Originally published on OrlandoSentinel.com.
Chris Powell returns for the third season of ‘Extreme Weight Loss.’ (Preston Mack / ABC / April 29, 2011)
What’s the biggest mistake people make in trying to control their weight?
“Overblown promises,” Chris Powell says. He knows the routine as the transformation specialist who stars in ABC’s”Extreme Weight Loss.”
Powell’s advice: Be realistic in starting a weight-loss journey. Start simply by taking soda out of your diet or vowing to move five minutes every day.
“Make a promise to yourself that you can keep every day,” he says. “Our integrity with ourselves is most important. It’s about loving ourselves. The more you keep your promises, the more you love yourself. The more we believe in ourselves, that’s when transformations happen.”
Powell’s show has undergone a bit of a transformation itself. The show formerly known as “Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition” is now just “Extreme Weight Loss.”
Season three starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, and Powell says there will be a season four. “You’ll see that next summer,” he said.
Powell did eight transformations a season the first two years. But this time around, ABC asked for 15. Powell turned to his wife, Heidi, for help.
“You’ll see her in more episodes,” he says. “We’ve been a partnership from day one in this whole thing.”
They take on pairs of transformations, including twins and spouses.
“Helping one person is difficult enough,” Powell said. “One person will end up struggling. One person will pull the other person down. At times, they’re the greatest ally and at others they’re the worst enemy. Heidi and I were along for the ride. We stayed flexible in our approach and got there.”
Another transformation is an amputee who had lost his arm in an accident. He started at 410 pounds.
“He tried out for another weight-loss show, but they said he could never change,” Powell said. “We showed him how to do it. He turned out to be one of the greatest transformations. It was just phenomenal.”
Another man who had blown out both knees started at 448 pounds. He lost weight through swimming, cycling and exercises he could do off his knees.
Ultimately, Powell said, the two men achieved the greatest weight-loss percentage for any men who have turned to him for help. A woman still holds the record, though, with a 58 percent loss of original weight.
Powell sees a resounding mantra in their stories: “There are no excuses. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way. Anything is possible.”
Powell also has a new book, “Choose More, Lose More for Life.” It’s another collaboration with his wife.
He cites four components for lifelong transformation: Believing in the process or believing in something. Keeping your promises. Falling without failing. “When people fall and say they can’t do something, we give them the equation to get back up and continue,” he says.
The fourth component is uniting with others around you to create a support system.
That unity is central to what “Extreme Weight Loss” means to him.”
“Every single person I’ve taken through a transformation teaches me so much,” he said. “The way I view the show and transformation, it’s rehabilitation. To change their minds, there are so many components. They have to be authentic and open. It’s not diet and exercise. When I’m working with people who have struggles, they need to let their ego down and be vulnerable.”
That, in turn, gives everyone around them the chance to be open.
“What people go through is so real and raw,” Powell said. “I realize I can put my ego aside, and it creates so much connection. I can apply those lessons to my life and family. I’ve gotten closer to everybody around me. My relationships have been so much more real.”