On the Extreme Weight Loss (ABC) episode Chantell of July 30, Chantell Johnson, of Chicago, has an initial weigh-in of 325 pounds. She is from Chicago, Illinois, and loves to wear fashionable clothes; but, Chantell has been hiding behind them, also.
Chantell is a college drop-out. Her family doesn’t think she has a weight problem at all. Chris Powell helps her to get her health and happiness back over the course of a year.
“All I do is fix my clothes,” Chantell says. “All of the things I have to do to basically hide the fact that I’m big.”
She gained 80 pounds during her freshmen year at college. She went home, due to a family emergency, and didn’t get to finish her college education.
“I literally can’t stand being around myself,” she says.
“Don’t lose the butt,” her boyfriend tells her. “No one in my life thinks I have a problem,” she tells the camera. Yet, her grandmother and others in her family have diabetes. Driven with the desire to loss weight, she writes a letter to Chris Powell, asking for help.
“I believe my mom doesn’t want me to succeed,” Chantell says. I”I want more. I don’t want to just exist anymore,” she says emotionally. She wants a “second chance at life.”
She gets a fortune in a fortune cookie that says: “You will lose half your body weight in one year thanks to the man about to walk through the door.”
Chris enters Chantell’s and her family’s house, and Chantell is very happy to see him. Chris says: “It’s so important that they (Chantell’s family) opens their eyes to the fact that she isn’t healthy.” She weighs in at 327 pounds.
“I would have never guessed that that’s how much she weighted,” her mother says.
Chris asks the rest of Chantell’s family if they will go along on the year long journey with her. Chandra, Chantell’s mother, agrees, and also weights in. She weighs 231 pounds. “It was blatant and apparently clear that 231 pounds is too much. I’m obese,” Chandra says. “They’re going to be some changes around here,” she says.
“Alright, Chantell — welcome to Boot Camp,” Chris tells Chantell, when she arrives in California and begins Phase 1 of her journey towards weight loss.
Chantell is seen going to nutrition classes, and the nutritionist tells her that high sodium is very bad for you, and Chris adds that African American women are one of the highest groups at risk for high blood pressure.
When the doctor sees Chantell, he tells her that she is “oof the charts” for her height of 5 foot nine and her weight of 327.
Chris asks her to keep the RPMs of a recumbent bike up to 300 as long as she can.
“Everyone around you thinks you don’t have a problem. 327 pounds is not a problem? If you don’t lose weight, it’s not a matter of if, but when, you will die of high blood pressure, stroke, or heart disease.”
Chantell starts crying. “Why are you crying?” Chris asks her. “Because I want to lose weight.”
He has her box with gloves on, and keeps asking her: “What do you want to do?” and she repeats: “Fight! Fight! Fight (to lose weight)!” He tells her: “You’re a lot stronger than you think you are.”
Chantell says: “Yes!” Chris tells her if she meets her goal, he will send her on an all-expenses paid trip to Paris. He also gives her a Wal-mart gift card to pay for all of her food for the entire year.
When Chantell returns home, to her apartment, she sees that Chris has had his crew redecorate the entire place and get her all new furniture. He also gave her a jar of marbles, each one representing a pound for her to lose.
He has her walking up stairs in a stadium, lifting weights, kayak, and use a rowing machine, as she strives to reach her Phase 1 Weight Loss Goal of losing 91 pounds in 90 days.
“I’m becoming the person I knew I loved, and I’m loving it.” She tells Chris that she’s no longer in the relationship with her boyfriend that she had been in. “If you’re not in that category of support, then you’re no longer in my life,” Chantell says about her ex-boyfriend.
Chandra then joins them. Chris asks: “How are the workouts coming?” She admits: “I haven’t even started them yet.”
“I can just tell that Chandra isn’t fully committed to changing herself,” Chris tells the camera. He’s worried that Chandra will undermine the goals that Chantell is making.
“They depend on me to be the secure one. This is one time that I’m going to commit, and I will finish,” Chantell says.
“You’ve got to take care of yourself first,” Chris tells her.
Chantel just needs to focus on continuing to be healthy,” Chris tells the camera. “I don’t think anything can stop her.”
But, then he reads the eviction notice on Chantell’s door, and that is definitely not good news.
“I’ll give you one guess as to who has to move out of this apartment that’s already just been decked out – this person,” Chantell says to the camera, pointing at herself.”
She’s afraid that she might fall back into her old weighs of finding comfort in foo, but she still continues on, and Chandra works out with her.
“I’ve been thinking,” Chantell says, “that this would be a good time for me to start going back to school.”
“Oh, really?” her mom says, sounding dubious.
Chris thinks it might also be difficult for her to combine that with meeting her weight loss goal. But, he tells her that she can use the money that she would have been given to buy clothes with in Paris to pay for her tuition the first year back at college.
“If you want to get good at running — “Chris tells her, “there’s only one way to do it — run.” He has her run one mile, though running is something that Chantell hates doing. She finishes the mile with no problems.
The time arrives for her first 90-day weigh-in. If the scale says 236 pounds or less, she’s met her goal.
“Pack your bags, you’re going to Paris!” Chris tells her. He shows her on the electronic read-out that she’s lost 92 pounds.
“I want you you to lose 55 pounds for the next weight loss goal,” he tells her.
“School is going to take a ton of time and energy, so this will be a real juggling act for her.”
“I’m more than excited about it,” Chantell says.
“This is crazy. Is this really happening right now?” Chris says, when Chantell has a surprise for him. She has organized some people she knows to do a dance/aerobics demonstration, and Chris looks happy, smiling “like it’s Christmas morning,” according to Chantell.
“I don nothing but eat, breath, and sleep running,” Chantell tells the camera. Chris wants her top get ready to run a marathon in Paris.
“If I was just trying to revisit school, that would be okay. If I was trying to just lose weight, that would be okay,” Chantell says. “But to do both at the same time…” Chantell has difficulties trying to work into her day the assignments she needs to do for her classes, and the exercise she needs to do to lose weight.
We next see Chantell in Paris, at the Eiffel Tower, for her 6-month weigh-in. Chris says she hasn’t seen her in 3 months. He hopes that she’s been able to keep going on, both with school and pursuing her weight-loss goal of losing 55 pounds to hit her Phase 2 goal.
She steps on the scale, and weighs 201 pounds. “The fact that I didn’t reach the one hundreds it was quite disappointing,” she says.
“”Even though you didn’t reach your goal, I’m glad you’re going in the right direction,” Chris tells her. He wants her to lose 31 pounds in Phase 3.
“So, it’s 4:00 am, the day of my marathon, and I can’t sleep,” Chantell says to the camera. “Just 4 months ago, and I couldn’t run one mile, and now I’m suppose to run a marathon.”
She and Chris run together. “Your pace is a little bit fast,” he tells her. “If you’re going to do it, you have to do it the right way.”
He admits to the camera that the conditions are not great to do a marathon, that it’s wet and cold. But, Chantell tells the camera, “”All I had to do is keep telling myself that I can do it.”
“You can do this,” Chris tells her. “I’ll see you at the finish line.” He has her run the rest of the way by herself. She is, at first, pissed; but, she realizes that she can do it, she doesn’t need anyone holding her hand, and she keeps on running, the people around her oblivious, getting on with their own daily lives.
“I started feeling a tingling feeling in my calves. Then, a tingling in my feet. They’re going to have to amputate,” she tells the camera. At 22 miles, tired, in pain, cold, hungry, she’s not sure she can make it the rest of the way.
“I was almost angry at myself for thinking about quitting. How dare you,” she told herself. I was fighting for something. I had laser focus. The Arc d’ Triumph, it almost glowed. I just got extreme energy when I saw that.”
Are you alright?”
Chris asks her a the end.
“Yeah,” she says, but she really feels like she’s “at death’s door.”
“You’ve just done 26.2 miles in Paris,” he tells her. “Let it sink in.”
Chantell flies back to Chicago three days a week to train, while still attending college. She practices to be in a “step Show,” and finds that the practice is great exercise.
Chantell is communicating with her mom, but mostly over the phone.
“Another change is that Chris sent me to a dentist, who definitely upgraded my smile,” she says.
She doesn’t want to “settle” anymore. She wants to get in to fashion more. and become successful with that.
“I’m always becoming this person that I’ve always dreamed to be,” she says to the camera.
“The question is: was she able to find some balance between school and weight loss?” Chris asks the camera as the day for Chantell’s Phase 3 Weigh-in draws near.
“”I hopped on a plane right after class,” she tells the camera, “and headed back to California.”
“She was so beautiful,” Chris tells the camera, “and owning it. Her personality is just filing the room. You look phenomenal, so clearly your weight loss is still a priority.”
“If you step on the scale and it says 163 pounds or less, you’ve met your goal,” Chris says. her weight was 172 pounds. “Ohhh — Chris says. 9 pounds short.”
“172. It’s not 163,” Chantell says. But, she’s still lost over 45 percent of her body weight. She goes the next day to see the doctor to find out if she’s a candidate for the skin removal surgery.
She took her top off for the weigh-in. Chris was surprised, but Chantell said to the camera that she had nothing to fear anymore.
“Now, they physically get in the way,” Chantell says about her breasts. She wants the extra skin there removed, as well.
The doctor tells her that his job is not to tell people how well they’ve done, how much weight they’ve lost — then, he says to her: “You’re looking a little nervous.”
He finally tells her that she’s a successful candidate for the surgery, and she will have ti the very next day.
“My mom will freak out to see me like this,” Chantell says. She hasn’t seen her in 6 months.
“You’re so skinny!” Chandra tells her when she sayd her. Chris tells her that he will still weight her, too, at he end.
They have a work out together in the gym then. “I haven’t worked out in a long, long time,” Chandra tells the camera. “The workout with Chris — it was intense.”
Chantell shows her mother how she works out, with the ropes, with shadow boxing, being on the treadmill.
“Chantell’s mother has not really committed to the change. I’m hoping that she will use the final three months seeing how Chantell has done to make a change in her own life.”
The time came in the episode for the Fianl Weigh-in. Chris tells Chantell’s story to the gathered crowd at the site, and then asked them if they were ready to see Chantell. She stepped out of a black limo, and they all applauded her.
Chantell stood in front of the audience looking like the fashionista that she is. “Not only have you lost the wiehgt, but you’re a week away from getting your degree!” Chris says to her in front of the crowd.
Chris has Chandra come up on the stage, then, and has her weigh in.
“I know it’s been a year, but I’m three months in,” Chandra said, meaning that she had really only gotten serious about losing weight the past 3 months. She has lost some weight, though, despite getting more serious about losing weight relatively late, and she’s made a great start towards making her life healthier.
“You’ve definitely inspired me, and made me see things in a whole different light,” she tells Chantell. “And I love you for that.”
The time finally arrives for Chantell to step on the scales. Her final weight: She lost 159 pounds “Not only have you lost 159 pounds, you’re just a week away from getting your degree,” Chris says.
He’s got another surprise for her from his “friends at Walmart.” They have a whole new wardrobe for her, a basket of beauty aids, and a gift card for $25,000.
“I thank you every day for releasing the potential I have in myself. I want to take the road less traveled now. It doesn’t scare me, it excites me,” she tells Chris.
Way to go, Chantell! Congratulations on achieving your weight loss goal, and I hope you have much success in the fashion industry!
Written by: Douglas Cobb