Stacey Halprin in 1987

February 2, 1987
On February 2, 1987, The Oprah Show aired an episode about fat discrimination. This is where we first met 550-pound Stacey Halprin.

Desperate to get help for her weight, 25-year-old Stacey had written in to The Oprah Show about the daily struggles and dangers she faced as an extremely overweight woman. She wrote: "I weigh 550 lbs. This weight was taken on a grocery store meat scale. At night, I cannot sleep unless my head is propped up on six pillows because if I lie flat, I will choke. Each morning, I must shave my face because my hormones are so screwed up as a result of the weight. I have never been on a date. I want to be able to fit into public seats and to tie my own shoes. ... I'm going to die if I do not get help."

Overweight her entire life, Stacey shared her story with the audience and faced down several guests who discriminated against heavy people like her. One guest, Walter, told Stacey that men wouldn't find her attractive unless she were thin. "You've got to stop eating," he told her. "You're a pretty girl. Look at your face—you've got a great face. I can hardly wait until you lose the weight. I'd love to see what you look like, and I'll be the first one to throw my arms around you."

"And I'll throw them right off," Stacey responded.

Walter's discrimination toward overweight people was similar to what Stacey said she faced any time she went out in public. "It's people like Walter who make [life] miserable," Stacey said. "When this is all over and I lose my weight, I'm going to thank God that I went through this, and I'm not going to be ... like them."

Stacey Halprin in 1988

January 4, 1988
Not even a year after her first appearance, Stacey appeared on The Oprah Show for its second anniversary in January of 1988 to give the audience an update on what had happened since her first show: Stacey had lost 170 pounds!

"Miracles took place in my life," she said. "I was able to get into a recovery program and get help for my disease."

In addition to dropping the weight, Stacey told Oprah that she also had a brand new outlook on life. "I [used to live] my whole life for the day I became thin, and I'll no longer do that," she said. "My obsession with food is now gone."

Stacey Halprin in 1994

February 7, 1994
In 1994, Stacey returned to The Oprah Show for a revealing look at what life is like for an obese person. She had put more than 100 pounds back on—weighing in at 514 pounds—and allowed our cameras to follow her around to capture the harsh realities of her everyday life.

Stacey recalled the moment she outgrew her car and could barely fit in the front seat, shared how she spent days at a time in bed and hiding in her dark bedroom, explained how she couldn't clean herself after using the bathroom without stepping into the shower, showed us her special two-mattress bed she slept in to support her weight and revealed that she literally pulled chunks of her hair out every day due to the stress and shame she felt for being so overweight.

These admissions left Oprah in tears. "It was very brave of you to [share] that," Oprah told her.

The hidden camera experience was even more revealing. When they thought Stacey was out of sight, people laughed at her, made cruel jokes at her expense and made derogatory comments about her size. Stacey admitted that these were all common occurrences. "It's as much a part of my life as brushing my teeth in the morning," she said. "But you can never prepare yourself [for the harassment]."

Stacey Halprin in 1997

November 12, 1997
For a follow-up show on November 12, 1997, Stacey returned to Chicago to talk about how sharing her story led her to a movie role with none other than the legendary actress Shirley MacLaine. First-time screenwriter David Ciminello had based a supporting character in Bruno after Stacey and invited her to meet with Shirley, the film's lead, so Shirley could better understand the part.

"From that day on, a ball started rolling that I couldn't stop," Stacey said. Though the team behind the film originally wanted a Hollywood star to play the supporting role of Angela, they ended up giving Stacey the part! In 2000, Bruno was released starring Shirley, Kathy BatesGary Sinise, Jennifer Tilly and Joey Lauren Adams.

"It's so important for people to know that I thought my life was going to start the day I [weighed] under 200 pounds," Stacey said. "But guess what? Life happens anyway."

Stacey Halprin in 2003

May 2, 2003
Following her 1997 appearance on The Oprah Show, Stacey felt too ashamed to return to talk about her unchanged weight. But all of that changed on May 2, 2003, when she agreed to appear on the show once again—because she had lost an incredible 218 pounds.

The catalyst, she said, was hitting rock bottom immediately after September 11, 2001. "I live a mile from ground zero," Stacey explained. "They closed off all the blocks from 14th Street, below. And I'm below. In order for me to get the basic necessities of what I needed, I would have had to go a quarter of a block...and I couldn't."

So, Stacey made the difficult decision to get gastric bypass surgery. Though it was a tough experience and recovery that she said she struggled with, Stacey said she made the right decision. "I went from immobile to mobile in the course of a year," she said.

With her newfound mobility, Stacey became more active. She started doing water aerobics, lifting weights and doing all of the things she could not do when she was 550 pounds, such as seeing a Broadway play, going to a movie or simply taking daily walks. In fact, now at 277 pounds, Stacey was even able to get a dog that she said she walks three times a day.

"I am living a much better quality life, and it's only going to get better," she said.

Stacey Halprin in 2004

November 8, 2004
On her previous appearance, Stacey told Oprah that as soon as she could fit into an airplane seat, she was going to head to Chicago and The Oprah Show—and that's exactly what she did on November 8, 2004.

After her gastric bypass and 10 more complicated, painful procedures to remove the excess skin, Stacey lost 356 pounds and returned to talk about her new life in her new body.

More from this show
Stacey Halprin in 2005

May 16, 2005
On May 16, 2005, Stacey came on The Oprah Show to give viewers an even bigger glimpse into the harsh realities of her weight loss journey, revealing that she still had to have five more surgeries to fix her excess skin, sharing the consequences of going years without sitting in a dentist's chair and discussing how she lost some of her friendships in the process of transforming her life.

But her update contained some happy news as well: Stacey told Oprah that she was also dating for the first time in her life!

More about Stacey's experiences dating
Stacey Halprin in 2006

February 20, 2006
During a show about Oprah Show viewers' all-time favorite moments on February 20, 2006, a viewer named Monica talked about how Stacey's weight loss journey inspired her to lose weight, consider gastric bypass surgery and transform her life as well.

Monica decided to do the gastric bypass surgery and lost 125 pounds. Sharing words of encouragement, Stacey told Monica, "I know you might think that the hard work is over, but the truth is the hard work is just beginning. I'm here to tell you three and a half years down the road, it is so worth it, Monica. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I'm so proud of you, and I will be waiting for you at the finish line, girl. You look gorgeous."

Stacey Halprin in 2007

May 2, 2007
By Stacey's ninth appearance on The Oprah Show on May 2, 2007, she had become one of the most talked-about guests in our 25-year history—and had become an author. Her book, Winning After Losing, chronicled her struggle to keep off the pounds. "I'm proud of it because it tells you, 'Okay, you're here. How do you stay here?'" she said.

In her book, Stacey shared a weight loss secret that helped her keep the weight off over the past several years: If she had a momentary weakness at a buffet or happened to binge on Oreos in the afternoon, she didn't let the setback spiral into more than a temporary lapse. "Normal people gain 10 and 20 pounds. It doesn't mean they have to keep going," she explained. "What the winners do is they go to the exact next meal and they start like it never happened."

More on Stacey's new book
Stacey Halprin in 2011

May 10, 2011
Returning to The Oprah Show for her final appearance on May 10, 2011, Stacey reflected on her decades-long journey to get where she is today: still struggling with her weight but certainly healthier than she was 20 years ago.

Yet, even after losing several hundred pounds, she said she didn't feel worthy of returning to the show for a final time. "I didn't feel like I deserved to be here," she said. "But now I know that I deserve to be here, and I don't want to hide anymore."

If her journey has taught her anything, it's that losing weight is a struggle that doesn't magically disappear one day. "My dream was that I wanted to come here and be at the finish line," Stacey explained. "There is no finish line. It's an ongoing process."

Catch up with Stacey and see how she's doing today