Occasionally, TLC’s reality series “My 600-lb Life” will feature a patient who is too obstinate that viewers will collectively groan with frustration every time they make an excuse to avoid working out, defy a directive from the doctor, or complain when asked to exercise or follow a diet plan. Cindy Vela is one such patient whose blatant disregard for Dr. Now’s time and advice and general lack of motivation established a bad impression on the show’s fans from the beginning, and alienated their support for her even before learning her story and following her journey. Keep watching for an update on how Cindy is doing now.

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Cindy Vela

In January 2021, the fourth episode of Season 9 of “My 600-lb Life” aired on TLC. The focus of the episode was Cindy Vela, a 45-year-old woman from Portland, Texas. Cindy weighed 614lbs and hoped to lose a minimum of 70 pounds to be eligible for gastric bypass surgery. Her weight problem started when Cindy was molested by a family friend at the age of eight. At first, she a turned to food as her comfort to help her deal with the pain of her sexual assault, then as she started gaining weight, she kept up the eating habits she had acquired to increase her weight and make her undesirable, to avoid being sexually assaulted ever again. When Cindy was 14, her parents divorced, sending her deeper down the rabbit hole of overeating and excessive weight gain.

The results were gradual, as she reached 140lbs at 10 years and doubled her weight at 14. By the time she was 30 years old, Cindy weighed 500lbs, about 250kgs, and continued to gain more weight through her thirties and early forties. When she appeared on the show in her mid-forties, Cindy weighed 614lbs and was in desperate need of Dr. Now’s intervention to shed a few hundred pounds for the sake of her physical and mental health.

Health Problems

Cindy’s weight came with a barrage of physical and mental health problems. First, an injury that rendered her bedridden after she reached 500 pounds prevented her from engaging in any physical activity. She could barely take a few steps, a fact that became evident when she pooped herself after getting off the bed and taking two steps, while living at her caretaker’s house. She needed help with all activities, including eating, bathing, changing her clothes, brushing her teeth, and doing her hair. Since she couldn’t even walk to the bathroom, she used diapers and relied on her caregivers to change them.

In addition to the physical injury, Cindy had diabetes and lymphedema. Her weight led to complications related to the two conditions, which had her in need of oxygen support all through the day. The physical health problems afflicting Cindy took a toll on her mental health, driving her to seek Dr. Now’s help. She reported feeling like her body, which was in pain all the time, was breaking down. She hated being confined to bed all the time, and didn’t feel like she was living anymore. Cindy also faced the risk of more complications, such as congestive heart failure due to her diet and sedentary lifestyle.

Dr. Now’s Intervention

Cindy and her long-term caregiver, Sandy, became friends and maintained their friendship when Sandy moved away for work, leaving her friend and patient in the hands of another caretaker, Denise. Unlike Sandy, who chastised Cindy for her diet and refusal to exert herself and engage in physical activity, Denise served as an enabler. She brought Cindy large portions of unhealthy meals, made no effort to help her patient exercise, and advised her against seeking help for her weight problem. Fortunately, Sandy came back into Cindy’s life and tore down the last bits of resistance, prompting Cindy to sign up for an appointment with Dr. Now.

Cindy’s first meeting with Dr. Now outraged the shw’s fans, and gave an indication of the frustrating incidences that would follow, since Cindy didn’t show up. A gracious Dr. Now gave Cindy a second chance, to which she showed up and agreed to follow the provided diet and exercise routine. The goal was that after a few weeks on the strict diet and exercise plan, Cindy would have lost 70 pounds to become eligible for gastric bypass surgery.

Unfortunately, Cindy’s lack of commitment prevented her from hitting the weight goals Dr. Now had set for her, and alienated the show’s fans, together with her perennial complaining. Her behavior led viewers to conclude that she wasn’t willing to expend any effort toward improving her life. She proved them right when she only lost 40 pounds, then gained it all back before the end of the episode, although Cindy then pledged to continue trying her hardest to reach the threshold for the surgery by using the lessons she had taken from the show to transform her life.

Loss and Grief

After her parents’ divorce when she was a teenager, Cindy’s mother remarried. Her stepfather, Raul Garcia Quintanilla, became her strongest supporter. He was always on the sidelines clapping when she took a step towards losing weight, encouraging her when she had setbacks. Then in  January 2022, Raul passed away; she shared the news of her devastating loss recounting their closeness, and just a few months after she lost her niece, Meranda Sue, to whom she was equally close. Despite losing two close family members within a few months of each other, Cindy assured her fans and supporters that she was okay and would keep trying to fulfill the pledge she made to bring her weight down to meet the threshold for gastric bypass surgery.

Then and Now

Since her appearance on “My 600-lb Life,” Cindy has kept a low profile, only sharing occasional quotes and pictures. However, a quick scan through her social media offers insight into how she is doing now. Cindy still lives in Portland, Texas, and according to her most recent posts on Instagram, is still grieving the deaths of her niece and stepfather. Despite her grief, she’s maintained the positive attitude she demonstrated towards the end of her episode in “My 600-lb Life”, evident in the uplifting messages she posts to encourage herself and other people like her.

Cindy has shared the occasional health update such as her hospitalization sometime back due to an infection that lowered the oxygen levels in her blood. However, she limits her personal posts due to contractual obligations with TLC. Therefore, she hasn’t shared any information or updates about her weight. She posts pictures of herself regularly, but ensures that they are cropped to show her face and part of her upper body. She uses filters on the picture, which make it difficult to judge whether she has kept up with, and is seeing positive results from Dr. Now’s diet and exercise regimen.

Without a definitive update on the status of Cindy’s health and weight, fans can only hope that she gains inspiration from the positive messages she shares with her followers regularly, and keeps up with her exercises and diet plan; if not the consequences could indeed prove fatal.

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