Hosts of ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss” Heidi and Chris Powell are giving Arizonans the opportunity to participate in their free “BEST” seminar series to promote health.
The five-part series will begin on Sept. 16 and continue every two weeks for a series of five classes. “It’s a series of five different classes and we cover everything from body to emotion to support to overall transformation,” trainer Chris Powell said. The trainers are currently filming their fifth season of “Extreme Weight Loss.”
“The common denominator of the people who are truly successful in this are those that are appreciative,” Chris said. The seminars will be held in A.T. Still University’s Main Building at 5850 E. Still Circle, Mesa.
“Instead of us having to only work with 15 to 20 people a year we can actually work with our entire family,” Heidi Powell said about the reach of the “BEST” seminars.
Kenny O’Neal, of Moore, was featured Aug. 19 on ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss,” a TV reality weight-loss show in which participants are given one year to train with Chris Powell and lose weight. O’Neal went from weighing 410 pounds to 202 in one year.
A Moore man lost 208 pounds recently by participating in ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss.” The episode featuring his journey to health aired Aug. 19.
Having found himself in the path of nature’s fury was a huge wake-up call for 38-year-old Kenny O’Neal, who at the time was morbidly obese.
Since appearing on the show and following the one-year weight-loss plan, O’Neal went from weighing 410 pounds to 202. His wife jokes that she has a new boyfriend. His neighbors say it seems weird seeing this new guy around the neighborhood.
And that’s the truth. O’Neal is a new guy, inside and out.
When the May 20 tornado destroyed much of Moore last year, O’Neal was one of many parents who signed their children out of schools in the tornado’s path; his kids went to Briarwood Elementary. Safe in their storm shelter, the family survived the tornado relatively unscathed.
O’Neal’s mother’s home was destroyed, but, thankfully, she was away on vacation at the time.
After the disaster, many of O’Neal’s friends and neighbors needed help, but he felt helpless. At 410 pounds, there wasn’t much he could do, though helping others is a huge priority in O’Neal’s life.
“I’m wanting to help — the spirit’s there, but I’m out of breath in five minutes,” O’Neal recalled. “I couldn’t do what I wanted to. I couldn’t help the people that I wanted to help, because, seriously, I was 410 pounds. What is a 410-pound man really able to do, you know?”
That tornado was a moment of reckoning for O’Neal. He had to do something about the extra hundreds of pounds dragging down his life and rendering him helpless.
He wrote a letter he’d been wanting to write for some time — to Chris Powell, the celebrity trainer and life coach who stars in “Extreme Weight Loss.”
Within two weeks of the tornado, O’Neal was in Colorado for the show’s three-month boot camp.
Facing the wreckage
At home, just after he left, a second round of tornadoes came through town, and O’Neal’s family was terrified. He felt terrible leaving his wife, Kristin, 36, and three children, Aby, 12; Avery, 7, and Tyler, 6. Tyler had lost a classmate in the May 20 tornado and was still having nightmares about that.
But the family supported O’Neal fully. Kristin O’Neal is a nurse and a champion of nutrition and fitness. She told him he needed to stay in Colorado and learn everything he possibly could, because she would rather have him gone for three months and come back rather than lose him to death from his health problems.
So he stayed and devoted every ounce of his energy to learning and fighting his fight.
O’Neal had once been fit. But in what he calls a “regrettable decision,” he quit the Marine Corps at 19, and from there, his weight escalated.
Shortly after arriving at weight-loss boot camp, another pitfall challenged O’Neal’s resolve. A good friend from the Marines, who had served two tours in Iraq, died from his addiction: alcohol.
The two had discussed their addictions — O’Neal’s to food and inactivity and his friend’s to alcohol. His friend’s death gave O’Neal more drive to solve his addiction problem.
“Addiction is serious. We all battle some sort of addiction. This fight’s worth fighting,” O’Neal said.
Year of milestones
After the first three months of boot camp, at the quarterly weigh-in, O’Neal had lost 100 pounds, 10 pounds shy of his goal. That first milestone was major.
“I was able to run a 5k,” he said. “I didn’t ever think I would run again, but in 90 days I was doing everything that I wanted to do.”
The rest of the one-year journey to health was also life-changing for O’Neal, though not as intensely physically demanding as some may think. The Marine Corps was far more difficult, he said.
“It’s about daily commitment, consistency, having those commitments and integrity within yourself,” he said. “It’s a change of pattern; it’s believing in something more than just the scale.”
Today, 208 pounds lighter, O’Neal looks like a model, feels younger than ever and has all the energy he needs to do what he really wants to do most: help others fight the battle he fought.
Journey’s just begun
O’Neal always felt he had a higher purpose than the sales career he’d been developing. Now he knows what it was.
After finishing the show, he opened a gym, Addictions OKC, in Moore, where he said he hopes people who are like he once was — without hope, frightened and lacking the self-confidence to get off the couch — can feel comfortable.
“What I’ve learned is I want to be able to pay it forward. That’s my new mantra,” he said. Instead of being addicted to food and inactivity, his new addiction is paying his good fortune forward, he said.
“If you’re overweight, feeling helpless, lost and just like giving up, I’m the person you need to talk to. Not everyone’s going to be lucky enough that Chris Powell is going to take them, but I want people to know that there is someone here locally has been there, has weighed 410 pounds, who knows what that feels like. I want to help you.”
“Sara” (Owensboro, KY) – Though she often jokes about being “vertically challenged” (at 4’5″), Sara has faced a lifelong struggle with her height…and her weight. At 39 years old, Sara is nearly 150 pounds overweight. Believing her weight is holding her back from her true potential, Sara wrote a letter to trainer and transformation specialist Chris Powell asking him for help. Her yearlong physical and emotional journey will be documented on the hit series “Extreme Weight Loss,” airing TONIGHT, AUGUST 12 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET/PT) on the ABC Television Network.
Growing up, Sara was constantly made fun of for being short. When her weight started increasing, the bullying worsened. Though she belongs to a large and supportive family, fitting in with her siblings and friends was always difficult. At 26, in a fit of frustration, Sara decided to join a convent, hopeful that answering to a higher calling would help her find her place in the world. Unfortunately, she felt she wasn’t accepted as a nun, either, and decided to leave after six years.
Sara currently works for the Green River District Health Department in a program called HANDS (Health Access Nurturing Developmental Services), where she is a family support worker and certified state trainer.
On “EWL,” Chris will take on Sara — his first ever “little person” — as a client, and lead her on a journey that will transform her life forever. Neither Chris nor Sara will allow her physical limitations to stop her from achieving her goals. In fact, Chris challenges Sara to complete a half marathon (which is the equivalent of a full marathon for someone of regular height).
Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito will stop by to teach Sara how to make healthier versions of her favorite Tex-Mex dishes.
New in Season 4, in addition to working with Chris and Heidi Powell, each participant spends the first 90 days of his or her weight loss journey at the renowned University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) in Aurora, CO.
Chris and Heidi, along with AHWC’s medical director Holly Wyatt, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, guide participants on their journeys to safely lose up to half their body weight, ultimately revealing an amazing metamorphosis. The Anschutz Health and Wellness Center offers some of the country’s most advanced research and science-based expertise, focusing on a comprehensive weight loss and weight loss management approach, including fitness, nutrition and wellness services.
“Extreme Weight Loss” is produced by Eyeworks USA. JD Roth, Todd A. Nelson, Matt Assmus and Brant Pinvidic are the executive producers.
The 4th season premiere of Extreme Weight Loss (formerly known as Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition) aired on ABC last night! And yesterday we got to talk to Transformation Specialists, Chris and Heidi Powell, all about the show, fitness tips and even daily indulgences! Read the Exclusive Interview below and get to know the Powell Pack (aka The 6 Pack- how cute, right!?!) and their amazing and positive take on life. Plus, Find out what’s coming next for the energetic duo and juicy details from season 4!
ShareTV: First off, your show is premiering tonight! Heidi: I know, we are so excited! Chris: Yes! Tonight we’re we have a nonprofit foundation we started, it’s called The Best Foundation. We’re actually having a viewing party with a couple hundred people that are all coming together and that are going through the transformation journey themselves. We are all going to get together tonight and watch it with a few hundred of us! ShareTV: That’s exciting! So I’ll dive right in and ask a couple of question about you both and the show. I’m really curious and I’m sure a lot of our fans are too: what’s the most exciting part of helping a new client transform their life? Heidi: The most exciting part for me is that we really do gain our best friends through this (selfishly speaking), we go through so much with them. We help them with so much throughout the year, and they in turn help us with quite a bit. We really are living life with these people. It’s not like we are just there to train them. We’re in each other’s lives and a big part. To be able to experience so much with such wonderful people and help them through these amazing victories is so incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, and gosh we find our best friends and I guess our extended family through this process. Chris: Over the journey of their transformation, there’s typically a moment when they get it. They see it from that different perspective, and all of the sudden the light bulb goes on. It’s so awesome gaining lifelong friends, because what we do is so personal too. But, for me I love experiencing that moment with those people. And that’s where the magic really starts to happen and that’s what’s so cool.
ShareTV: I love that! Is there anything that stands out as difficult to get clients to do before they reach that point? Is there anything they initially they resist in any way? Heidi: Chris might have a different response, that’s why we love working together because we have such different perspectives and we are able to touch different people in different ways. One of the biggest things that they almost always resist at the beginning is anything that it scares them. We’re all plagued with fears of some kind, but for a lot of them it’s something as simple as exercise. Just the thought of working out and reaching a certain limit is terrifying, because they really do feel like they’re going to die; they’ve never experienced it. Helping them through physical breakthroughs is incredible. One of the girls, I believe her episode will be on July 1st., Melissa. Her biggest fear was dealing with the death of her husband. During that year we helped her face that, and it proved to be the biggest thing in her transformation. Once she was able to unload and face that fear the pounds dropped off. She realized there was nothing to be scared of FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real, it’s that we are scared of something that hasn’t happened that isn’t going to happen we’re just scared to face certain parts of life, and so helping people through that is amazing it’s by far and away the thing that I feel stops people the most. Chris: I’m with you 100% on that one. ShareTV: So for the contestants on the show, fear may be the hardest part, but have any of them expressed their favorite part? Chris: Oh yea, good question. For most, they like us they really do cherish the friendship that we develop. That’s one thing we hear over and over, is how much they appreciate us really bringing them into our family. I mean last years on Christmas four or five of them spent Christmas with us, we person living with us right now (literally one room away from us right now!). It’s bringing them into our family and opening up and letting them see that we’re all human and all in this together. I believe they really appreciate that and that’s what we appreciate about them as well. Heidi: And to add on to that, because Chris is right. The reason it becomes their favorite part is because it’s so unexpected. We always hear, ‘We thought it’d be like boot camp, just exercising and dealing with the physical aspect of it, but that’s the smallest thing we got out of it.’ They say, ‘We gained friends and conquered all these incredible things in our life. How we changed inside is the most unexpected, but the best part of the journey, and the friendships we’ve gained.’ ShareTV: I think that’s what sets you apart from other transformation series. Because it seems like you have incredible fans on your Facebook pages and everything. Chris: Our fans are so amazing; some of them are really in touch with the psychological and emotional aspect of the journey and it’s really cool because they get it. They understand what we’re doing and they’re so supportive. It’s such a wonderful journey for all of us.
ShareTV: Once you finish your goal, it’s hard to keep yourself on task. What do you tell your clients after the show is finished, and how do that maintain that lifestyle when you’re still friends but not working with them on a daily basis? Heidi: We tell them to continue training for something. Truly set a goal, because if you don’t have a physical fitness goal, chances are you’re probably not going to put in the work and the time, especially when Chris and I aren’t there pushing you. You don’t have the weekly weigh-ins that you have to send to the production team every week showing how much you’re losing anymore. So always have a goal whether it’s a Cross fit competition, Triathlon, marathon, or whatever it is, do something you’ve always wanted to accomplish and continually train for it. Chris: It’s really cool because we are just wrapping up our season 4 finales. Our season 4 people are going through the transition to maintain right now. It’s really neat because they’ve all joined together on this Facebook accountability page and they are all logging on. They’ve all signed up for 5ks, Spartan races and tough mutters and they are signing up because it’s that thing to keep them going. And actually there’s an on going bet between all of them- if anyone gains back they have to put in $100 per pound they gain back. So everyone who didn’t gain back will split the pot, there are 17 individuals and they’re all in, it’s really cool. So there’s all these neat accountability ways, number one: training for an event, number two: betting. Gamble on it, it’s not really a gamble though because you’re in control of it. ShareTV: That’s really cool! I’ve never heard of anything like that, I’m going to try that myself… so you guys seem like you’ve been in fitness forever! How did you know this was a passion of yours, and when did it turn into extreme weight loss and transformation specialists? Chris: I started hearing weight loss transformation back in 2003. And that was the first time I really started working with morbidly obese and super obese individuals, and it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. That was really what kind of opened the doors to everything. A few of the individuals I worked with, some of the weight losses were so significant that they went viral- people were posting before and after pictures and everything kind of took off. It was 5 ½ years ago, we were contacted by a production company that was interested in what we were doing out here. So my wife and I drove out to L.A. and sat down with a creative team and developed a show. A couple months later we got a call and they said ABC just bought your show. So, that’s kind of how everything took off. It’s something that we’ve been doing that we’re passionate about for over a decade now. We did it before the show and we’ll be doing it after the show. This is our calling; it’s what we do. ShareTV: So I’m sure you can’t be good 100% of the time, are there any desserts you just can’t resist or any cheat days that you let yourself have? Chris: Yes, yes and yes. Of course. Heidi: I should clarify because it’s not something we can’t resist, because we could if we wanted to. But chances are if it’s something we’re going to resist and deprive ourselves of, all we’re going to think about, all we’re going to want is those foods or those things we can’t have, that’s just the nature of living. We do build it into our plan. Believe it or not I reward myself every single day with a Starbucks morning bun, there’s like 390 calories in that one bun, but by allowing myself that indulgence everyday I can eat totally 100% clean the rest of the time. Whereas for some of our people they do better with a reward day, so by building rewards into our programs, we’re much more likely to maintain it for life. Chris and I call it the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time you’re spot on clean and 20% you enjoy- and it works!
ShareTV: Are your kids on board, are they interested too? Heidi: For the most part they don’t know the difference. I was a personal trainer right out of high school and grew up in a fit family. Maddox our oldest is 9, so he only knows his mom into health and nutrition. Marly, Cash and Ruby don’t know any different. So, the same goes with them, we don’t deprive them. You give them a cookie they might finish half of it and be done. But if you deprive, they’ll binge on it. ShreTV: Yea, I had done the South beach diet at some point (you can’t have fruit for two weeks) and was so upset that I couldn’t have fruit! Chris: That sounds exactly like Cash. Our whole bottom of the refrigerator is stocked with every berry you can imagine. He loves berries and wants to eat them all day long! Heidi: Cash is a fruit king, we have to limit him! He’ll eat an entire carton of strawberries, like a big one if we let him. Chris: We were at a celebratory event the other day. There were tarts with berries on top. They were stacked on a plate and we saw him just eating the berries off the top, and I was like ‘That’s cool, that’s my boy.’ ShareTV: That’s pretty cool! A couple more questions, because I’m sure you have to go, you have a big day with the premiere tonight! I know a lot of people can’t have a personal trainer with them at all times, so what do you think about workout videos like P90X, Hip Hop Abs, Insanity and Zumba Fitness? Do they work for people? Chris: We love it, absolutely. We’re huge fans of any vehicle for fitness that people can actually do. You know what’s really cool are these walking groups, cross fit, yoga. Any opportunity to get people off the couch and moving, great. DVDs, some of these online programs now are amazing: you can stream videos and follow along and work out with groups.
ShareTV: Do you have anything else coming in the future that you can share? Heidi: No more babies, 4 is enough haha! There is a lot of stuff in the works and happening! What I will say is that there is some stuff in collaboration with the show, tools and resources for everybody out there. It will be available within a month or two. Chris: Basically the transformations that people see on TV, they will be able to experience it at home. Heidi & Chris: But that’s all we’re going to say for now!
*** Watch clips from Extreme Weight Loss on ShareTV here. Plus, connect with Chris on Twitter and Facebook and Heidi on Twitter andFacebook.
What does it take to lose 40 percent of your body weight? “Extreme Weight Loss” answered that question on Tuesday’s premiere episode: Intense determination, a zest for Zumba dance and transformation specialist Chris Powell, whose knowledge of carb-cycling diets and weight loss workouts helped one woman achieve her goal.
The episode proved that by believing in herself – and knowing that Chris believed that she could do it – 310-pound Charita successfully completed her year-long journey of transformation and lost 150 pounds. Author of “Chris Powell’s Choose More, Lose More for Life,” Chris is known for his use of carb cycling diets to accelerate weight loss in his clients.
Charita began with an attitude of desperation. She wanted to dance again, but her weight and her depression were barriers to happiness and health. She asked Chris for help.
In a new twist to the show, the boot camp segment involves a longer residential element before participants work out on their own. However, Chris still checks in with them and sets phased weight loss goals. His unique approach to dieting is detailed in his book “Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution.”
With a new career as a Zumba instructor, Charita also gets encouragement from celebrity chef Rocco Dispirito, author of “The Pound a Day Diet: Lose Up to 5 Pounds in 5 Days by Eating the Foods You Love.” The food plan in the book uses a different version of carb cycling by providing more food on weekends.
Although Charita experiences periods of fatigue and frustration, she continues to triumph. At the end, standing on the scale for her final weigh-in, Charita expresses joy in both her physical and emotional health.
In contrast, the episode also featured, for the first time, a participant who withdrew from the opportunity. Ty wanted to be a professional baseball player. But he also wanted to be left alone.
At 480 pounds, Ty knew that he needed help. But he seemed mired in depression and despair. Chris and his wife Heidi Powell, who worked closely with both participants, could not persuade him to let go of his fear of change and stay with the program.
Chris talked with WetPaint Entertainment on Tuesday about his views on obesity and diet fads. Although he feels the nation is more educated overall about nutrition, Chris expressed concern about the Standard American Diet (SAD) of processed and fast foods.
“I see, by and large, America is addicted to processed foods,” Chris said. What will it take to reverse the increase in obesity? “The psychological and emotional components need to be addressed in order for people to change.”
Ty illustrated Chris’ belief that conquering obesity requires mental changes as well as physical. “I think that if you can’t take care of your head and your heart, your body’s not going to follow,” Chris noted.
8 P.M. (ABC) EXTREME WEIGHT LOSS In this Season 4 opener, Chris and Heidi Powell, trainers and coaches specializing in the “superobese” — people who exceed their ideal weight by approximately 225 percent or more than 200 pounds — help Charita (310 pounds) and Ty (480 pounds) get fit. Ty, who plays baseball, works out with Josh Hamilton of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; Charita begins a new career as a Zumba instructor and schmoozes with the R&B group TGT and the chef Rocco DiSpirito.
Trying to lose weight? Craving pizza? Go ahead and have some, but don’t call it “cheating” on your diet.
Chris and Heidi Powell, the husband-and-wife trainers from ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss,” returning Tuesday, May 27, prefer “reward” and “reset.”
The Powells advocate “carb cycling”: two days a week of low-carbohydrate meals — except breakfast — and high-carb the other five, with one “reset day, where guys eat 1,000 extra calories, and girls eat 750 extra calories” to kick-start the metabolism, Heidi tells Zap2it. “And its a food of their choice, because it’s important that we don’t let them feel deprived, because what happens when you feel deprived?
“If someone says, ‘You can never, ever, ever have a brownie for the rest of your life,’ and brownies are the thing that you love, then all you’re going to want is a brownie, right?” she continues. “And the second you eat that brownie, you’re going to feel like a failure, you’re not going to tell anyone, you’re going to hold that secret in, and you’re going to fall off the wagon.”
A thousand extra calories sounds like a lot to anyone who’s ever tried to drop a few pounds on a 1,200-calorie-a-day diet — but the folks featured on “Extreme Weight Loss” start their yearlong transformations with a target of 2,250 calories a day for men, 1,750 for women. For those who have been living on 5,000 calories a day or more, any reduction gets results.
“It really is like playing poker with the body,” Chris says. “You don’t want to show your whole hand at once. You’re not going to take someone who’s 500 pounds, feed them 1,600, 1,700 calories a day, and have them working out for three hours a day because over time their body will adapt to that (and stop losing). … We want to make sure the game of poker lasts 365 days.”
What did you have for dinner last night?
Chris: “I made eggs for me and Heidi and [our daughter] Marley. It was a total of six eggs but three yolks — I did take out three of the yolks just for the fat. … I put a little bit of cheddar cheese in the eggs, I diced up some low-sodium turkey breast, chopped up some little green onions, put a dash of black pepper in there … and some tomatoes.”
What is your favorite recipe?
Heidi: “The one thing that Chris makes that is a hit around the family, the neighborhood … is the peanut butter power fudge bar. … It has protein powder, steel-cut oats … some honey … and all-natural peanut butter. It is the most incredible treat for kids … that makes sure they’re getting the protein that they need, healthy fat. … Because they’re so dense, they’re incredibly filling.”
What do you not like to cook?
Heidi: “I hate baking bread and stuff, because it just takes too long.”
Chris: “If we can’t prepare it in about 10 to 15 minutes, we don’t make it.”
In the new season of ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss, personal trainer Chris Powell promises a series of firsts in the series — among them a person deciding to quit the show, as well as bringing in doctors to assist desperate weight-loss seekers. In this sneak peek preview, viewers are also introduced to an aspiring baseball player trying to shed pounds so he has a chance at making it in the pros.
“All the major league teams, they know who he is — but nobody will take him because he can’t even run the bases,” Chris says about 19-year-old Ty — a 6-foot-4 slugger with a wicked swing, but remains about 300 pounds overweight.
“I broke the high school consecutive home run record — I swung this bat and hit 10 consecutive HRs in front of more scouts and more players than I’ve ever seen in my life. But after I stopped swinging, everyone disappeared,” Ty said.
When Chris and the Extreme Makeover team step in to help, Ty is thrilled — until he has to strip down and get on the scale to get the actual weight number — 480 pounds. “I didn’t know, I really did not know I weighed that much — it was embarrassing,” Ty said.
Watch the video for more and you can catch the launch of the new season of Extreme Weight Losstonight at 8 p.m. on ABC.
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