At just 27 years old, Justin McSwain was struggling. He had gained nearly 400 lbs. in just four years, putting him at 687 lbs., and because of his size he could no longer go to an office and work. He developed debilitating anxiety and agoraphobia, and had all of his food delivered so he didn't have to go outside.
"Doing normal things and having a normal day is just not something that's possible for me anymore," McSwain said in an episode of My 600-Lb. Life in 2019.
But two years later, after undergoing weight loss surgery, he's one of the most successful patients ever featured on the show. Now 30 years old, McSwain has lost more than 450 lbs., and is sharing his experience on Wednesday's premiere of My 600-Lb. Life: Where Are They Now. In this exclusive clip from the episode, McSwain is a featured speaker at a conference for the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America.
"I'm a little nervous about doing some public speaking, but I'm excited to have this opportunity to inspire other people with how far I've come," he says as he heads into the conference. "It feels really good to think that I could help others who struggle with their weight by sharing what I've been able to do. A year ago, I never would've believed that I would've been capable of doing any of this."
Speaking to the crowd, McSwain emphasizes that weight loss surgery is just one step in the journey to losing weight.
"Weight loss surgery has made an incredible difference on my life, but one of the most important lessons I've gotten out of it is that it is really just a tool, and it takes so much more than that to get to where you want to be," he says.
McSwain, whose weight gain began as a kid, when he was living with his stepmother who would padlock the food in the house and berate him for overeating, tells the conference that therapy was key to his weight loss.
"I've dealt with a lot of mental health challenges as well, and I think the hardest part was really the first step, and going to see a therapist regularly for over a year before I was even able to reach out for help," he says.
After losing weight, McSwain says he's rediscovered himself.
"It's given me the opportunity to define new interests and new passions, and I've realized that I may be somebody who deserves a chance at life."
The new season of My 600 Lb. Life: Where Are They Now premieres March 31 at 8 p.m. ET on TLC.
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