Coliesa McMillian, a 41-year-old mother of four, is the subject of tonight’s Season 8 episode of My 600 Lb Life., which airs Wednesday, March 18 at 8 p.m. ET on TLC. Coliesa was 643 pounds and on her way to an early grave when she decided to seek out the help of celebrity bariatric surgeon Dr. Younan Nowzaradan to help her shed some weight and regain control of her life.
The TLC description of Season 8 Episode 12, titled “Coliesa’s Story,” reads, “The four best reasons for Coliesa to live are her daughters. But after a heart attack and losing the love of her life in a car crash, Coliesa eats non-stop to escape from reality, and unless she can stop that, the next heart attack will be fatal.”
Here’s what we know about the reality star and her journey ahead of tonight’s episode. (Warning: some spoilers on Coliesa’s story ahead! Turn back now if you don’t want anything ruined for you before the episode airs!)
Coliesa Struggled With Her Weight Since Childhood
Coliesa grew up with an alcoholic father who frequently lashed out at the reality star, her four siblings, and her mother. Sadly, Coliesa lost her mother when she was just 3 years old, so she and her siblings were separated and sent to foster care. The reality star suffered tremendously from then on; she was molested by a cousin a few years later and an uncle raped her when she was 12, and since then, her weight has continued to spiral out of control. She started turning to food to cope with the trauma.
Although she had a significant food addiction from a young age, Coliesa was blessed with four beautiful children in her twenties. “I had my second child Hannah when I was 23 and I was over 400 pounds then,” Coliesa tells the cameras in the clip above. “And then I had my third child when I was 25 … I was about 460 then. But when I was 29 I had my fourth child and I was around 500 pounds then.”
When her husband was arrested, Coliesa admits that she finally felt like she could leave him, so she packed her children up in the middle of the night and moved to Louisiana, where she met her fiance Melvin. The two quickly fell in love and life was better for Coliesa for a while, but when she suffered a heart attack and lost her fiance in a car accident, she turned to food once again as a crutch.
“Shortly after [the heart attack], I lost Melvin … he got into a car wreck and didn’t survive, and that devastated me,” Coliesa says in a voiceover. “But I did what I had to do to get through it, and that was to eat so I didn’t fall apart.”
Coliesa adds, “I’ve allowed food to waste my life. Just the hunger and the want and the crave. It’s taken over my life, and I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted of this life. Living like this is not living. If I don’t lose this weight I’m going to die.” She continues, “I know I’m going to die because I do feel like a ticking time bomb. My heart could give out at any time and I can feel the weight weighing me down. It feels like my body is trying to give up, I can feel it, but I can’t give up. I have to be here for my kids.”
Coliesa Loses 150 Pounds in the End & Is Excited to See What the Future Holds
When Coliesa finally arrives in Houston to work with Dr. Now, he worries about her situation, which he says is “very concerning.” Dr. Now notes, “Her body has reached its breaking point. If she has another heart attack, there will be nothing we can do.”
The reality star works hard to shed the weight she is required for her gastric sleeve surgery, and although she attempts to diet and incorporate exercise into her daily routine, she doesn’t even reach the halfway point to what Dr. Now required her to lose. After Coliesa starts working with a therapist to unpack some of the issues that led to her food addiction in the first place, she starts to make better progress.
Although Coliesa doesn’t lose the amount that Dr. Now required her to lose, she is still approved for her gastric sleeve procedure after she starts having sharp stomach pains; the doctors claim she has too much fat to determine whether she has an intestinal blockage, and since her heart was healthy enough to put her under, she was ultimately approved.
In the end, a mixture of dieting, therapy and surgery made a significant difference in Coliesa’s life. By her final meeting with Dr. Now, he tells the cameras that she’s lost approximately 150 pounds and is working hard to continue losing weight. He adds, “Right now, things are looking optimistic with her so I’m hopeful we’re going to get her to where she needs to turn her life around and maintain that.”
Coliesa is so excited about her progress and is hopeful about her future. She says she feels “prettier” and better about herself and she can’t wait to see what the future holds for her and her children. “I feel like I’m doing better than ever and I have high hopes I’m going to be where I need soon,” she declares. “And I can’t wait for that.”