Season 11, Episode 3 of My 600 LB Life presents the story of 36-year-old Wess Schulze, who lives in Danevang, TX, an incredibly self-aware man who used food to cope with life-alternating childhood trauma.
On the cusp of immobility
Wess considers every day that he wakes up to be a blessing and he’s grateful that he’s as mobile as he is but he’s noticing that his ability to walk has decreased more and more.
He’s scared of becoming bed-bound, but because he suffers from lymphedema like many My 600 lb. Life participates, he spends a lot of him time in bed so he can elevate his legs.
The lymphedema mass items weighs 40 lbs. and gets in the way when he walks and slows him down.
Wess has even fallen before when he was alone, which made him confront his mortality. He now takes showers with his front door unlocked incase he falls in the shower. His plan is to scream loud of enough to have his phone call 911, and he leaves the door open to make it easy for paramedics to enter his home to save him.
Although Wess doesn’t love the way his body looks, and struggles with mobility and the possibility of slipping the shower, he still finds thinking about what he’s going to eat every day “exhilarating.”
He usually orders his food through phone apps so he doesn’t have to deal with how other people judge him.
Wess has struggled with weight since childhood
Wess’ love of food began when he was a kid. His father was a very good cook and would serve his children “generous” amounts of food that distorted Wess’ idea of how big a portion should be.
He would equate large meals with love, and food was a rare bright spot in a childhood that was other wives defined by “doom and gloom.”
Wess’ dad got custody of Wess when his parents divorced when he was only three. He father was a truck driver, so he spent a lot of time away from the home. As a young child, often his sister, who was seven years older than Wess, had to be his caretaker.
His father’s absence also had a devastating consequence. While Wess’ father was away, a male family members sexually abused Wess.
Food became a coping mechanism to help him handle his trauma. Being overweight also kept people away from him. “If nobody wants me, then nobody can hurt me,” Wess says.
When Wess’ dad found out he was gay, he told him that his sexual orientation was not acceptable. He then made him go talk to the local pastor.
Wess’ dad lack of acceptance made him feel emotionally abandoned.
By the time he started high school he was 345 lbs. While in school Wess discovered he had a passion for theater, which continued for him in junior college, where he was able to meet other gay people. He also discovered partying, and dove head first into another coping mechanism.
He dropped of school and used his college loans on binge eating and substance abuse.
Wess moved to Houston to work in an office, but moving to a big city were he did not know anyone triggered depression. He continued to binge on food during this time.
By age 33 he had lost his job and his apartment and had to move in with his parents. Three years later, he’s in his own apartment because he found an online job, but his dad does live nearby and offers his support during his weight loss journey.
Wess’ dad supporting him in his journey to see Dr. Now
Wess’ dad drove him to Houston to see Dr. Now. The last time Wess weighed himself he was in the low 600s. He knew that he had gained some weight since then, but was totally shocked when the number on the scale came back as 705 lbs.
Back at home, Wess’ dad helped him clean out his stash of junk food, and comes over in the morning to help Wess walk and do other exercise. His ability to walk improved significantly in the first few months. Still, the lymphedema on his leg makes walking very difficult.
Wess’ first checkup had disappointing results
Although Wess was asked by Dr. Now to lose 100lbs. at his first check-in, he only lost 10% of that.
Of course, Dr. Now confronted Wess about why he only lost 10 lb., and Wess was honest that he didn’t stick with the 1,200 calorie diet that was given to him.
Wess took full responsibility
Wess was able to lose an incredible 89 lbs. at month five by his next appointment with Dr. Now, taking his total weight-loss to 99 lbs.
Wess had felt shocked by his confrontation with Dr. Now, but says that Dr. Now pulls people out of false worlds to bring them into reality. “He does that because he doesn’t want to see them hurt. He doesn’t want to see them die. He wants them to live.”
Wess also accepted responsibility for his lack of weight loss and didn’t blame anybody else. He took the 10 lb. weight loss as a wake-up call.
He started working out in earnest and stuck to his 1200 calorie diet.
Wess was extremely proud of his 100 lb. weight loss at month5 and Dr. Now immediately approved him for surgery. Dr. Now did warn him, however, that he showed up at the hospital without losing any weight, then he would be sent home.
Wess must not have showed up to surgery without losing weight because Dr. Now performed the surgery on him using his robotic machine.
By month 7, Wess’ total weight loss was 157 lbs. and was feeling really good. He’s lost 34 lbs. since surgery, but Dr. Now was disappointed and wanted him to have lost at least 40 lbs.
At his next weigh-in Wess was off his goal of 25 more pounds by 7 pounds.
Dr. Now suspected that Wess may have an emotional component behind his drive to eat, so he asked him to get some therapy to help him overcome his emotional issues.
Wess wasn’t really excited about getting therapy, but acknowledged that he did need therapy.
During his filmed appointment with Dr. Paradise, Wess opened up about his molestation and said that he didn’t really talk to anyone about this childhood trauma.
Dr. Paradise had some insight that huge parts of Wess’ identity and reality is still being ignored and swept under the rug in his family system.
2023 update for Wess Schulze
Wess was in a very dark spot when he began his journey with My 600 lb. Life, but thankfully he’s since come a long way.
On Friday, February 10, 2023 Wes shared an exciting update on Facebook : he had just completed an one-hour workout at the gym and is currently 220lb. below his starting weight.