Entries in Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (8)


"Extreme Makeover" Participant Loses Nearly Half His Body Weight

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- By the time Jarvez Hall reached his 28th birthday this year, he was already dangerously obese.  His weight gain had started years before, spurred by a passion for playing football and encouragement from others.

“Middle school is when I started getting big,” Hall of Portland, Ore., said.  “People encouraged me to get big.  ‘Oh, you’re big, that means you’re more manly.  You’re big.  You’re strong and tough.’”

“So I was actually excited,” he said.  “I wanted to be big.”

Hall went on to play football at Oregon State University but eventually the weight piled on, reaching its peak as his beloved mother struggled with sickle-cell anemia.

“When my mom got sick, that is when my weight got worse,” he said.

Hall met the love of his life, Adriana, and asked for her hand in marriage.  The day before they walked down the aisle together, however, he wrote a letter to Chris Powell, fitness expert and the trainer on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, asking for help.

When Powell arrived to help, Hall weighed 548 pounds at his first weigh-in.

“Wow, I look at this number and I’m motivated,” Hall said at the time.  “My goal is to get into the “twos” and officially bring sexy back.”

In the next year, with Powell at his side, Hall pushed through the highs and lows of his weight-loss journey.  After one year on Powell’s program, Hall weighed in at 267 pounds and had dropped from a size 70 waist to a size 38.  His total weight loss came to more than 280 pounds.

“My world is so different now because I can appreciate the small things in life,” Hall said Monday on Good Morning America alongside Powell.  “Just coming here, I got to fly on an airplane and sit in one seat and not have a seat-belt extender.  I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sit.  I can sit in a movie theater.”

Powell says it was the same determination that helped Hall succeed as an athlete that pushed him in his weight-loss journey.

“He [Hall] is the epitome of perseverance and persistence,” Powell said.  “He fell sometimes like we all do.  We’re all human and it happens on the journey but every single time he did he got right back up. He attacked every single day like it was a brand-new day and he kept going and this is where it gets you.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"Extreme Makeover": Woman Loses 138 Pounds

ABC/CRAIG SJODIN(NEW YORK) -- Sally Adams was an active child who grew up to be a slim, athletic woman, but a severe leg injury changed her life. As a result of the injury, Adams, a Washington, D.C., tour guide, gained 200 pounds.  She consumed 10,000 calories each day.

She acknowledged how serious her habits were. “It’s like putting a gun to my head,” she said.

Then, Chris Powell, fitness expert and the trainer on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, entered her life in a dramatic way: He showed up one day on one of her tours, and challenged her to change her life.

She started his program weighing 335 pounds, and losing the weight wasn’t easy.

Despite Powell’s trademark aggressive workouts, Adams, 45, a married mother of one son, still wasn’t losing the weight required to meet her goal.

“As a woman in my 40s, losing weight is much harder and I’m not going to lie and I’m not going to tell you it’s otherwise,” Adams said today on Good Morning America.  “So you’re playing the long, slow game.”

Powell found himself uncharacteristically unable to relate to his client.

“She has a beautiful little son but he is a little disaster-maker. He is all over the place.  It’s like every mom out there who’s trying to lose weight but they’ve got kids, they’re busy,”  Chris Powell said.  “The thing is, I get it but I can’t completely relate to it. Even as I was trying to carve out all the time for exercise and nutrition, there were still some difficulties there.”

Determined to find out why Adams was falling short, Powell called in the big guns: his wife, Heidi, the mother of their three children and a trainer herself.

“I can relate to Sally because I too am a working mother and I have three kids. I know how challenging it can be…to fit everything in,” Heidi said on GMA.  “Having the experience myself, I was able to call her on some things that I knew were just excuses.  She is a strong, strong girl.”

Eventually Adams was reminded of her intentions and what motivated her at the beginning of the program. Her determination from back then provided the impetus for her to conquer the difficult workouts and reclaim her life.

“It’s like asking someone how does it feel to resurrect from the dead,” Adams said of her transformation.  “In some ways the struggles I went through last year are exactly what make it so sweet because I got through those really hard times.”

At her final weigh-in, Adams, had lost 138 pounds.

“I don’t think the show even showed how disabled I was when I started the process.  I couldn’t even walk up the stairs normally,” she said.  “It was an amazing experience.  You’re not giving up hope when it seems like hope should be lost. That is a really hard thing to do so getting through that was great.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


500-Pound Man Loses More Than Half His Weight

ABC/CRAIG SJODIN(NEW YORK) -- Jonathan McHenry married his high school sweetheart. They had two sons. The only thing that stood between McHenry and a perfect life was his weight. McHenry, who stands 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighed 543 pounds.

McHenry needed to lose weight. For him, it would mean not just happiness, but possibly the difference between life and death.

“I don’t want my kids to one day say, ‘Why did Dad die so early? Because he liked to eat,’” he added.

McHenry had all but given up — and was reportedly just weeks away from having gastric bypass surgery – when he was approached by Chris Powell, the fitness expert and weight loss trainer of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.

A few hours after that meeting, McHenry was off to fitness boot camp.  Then Powell moved in with McHenry, and the grueling workout sessions started. Powell motivated McHenry through the tough routines, urging him to “do it for your boys!” During his training, McHenry pulled a two-ton airplane for one mile.

“I’m becoming a superhero to them,” he said of his sons, “because now they have something cool that they can say about their dad.”

McHenry started losing weight quickly, but it wasn’t always easy. He devoted so much time to his training that he wasn’t able to spend a lot of time with his children, but he was continually motivated by his progress.

“When you start and say 250 pounds it just seems like a crazy amount of weight. But when you say, ‘I just want to eat healthy three days this week,’ and you do that and you start building momentum and you start feeling good about yourself, the sky is the limit,” McHenry said today on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Today, McHenry has maintained his 250 pound weight loss and, in what he calls a pay-it-forward moment, became a certified fitness instructor who runs his own boot camp classes back home in Washington.

“Before I was just somebody who made money for the family in order to survive and now I’m able to play with my kids, still go to work, come home and have the energy to do what they need to have as a father at night and that’s the most rewarding thing of this whole process,” McHenry said.  “And I get to be a good husband.”

Powell said McHenry was able to change his life in such a big way by focusing on small goals, a life skill that applies to everyone looking to make changes in their lives.

“Make that one small promise to yourself, whether it’s removing the soda from lunch or maybe it’s just eating breakfast, just something so tiny that you know you can attain every single day,” he said.  “Every journey truly begins with a single step.”

For McHenry, the first step was a wake-up call from Powell.

“He’s come to terms with the fact that food is his thing.  He’s a compulsive overeater.  No matter what, he’ll always have that but he’s learned how to control it,” Powell said.  “He’s a promise-keeper and he’s always honored his word to himself and that’s how you do something extraordinary.”

McHenry said he is not done taking his own small steps on his weight loss journey.  He has kept the one pair of pants he wore to work every day as a reminder of his old life and has committed himself to maintaining his new, healthy lifestyle for the same reason that he first met with Powell–for his family.

“Even if it’s not weight, maybe building muscle, it’s always going to be in my mind, taking care of my body,” he said.  “Making it better so I can see my grandkids and maybe my grandkids’ grandkids.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"Extreme" Weight Loss: Houston Woman Loses 157 Pounds

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nyla Gibson was 300 pounds overweight, and found herself emotionally and physically affected by her past.

“I have friends who have waists smaller than my thighs,” Gibson, a former high school state champion weightlifter, said.

A big part of the emotional problems that led to her weight gain was never having met her father.

“I’ve never seen my father,” the Houston woman said.  “I can’t quite wrap my mind around how you can bring a child into the world and just leave them.  And it makes me feel like, ‘well, why am I not good enough?’”

Gibson used food to fill that void, and when trainer Chris Powell of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition caught up with her, the 27-year-old weighed 435 pounds.

The first time Powell weighed Gibson, reality set in, and she acknowledged that she was deeply afraid of failing.

“She had unrealistic expectations coming into the process,” Powell said Monday on ABC's Good Morning America.  “She thought that I had some kind of secret.”

“A lot of people do,” Powell said.  “They think I just show up at your doorstep and I sprinkle some magic pixie-dust and you lose 200 pounds but the magic is really what’s in all of us.  That’s what I wanted her [Gibson] to know, that I can’t lose a pound for her.  She is the miracle in this process.”

Gibson’s inability to face her fears also threatened to jeopardize her weight loss goals.  But Powell didn’t give up on her.  He hired a private investigator to track down Gibson’s father.

She learned her father committed suicide in 2010, and the knowledge devastated her.  She broke down.  But learning about him -- and meeting her father’s side of the family -- also helped her commit to her weight-loss goals.

“Dealing with my emotions in order to address the root of my problems was the most difficult thing for me,” Gibson said Monday on GMA.  “Once I got that taken care of then I was able to kind of get things in gear and keep moving.”

At her final weigh-in, Gibson tipped the scale at 278.  She had lost a total of 157 pounds.

Gibson has maintained her weight-loss by finding an activity she is passionate about, Zumba.

“I liked it so much that I became an instructor,” Gibson said of the Latin-inspired, high-intensity dance workout.  “It’s just a new way to challenge myself.”

Finding that passion is something Powell says is key for anyone looking to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy way of living.

“You find something that you absolutely love and you run with it and you embrace it and that’s what makes it a lifestyle,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Loses Half Her Body Weight on "Extreme Makeover"

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ashley Johnson weighed 323 pounds, and in a family of thin people, the temptation of food was everywhere.

“When I try to tell them, ‘You’re not helping,’ they keep telling me that it’s up to me to really have that willpower,” she said during her appearance Sunday night on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.

But food was just one of the many issues weighing her down.

“This is a sad insecure person. This is so hard. I’m so ashamed of it,” she said.

When trainer Chris Powell surprised Johnson on her 20th birthday, she was desperate for a fresh start.

Months of crushing workouts were just one challenge.  Her family was another.  There was junk food in the house, and there were fights with her mother.  It all affected Johnson’s progress.

After six months, things had reached a boiling point.

“When she [Ashley] finally admitted that she is a compulsive eater, that she is a food addict, that is when her real healing began,” Powell said Monday on ABC's Good Morning America.  “But unfortunately she also realized that she can’t change the people around her.”

Johnson moved out of her house and in with a friend who offered to let her stay rent-free. With that healthy distance between Johnson and her family, she was able to kick her weight loss into high gear.

A year later, she had undergone a profound transformation.  At her final weigh-in at the end of the show, Johnson had lost 156 pounds.

“She’s doing great. She’s so happy right now,” Powell said of Johnson on Monday.

Johnson is continuing on her weight loss journey using tips from Powell that, he says, anyone can use on their own.

“The one thing I recommend for everyone is to find a fitness-minded community like a yoga group or a tennis club or a basketball league or walking groups,” Powell said.  “They’re everywhere.  A quick Google search will lead you to some kind of fitness group within a mile of your home.”

Powell also recommends that people use a principle called F.I.T.T. -- Frequency, Intensity, Time and Training -- to ramp up their weight loss efforts.

“The basic rule we’re talking about is that your body will adapt to everything that we do so after five or six of the same kind of workout your body begins to adapt,” he said.  ”If you want to get continued results and do extreme stuff like losing a lot of weight, you have to increase.”

“I do this with all of my people,” Powell said.  ”Just constantly changing up things, that’s the F.I.T.T. principle.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Loses 255 Pounds on "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition"

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- At 28 years old, Mike Giannulis was 493 pounds and so obese that he missed out on things others might take for granted, like kissing a girl or even experiencing a first date.

The only time he would step foot outside his house was to visit nearby family.

“I don’t have a full-length mirror anywhere in the whole entire house, and if I can just avoid seeing myself … out of sight out of mind,” Giannulis said.  “I mean, who would want to see this?  I just feel like no girl deserves this.”

Giannulis’ brother, Mark, feared for his life.

“I really think he can’t get up off the couch sometimes because of his weight,” he said.

That’s when Chris Powell and Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition entered his life and set a goal for Giannulis to lose half his body weight -- 246 pounds -- in the next year.

Powell was with Giannulis through the tough workouts and at the 90-day mark, he lost a staggering 129 pounds.  By the six-month mark, Giannulis was a brand new man with a new lady in his life.

“I’ve got a brand new girlfriend and things are going awesome,” Giannulis said.

Giannulis had lost so much weight that he was not only off the couch but was able to compete in a triathlon, a feat that would have been impossible just a few months before.

“I know how hard Michael has worked at this triathlon.  You don’t find many people like him,” said Giannulis’ girlfriend, Meghan.  “I love him so much.  I’m just so proud of everything he’s done.”

At the final weigh-in, 12 months after Powell came into Giannulis’ life, he weighed 238 pounds, down more than half his original weight.

“In all the 29 years I have lived,” Giannulis said, “this has been the best year of my life.”

After the show concluded, however, he found himself giving into temptations and slipping back into old habits.  Refusing to let that happen, Giannulis made a drastic move: He left his home in Tarpon Springs, Fla., to move closer to Powell in Phoenix.

“He caught himself,” Powell said.  “He realized that he what he was doing, especially after he lost his purpose, he fell back into some of his old patterns and some of those triggers he was experiencing.  Those social triggers.  They were feeding the addiction again.  So he picked up from Florida and moved and he’s actually living down the street from me now.”

Powell also believes it’s important to realize one is never on the weight-loss journey alone.

“You have to realize that no man is an island,” he said.  “You can’t do it alone.  As we go through this process, real life happens, and we need to talk about it.  We need to share in order to heal.  It’s really important to reach out to those different people or there are incredible online sites as well.”

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jacqui McCoy Transforms Life on "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition"

ABC(NEW YORK) -- When Jacqui McCoy first met trainer Chris Powell, she weighed 355 pounds at her first Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition weigh-in. But there was more behind McCoy’s story and transformation than just a food addiction.

McCoy was 14 when she attended a party where she was raped by a boy. After the childhood trauma, her weight spiraled out of control. “I just couldn’t deal with it,” McCoy said. “I kind of used food to help me cope.”

An Internet sales manager living in West Palm Beach, Fla., McCoy, 30, has been battling food addiction and obesity for more than half her life. When she married her husband, Shawn, she weighed more than 300 pounds. Her biggest fear was not being able to have a child because of her weight gain.

“I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, knowing that because of my weight, we’re unable to have a child,” McCoy said.

Powell challenged McCoy to a 90-day, 90-pound weight-loss exercise program. The workouts were emotionally draining for McCoy, but Powell was there every step of the way to motivate her to get through them.

“Once I lost so much weight the first 90 days, I started to recognize my own power and my own worth, and that I could do these incredible things,” she said

After McCoy met her goals, she earned a trip to Ireland for the honeymoon she never received. When McCoy got to Ireland, she got another surprise: Powell told her she would have to ride a bike for 100 kilometers (about 62 miles) through the hills of Ireland.

The ride was grueling and there were times McCoy looked as if she would quit, but Powell was once again at her side when she crossed the finished line.

Back in the states, McCoy met with doctors after her 90-day regiment to find out she can now have the children she has always wanted. McCoy also went under the knife to remove almost six square feet of excess skin.

Then the time came to reveal what was 365 days in the making: McCoy lost 207 pounds. “This is the largest percentage weight loss in any reality-TV show ever,” Powell said.

Now, a year and a half after the record-setting weight loss, McCoy works with Powell and his team to maintain her weight at 155 pounds. McCoy credits Powell for helping her reclaim her life.

“I know that he met me in the darkest time in my life and he didn’t have to love me and invest in me in the way that he did,” McCoy said. “I am forever grateful and I love that he’s proud of me.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Tony Mims Loses 198 Pounds on "Extreme Makeover"

ABC(NEW YORK) -- Tony Mims always smiled, but he’d had a tough life. The son of alcoholic parents, he left home when he was 14 and worked in the fast-food industry.

Over time, Mims’ weight ballooned.

“I’m tired of having limitations of what I have to do,” he said. “And I sweat like crazy. I’d give one of my kidneys to have a smaller body.”

Mims was tasting wedding cakes with his fiancée when Chris Powell, the trainer on Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, showed up and pledged to help him change his body and his life.

At the weigh-in, Mims, then 49-years-old, got harsh news. After years of overeating, he weighed 398 pounds. He had to be weighed on a truck scale.

As part of Mims’ weight-loss program, he would learn how to cook healthy meals. Powell got him exercising.

It wasn’t easy. Added to the pressure, Mims’ son, Marcus, fell ill. His son suffered from cerebral palsy, and the hospitalization helped put things into perspective for Mims.

“I’m here fighting for my life and he’s in the hospital fighting for his,” Mims said tearfully.

Powell moved in with Mims and his fiancée, and helped them remake their home. For a while, things went well, at 90 days into his program, Mims weighed 294 pounds.

But Mims and his fiancée were having trouble. The relationship fell apart, and he moved out of the home he shared with her.

When it was time for Mims’ six-month weigh-in, Powell couldn’t find him. That’s because Mims was living in his car. He had become homeless.

Then, Mims got devastating news. His son had died. Rather than derailing Mims, the news strengthened his commitment to the weight-loss program.

When he showed up for his nine-month weigh in, the results were amazing. He weighed 226 pounds, for a total weight loss of 172 pounds so far.

He was now ready to have the excess flesh on his frame surgically removed.

Three months after the surgery, his friends and family gathered for his 50th birthday, and he had a final weigh-in. He weighed 200 pounds.

Mims found a new love, and is engaged to be married.

The episode of Extreme Makeover that chronicled Mims’ weight-loss journey aired Sunday on ABC.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio