The My 600 Lb Life Ashley Dunn Bratcher episode chilled viewers with a simple, direct, and terrifying admission: “There is not a day that goes by that I don’t have pain.” A devastating combination of poor diet and deep emotional trauma stemming from sexual abuse she suffered as a girl left Ashley despondent and nearly at the end of her rope.
And, as is so often the case with My 600 Lb Life participants, Ashley’s inability to do the little things for herself was a constant irritant:
“It’s gotten so bad now that I’m afraid I’ll be completely immobile soon,” Ashley said. “I’m good to stand for maybe five minutes….I’m terrified to get into my own bathtub, because I almost feel like I’m gonna fall to the floor.”
Of course, it turned out that sticking to a diet and going through surgery with Dr. Now was actually one of the easier parts of the My 600 Lb Life Ashley Dunn Bratcher episode. Ashley, who weighed 725 pounds when she got on Dr. Now’s scale for the first time, also suffered a perforated ulcer *and* a car crash, and wound up spending a grand total of 50 days in the hospital.
But Ashley’s determination has resulted in a remarkable transformation. Her initial weight loss was actually too extreme: Ashley lost 17% of her body weight, or about 123 pounds, in just four weeks, where the healthier goal had been about half that much weight. So, since then, Ashley’s weight loss has been slow and steady, as these before-and-after pictures can attest.
Here’s an Ashley Dunn Bratcher weight loss update from one of 2016’s Transformation Tuesdays:
And here’s a noticeably lighter-looking Ashley in another Transformation update from earlier in 2017:
Ashley recently revealed that the biggest secret to sustained weight loss–and, not coincidentally, the hardest part to maintain–is all mental. “This surgery is just a tool. It does not change your mindset,” she told People.
“But what I’ve found that helps me,” Ashley continued, “is when I do get that craving, I try to think about that and think about what I’m feeling. If it’s true hunger, then, you know, I’ll eat something. But if I’m feeling angry, happy, sad, I try to revert my mind to something else. I go for a walk. I play with my dogs. I might journal. It’s a learning experience.”
Thus, the woman who once compared food to oxygen (“It’s like breathing, it’s something I’ve got to have,” she said, during the My 600 Lb Life Ashley Dunn Bratcher episode) now embraces seriously low-cal meals, as some of her updates can attest:
And Ashley’s husband Jacob, who gained 60 pounds over the course of the episode, looks healthier as well. Here’s a photo of Ashley and Jacob together at a friend’s wedding this past summer:
Maybe the best thing of all? Ashley’s little boy Patrick, who so often had to do for his mother all the things she couldn’t do herself, is today a very happy and healthy second grader–who just last month turned eight! Now, when Ashley says “Without [Patrick], I’d be lost,” she means it in a completely different sense: that of a mother, whose love for her son knows no bounds:
As for a follow-up to the My 600 Lb Life Ashley Dunn Bratcher episode, Ashley herself recently revealed on Facebook that she’ll be a part of the next season of Where Are They Now?. “Not really sure when [it will air],” Ashley explained, “but it should be on the next season. A new one for me should be on sometime after the 1st of the year.”
In the meantime, you can revisit Ashley’s episode of My 600 Lb Life on TLC’s site.
(Photo credits: My 600 Lb Life Ashley Dunn Bratcher via Facebook, TLC)