They may be the stars of Family By the Ton, but Naomi Anderson, Drew Stewart, and Chitoka Light won’t live up to that TLC reality show’s name for long. The three cousins have been losing weight through exercise, healthier diets, and gastric bypass surgery. And after the show’s finale on Feb. 14, TLC followed up on their progress in a web series called Family By the Ton: Post-Op.
In Naomi’s installment of Post-Op, we see her weighing in at only 334.2 pounds. And even though her boyfriend, Mike Faulkner, dumped her out of fear that she would leave him, Naomi is still feeling upbeat these days. "I am amazing since surgery," she tells her viewers. "I feel great. I am living life."
Naomi says she’s grateful she underwent this journey with her family members because they could truly sympathize with every physical obstacle and mental roadblock along the way.
And though Naomi says she didn’t expect the emotional ramifications of her lifestyle shift — "When you take away your vice, aka food, you have to deal with all those emotions and feelings without a coping mechanism" — she works through her anxiety now, instead of turning to food. "Yeah, I’m in a good place," she says, smiling. "I’m excited about the future."
Meanwhile, her cousin Drew has come a long way since the days when he was too overweight to stand on the scale. He's making solid progress, and like Naomi, he credits his relatives for being there for him — whether they were embarking on the journey with him or just providing inspiration.
"Maybe I wouldn’t have been able to make it through it if I didn’t have my family with me to help me along the way," he says in his Post-Op episode. "Every time I think the reason I’m doing this, it all boils down to, it’s for family. And ultimately, it’s so I can get healthy and take care of my mother."
Drew vouches for the operation, and he has empowering words of wisdom for others who follow his lead: "My advice to anyone who chooses this particular journey of gastric bypass or sleeve is to just do your research before and figure out if it’s for you. I would recommend it to anyone who feels that they can’t do it on their own. And I wouldn’t let anyone outside make you feel like it’s cheating or like you’re 'less' because you chose to have the surgery — because the surgery is not an easy way out. It’s just a different way of doing it."
Chitoka, the third cousin profiled on the TLC show, also wants to dispel the misconceptions about the operation. "Post-surgery, the most difficult part of losing weight is understanding there’s no magic pill and no magic fix," she says in her epilogue. "And you have to still work. The surgery is just an assistive device. You still have to eat right, you still have to make the right choices, and you still have to exercise."
When her mother passed away, Chitoka had to miss the funeral because she was bed-bound. It was a heartbreaking moment…but one that proved to be galvanizing. "Even in that moment, I knew that it would be her desire for me not to quit," she explains. "That [was] a motivation for me…I have to persevere and move forward, even if it’s just a part of honoring her."
And Chitoka has kept up that determination ever since. "Just don’t quit," she says. "Anything that you do, if you don’t quit, you’re a winner. Because at some point, you will win if you just keep going."
Chitoka is especially inspired by the ways her life is changing. "I have been doing so many things, improving my independence, and getting better for myself," she says. "Got a long way to go, have come a long way, and I’m just excited for what the future holds."