Extreme Makeover – Weight Loss Edition

Sometimes we get sick of all the talk about obesity and the complicated nutritional science behind it, and just want to sit back and watch someone proving that it really is possible to lose weight.     No matter what your excuses, no matter what your physical limitations, your historic lack of will power, your lack of motivation and lack of focus, sometimes  all you really need is a helpful push in the right direction to kick-start your weight loss journey to your new life.

These TV Reality Weight Loss shows are a bit unrealistic at times, because we don’t all get to have our own personal trainer, and the motivation of being followed for a year as a reality TV Star.

But I think they do have their place in the tool box of the dieter.    They show that no matter how overweight you are and no matter how long you have lived with this problem, it is possible to lose the weight.      It just takes a lot of effort.

Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition – “Rachel” (Season 1 / Episode 1)

Rachel is an elementary P.E. teacher who let her own weight get out of control. At 21-years-old, she was ready to give up. But that’s not something trainer Chris Powell was willing to do. Let’s see what happens when these two join forces over the course of the year to take off that weight.

Rachel began her adventure 221 pounds overweight. She feels like a disappointment even though she was a homecoming queen, valedictorian and has a room full of trophies. Rachel wrote a letter asking for help. Well, help is on the way!

Chris Powell surprises Rachel at her school. They hop a plane to L.A. to begin boot camp. Rachel weighs in at 369 pounds. She never wants to see that number again. She gets a crash course in nutrition. Later, Rachel stumbles on the bike machine during her first workout, but doesn’t quit. Both trainer and trainee are brought to tears after Rachel’s inspiring comeback.

After boot camp, Chris takes Rachel to a school track in her hometown of Jenkinsburg, Georgia. Chris weighs down her family members with sandbags to show them what it’s like to walk around with all that weight. Back home, Rachel’s house has been transformed to include a home gym. Chris wants her to lose 80 pounds over the next three months. If she hits that mark, he’ll reward her with a trip to Greece.

Chris moves in with Rachel and her family to supervise three daily workouts. By Day 29, Rachel has lost 39 pounds. She’s dropped nearly 60 pounds about two months into the mission. When it comes time for the 90-day weigh-in, Rachel’s at 289 pounds. She lost 80 pounds on the dot. Looks like Rachel’s going to Greece!

Rachel’s doing great, but Chris worries because her family is still dining on pizza and tacos. They also don’t like the noise that’s being made during all the early morning workouts. Rachel’s mom freaks when Chris and Rachel start tossing all the bad food out of the fridge. She actually gets in the car and drives away.

Chris leaves Rachel with the challenge of losing 55 pounds over the next three months. When she reaches this goal, they are going to go out and climb Mount Whitney. Of course, she gets to spend a little vacation time in Greece with her brother first. It’s hard for them to resist the complimentary desserts offered at the restaurants.

At the six-month weigh-in, A doctor’s analysis forces them to trade in the Mount Whitney climb for a hike up to the Bridge to Nowhere were some 40-story bungee-jumping will take place. Rachel comes up five pounds shy of her 55-pound weight loss goal. But her weight is perfectly fine for jumping off a bridge. Woo hoo!

Geronimo!! Rachel takes the plunge over the bridge. There’s no way she could have done this six months ago. Now it’s onto Phase Three. Rachel needs to lose between 50-60 pounds to be a candidate for skin removal surgery. Rachel works out 4-5 hours a day as the nine-month weigh-in draws near. She looks great, but only lost three pounds.

Rachel admits she got overwhelmed. Still, the doctor says she’s a good candidate to remove the skin that’s getting in her way. She still has a long way to go, but Rachel has to be inspired by the fact that her mom says she’s proud of her. Rachel vows that she will become that thin girl that she’s always been on the inside.

It’s been one year. A cheering crowd gathers at the Southern Belle Farm in Jenkinsburg, Georgia. A car pulls up and out steps a brand new Rachel. Her transformation is amazing. Rachel looks fantastic as she strikes a pose and flashes a killer smile. She finally beat the one thing she’s battled her whole life.

At the final weigh-in, Rachel has gone from 369 pounds to an incredible 161. Unbelievable! Rachel had always wondered what it would be like to be skinny. Well, she’s wondering no more. Way to go, Rachel! You’re a true inspiration!

Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition – “Alex” (Season 1 / Episode 2)

Alex is a 23-year-old baseball fanatic from Georgia. His weight kept him from playing the game that he loves. He lost his mom when he was a senior in high school. Her last wish was that he would get healthy. Now with Chris Powell on his side, Alex knows it’s time to make that wish come true. In other words, it’s time to play ball!

Alex begins boot camp by weighing in at 459 pounds. He gets a crash course in nutrition followed by an intense first workout. Those exercise sessions continue at home with his brand new gym setup. Chris places a picture of his mom over the fireplace for inspiration. Chris wants Alex to lose 100 pounds over the next three months. If he does this, he’ll get season tickets for the Atlanta Braves.

Chris moves in with Alex to get him adjusted to his new lifestyle. By Day 60, he’s lost 69 pounds. One month later, it’s time for the 90-Day weigh-in. At the end of Phase One, Alex learns he fell three pounds short of his goal. He’s not getting the season tickets, but Chris does bring him to a Braves game where he meets the team. The pro athletes are more than impressed by the great strides Alex has made so far.

For Phase Two, Chris challenges Alex to lose five pounds per day over the next three months. But this time he must do it on his own. Alex struggles to stay focused and motivated. Chris checks in via some hidden security cameras. He catches Alex playing video games when he should be working out.

Alex’s six-month weigh-in coincides with his dad’s wedding. He admits to Chris that he’s missing his mom during the months leading up to this day. When they do the weigh-in, Alex weighs in at 341 pounds. That’s not even close to his 302 goal. Chris believes Alex needs consistency. That’s why he’s enlisting him in the army for a 24-hour experience as a soldier. But first he has a wedding to attend.

Alex’s dad has a gift for his son/best man. It’s his own dad’s ring that he’s passing down to Alex. It’s touching father-son moment followed by a lovely wedding. Chris hopes the ceremony showed Alex that it’s okay to move on. Make that it’s time to “march on” as Alex heads over to Fort Benning for some army training.

The drill sergeants are on top of Alex from the moment he arrives. With a newly-shaved head, Alex has an early morning wakeup call followed by some basic training. The repel wall is such challenge as is the rope bridge and cargo net. Alex’s entire company cheers him on as he makes it through. He’s awarded a coin that symbolizes everyone in his battalion. It’s a symbol to never, ever quit.

Alex needs to drop another 70 pounds to be a candidate for the skin removal surgery. At the nine-month weigh-in, Chris doesn’t even recognize the tall, slender man he sees before him. Alex is oozing with confidence. He says, “I found a swagger and I’ll be darned if I’m ever giving it back.” When he steps onto the scale, Alex weighs in at 264 pounds. He lost 77 pounds in Phase Three. That’s 195 pounds total. Way to go, Alex!

Alex learns he’s a candidate for the skin removal surgery. Three months later, Chris returns to Georgia to show us what a difference a year makes. A crowd gathers at the baseball field where Alex’s mom used to watch him play. It’s the last place he feels he ever made his mom proud.

The crowd erupts with cheers when a brand new Alex steps onto the field. There are high-fives from his fans and hugs from his dad and Chris. Alex steps onto the scale for his final weigh-in. He comes in at an amazing 243 pounds. That means he lost 216 total pounds in one year.

Tears flow as the crowd learns that a plaque will be placed on the field in a section to be dubbed Kim’s Corner in honor of Alex’s mom. He wishes that she could be with him at this moment. A few voices from the crowd can be heard saying that she is. Alex believes this is the truth.

Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition – “Dana” (Season 1 / Episode 3)

Dana is a 44-year-old gospel singer who is 250 pounds overweight. He pops over a half dozen painkillers every morning to help deal with the result of his poor eating habits. Dana moved away from his family in Ohio to live alone in Tennessee. He needs help in order to change his life. Well, help is on the way! Chris Powell surprises Dana by doing a cannonball into the pool where he’s engaged in some water aerobics. The two new partners in weight loss towel off and head to Los Angeles. Dana weighs in at 498 pounds. His first workout is a lot tougher than the water aerobics class back home. Chris pushes hard and Dana comes through. He’s ready to go all the way.

When Dana returns to Tennessee, his home has been transformed into a health and exercise institution. Chris challenges him to lose 110 pounds in three months. If Dana achieves this goal, he’ll get his very own vocal coach. But at 48 days into the mission, only 37 pounds has been lost.

Chris finds fast food containers in the trash and behind the car seat. He wants Dana to open up as to why he’s looking to food for comfort. Turns out he was abused in the past. Chris wants Dana to stop punishing himself for something that wasn’t his fault.

Dana is tasked with carrying heavy bags of food across a long bridge. He’s mocked by a man on the other side. Chris puts a stop to that. It’s good to have a friend in your corner when you’re embarking on the biggest challenge of your life. When they reach the end of the journey, Dana tosses all that food he was carrying off the bridge. At the three-month weigh in, Dana lost 111 pounds. Now that’s something to sing about!

For the next phase, Dana must lose 70 pounds. Chris has set up a concert where Dana will sing with his brother at the end of this milestone. Dana works hard. He realizes his voice is starting to sound even better as the pounds fade away. Dana’s brothers, Raymond and Bradley, can’t believe the transformation when they all meet in Los Angeles. Later, Dana and his brother sing before a captive church audience. Halleluiah!

As the days march on, Dana struggles to fight the good fight. A doctor determines he has a torn ACL. He has little-to-no stability in his knee. The good news is they can work around the injury. At the six-month weigh-in, Dana comes in at 358. That means he only lost 29 pounds. He must lose 108 pounds in the next three months to be a candidate for the skin removal surgery.

As the days pass and more weight is lost, Dana finds himself getting back out into the world. He’s hanging with friends and performing in concerts. Chris is happy to hear this, but is also concerned that he may be losing focus on his transformation. At the nine-month weigh-in, Dana is at 318. He lost 40 pounds. That’s because he’s been eating things like pizza and ice cream. Dana fesses up about the food and admits to Chris that he’s homosexual. Finally, the real Dana has arrived. But there’s still more work to be done.

One year has passed. A cheering crowd assembles at the YMCA to see how Dana made out during the final leg of his journey. Well, it looks like he made out just fine. Dana steps into the center looking amazing. He steps onto the scale for the final weigh-in. He’s at 295 which means he lost 203 pounds in one year. That’s not easy to do with a torn ACL.

Dana reads a funny, touching, heartfelt “thank you” note to Chris. In fact, he sings the end of it. Dana’s voice sounds great, and his transformation has been incredible. We’re hoping it’ll help him sing his way through a long and healthy life.

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