If early reactions are any indication, the My 600 Lb Life James Bonner episode is the fan favorite for Season 6. The man’s constant good cheer and touching story appear to have won over the hearts of fans everywhere — and, thanks to the latest updates on James, we know that story has a happy ending.
A fun-loving boy whose life was marked by tragedy
Like so many other My 600 Lb Life participants, James (who goes by “LB”) came to associate food with comfort from a young age. His doting family used it to spoil him — and his Aunt Dora was the most notorious offender. “Every time I’d get down there,” James said, “the first thing she’d do is go open up the cabinets and say, ‘What do you want?’ It was always beef sticks or pigs in a blanket or snack cakes. I guess that’s when I started associating that comforted feeling with food.”
But that association took an unfortunate turn for James when he was just nine years old. It was then that Aunt Dora was diagnosed with cancer; she passed away shortly thereafter:
A happy man — but one whose weight began to trouble him
Despite early tragedy, James became known as a fun-loving guy. And his weight never impeded his physical abilities — as James put it for the Lexington (SC) Ledger, “You always hear about the fat kid getting picked last in gym class, but I was always picked first or second.”
By his early 20s, though, James weighed well over 400 pounds. He tried to turn to reality TV weight loss shows for help getting his weight under control: in the years before My 600 Lb Life existed, he sent an audition tape to the producers of Project Weight Loss, looking for a spot on the show.
Here’s James’ audition for Project Weight Loss (which, as far as we can tell, either never went into production or changed names before production), filmed back in 2009:
How did James B. lose his leg?
However, another tragedy struck in the form of an ATV crash on Mother’s Day weekend, 2013. LB, just 25 years old at the time, described the incident on the My 600 Lb Life James B episode:
I was supposed to be at a Mother’s Day lunch and one of my best friends, he wanted to go ride four-wheelers that weekend. I knew it wasn’t a good idea at my weight, but I wanted to have some fun. The last trail we were on is where I ended up getting into my accident. I shattered a bunch of stuff in my foot and after a failed surgery attempt, I ended up with a bone infection and it left me with only a few options, and the option we went with was amputation.
By early 2017, James had moved back in with his parents, was becoming incapable of caring for himself — and, at approximately 650 pounds, “was tired of feeling like I made the complete wrong decision.” He got in touch with TLC, and the My 600 Lb Life James B episode began filming.
James has lost more than 50% of his body weight — but he’s far from done
The Ledger revealed that James has managed to drop “over half” of those 650 pounds. Additionally, James says he’s lost “30 years of mental weight,” due to the childhood associations with food he still carried.
Additionally, James told Newsweek that he felt “euphoric” once he’d been approved for weight loss surgery, since “it gave me the sense that all of this was becoming real.” He also explained that things with his mother, while strained, are better than they’ve been in some time: “I’ve gained a certain level of independence, and it has given me some space away from her. It’s definitely made our relationship stronger.”
And James has ambitious short-term goals: he’s aiming to compete in a “mini-mudder race” — three miles long, complete with eleven obstacles — within the next six months.
Beyond that, James’ gratitude for his newfound fans and social media support network poured over in his first Facebook post after the My 600 Lb Life James B episode aired. He reminded fans that he can’t share any before-and-after photos until both his episode and the Supersized version have aired, but he did share a few pics from his 2017 weight loss journey — including one, taken late last year, that features some serious beard action:
James also shared a few more tidbits about his journey in recent interactions with fans:
Does he have a girlfriend yet? “Not yet lol.”
What does the “LB” in “James ‘LB’ Bonner” stand for? “Lil Buddy.”
What helped him keep pushing through on his weight loss journey? “The drive of wanting to be a man that not only my family and loved ones could be proud of but be someone that I could be proud of and love myself.”
Finally, James said that he’s “planning on” doing more My 600 Lb Life episodes. So, if you were delighted by James’ episode, you probably have a Where Are They Now? follow-up to look forward to next year!
You can stream the James B. episode of My 600 Lb Life here.
(Photo credits: My 600 Lb Life James B via Facebook)