For those who watch My 600-Life, one of the most frustrating parts of the TLC series is that it often ends with a cliffhanger. Viewers become emotionally invested in the journeys of the morbidly obese individuals featured on the series — only to be left wondering how they're doing today. Irene Walker's journey was no different.
So how is Irene doing now? Let's take a deep dive into her story, and then investigate whether she was finally able to have weight loss surgery.
Irene from 'My 600-lb Life' struggled for years with her addiction to food.
My 600-lb Life fans were introduced to Irene Walker, 39, of Houston, Tex., on an episode that premiered on March 10, 2021.
"My daily life is such a struggle now because of how my size has gotten," Irene explained on the show. "It's hard for me to do things because of my weight, so I rely on my family and friends to help me do what I have to do ... I'm able to still get around and do some basic things for myself, like cleaning myself on my own still. So I push myself to do that. But it's hard."
Irene lives in an apartment with her son, niece, and daughter-in-law because she wasn't able to take care of herself anymore.
"Eating is what I do most of the day. It's the only thing that brings me the pleasure that I want. It's what I look forward to constantly," she said. "When I'm eating, it helps me forget everything else and block out a lot. You know, because when I have any of my favorite foods, all the hurt in me is taken away until the food is gone."
Food became a source of comfort for Irene when her mother left her abusive father. It continued to be her coping mechanism when she had an abusive partner herself as a teenager, got pregnant, and became a single mom at 17.
In the span of two years as a young adult, Irene lost her dad, mom, older sister, and aunt. She ended up living in a women and children's shelter, but she was kicked out because she got pregnant. Irene went on to have three more children after that.
Eventually, Irene turned to alcohol and drugs in addition to food as coping mechanisms. CPS took her three youngest away from her because of her substance addictions.
"I was devastated, and I actually lost my mind," she explained. "But it led me to a wake-up call. I got clean and sober for my kids, then. But when I got rid of those addictions, it led me right back to food."
Irene struggled to lose weight, even with Dr. Now's help on 'My 600-lb Life.'
During her first visit with Dr. Now, Irene weighed in at 603 pounds. He gave her the goal of losing 60 pounds over the next two months.
At first, Irene seemed motivated to make serious changes in her eating habits. However, when she followed up with Dr. Now, Irene had only lost 5 pounds.
"You either want to save your life or you don't," he told her. "So you need to decide if your life is more important than that food."
The bariatric surgeon again gave her a weight loss goal of 60 pounds. If she could do that, then he would allow her to move ahead with weight loss surgery. Unfortunately, Irene only lost 7 pounds two months later. The goal remained the same at that point: lose 60 pounds in two months.
Irene didn't follow up with Dr.