustration escalating, Olivia discovered “My 600-lb Life.” Participants must weigh 600 pounds or more to qualify. The show follows them through a year of their life, which begins with a consultation with the show’s doctor, Dr. Younan Nowzaradan.

Olivia, who is 5-feet-4 and 600 pounds, was selected, and met with the doctor Jan. 3, 2013. Told she had to lose 100 pounds, a determined Olivia lost 90 on her own— cold turkey. In June 2013 Olivia had a gastric sleeve procedure. (Olivia’s total weight loss can’t be disclosed because the segment hasn’t aired.)

But change already has taken place for her. Olivia, who never lived outside of Cicero, has moved to Houston where her brother lives so that she could embrace a healthier lifestyle, one that includes walking and better eating habits. “I cut out breads and tortillas.”.

Olivia hopes to get down to 160 pounds. She wants to be a motivational speaker and share this advice: “Never give up.”

Email: doneal@suntimes.com

“My life could be a country song,” says Olivia.

Many of her problems stem from her weight, something she has struggled with since her teens, according to the 46-year-old Cicero native. But now she’s on a mission to change her life, and will be featured Tuesday on TLC’s “My 600-lb Life.”

Olivia, a fraternal twin (her twin sister is undergoing her own weight-loss plan), dropped out of high school because of badgering and bullying from classmates. “In high school I was one of those girls who ate lunch alone,” she says.

Dropping out was the beginning of a snowball-effect of issues to follow: knee surgery, sleep apnea, job loss, divorce, dependence on oxygen and eventually needing a walker, which would lead to a deadlier self-destructive path. Following two floods in the summer of 2012 — the second after she moved into her parents’ basement — that destroyed her belongings, Olivia gave up.

“I was trapped in my body, standing in sewage because I couldn’t get up the stairs,” Olivia says. “Once I got out, I just cried.”

Olivia’s first solution — suicide— failed. “I never knew how people got to the point of committing suicide and then I was there.”

Frustration escalating, Olivia discovered “My 600-lb Life.” Participants must weigh 600 pounds or more to qualify. The show follows them through a year of their life, which begins with a consultation with the show’s doctor, Dr. Younan Nowzaradan.

Olivia, who is 5-feet-4 and 600 pounds, was selected, and met with the doctor Jan. 3, 2013. Told she had to lose 100 pounds, a determined Olivia lost 90 on her own— cold turkey. In June 2013 Olivia had a gastric sleeve procedure. (Olivia’s total weight loss can’t be disclosed because the segment hasn’t aired.)

But change already has taken place for her. Olivia, who never lived outside of Cicero, has moved to Houston where her brother lives so that she could embrace a healthier lifestyle, one that includes walking and better eating habits. “I cut out breads and tortillas.”.

Olivia hopes to get down to 160 pounds. She wants to be a motivational speaker and share this advice: “Never give up.”

Email: doneal@suntimes.com


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