Tonight’s episode of Extreme Weight Loss on ABC, Brandi, is about former beauty pageant contestant Brandi Duchii Mallory. She had fun and did well in beauty pageants when she began entering them at the age of 9, but by the time she was 12, she weighed over 250 pounds. Comment cards from the judges said that she was too overweight to compete any longer. Brandi felt crushed, but rather than trying to lose weight then, she continued to put it on.
Finally, at the age of 29, weighing 329 pounds, Brandi decided that she needed help to lose weight, so she wrote personal trainers and transformational coaches Chris and Heidi Powell hoping that they would work with her and assist her, over a year-long journey, to lose half of her body weight and qualify for skin reduction surgery.
Chris and Heidi work with the contestants chosen to be on Extreme Weight Loss on a one-on-one basis. For Brandi and the other clients the Powells help out, changing themselves on the inside is just as important, if not more important, to their welfare than changing how much they weigh.
If there is not an inner change, as well as an outer one, the cycle of gaining and losing and gaining back weight will continue. The contestants have to face what is causing them inner pain and turmoil and overcome whatever it is during the course of the year and become healthier people both inside and out.
Brandi has still kept a foot in the world of beauty pageants. She has a job as a freelance makeup artist. Brandi likes being able to help make other women look beautiful, but she is also torn up inside because she wishes that she could be thinner and be one of the beauty queens on stage once again.
“When you stop dreaming, you give up,” Brandi says. She wants to get the respect that she once had for herself back. Brandi is living with her girlfriend, who does not know what to expect when and if Brandi loses the weight she wants to lose.
After Chris surprises Brandi in Atlanta, Georgia at the Miss Atlanta Elite beauty pageant. He goes undercover as a photographer and Chris tells her “That is the perfect ‘Before’ shot. I’m choosing you for the transformation of your life.” He asks her if she is ready, but Chris does not think that she will have the support that she needs from her girlfriend.
At her initial weigh-in, in front of a roomfull of people, she weighs in at 329 pounds. “It represents 20 years of a struggle I want to get away from,” Brandi tells Chris.
He sets a goal for her to lose 90 pounds in the first 90 days.He tells her that he will assist her in her year-long journey to lose the 179 pounds of weight that is her goal, Brandi has to get ready to head out to Colorado on a plane that very night. In Season 4 of Extreme Weight Loss, contestants must spend the first 90 days there at the renowned University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) in Aurora, Colorado.
“The dream is on! It’s goin’ down!” Brandi says to the camera, before Extreme Weight Loss went to another commercial break.
When the show returned, Chris is impressed. He says “Brandi is really killing it. She’s working out every single day.”
Brandi really wants to get rid of the extra weight on her arms. She finds out that she has lost four inches off of her arms in just a little over 30 days.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to be the master of my fate,” she tells the camera. Halfway through the 90 days, Brandi weighs in at 284. She has been losing a pound a day, just as she had hoped that she would.
Chris asks her what she would like to do in the next 45 days to make her life a littlle bit better. Chris mentions the conflict that Brandi is currently having with her girlfriend.
“It’s important for you to communicate what your parameters are,” Chris tells Brandi. “In the next 45 days, why don’t we make a decision. I think that you know in your heart of hearts what you really want to do.”
Brandi, while wanting to have people around her who are supportive, also is afraid of being alone. She does not know if she should drop her girlfriend or not, but she must make that decision soon.
After another commercial break, Extreme Weight Loss is back, with Brandi still working out, but she does not feel as enthusiastic and the weight is not droping off as quickly as it had been earlier.
“It’s hard to tell someone you’re breaking up. It’s hard to be alone,” Brandi says. She tells Chris that she is trying her hardest, but she is not losing weight.
She finally decides to phone her girlfriend and break up with her. “This is just one of those things that I have to do. I’m sorry — I just have to be true to myself right now,” Brandi tells her girlfriend. Though her girlfriend is sad, Kiera wants Brandi to be happy.
“To lose her physical weight, she had to lose her emotional weight, also,” Chris says.
His words seems to be pretty accurate, as Brandi again starts losing more weight and being enthusiastic about working out. At her 90-Day Weigh-In, Chris says “Let’s see where that perseverance got you.”
If the scale says 239 pounds or less, Brandi will have made her 90-Day Weigh-In Goal. Of course, Extreme Weight Loss cut to another commercial break before Chris was about to tell Brandi what she now weighs.
When the episode returned from break, Brandi is, herself, unsure how much she now weighs. She comes in at 255 pounds, short of her 90-Day Weigh-In Goal.
Chris asks her “What happened?”
Brandi answers that “I had some rough weeks.”
Still, Chris says to the camera that “Honestly, it’s a victory,” as Brandi had to go through a lot of emotional as well as physical turmoil. Chris tells her he is going to give her a make-over.
“She’s beautiful!” Chris tells Heidi after Brandi walks out wearing a new dress and looking fantastic.
“We want you to lose 56 pounds for your next three month goal,” Chris says. If she does, Brandi will weigh 199 pounds. Chris tells her she will be doing a Half Triathlon, in January, in New Zealand.
“She’s got this blank slate,” Chris says. “she can do anything that she wants to do.”
Brandi is happy to be back home in Atlanta after the 90 days are up. She appears at an auditorium packed full of her well-wishers, friends and family members.
Her dad says to the camera “I’ve never seen her so small. I’ve always loved her and she’ll always be daddy’s little girl.”
Brandi’s sorority sisters are also there in attendance, wanting her to dance with them on the stage. Brandi does not want to do it at first, but she goes with the moment and dances along with them. The audience erupts in applause. Brandi likes it that her dad is proud of her, but she also has to tell herself “Don’t stop.”
Brandi tells herself that because she does not want to become satisfied with the weight that she has already lost. She wants to continue on for the entire year and meet her final goal.
Back at her home, where she has lived with her girlfriend, she now has to get her belongings together and move out. “I love her and I’ll miss her, but I have to move out,” Brandi says. “Ultimately, my goal is to be her friend.”
With Chris not around during this phase, Brandi is worried that she will not be able to meet her goal and prepare enough for the upcoming triathlon. But, she is working 12 and 14-hour days, which makes finding the time to work out difficult.
Chris makes a surprise visit. He says “I’ve got something for you.”
Chris takes Brandi outside and introduces him to Ironman competitor and Sugarland guitarist Thad Beaty. Beaty said that he once needed to lose a lot of weight and he lost 75 pounds preparing for the Ironman Challenge he went on. The training involved is usually a year. Brandi will have just two months to train.
“Endurance-wise, she has a long way to go,” Beaty says, especially when it comes to the swimming part of it.
“Brandi has running down,” Beaty continues. “Now, we have to get her up on the bike and see if her body will hold up when her mind tells her to stop.”
The Half Ironman Triathlon is a brutal challenge. “It will be the hardest challenge yet in Extreme Weight Loss history,” according to the voice over announcer. Brandi will have to swim, bike and run a combined total of 70.3 miles in less than eight hours.
Before she competes, though, Chris has her weigh in. Brandi weighs 214 pounds. “You are 14 pounds shy,” Chris says. “What happened?”
Chris wonders what happened, because she should have been meeting her weight loss goal if she had not done any cheating. “My biggest concern is that Brandi is not being totally honest with me,” he says.
“Brandi has eight hours and 45 minutes to complete the whole thing. If she slows down, she will be pulled off the course,” Chris tells the camera.
“I was really impressed with Brandi’s swimming ability,” Chris tells the camera. But, her bike riding skills are not as good. She starts weaving back and forth , but after she starts hydrating, she rides in straight line again.
“We are just scraping by these check points,” Chris says. He does not think that Brandi will be able to maintain a fast enough pace, noting that the Ironman officials are “already watching us, because we’re close to the back of the pack.”
Extreme Weight Loss went to yet another commercial break. Chris tells Brandi “she’s past the physical part. It’ all mental now.” She makes it to the Red Carpet, completing the Half Ironman!
Brandi is excited as the next weigh-in approaches. However, she has also been cheating on her diet. Chris has someone doing surveillance on Brandi, who is not working out as she had promised that she would.
“It’s true addict behavior,” Chris says to the camera about Brandi telling partial truths to cover up the bigger lie that she has not been working out as much as she has claimed that she has been doing.
Brandi thinks that Chris does not have faith in her. But, it is Chris’ job as a coach to see that she does what she says she is going to do. It is difficult to have faith in someone who has been caught lying.
“All she needs to do is hit her 40 percent weight loss goal to qualify for the skin reduction surgery,” Chris says. “The scale must say 197 or less for her to have met her goal.”
Before Chris reveals Brandi’s weight, Extreme Weight Loss went to a commercial break. She weighs in at 201, having lost 12 pounds in Phase III. “Taking those days off could easily be the difference between 12 pounds lost and 16 pounds lost.”
I know you and you’re not going to quit,” chris tells her, “Let’s give you the finish that you deserve.”
“I will meet my year goal,” Brandi says “I’m a fighter and that’s what fighters do.”
Chris then surprises her by introducing Brandi to meet Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri and work out with her. She gives her encouragement to Brandi and asks her to do her makeup for her later.
Close to the end of Extreme Weight Loss, Chris speaks to an audience that is gathered to hear about Brandi’s year-long weight-loss journey and see how much she has lost. The crowd stands as one, and gasps — but, Brandi is in the shadows. Extreme Weight Loss goes on another commercial break.
Back from the break, the audience is going wild with their applause and cheers. Brandi looks beautiful and she says that she used to dream about a day like this since she was 12, about busting into a room all skinny. She never thought that the day would actually come, though.
Chris tells her that he is proud of her. “The whole room is proud of you,” he adds.
“This is the final weigh-in,” Chris tells her. “You have to weigh in at least at 180 to qualify for the skin surgery.”
As she steps on the scale, we get to see scenes of her past year and the struggles she has been through. Then, Extreme Weight Loss went to another commercial break, at the most dramatic part of the episode.
Brandi wieghs in at 178! She has met her year-long weight loss goal and now qualifies to have the skin surgery done! Congratulations, Brandi!
I wasn’t fighting anybody else. I was fighting myself. This fight isn’t over — it’s just beginning. I’ve never known life until right now,” she says, and the audience applauds.
Chris gives her a one week scholarship to “pay forward” to someone else. Brandi gives it to one of her closest friends. Then, Chris gives Brandi a bouquet of roses and tells her that she “proved day after day” that he had made the right choice in selecting her.
“I found out who I really was. I love myself now,” Brandi says at the end of Extreme Weight Loss.
Brandi did not meet any of her weight loss goals on Extreme Weight Loss, except her last one, the one that counted the most. She came close, though, to meeting the other ones. Through the course of her year-long weight loss journey, Brandi did not give up, though she faced emotional turmoil, the break up of a romantic relationship and the biggest challenge yet, the Half Ironman Triathlon. She definitely proved that she is a fighter.
Brandi seemed to be close to her last straw a few times during the course of this episode of Extreme Weight Loss, but she persevered to the end. Though she did not quite qualify for the skin reduction surgery at the 9 Month Weigh-In, Brandi managed to qualify by the conclusion of the show. Again, congratulations, Brandi!
By Douglas Cobb