On Extreme Weight Loss Cassandra, we meet Cassandra Dumas, 45. Cassandra was a 4 sport All American national champion. She won awards in the shot put and discus, as well as other sports, and was at the peak of health. But, after college, she gained a lot of weight, and went from playing three sports to no sports. Then, she also gained a lot of weight when she went through her divorce.
She says: “I became a hermit, in the sense that I don’t go out. I’m either in my bedroom or at my computer. I didn’t think I’d be in this situation.”
“I love my job as guidance counselor. I tell the kids that they can do anything they put their minds to. I preach to the kids that they can be whatever they want to be, but I don’t follow the advice I give them. I used to be an amazing athlete. I let my body get this way. I am obese, and I’m going to fix this. I want him to pick me, and it will change my life forever.”
Then: “Miss Cassandra Dumas, will you join me? ” a teacher asks during an assembly at the school where she works. “Cassandra, we want you to know how much we appreciate what you’ve done for us this year. There was somebody who really wanted to be here to share his appreciation with you, also.” On the phone, it was Chris Powell! He has the students give her the message “I Choose You!” by lifting up white signs.
He tells her: “Boot Camp starts in four hours. I’ll be waiting for you here.”
“I’m so overwhelmed and excited. It’s so amazing that my dreams are going to come true.”
Chris said that he just wants her dreams to come true. He asks her: “Where do you want to be in one year?”
“I want to lose weight and I want to eventually meet the person I’ll spend a lifetime with.”
She steps up on the scale for her initial weigh-in. She weighs 364 pounds.
“How did that happen?” Chris asks.
“She blames herself for her divorce and has taken refuge in food,” Chris Powell tells the camera.
Cassandra meets with a nutritionist and Chris is there with them. Chris tells the nutritionist that Cassandra misuses condiments, like mayonnaise. Mayonnaise can add 400 extra calories to a tuna sandwich. Some salads, the nutritionist tells her, add 600 extra calories with the salad dressing, making them have more calories than other menu items.
She then meets with a doctor, who tells her that she has sleep apnea. The doctor tells her that every day she’s exercising and dieting, she’s reducing her risk of heart attack. Some of her friends have had health issues due to their weight and have died.
“You are experiencing your body, the body of an athlete, for the first time in years. Where have you been?” He tells the camera it’s time to find the athlete inside of her.
Chris ask her to throw the medicine ball, and let it out of her, get it out, all of her pain. He says “Your ex-husband lied to you,” and she throws the medicine ball as hard as she can. She also blames herself, and says “I’m upset with myself, because I did this to myself.”
“Every time you throw this ball now, I want you to say: ‘I forgive myself,'” Chris tells her. It was a very tear-jerking kind of moment. “Believe it this time,” Chris tells her, and she says: “I forgive myself,” and throws the ball again.
“Once she’s there, to the place where she can forgive herself, she can start to love herself,” Chris says to the camera.
“How does it feel to be home?” Chris asks her when she returns.
“Oh, my gosh! Oh, my goodness!” she says when she sees her house, now that Chris’s team has renovated it. There’s even a sketch of her on the wall.
Chris tells her he want her to lose 90 pounds in 90 days, to get to 274 pounds. “When was the last time you weighed 274 pounds?”
“I want to send you on a singles adventure trip when you meet the goal,” Chris tells her.
“Everyone will be single. It will be fun, but a little bit scary,” she tells the camera.
Chris, having moved in with her for awhile as he often does, helps motivate her as she exercises.
“Fitness-wise, she’s a beast. She needs to rediscover who she is inside.”
He has her jump outside. She’s anxious, having not jumped in years; but, she does it. She jumps even on top of a couple of plates of weights.
He tells the camera that: “I see her making a meal, and somehow it’s just not right.” He’s concerned that she leaves out carbohydrates, and has too much protein in some of her meals. Then, he asks her to name five (maybe six) fats that are good for people, like olive oil and nuts, like cashews.
“She’s not that far off, but not far off can mean the difference between three pounds lost in a week and one pound.”
He has a surprise for her — he has her meet a famous chef, Rocco DiSpirito. He tells her he will be moving in with her for 7 days, along with Chris. “When you cook, you’re in control,” he tells her, to try to give her motivation to cook and eat healthy foods.
“When you go shopping, that’s when people have trouble,” he says. “The problem is that people like to grab snack and junk foods. Ketchup is one of the foods she should stay away from, unless it’s sugarless, as one tablespoon can have 4 grams of sugar in it.”
“Working out with Rocco and Chris is just great,” Cassandra says.
They work out with kettle bells and other weights. Rocco teaches her how to cook meals that are healthy for her, including even a lobster dinner.
“For all of the women out there, yes, it was amazing!” she says, giggling to the camera.
“Wow! This was exactly what I needed! And, you knew it!” Cassandra tells Chris.
At the 90 day weigh-in, the end of Phase 1, Chris tells her: “You said you wanted to be the athlete you used to be. Now, you’re beginning to be that athlete.”
“If you weigh 274 pounds or less, you’ll have earned that singles adventure trip,” he says to her. His face looks grim as he looks at the numbers on the scale — is he upset, or sad she hasn’t made the goal; or, is he just screwing around with her? Commercials are next, of course, prolonging the suspense.
Her weight was 274 pounds. She lost over a pound a day! “Now she can see quantitative proof that she can lose weight.”
Chris tells her that she will go on a whitewater rafting trip for the singles adventure trip. He tells her he wants her to lose 60 pounds and get to 212 pounds. She will go on the trip, regardless, he says; but, the lighter she is, the easier the adventure will be for her.
“I used to go all over the world and get to meet people from all different cultures,” she tells the camera. “I miss that.”
Cassandra also tells the camera that she’s ready to meet someone, and that “I think it’s time.”
“I’ve always felt I could do anything I put my mind to, but I’ve always put others first. This year, I’m putting myself first.”
Part of “putting herself first” includes trying to get back into a relationship with a man. “I’m going to do speed dating,” she says “It’s a big step because I have the rest of my life to live. I want to spend it with that special someone.”
She meets a lot of different guys, some nerdier/balder than others….but, it’s a step in the right direction, getting her out and meeting new people.
“Speed dating was a lot of fun. I got out of the house and got to meet several new people,” One guy, a balding dude (Jeff) who seemed like a nice guy, asks her out, and she agrees.
Day 115: Cassandra’s on her way to her meeting for her first date with Jeff. When they meet, he hugs her. He asks her if she likes salsa dancing. They go to a dance studio to learn together how to do salsa dances.
It looks like they had a great time, though the dance is more complicated than it looks. “It’s been a long time since I meet someone who was intelligent and liked to travel,” she tells the camera. She speaks of other dates with other people in the future, however, so it looks as if a love connection wasn’t made.
Chris watches her on a webcam, and sees her eating junk food. “I want to know what the hell she’s thinking!” he says out loud to the camera.
The next time we see Chris, he’s gone ahead of Cassandra to Costa Rica. “I’m in Costa Rica waiting for Cassandra. I’ve been looking through the surveilance cameras and what I’ve seen isn’t good.”
Cassandra meets with Chris in Costa Rica for her weigh-in. If it says 212 pound or less, she’s met her goal. He grimaces, for real this time, as he looks at her weight (more commercials ensue).
She weighs in at 248 pounds. She’s only lost 24 pounds.
“If I keep doing what I’ve done in the past, I’ll keep going back,” she tells the camera. She says she doesn’t want to do that.
Chris talks about the river they’ll be on that has some of the world’s best whitewater rafting. She’s afraid that if she falls into the water, there will be no one who can pull herself up onto the raft again.
“This is a river that has a history of being very unforgiving,” Chris tells the camera. If they don’t all work and paddle together, they will flip over.
“It’s inevitable that she’ll get tossed out of the boat,” Chris says. “It happens to everyone on a river like this. The question is, will she be able to get back on?”
“This is how I see my life — doing all sorts of fun things,” Cassandra tells the camera.
“When I fell in, my first thought was panic, you know?” she says to the camera. She is helped back onto the raft by Chris, and she makes it the rest of the way fine.
“Your performance out there in the raft was awesome, it really was,” he tells her. He then goes on to tell Cassandra he next weight loss goal. ” I want you to lose 49 pounds in three months,” he says. “It won’t be easy. You messed up, but you can do it.”
“There’s so much opportunity for her to grow,” Chris tells the camera.
Then, we see Cassandra on the actual singles part of the trip, meeting new people, cruising on a boat in Costa Rica, but also working out.
We see her trying out a zip line for the first time — it looks like it would be fun.
The first week she’s back, she is worried and nervous — it’s difficult for her to stay focused and stay on her diet. She has only lost 4 pounds, and she calls Chris, all stressed out.
“I’m going to try something new,” Chris tells the camera. “I’m going to give her smaller weekly goals, and talk to her on the phone every week.”
That seems to work, though she still has some trouble. It helps her to keep accountable to keep in contact with Chris, and set new goals whenever she falls backwards.
At her 9-month weigh-in, Chris tells the camera he hasn’t seen Cassandra in three months, though he’s talked to her every week. “I know that there will be a significant difference,” he says, “but I want to see what she’ll look like.”
“You look phenomenal,” he tells her. “Give it a spin! You look beautiful!” he tells her.
She show him the shirt that she was wearing just nine months ago — then, one she bought a week ago — the difference is phenomenal. She has changed so much over the last three months. She weighed 248, and last week, 228. When she weighs in, she’s at 217 pounds. She’s lost 31 pounds, and 147 pounds altogether.
“You’re right on the cusp,” he tells her. He says he’ll take her to see the doctor tomorrow. She says she wants to wait until she loses even more pounds. She wants to be at 199 pounds when she sees the doctor. She tell the camera: “I just need a couple of weeks and ‘ll be able to do this.”
After a few more days pass, and she’s lost the weight, she tells Chris she’s ready to be weighed. She steps on the scale, and she weighs in at 199 exactly.
“Great job!” Chris tells her.
“I told you! I told you I could do it!” she says to Chris.
“There’s at least five extra square feet of skin and about 15 extra pounds of tissue that will need to be removed. The good news is, you’re an ideal candidate for this sort of surgery,” the doctor says.
“I’m so happy for her, so proud of her,” Chris says to the camera.
We then see her family there, at the hospital when Cassandra gets the surgery. “I’ve wanted this for, like, 20 years,” she says. “It’s like a dream come true.”
The, we see Chris speaking indoors to a huge audience of people at the Eastside High School gymnasium where he first called her, saying: “Who wants to see Cassandra?” The crowd erupts with cheers.
“It’s truly became a year of discovering herself,” he tells them. “The only thing that got her out of her house — no joke –it was you guys. To come here, to work. Other than that, she was like a hermit.”
He tells them to put their hands together and rise to their feet to meets the new Cassandra.
She’s wearing a light blue suit jacket and blue , and looks great! Her family hugs her, people scream out: “Oh, my gosh!” and cover their mouths, everyone stands and applauds her.
She says into a mirror that Chris brings out, “I can do anything I put my mind to.” She continues, telling the crowd: “Dreams come true, you guys. I used to add, ‘but lose weight.’ Not anymore.”
“Are you ready for your final step onto the scale?” Chris asks her. She tells him “Yes,” and then steps up onto the scale. Her final weight is an amazing 189 pounds — she’s lost 175 pounds!
Chris then presents Cassandra with a shopping bag full of produce like fresh fruit, and the Wal-Mart gift card for $25,000 that he’s been presenting to the participants of Extreme Weight Loss.
“It was a year that made me refocus myself, to make my dreams come true, to realize that I’m unstoppable,” she says. “I know I’ll never go back,” she says to Chris, “and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
On the next Extreme Weight Loss, we’ll meet Bob, a detective who can’t solve the mystery of how to lose weight. It should be another great episode — tune in with me next Tuesday to watch!
Written by: Douglas Cobb