Extreme Weight Loss (ABC 6:00 ET/7:00 C) featured Jami Witherell. She was adopted at the age of 2 from Santiago, Chile. She says she has always “felt worthless.”
“I had a really hard time looking in the mirror,” Jami said. She said “I wish this wasn’t my body.
She’s a resident director at a ballet school in Pennsylvania. Jami taught the girls they should eat food that was balanced and good for them, but she felt hypocritical because she did not follow her own advice.
“My mom (adoptive mother) was a lesbian and didn’t want the world to know,” according to Jami.
Her biological mom found her online. Jami said she didn’t want to meet her and feel this way, depressed about herself and how she looked. She wanted her biological mother to be able to wrap her arms all the way around her and hug her.
Chris says that Jami had been spending her whole life giving to others, but this year, that’s going to change. Chris Powell flew all the way to Philadelphia to choose her “for the transformation of your life.”
Chris Powell surprised her at the ballet company, and slipped into a green leotard, and did a couple of dance moves.
When he told he she’d been selected, Jami said “You’re kidding,.”
Chris said “Boot Camp starts tomorrow.” All of the girls there applauded
“I want to know why me?” Jami said.
Chris said it will be a “tall order” to get her to the place where she’ll be ready to meet her birth mother. “Her self-esteem is so low,” Chris said. “She keeps breaking down into tears.”
“Jamie is just–she’s so broken. It’s going to be a tough journey,” Chris said.
The initial weigh-in was 192. She’s five foot 2. “We can come back from that, can’t we?” she asked Chris.
He said yes, but to the camera, Chris said what she really needed to do was to believe in herself and love herself.
Jami had an array of medical tests done and met with the nutritionist. Chris said: “Honestly, I don’t know that Jami can make it through the year.”
“You’re so scared about the future. You need to live life in the now, one day at a time,” he told her.
“The only thing that would ever disappoint me is if you quit,” Chris said.
“I’m not a quitter,” Jami answered him.
She got on a treadmill and started to run, even though she told him that she couldn’t. She had to prove to herself, to show to herself, that she could do it.
“How bad do you want that freedom (to put yourself first)?” Chris asked her.
“A lot.,” Jami said. “If you don’t relish your success, you only live in your failure,” she added.
“I’m going to leave my job and move back to Massachusetts and focus on me,” she said to the camera.
After commercials, Chris told her what her initial weight loss goal would be. “Your Phase One goal is to lose 80 pounds,” Chris told her.
“On the one hand, it terrifies me that Jami is going home alone by herself ; but on the other hand, she is putting herself first for the first time in her life,” Chris said.
This episode has already had many tear-jerking moments in it, and I’m less than a half-hour into it. I interviewed Jami, elsewhere here, and I feel like I know her to a small degree, and I felt for her as I viewed the show.
Jami told the people in charge of the ballet company she had to go and take care of herself, and put herself first. It put her bosses in a bind, but Jami finally began to think of herself first and she said “I feel the ‘New Me’ is strong enough to take care of anything that comes my way.”
“I want to make sure that she’s truly transforming, and not just dropping pounds,” Chris told the camera.
Jami went to see her grandmother on her birthday. She didn’t look forward to seeing her adoptive mother, who lived next door to her grandmother.
“I needed a parent while growing up that showed me that she loved me,” Jami said.
“My mom–adoptive mother–told me that the only reason she adopted me was to have someone take care of her when she got older. I want to take care of myself,” Jami said to the camera.
“I feel worthless all of the time. I still see failure, and feel that I’m no good. I don’t know when that goes away,” Jami tearfully said to the camera.
After another commercial break, Chris is seen driving to see Jami in Massachusetts.
She weighs in again, and Chris tells her she’s lost 39 pounds in just one month. He tells her she may be over-doing it, that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
“I totally get that she’s driven to hit the numbers,” “But it’s hurting her,”
He asks her is she has been eating well, or if she’s been starving herself. Chris fears that she’s been tearing down her body. Jami confides that she’s only been eating 400 calories per day, and exercising 8 hours per day.
She resolves to eat better, while still exercising. She’d said earlier that she “lived and died” by the scale.
At the 90-day weigh-in, Chris said to the camera “I don’t care if she meets the goal or not,” because he was more concerned about Jami’s health than her weight.
She made it to 218 pounds, six pounds shy of the goal; but, she lost 74 pounds, and neither she nor Chris were disappointed by her being a little short of her goal. Jami said the three months ago, she’d have been devastated at falling short of it.
Though the people who appear in Extreme Weight Loss loss a lot of weight, Chris, the nutritionist, and the doctors stress that they need to do it healthily. The health of the people who appear on the show is much more important than if they succeed in meeting all of the set goals.
“What do you say, in three months, you do a Cross-Training Competition?” Chris asked her. He didn’t set a weight-loss goal for her, just a physical accomplishment for her to meet.
Chris told her that he also wanted to take her to Chile to see her birth mother. As Jami exercised and counted down the days with paper hearts, she got happier with each day gone — but, then while training, she hurts her hip badly.
Chris didn’t know if she could be able to compete in the competition, as it required heavy lifting and squats. The doctor said that she should do a “water-based” system, “anything to take the weight off of those hips.”
In Chile, she confides that she “secretly wanted everything to be perfect.”
Chris phones her and says: “See that in front of you? It’s the world’s largest pool. I want you to swim all of the way across it.”
“It’s the Crystal Lagoon. You’re going to swim all of the way across it and run back,” Chris said. He also told her he wanted he to do it in less than an hour.
“I think the scariest part of the pool is that you can’t even see the other side. You’re swimming blindly,” she said.
She finished the swim, and then ran back across a bridge.
“That was amazing,” she said at the end of the challenge.
In Chile, Jami got driven to meet her birth mom and her half-sister, Jasmin. The area of Santiago they travel in is a barrio. Jami said that she felt “surreal.”
In Chile, waiting to meet her mom, Jami says she wants her to “see the real me.”
They embrace and hug there, and her mother says that this moment was something she’d waited for for such a long, long time. Her mother had never stopped loving her, Jami realized.
“I can’t take away any of your sadness,” Jami tells her, “but I love you.”
“God chose you to be my first mom,” Jami tells her.
They walk to her mom’s house, and Jami says : ” Her home, it was perfect. It was a showcase of how you can live well with so little.”
Another big highlight was meeting her half-sister, Jasmin. She gave her a necklace, like hers, so that they could both have one, and then they hugged.
Then, they all got into a car and drove back to where she’d lived with her mom before she’d been given up for adoption.
“Did we share a bed? Jami asks.
The translator says they always had shared a bed, yes.
“We must have lived a very small life, but a well-loved one,” Jami said. “Thank you for bringing me back,” she tells her mom.
“I don’t think we really ever cut the cord,” Jami’s mother said.
“I think that day brought into perspective that I was given this gift by a pretty selfless woman,” Jami tells the camera.
At Chris’s house in Phoenix, Arizona, Jami spends some time at Chris and Heidi Powell’s house.
“This is totally an experiment for me,” Chris says. He was anxious to see how it would translate to weight loss on the scale. At this weigh-in, she hit 192 pounds. She showed Chris that she could do four push-ups in a row.
He invited Jami to work out with him and Heidi. She went form being a client to a workout partner. She relates how she’d hated herself so much she was ready to die, to take her own life.
This comes as news to Chris. Jami said she’d already had her bottles of pills, and she was so close to just going back to her room and taking the pills and ending her life. By coming when he did, Chris literally helped her save her life.
“This is so much more than just a weight-loss show. This is people’s lives,” Chris says. “I’m so glad you’re here now,” he tells her.
Jami meets with her adoptive mother again, and they eat lunch together. Jami decides to accept her as she is.
Chris says that she still needs to lose at least 40 percent of her overall body weight that she’d originally weighed to qualify for the skin surgery.
Jami does one-arm push-ups, and strives to reach her goal and qualify for the surgery. She tells Chris she wants to do the final weigh-in wearing a bikini.
The 9-month weigh-in arrived, with Jami looking svelte. She said that she was “so ready” for the weigh-in.
“We-re not focusing on numbers at all,” Chris said. “If you’re 175 pounds or less, you’ve met your goal.” She weighed 177 pounds.
Chris siad he’d take her into the doctor tomorrow. Jami was just shy of losing 40 percent of her mass. She’d developed a lot of muscle, which was a good thing, and the doctor said she had a strong abdomen.
“The great news for you is that I think you are a candidate for surgery,” the doctor tells her.
“I’m stinkin’ proud of myself,” she says.
The day of her surgery, Chris brings his laptop computer to show Jami her adoptive mother, who says that “adopting you was the best thing I’ve ever done with my life.”
“If there would be anything I’d like to tell myself from 9 months ago, that you’re so much more powerful than you give yourself credit for,” Jami says to the camera.
The day of the final weigh-in arrived.
“She was in such a dark place when I met her,” Chris says. “She told me that she was upset that I’d ruined her plan. I’m so glad that I did ruin that plan.”
Chris introduced the “New Jami.” She got out of a black stretch limo, wearing a black top and dress.
After a ton of commercials, the “New Jami” was finally revealed. She looked like an entirely different person. It takes a lot of guts to do what she did.
Both her birth mother and adoptive mother were there, and her half-sister. “It’s the end of your one-year transformation,” Chris tells her, and asks her to get on the scale for the last time.
She has a bikini on underneath her clothes, and weighs in wearing it. “That’s incredible!” Chris says.
Her final weight was 162 pounds! “Incredible! Incredible!” Chris said. She lost a total of 130 pounds, and increased her muscle mass by 30 percent.
“Every day is a new I can, or at least an I tried!” she said.
Chris presented her with a new laptop computer and a gift card from Walmart for $25,000 to start her on her educational goals.
“Jami, this is your night!” Chris tells her.
“I didn’t want to do this life anymore,” she said. “But then, someone came and opened up the door.”
“Boy, am I glad I chose you,” Chris tells her.
What a great episode! Congratulations, Jami!
Written by: Douglas Cobb