Each Tuesday on ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss,” trainer Chris Powell is the physical, mental and emotional coach for severely obese individuals who are tracked over a year as they combine diet, exercise and motivation to lose half their body weight.
This is not the only weight loss show out there, and Powell’s isn’t the only approach. But one thing he doesn’t ever want to do is humiliate or punish the people he works with.
“I disagree with that so strongly,” he tells Zap2it.”It makes my stomach hurt. The folks we work with, there’s already enough shame. Shame fuels the addiction cycle, so it needs to be broken right off the bat.
“Shame has to be removed from the equation in order for people to change. Yes, some believe in a ‘boot camp’ mentality, break them down and build them back up. But you can just simply remove shame from the cycle and let them build up from there.
“You don’t have to break them down anymore, because they’re already in a place of such darkness. So why not start loving them right off the bat and build trust? Remove the shame and just give them the steps to help them dig themselves out. That’s our approach.”
But in each episode, viewers see Powell in the first intense workout with the participants, and he can be tough. He says that’s because he alternately echoes the self-defeating voices in their heads and the voice of motivation.
But while that’s the first thing viewers see, it’s not the first thing that happens between Powell and the participants, who have already build trust off-camera.
As to whether the show will ever include that, Powell says, “I wish. We should. I truly believe we should. I think the message is clearer. I truly think people would get it if they saw it.”
It’s also about integrity and sticking to plan.
“The more promises they keep about themselves,” Powell says, “the more they love themselves. The more they love themselves, the more promises they keep. All of a sudden, they start to see progress and results.
“When that begins to happen, that’s when people realize they can. That’s when the top gets blown off, and it’s just my job to get out of the way.”