Tonight, on Extreme Weight Loss on ABC, the show will focus on the year-long weight loss goal of Bruce Pitcher, who started overeating as a child to try to find comfort from an allegedly abusive father, who is now in jail. Bruce is 5’10’ and weighs 382 pounds at the start of the episode. His goal for the year is to lose half of his weight, 191 pounds, and qualify to have skin reduction surgery. With the help of transformational coach, Chris Powell, and his wife, Heidi, Bruce will do his best to meet the goal, face his fears and confront the reasons behind his bad eating habits and weight gain, and change himself for the better.
Bruce, 29, is a high school football coach from Salt Lake City, Utah, who is adored and looked up to by the player he coaches and his friends. However, he Bruce says he drinks 3 to 5 100-oz cups of soda every day, even starting out drinking a huge container of soda at breakfast. He wants to improve his health, and set a good example for his football team by losing weight and making more healthy eating decisions.
Bruce relates that he turned to food as a child to try to find comfort from his father’s alleged verbal and sexual abuse. His dad is in jail for having molested other children, but he has never admitted that he also allegedly molested his own son. Bruce wrote a letter to Chris Powell asking for his help in losing the weight he had put on, and Chris agreed to assist him in his goal of losing 191 pounds in a year’s time. Bruce’s mom relates that if she had known what was going on, she would have tried to help Bruce, but she was away a lot of the time, working.
This episode has been billed as being one of the most emotionally powerful ones yet in the history of Extreme Weight Loss, and with the subject matter that the episode is about, it is easy to see why. Bruce says he is grateful for the high school coaches who were in his life, who helped him cope as he was growing up. He wants to also be an inspiration for the high school team he coaches, and do what he can to get them to be state champions.
Instead of going to California for the start of their weight transformation goals, in Season 4 of Extreme Weight Loss, contestants must spend the first 90 days in Colorado at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) in Aurora, CO.
The first 90 days, Chris and Heidi Powell, and AHWC’s medical director Holly Wyatt, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, work with Bruce to get him to eat healthier foods, exercise, and provide him with the tools he needs to succeed in losing weight even when he is on his own during parts of his year-long weight loss journey.
Chris Powell gives Bruce the good news that he will be working with him at the high school gym. Chris asks him what he wants and needs to help him achieve his weight loss goals. He is afraid that Bruce does not want to do it for himself, but for others, to prove something to his dad. He tells Bruce that the three months in Colorado will be “hard core.”
Later in the episode, Chris Powell will ask Bruce to appear at his father’s parole hearing and confront his dad, but Bruce has a difficult time deciding if he is emotionally ready to face his father. Whatever decision Bruce makes will effect his life forever afterward.
During Bruce’s year-long weight loss journey, Chris has planned certain rewards along the way, if Bruce meets weight loss goals by dates, like 90 days. One of the surprises that Chris has planned for Bruce is getting a VIP visit to meet and work out with the Oakland Raiders, his favorite football team. He will also get to meet NFL San Francisco 49er legend, Jerry Rice, and Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, his favorite football player. Bruce has always looked up to Ismail, who was also allegedly the victim of sexual abuse when he was a child.
Bruce lost 121 pounds by the 90 day mark. He continued to work out, knowing that it was not the time to slack off. Seeing his initial success motivated him to continue. When Ismail gave Bruce the four VIP tickets, he was overjoyed.
Chris woke him up at 5:30 in the morning to work out together. Chris liked seeing how Bruce inspired and motivated his players, and he bought Bruce’s family bikes so that they could all ride them together.
“What I’ve put together for his Six-Month Milestone is gonna blow his mind,” Chris says, then Extreme Weight Loss went to a commercial break.
Though Bruce experienced a concussion, he still met his Phase II goal of losing 42 pounds. He weighed in at 212, having lost 47 additional pounds. He was now two-for-two, and lost 47 percent of his original body weight.
As a surprise for Bruce, he took him to the Oakland Raiders Stadium. Bruce was emotional, thinkin g of all of the great Raiders who had played there. Chris said that Bruce “deserves this, and so much more.”
Then on Day 181, Chris gives Bruce one further surprise — a visit to the Raiders’ practice facility, and their locker room. Tears of joy were streaming down Bruce’s face. He was even presented with his own locker!
Chris told him “I have one last surprise for you. It’s out on the practice field.” NFL Hall of Fame Wide Receiver, Jerry Rice, is there, and Bruce is excited to meet him. Jerry Rice takes Bruce through one of his own personal drills. It was great seeing Bruce having fun, and enjoying himself.
“My life is now complete,” he said.
Then, Chris talked to Bruce about Phase III. He said “Just stick to your original goal, and get to 191 pounds.”
Bruce told Chris his father was having a parole hearing coming up, and that he wanted to be there. He wants to make sure that his dad does not get out. He knows that there are a lot of his victims around, and Bruce does not want his father to get paroled.
One the one hand, Chris is worried, and he does not want to see Bruce potentially having a set back in his weight loss goal by the trauma of confronting his father. But, on the other hand, it would be a chance for Bruce to face the source of his unhappy childhood, and what led to his gaining so much weight.
Every day, Bruce still works out in the gym. As the day of the parole hearing approaches and finally arrives, Bruce feels nervous. Chris says that “This is the time for Bruce to close that chapter in his life.”
Bruce attends the parole meeting. He tells the camera that being there “was nerve-wracking.” Bruce was sitting there, crying. Chris said that Bruce’s father was “just sitting there, glaring at him.”
The judge asks Bruce’s dad if he had ever abused his son, and at first, his dad does not want to give a straight answer. His dad says that no abuse occurred, though the judge disagrees with him. Then, the judge asks Bruce if he wants to speak.
At first, Bruce says he did not feel like speaking, but then he does confront his dad. He says that he “had loved his dad with all his heart.” But, Bruce goes on to say that he thinks his dad should still remain in jail, “for his safety, and everyone else’s.”
Bruce unloaded the emotional weight he had carried around him for years, as well as the physical weight he had gained. “Bruce finally closed that chapter in his life. Now, he can truly heal,” Chris says.
A couple of weeks later, after Bruce has had dental work done, he meets with Chris again. Bruce tells Chris “I feel like so much weight is off my shoulders.” He adds to Chris that he heard his dad “got life in prison.”
Bruce says he is ready to come into the weigh-in and “crush it.” If he hits 191 or less, he will have met his weight loss goal. Bruce is so close — he weighs in at 196 pounds. He has lost over 48 percent of his original body weight.
Chris tells Bruce “I am so proud of you.” Chris also tells Bruce he is walking him in to see the surgeons tomorrow, and find out if the doctor thinks Bruce is a good candidate for the skin removal surgery.
The doctor gives Bruce the good news that he is a great candidate for the skin removal surgery. He says that the skin he removes might wind up being over 6 pounds. That would put Bruce at his year-long goal of 191 pounds.
“It’s mind-blowing how far you’ve come,” Chris tells Bruce after another commercial break.
There are still three months yet to go in the year, and Bruce has already qualified for the skin loss removal surgery. Chris tells Bruce “I’ll see you in three more months,” just as Bruce is getting ready for the surgery.
The next time we see Chris, it is at the end of the year, and he is telling an audience of Bruce’s friends and team members about Bruce having been abused as a child. Chris says that Bruce “has truly inspired and motivated even me.” He sounds choked-up as he talks about Bruce.
After another commercial break, Extreme Weight Loss returns, and the home audience as well as the crowd in the auditorium gathered to see Bruce applaud and cheer for him, while he does the final Weigh-In of the year.
“You can’t play the victim card. You can’t play the ‘Poor Me’ card,” Bruce tells the audience.
The audience chants Bruce’s name as he steps up onto the scale, and we are shown a flashback of scenes during the year-long weight-loss journey. Before Bruce’s final weight is revealed, though — Extreme Weight Loss goes to yet another commercial break.
Back in Los Angeles, the final weight is shown — Bruce weighs in at 181 pounds! That is a total of 201 pounds. As Chris says, “You didn’t make excuses.”
His mom calls it “One of the greatest gifts that could ever happen to my family.”
Chris tells Bruce he can now “pay it forward,” and give a gift to someone else he knows, someone who will also get the chance to work with Chris and Heidi Powell to lose weight. Bruce chooses a friend of his, who had been more athletic at one time in her life.
Bruce accomplished his year-long weight-loss goal. Extreme Weight Loss ended with Bruce and Chris giving information and a phone number of a hotline where people who have been victims of sexual abuse can get help.
Just as it was billed, Extreme Weight Loss Bruce on ABC lived up to being one of the most emotional episodes of the show ever, and that is saying a lot. With shows like Extreme Weight Loss, audiences at home get to learn a bit about the people they are watching, about their lives, their loves, the failures and successes. It is easy to identify with people like Bruce and others who have been featured on the show, and that is a big reason why Extreme Weight Loss continues to have the high ratings that it does, season after season.
Written by: Douglas Cobb