My 600-Lb Life: Paula Jones' Stunning Weight Loss Transformation

The following article mentions sexual abuse and disordered eating.

In Season 2 of TLC's "My 600-lb Life," viewers met Paula Jones. In the 6th episode of the season, Jones opened up about her experiences navigating childhood trauma, grief, ongoing health struggles, and desire to lose weight. When she first appeared on the reality series, which filmed in 2013 and aired the following year, she was at 542 pounds; by 2016, she was at 200 pounds.

Before she lost weight, Jones shared that she was not happy with her size. "It hurts to move, it hurts to walk, it hurts to do just about everything," she said. "All the things that people take for granted are very difficult for me to do." She underwent a physical transformation, as well as an emotional transformation. 

Looking back on her "My 600-lb Life" experience, Jones shared in a video for TLC's Facebook page that her outlook on life has forever changed. "Before the weight loss journey, I just existed, went through the motions," she said. "After going through this journey ... I'm able to live life and experience life and participate in life." Since her time on "My 600-lb Life," Jones has continued to share her journey on social media. 

Paula Jones' initial challenges

On "My 600-lb Life," Paula Jones said her struggles with her weight began when she was a child. As an adult, she faced numerous health issues and personal setbacks related to obesity, including a stroke and meningitis. Jones shared that she hoped to make major dietary changes, but recognized that it was going to take a great deal of work to reshape her relationship with food. "Food doesn't hurt you emotionally. It does hurt you physically, but it doesn't hurt you emotionally. Food has definitely been there when people have not," she said.

Looking back on where she was at before "My 600-lb Life," Jones shared in TLC's aforementioned Facebook video that she also had to overcome her fear of failure. "I didn't do something if I didn't know first that I was going to succeed," she said. "I'm more willing to go for it and jump, or try and fall flat on my face and get up and do it again, because sooner or later I'm going to make it."

Paula Jones' husband died at the age of 33 from complications of being overweight

Paula Jones' life-changing journey was significantly influenced by the tragic passing of her husband due to weight-related complications. A little under a year before she filmed her episode of "My 600-lb Life," Jones' husband died at the age of 33. "His health got worse and worse, and when his heart stopped, we couldn't resuscitate him," she said. "My husband being overweight, that's what killed him. ... I don't think that I'm far behind him." Though she was still deep in the grieving process, Jones was determined to not only change her lifestyle, but commit to those changes.

At the end of her episode, Jones spoke with a counselor about learning to come to terms with her grief instead of pretending it didn't exist. As she and the counselor noted, this was a positive step. "It's not controlling me anymore," she said. 

Jones continues to celebrate his memory to this day. On what would've been their 13th wedding anniversary, Jones posted a tribute to her late husband. "You were in my dreams this morning and it felt so real! I still miss you and this weekend is probably the hardest of the year," she wrote on Facebook on May 29, 2021. "I know it isn't for me to understand but I always thought I would go 1st."

Paula Jones' children inspired her to make a change

At the beginning of her episode of "My 600-lb Life," Paula Jones shared that she is a single mother to four children. Her little ones became relatively independent at a young age out of necessity. "I can't take care of my family the way that I need to," she said. "The kids really are the ones who take care of the house." On top of wishing she could do more for her family, Jones also worried about potentially suffering from serious weight-related health complications. "I know it affects my kids," she shared. "My 8-year-old said it. She said, 'Mommy I don't want you to die.'"

This motivation was not only about Jones' own well-being but also about being there for her children and ensuring they wouldn't face the loss of another parent. Determined to take a first step toward change, Jones hoped to undergo gastric bypass surgery. "I haven't been successful in what I've done in trying to lose the weight and move forward and get out of this body I'm in," she said.

Paula Jones' first meeting with Dr. Now set the wheels in motion

When Paula Jones decided she was ready to seek out gastric bypass surgery, she met with "My 600-lb Life" star Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, aka Dr. Now, at his office in Houston. Jones told Dr. Now that she hoped that the procedure would help her become more physically active.

At that first meeting, Dr. Now gave Jones a mission: change her eating habits immediately and lose 20 pounds in a month. Jones went full steam ahead with attempting to limit her food and calorie intake, and moved her family from Atlanta to Houston to be closer to Dr. Now's office. However, at her second visit, she learned she gained 17 pounds. Dr. Now told her she would not be approved for surgery at that time, and noted that it seemed she was struggling with an eating disorder. Jones agreed with Dr. Now's assessment. "I think it is a food disorder," she said. "It's actually kind of a relief to hear somebody else say it."

In a 2018 video for TLC's Facebook page, Jones shared that she has a great deal of respect and admiration for Dr. Now, and the two continued to remain in contact after her episode wrapped. "I still go back to him yearly and fly back to see him. He's still my doctor," she said. 

Strict diet, exercise, and surgery

After that second meeting with Dr. Younan Nowzaradan on "My 600-lb Life," Paula Jones committed to a strict, all-liquid diet. She stuck to yogurt for breakfast, and soup for lunch and dinner. "The drinking liquids all day is the hardest thing I've ever had to do," Jones said on "My 600-lb Life." "At this point, I have to do it." 

At her second follow-up, Jones learned that she lost over 30 pounds. Dr. Now approved the procedure for the following week. She underwent gastric bypass surgery on July 30, 2013. After Jones recovered from her operation, her sister-in-law encouraged her to seek counseling and start exercising regularly. Jones also struggled to stick to the diet Dr. Now mapped out for her. 

Remembering her sister-in-law's words about not being active enough prompted Jones to start working out at a local gym with a personal trainer. Her initial foray into exercise was not easy, but she was determined to keep at it. In a 2018 Facebook video for TLC, she shared that staying active continues to be a major part of her life. "I don't care what it is, if you don't want to exercise, just move and call it something else," she said. 

Hair changes and big milestones

Before Paula Jones went under the knife, she dyed her hair a bright teal to help usher in the new chapter. Near the end of her "My 600-lb Life" episode, she changed the color of her hair once again to represent another milestone: She'd lost over 100 pounds and wanted to celebrate with a vibrant red shade. "I feel like I've made a positive step. I feel like I've turned another leaf, and I want to reflect that on my outside again," she said. 

A year and 10 months into her "My 600-lb Life" journey, Jones reached another goal. In the "Where Are They Now?" follow-up episode, her weight fell just under 300 pounds, which meant she could go forward with a skin-tightening procedure. 

A quick scroll through Jones' Instagram and Facebook accounts, and it's clear that she's still a big fan of making changes to her hair when things start to feel a little stale. "New Doo = Feeling Fabulous!" she wrote on Instagram in 2016. "Weird how a cut boosts the confidence, pokes you chest out, & shakes the tail feathers!"

She continued to work through past trauma

When Paula Jones was a child, she was molested by a family member. "That's really what started my weight gain. I don't know why, but I know that that's the same timeframe as when it started," she said on "My 600-lb Life." At the end of the episode, Jones told her counselor that she was done holding onto that trauma.  

In a 2015 episode of "My 600-lb Life: Where Are They Now?," TLC caught up with Jones. In the follow-up, Jones visited her mother to try to deal with old wounds. "I blamed my mom for a lot of what happened to me as a child. So I have to go back to the source," she said. Jones shared that she hadn't seen her mom in two years, and for the sake of her own healing process, she hoped they could move forward with their relationship. 

As nervous as Jones was, the actual sit-down appeared to be a positive and restorative experience. From the moment they greeted one another with a big hug, any tension seemed to melt away. "I'm not the old Paula anymore, I can forgive her," Jones said. "But I'm glad she was happy to see me."

Paula Jones' transformation extends beyond physical changes

In 2016, Paula Jones posted on Facebook about a recent post-surgery experience. Though she did not specify what the procedure was for, some of her followers wondered if it was skin-tightening surgery. Whatever the case, she'd been having a rough go of it. "Last 10 days have been incredibly taxing both mentally and physically. ... I came out of the hospital pain free, no meds, moving as if i never even had surgery, and then the mental warfare crippled me!" she wrote, noting that she had a lot to work through following her hospital stay. Fortunately, she was eventually able to pull herself out of this difficult spot. "I feel as good as the day I left the hospital with no pain, just a hole in my leg," she wrote. "I am not healed yet but I see the light! I love my life!"

That same year, Jones shared a screengrab of the email she sent to the "My 600-lb Life" casting team and noted how much had changed in just three years. As she told her followers, her overall mental outlook has shifted tremendously in a relatively short amount of time. "Certain triggers allow me to remember that I was 600 lbs, but I often forget in my day to day activity," she wrote on the Facebook post. "I don't think or plan activities due to my weight! I just do as if is the norm or habit!"

Paula Jones embraced life a public figure

After her story was featured on TLC's "My 600-lb Life," Paula Jones embraced her new platform and took on opportunities to share her story publicly. In 2015, she posted that she would be speaking at the upcoming SouthEast WLS Conference. In 2016, she shared that she was a special guest at a Women with Wisdom Network event. That same year, she posted that she'd be returning to the SouthEast WLS Conference. In 2017, she announced on Facebook that she was asked to be a spokesperson at the Southeast Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery Conference and the Weight Loss and Empowerment Summit.

In addition to diving into the public speaking game, Jones took on community-minded activities such as collecting food to donate to local food banks. "My daughter and I are doing a service project once a month as a pay it forward, giving back to our community, and helping others!" she wrote on Facebook in 2015. "At 600 lbs, it was hard just existing, but now I can share my blessings with others."

Paula Jones began using social media to motivate others

In the years since she filmed her episode of "My 600-lb Life," Paula Jones has continued to connect with fans over social media. On Facebook and Instagram, she still opens up about her experiences with weight loss and personal transformation, regularly sharing meals that she makes, posting about her various exercise regimes, and getting candid about highs and lows of her wellness journey. In a 2017 Facebook post, for example, she'd acknowledged that she hadn't been feeling her best lately, but she didn't get discouraged. "Don't feel guilty. Just change the behavior! Go back to the basics! Diet, exercise, water, vitamins, & sleep!" she wrote. 

In TLC's aforementioned video for Facebook, Jones noted that hurdles are inevitable, it's just a matter of how you approach them. "Life still gets in the way sometimes, and rather than getting upset or getting mad or frustrated or feeling guilty, I just start again. Push reset. Tomorrow's a new day. ... The next meal is a new meal," she said. 

Paula Jones is a proud grandmother

In addition to navigating her physical transformation, "My 600-lb Life" star Paula Jones has gone through some significant changes in her personal life in recent years, too. As she shared on Instagram 2023, she was in a long-term relationship that came to an abrupt end in 2022. "We were together for 6 years, and referenced him all the time, but had never posted a pic. Within 24 hours of posting his pic, someone sent it to his daughter who did not know he was in a relationship," she wrote. "I don't know the extent of the lies he told his daughters or his ex, or what all he lied to me about but that was the end. He just walked away."

Jones has also watched her kids hit major milestones in recent years, such as graduating from school, going to formal dances, figuring out their own career paths, and becoming parents themselves. In a 2020 Instagram post, Jones shared photos of three of her grandbabies, all of whom were born that year. "Accentuate the Positives of 2020!" she wrote. This should come as little surprise, but becoming a grandmother sure seems to suit Jones well. 

She continues to pull the curtain back on her journey

When she first visited Dr. Younan Nowzaradan's office, Paula Jones was told the gastric bypass surgery was just a piece of the puzzle; if she wanted to maintain the weight she lost, she would have to make long-lasting lifestyle changes. While the "My 600-lb Life" alum has indeed continued to implement these changes for the last several years, she also still remembers to give herself grace. "It is a life style change not a fad. You didn't learn to walk in one day; it took time and I am sure you fell tripped and stumbled a lot. So get up and start again. One meal at a time," she wrote on Instagram in January 2022. "Your journey needs to work for you." 

A few months later, she shared with her Instagram followers that she was trying to lose weight she'd gained during the pandemic. "Post COVID weight 250lb. Goal 199. Progress down 19 lbs. This journey never ends as long as I still breathe," she wrote. 

In April 2023, Jones posted on Instagram that she'd temporarily changed her diet to reset her gastric sleeve pouch. As noted in the photo she shared, the plan involved mostly liquids and pureed foods. "This is so hard! I want real food. I'm not hungry but I want to chew my food," she wrote. It's all a part of her ongoing journey. 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).