Episode chronicling Lexington resident’s fitness transformation to air February 14
Lexington, SC (James Bowers) - James “L.B.” Bonner, a resident of the Red Bank area of Lexington County, was always the big guy. He remembers that his higher than normal weight didn’t prevent him from excelling in sports or socialization while growing up, so he didn’t see it as a problem. “You always hear about the fat kid getting picked last in gym class, but I was always picked first or second," Bonner says of his adolescence. To him, he was just the bigger than the ordinary guy, not some joke or someone that could be taken for granted; He was just a big, happy guy.
Toward the end of his time at White Knoll High School, where his excellence on some of the Timberwolves’ first football teams netted him several scholarship offers in that sport, Bonner began a habit of partying and drinking heavily. It was this turn that caused him ultimately to drop out of high school. At that point, with more time on his hands, Bonner’s drinking only increased, as did his weight. Eventually, he peaked at around 650 pounds.
Making matters worse for the lifelong Lexington resident was a 2013 ATV accident. His lower right leg was irreparably damaged, causing doctors to remove it. At only 25 years old, L.B. Bonner was an amputee. The experience drove Bonner further into alcoholism, and consequently, obesity. However, he says that the combined effects of excessive weight and the partial loss of his leg did not affect his mobility. Because he could still go and do, he didn’t make an attempt at that time to curb the obesity, and the issue continued.
Bonner says that his wake-up call came in March 2017, on the one-year anniversary of his best friend’s death. “I knew then that I had to do something to change my life,” Bonner said. It was then that he reached out to the producers of My 600 Lb Life. The popular show that airs on TLC features people who like Bonner, are struggling with morbid, life ending, obesity. The show's website says that it tells powerful stories of the medical journeys of morbidly obese people as they attempt to save their own lives. The featured individuals, each weighing more than 600 pounds, confront lifelong emotional and physical struggles as they make the courageous decision to undergo high-risk gastric bypass surgery. In addition to drastically changing their appearances, they hope to reclaim their independence, mend relationships with friends and family, and renew their feelings of self-worth.
The fitness program that the producers put Bonner on consisted of an extreme diet change, coupled with lap band surgery to promote weight loss. Bonner also began exercising much more regularly and quit drinking. The results spoke for themselves; Bonner lost over half of his previous body weight.
Bonner says he plans to keep these healthy habits and continue his quest for a healthier weight. Bonner says that producers told him he had done things physically that people half his weight were unable to do. It should be noted that Bonner stands nearly 6’5”, so he does carry his weight differently than shorter individuals. He says that his fitness progress not only saw him shed physical weight, but that it took about “30 years of mental weight” off his mind. His progress improved his family relationships, as his relatives took pride in the positive changes he was making and the upturn in his health that resulted. A proud relative actually reached out to The Lexington Ledger and asked if we could share his inspirational story as well.
When asked what advice he would give to those also struggling with their weight, Bonner advises them to,“focus on the non-scale victories,” noting that the scale can be misleading at times due to factors such time of day and food and water consumption. “Think about how much further you walked today from yesterday, how much easier it is to stand up from the couch than it was before,” Bonner says. “You didn’t get to this size overnight, so it’s not going to come off overnight. You have to stick with it,” he concluded.
Bonner’s episode of “My 600 Pound Life” airs on Wednesday, February 14 at 8:00 p.m. on TLC. TLC can be found on Spectrum channel 43 in the Midlands. For more information, visit tlc.com/tv-shows/my-600-lb-life.