The series premiere of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition takes viewers on quite an emotional year long journey in one hour, following one of eight obese individuals featured this season. In the first episode, we meet 21 year old, elementary PE teacher, Rachel who is 221 lbs overweight. Weighing in at 369 lbs, Rachel is the only person in her family who is overweight and to see the emotional toll that it has taken on her is incredibly eye opening. With a case full of trophies and awards, Rachel still does not feel like she can make her parents proud until she loses her excess weight. And this is only the beginning of the series, just the beginning of such disheartening revelations.
Really, the entire journey that trainer and transformation specialist Chris Powell takes Rachel on is more astonishing than words can describe. After weighing Rachel in on a freight scale and conducting a one week boot camp at the California Health & Longevity Institute (CHLI), Powell challenged Rachel’s family back home in Georgia to “walk a mile in her shoes.” Powell’s hands on demonstrations are a big factor into the change that these individuals make, with or without the support of their family. This is exactly what the viewers need to see. While a number of family members did pile on sand bags that added up to Rachel’s weight and walked around a track, that experience did not create a consistent long term supportive state of mind. The consistency was all dependent upon Rachel. She alone was responsible for the change. To see her bravery, taking such a revealing photo at her highest weight and then working as hard as she did over the course of one year is life changing. Rachel’s journey, including the highs and the lows, will encourage so many viewers across the nation to start embracing a healthy lifestyle. That is what this show is all about and that is a mission accomplished.
During Powell’s three month live in stay with Rachel, he transformed Rachel’s office den into an exercise room and sugar and carb filled refrigerator into a healthy food fridge. Rachel’s mother, who ended up losing 50 lbs herself by the time Rachel had her final weigh in, was not too pleased at the time with Powell’s kitchen make-over. Mom actually left the house when Powell started throwing out the unhealthy food in the kitchen! Sure it is disappointing not to be able to eat all of the tasty sugar and unhealthy carb filled foods, but wouldn’t it be more disappointing to lose your child or lose yourself because of obesity? It is fascinating what people will do when they are not committed to a healthy lifestyle, obese or not. The family started out adopting healthier lifestyles in support of Rachel but at the end of Powell’s stay, their lack of support was discomforting. In fact, nine months into the twelve month long weight loss journey, Rachel only lost three pounds during cycle three (the 6 month – 9 month mark). In three months, she only lost three pounds. This tremendous loss came after such great triumph!
Rachel lost an incredible 80 lbs in just the first three months of working with Powell. In fact, on day 29, she had already lost 39 lbs. By day 90, she lost exactly 89 lbs. Day 90! For many of us reading this, seeing Rachel’s transformation over just the first three months is all of the encouragement we need to lose the extra excess weight on ourselves. Powell even rewarded Rachel’s weight loss on her birthday with a trip to Greece. Talk about motivation.
But then, the weight loss seemed to go a bit downhill for a moment. She may have rejected complimentary dessert at a restaurant in Greece but this show does not only show the high points of the journey. After not making her 6 month goal by 5 lbs but making the 250 weight limit for bungee jumping (weighed in at 239 lbs), Rachel found herself struggling to become a candidate for skin removal surgery. Having only lost 3 lbs, the disappointment on Powell’s face was more than noticeable. She braved her way through the weigh in, which must have been the toughest of them all. While not reaching the 50-60 lbs weight loss for this cycle, she was approved for the surgery. But Powell made it a point to express that this surgery did not mean that Rachel’s job was over. It was very important for Powell to mention that and ABC to air this because surgery is just the beginning for some people. A bit of nip and tuck for the obese who working on their health is not a simple solution, but one step into the direction of looking the best that one can. So for Powell to make sure that the viewers knew this is a moment that should not be taken for granted.
So three months after Rachel’s surgery, while continuing to exercise and eat right, Rachel found out in front of all of her family and friends at her final weigh in, that her total weight loss over the course of one year totaled to 161 lbs. After 365 days of working with Chris Powell, Rachel was thrilled to find her weight at 208 lbs. Rachel came a long way, thanks to Powell. In the beginning of the broadcast, she made it known that had Powell not come along, she would have had to receive lap band surgery. Well, even with a 3 month slip in her commitment, she lost the weight, and while living with her family’s unhealthy food as well as exercising with both Tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis. Her weight loss journey will have you in tears in the first five minutes all the way to the end, as will the seven other stories of the courageous men and women we will see this season, who range from ages 21 – 44 and weigh from 369 lbs to 651 lbs.
The only aspect of the show that is lacking is the showing of the exercise routine. Rachel mentioned that she works out 4-5 hours per day, 3 days a week and viewers do see glimpses of her conducting various workouts. However, there is not a clear layout shared as to what that work out schedule entails. Perhaps more will be shared in Powell’s upcoming book, “Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb-Cycle Solution,” which is set to be released this October. Aside from this aspect, Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition is a winner! If you are looking for a weight loss show this summer that will change your life, this is it!
Educational Moment: CHLI Head Nutritionist, Paulette Lambert mentioned that the average women needs to eat 1500-1700 calories per day though the average obese individual eats 3500-6000 calories a day. So for recipes and nutrition tips, log on to ABC.com
Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition airs Mondays at 10/9c on ABC.