When Paula Jones’ husband died suddenly due to weight-related complications, she became terrified at the idea of dying herself and leaving their four children parentless.
Jones weighed 542 lbs at the time and her children were afraid of losing her too.
“It hurts to walk, it hurts to do just about anything. I know it affects my kids,” she said when she first appeared on TLC’s My 600-Lb Life.
“My eight year old said it. She said “mommy I don’t want you to die.””
Paula realized she had unresolved trauma
Jones started turning to food for comfort early on, after she was molested by a family member at the age of 6. But after a lifetime of struggling with obesity, she decided to take charge and transform her life.
At 33, Jones moved her family from Georgia to Texas to meet with and be closer to bariatric surgeon, Dr. Younan Nowzaradan.
When she first stepped on the scale, she was shocked and saddened to see her weight.
“I’m huge. I look like a monster,” Jones said, but she was determined to change.
“My husband died so now it’s my job to protect my kids,” she said.
Losing weight was a challenge in two parts
Before getting the green light for surgery, Jones went on a liquid diet and was able to drop 33 pounds.
Following the operation, she started seeing a counselor and began training with a professional fitness coach, as she continued to make progress towards her weight loss goals.
By 2015, Jones had lost 273 pounds but had a new challenge to overcome: excess skin. She had plans to get skin removal surgery but found out she needed to lose even more weight.
“I’m sad I haven’t been approved for the surgery. The skin is a burden and I want it to be gone,” she said.
However, she still had to deal with unresolved trauma
Jones’ hectic schedule as full-time single mom, working up to 80 hours at her job, made it difficult for her to maintain her new healthy habits, and she often went back to food for comfort.
At that point in her journey, she knew exactly what she needed to do next.
“About a year ago I decided to let go some of the pain of being molested as a child,” said Jones. “I still have resentment for my mother, so I have to see her.’
After going without seeing each other for nearly two years, Jones had a moving reunion with her mom, which healed a lot of the wounds that had been holding her back.
Being able to forgive her mom felt like a heavy weight was lifted off of her shoulders and it gave her the extra motivation she needed to reach her skin removal surgery.
Going to work out is still a priority. I used to get dizzy and nauseous. Now I’m like ‘what’s next?’Paula Jones
“For me boxing is a stress relief,” Paula said.
She leaves a legacy to her children
Jones has since been able to have skin removed from both her legs and arms, and has successfully lost over 400 pounds since the start of her weight loss journey.
She’s had concerns over the years that her children might adopt the same unhealthy eating habits as she did, but she strives to be a better role model for them, and her grandchildren, each day.
I am mostly enjoying time with my kids. I can be more active with them. I’ve learned how to be emotionally healthy as well as physically healthy.Paula Jones
Paula’s journey shows the importance of focusing on healing. Sometimes, old wounds hold us back without us realizing. So it’s important to make sure we take the time to address our trauma so we can pave the way for a better future.
More inspiring transformations: