Mary had always been the bigger twin. Not only did she feel it, but as a child she was told it by their mom who always called her sister prettier. Those words stayed with her, and as they grew up their weights grew further and further apart. But when tragedy struck the family, she was spurred into action, and the results were amazing.
By the time they were aged 34, Mary weighed 420 pounds and Ruth just 120. The pair grew from children into teenagers under the banner of the fat one and the pretty one. Throughout their adolescent lives, it was not only Mary who struggled with her weight, though. In fact, her sister admitted that watching Mary gorge on food and eat herself into obesity caused her to hate food.
Indeed, Ruth’s troubles were at the other end of the scale. She has battled with anorexia and bulimia after watching her sister eat and been compelled never to gain weight in the same way. Moreover, the intense cruelty that members of the public can inflict on people due to their weight problems were noticed by this twin. Consequently, she supported her sister.
In a bid to understand and help her change, the twins took to Oparah’s sofa to confront Mary’s demons in 2005. Camera crews filmed them during their daily lives and captured moments that made Mary herself feel humiliated by her own life decisions. Sitting at a dinner table, she piled her food high, cleared the plate and went back for more.
Another moment caught on camera was an incident that is understandably every larger person’s worst nightmare. Sitting back in a salon chair, the sides creaked and the sounds of cracking plastic filled the area. Mary had broken a chair, in front of her sister, in front of a rolling camera.
In fact, nothing seemed to be able to prevent her from reaching for the food. Family members admitted to feeling disgusted by her, she knew it was wrong but she couldn’t help it. What’s more, her sister and her son were all desperate for her to stop the vicious cycle.
Next, Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychotherapist for the popular TV show urged Mary to find more people to support her. The dangerous relationship that both twins had with food meant they were not helping each other. She wanted to see Mary reach out to others who knew what she was going through.
Moreover, her health was suffering, and her relationship with her son Chris was suffering. Watching him play with his friends, she was unable to be the active parent and was sidelined for many moments as he grew up. Chris was angry that his mother’s 25-year battle with food meant she couldn’t be the mom he wanted in his life.
An impassioned plea by Chris shocked the nation when their story was heard on Oprah. Opening up about the humiliation and shame he felt about his mom, the young boy had tears rolling down his face as he urged her to stop. In a chilling admission echoing the words of his aunt, he too admitted that he had controlled his eating to avoid any weight gain.
There was barely a dry eye in the house that day, and Mary’s pain both physically and emotionally was clear. She made a commitment to change, the wakeup call had come. Furthermore, everyone hoped that they could believe her.
Sadly, though, it did not seem to have an influence. Following the show, Mary continued to eat until one day everything changed. Tragedy gripped the family, and suddenly the way she had been living her life drew into sharp focus. That moment shaped her future as her present was snatched away.
That’s because Chris, the boy who begged her to lose weight in to front of a nation, lost his life aged just 19. Mary had raised a strong young man, who had always wanted to see his mom succeed. But the dread of hearing the news changed her forever.
Tragically, her son, who had been so strong while on TV, was killed in a car accident in 2011. He died from the injuries he suffered, and Mary was plunged into despair. Her sister watched on helpless as her twin lost her child and meaning in life.
Depression took hold. Mary herself admits that she spent months unable to cope with the world and shut everyone else out. But then a change came one day, as she contemplated the loss she had suffered. And on that day, she sat up, looked around her and said to herself things are going to change.
And they did. She took her first steps to a brighter, healthier future. Suddenly, the gym seemed less scary and she took one tentative step onto the treadmill. She did it in memory of her 19-year-old boy, she did it to prove to others that her life could have meaning.
As Mary moved 400 pounds of flesh that had not been active for years, breathlessness took a hold. To begin with, she was able to endure just 30 seconds on a treadmill. Nevertheless, she continued and day by day grew stronger. It was slow progress but when Oprah’s crews returned to film her story in 2011, they were greeted by a new woman.
Weight began to fall off her as she incorporated exercise into her everyday life. Encouraged and spirited on by the knowledge that her son would have been so proud of her, Mary improved day by day. Now she has shed 124 pounds, her cheek bones are back and she had a smile on her face again as she told audiences how her son was her inspiration.
The woman has gone from just 30 seconds of exercising to working out for 30 minutes in a row. While previous pictures from before the devastating crash show a different person, struggling every day with her food, these days Mary has clearer skin, healthier hair and a focus to her life again.
Now Mary plans to be able to do all the things she missed out on doing with her son. She wants to go karting, knowing that he is looking down at her and smiling. Furthermore, she hopes his memory will live on through her new lease of life.
And her twin Ruth, who was once so ashamed of her sibling, is now the proudest sister ever. These days, Ruth describes her twin as beautiful. In fact, together they are closer in weight, looks and friendship than they have been for years.