Extreme Weight Loss (ABC) on Tuesday, July 9, promises to be another great episode in a season filled with them, already. The episode focuses on Jami Witherell, 28, who was adopted a the age of two from her birth mother in Santiago, Chile. In this preview, I’ll give you a glimpse into what the episode will be about.
I interviewed Jami, and she let me in on a few of the details about the episode and her life.
Jami has stated that she has always had a skewed perception of her body and her weight. Even when she was the normal weight of children her own age, in grammar school, she thought of herself as being bigger, and fatter.
When Jami was 10, her adoptive parents separated and she was raised primarily by her grandmother and one of her parents. Her grandmother cooked her delicious food, but Jami says that “Nutrition and healthy eating were neither encouraged nor discussed” during those years as he grew up. So, when she was older and in college, she had “no background in how to make good choices ” and she “continued with late night snacking and lots of ginger ale.”
Flash forward to when Chris Powell first gives Jami the news that she’s been chosen to be on the show. Jami works during the summers for the Boston Ballet, but when she met Chris, she was working for the Rock School for Dance Education, a prestigious Ballet focused High School in Philadelphia, PA.
Jami told me that “Chris arrived during a performance I was previewing…in a green leotard! He even learned a few ballet moves!” But, when Chris told her she’d been chosen to be featured in an episode, Jami thought she was unworthy to be chosen. She even tried to give her spot away, because she had low feelings of self-worth.
When Chris assured her that they, that he, really did want to feature her, and Jami came to terms with that, she still had doubts if she could make it through the entire year.
The interview I conducted with Jami tells much more about some of the things she went through, including the milestone challenge she faced, and how she felt when she was flown to Chile by Chris and ABC and finally met her birth mother for the first time since she was a baby.
I was struck by the fact that, at her initial weigh-in, Jami told me that she though she would weigh much more than she did — she thought she would weigh 388. She was convinced of that, for some reason. She weighed 292, instead.
Jami went through a lot during the year she worked towards her ultimate weight loss goal. Flying to Chile, meeting her biological mother, taking part in the milestone challenge, overcoming personal demons that most of us face, in one way or the other.
As I have read and re-read the answers Jami gave me in our interview, I cannot stop myself from feeling touched by her words, and I think that Tuesday’s episode, like really all of them thus far this season, will have plenty of tear-jerking moments.
That’s fine — I know that the episodes are designed, at least in part, to have such moments in them — they are, after all, about real people, with real emotions and real problems.
And, despite stumbling, despite set-backs, despite feeling like they’ve had enough and want to give up — the episodes are also about the triumph of the human spirit, fighting against the odds, meeting one’s fears head-on and pushing through them.
That’s what makes this series so addictive, and keeps people tuning in. That, and the hopes of some people who are overweight, themselves, who would give almost anything to be chosen to be featured in an episode.
Always keep your hopes and dreams alive. Even if you are not one of the fortunate ones to be chosen by Extreme Weight Loss, it’s possible to succeed on your own — it’s just even harder. But, it’s not impossible.
Written by: Douglas Cobb