On Extreme Weight Loss on ABC tonight, Chris and Heidi Powell, the transformational coaches and hosts of the show, will be helping Sara, the first “little person” ever to be on an episode of Extreme Weight Loss. She is 4’5″ and is from Owensboro, Ky. Sara will strive to lose weight on her one-year-long journey and to change herself on both the inside and the outside. She must lose at least half of her beginning body weight in order to qualify at the end of the year for the skin reduction surgery that she will need to get rid of the excess skin that will result when she loses the weight.
Extreme Weight Loss on ABC began with scenes of Sara’s house in Kentucky. Sara says “I try to get the weight off, but whatever I do, it doesn’t seem to help.” She says this as she is cooking supper at her mom’s house. She says that she is 150 pounds overweight.
When she found out that she would never grow to a normal height, she felt that “This is the part of my life that will always be like this. I will never be tall.” She said that even her sister said cruel things to her and put negative thoughts into her head.
At age 26, Sara joined a convent and became a nun. Even there, Sara said that the other nuns picked on her and did not accept her for who she was, so she left after having been there for six years. She ate to be “happy” and to find comfort when she was being bullied.
“You don’t have to support me,” Sara tells her parents. “It makes me feel bad.”
Her mom asks her if she will be on TV tomorrow. She says “yes,” because she is going to be on a local show talking about health issues, called “Lifestyles.”
“I don’t want to be the person in the mirror that I see,” Sara Murphy said.
“She has been teased and bullied her whole life,” Chris says “Even the religious community she thought would accept her, instead bullied her.” Chris Powell surprises her right as she is in the middle of talking about the need to be healthy and get outside and exercise.
“I couldn’t agree with you more,” Chris tells her. Chris says “We need to get your weight,” Right on TV, in front of Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky, she was going to weigh herself. She weighed in at 245 pounds.
“I hate that number,” she said.
“You will never see that number again,” Chris says. “She needs to weigh in at around 100 pounds by the end of the year,” Chris tells the camera.
“I was just tired of my life, and whatever I did, didn’t seem to help. I probably don’t deserve this.”
“You deserve this more than anybody. I flew out to Kentucky to help you and you can’t get rid of me. Our flight leaves in just a few hours, so you need to pack your bags.”
“I still can’t believe this,” she says. Then, Extreme Weight Loss went to a commercial break.
Sara will be spending the next three months with Chris and Heidi Powell at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. It offers some of the country’s most advanced research and science-based expertise, focusing on a comprehensive weight loss and weight management approach, including fitness, nutrition and wellness services.
“Sara doesn’t want to be treated any differently because of her size,” Chris tells the camera. “All you have now are broken dreams. So, you’re even scared to dream.”
He asks Sara what she likes to do, and she says “Run.” She will be undergoing medical tests the first week.
“Today, I have a special guest Sara will really like,” Chris says to the camera. She meets with Rocco, the celebrity cook. He teaches her how to cook Mexican food, but a healthy version of it, using crab meat.
“For Sara’s initial workout, I want to give her a challenge for even a regular-sized person,” Chris says. He gives her 80 pounds of kettle bells and tells her to climb up the stairs at an outdoors arena.
“If it gets too tough, you can always quit,” Chris says.
She refuses to quit. “That’s the fighter I want to see,” he says The kettle bells symbolize the emotional weight she has been carrying around with her. People gather and start cheering for her.
“I don’t deserve this,” she says, crying. “I don’t deserve this!”
“Yes, you do, Sara! You are worthy of this and so much more!” Chris says. “Feel that love! Get up there, get up there!”
Sara makes it all the way to the top. “I’m very thankful that they got into it, because it really helped me.” she tells the camera. Tearfully, leaning against Chris’s shoulders, she says “I don’t deserve this.’
Chris Powell tells Sara “Your mantra from now on is going to be ‘I do deserve this.'” Then, Chris tells the camera “Sara did not make any excuses, not one.”
“Just the physical challenge of Boot Camp, alone, will be the most difficult challenge Sara’s ever done in her life,” Chris continues. “She’s going to train at least two hours a day, with either Heidi or myself. She’s working out on equipment not designed for her size but she’s not complaining.”
Chris is going to have her run the Neon Dash, a 5K run. right now, she can just run a quarter of a mile. “If I can make activity more fun for Sara, she’s more likely to do it in the long run,” Chris says.
She has to have her metabolic rate measured every couple of weeks. She has an extremely slow metabolic rate, which is bad news. It means that she will have to work that much harder in order to lose weight.
Extreme Weight Loss went to another commercial break. When the show came back, Chris is saying that “She has to work twice as hard as anyone else has ever done on this show to loss weight. I have the feeling that she is going to break some records.” Then, Chris says about how she did in the Neon Dash 5K, “She ran the whole time.”
“People were cheering behind me. It felt so special to me,” Sara says.
The 90-Day Weigh-In came. Chris was not sure if she had been able to lose the 80 pounds she was asked to lose, as it was so difficult for her because of her low metabolism.
“If it says 165 pounds or less, you’ve hit your goal,” Chris says. The scale read 164 pounds. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Sara said. “Oh, my God!” Chris said.
She lost 33.1 percent of her overall body weight. “That’s the greatest amount of overall body weight anyone has lost in any phase. That is her record, and nobody can take it away from her. that is just mind-blowing!” Chris says.
“It’s time to say goodbye,” Chris says on Day 91. We have goals we need to hit. In the next three months, we want you to lose 31 pounds. You will run a half marathon. We’re not going to tell you where, other than it’s going to be in an exotic location.”
“It’s bitter-sweet to say goodbye to Chris and Heidi. As much as I want to go home, I will miss working out daily with Chris and Heidi.”
“No matter how well someone does in Boot Camp, Phase II is always more difficult,” Chris says.
Sara’s parents have planned a party for her. Her dad said “She had a smiling glow” about her. “We were very pleased.” her mother said.
Sara thanked all of her supporters and asked them “Who’s willing to help me and commit?” Several hands rose up, including her dad’s. “I’m really looking forward to my challenge,” Sara said.
Sara keeps trying to get a hold of her sister, but cannot reach her. “I’m going to keep trying to get in touch with her,” Sara says. “I’ve been training for half a marathon,” she says, “and I’m already up to 11 miles.”
She does jumping jacks and works out every day. “You know, I’m thinking of calling Chris and telling him instead of running a half marathon, I want to run a full one.”
She calls Chris on the phone and tells him she has already ran 12 miles. She asks him if she can change it to a full marathon. she says “Call me crazy.”
“I am calling you crazy,” Chris says. “That’s ridiculous.” Sara looks disappointed he said that. Then, Extreme Weight Loss went to another commercial break.
“Sara calls me up and tells me she wants to run a full marathon. Physically, I have to look out for Sara’s well-being.” He tells the camera.
Chris tells her he will agree on one condition, that she comes out to Arizona and train with himself and Heidi. He tells her that the marathon training will begin as soon as she lands.
Sara and Chris run down a highway. “Sara is dedicated. Not once did she waver. Her nutrition is perfectly balanced to maximize her performance. As much as I don’t want her to do it, I think that she can.”If it reads 129 pounds or less, you’ve met your goal Right now you weigh 138 pounds, so you’re nine pounds short.”
“I feel disappointed but it is getting harder and harder to lose weight.
“You didn’t meet your goal,” Chris says “Marathon training and weight loss are two different worlds. Which brings me to the marathon. Yeah, the marathon is tomorrow, but I still want to give you the option of runing a half marathon. Your bones are going to take a beating, It’s like running two marathons for a regular-sized person. If it’s something you’re set on doing, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do it,” Chris tells her.
“At the start of the marathon, I had a freak-out moment. I’m going to do something I’ve never done before,” Sara says.
“We’re in this together,” Chris says. “really stretch out those muscles,” he tells her. “We’re making really good progress.”
He tells her at the halfway mark and at various landmarks if she wanted to stop running. “No; quit asking me that,” she says, laughing.
“That old Sara would never push back. I like the new Sara better,” Chris says. But, then they hit a stretch where there is a hill for about two miles. “Sara kept going and going and going,” Chris says.
“Your pace is unbelievable right now. This is mind-blowing,” Chris says. “All of that dreaming has paid off, huh?”
“All of these people started slowing down. She just kept on going,” Chris tells the camera.
“Once we hit about mile 17, mile 18, I could see the physical stress in Sara’s body,” Cris tells the camera.
“My body’s starting to break down,” she says.
“You can do this, Sara. Come on,” Chris tells her. Of course, Extreme Weight Loss went to yet another commercial break at this dramatic juncture in the episode.
The marathon is in Honolulu, Hawaii. “I want it over,” Sara says. She is feeling pain and stops for a short bit, for Chris to stretch out her hamstrings. “I was really sore, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from finishing the race,” Sara tells the camera.
“For years, Sara has doubted herself. She didn’t think she was worth anything.”
“This is you, accomplishing your dreams,” Chris says to Sara.
“I’m not going to stop,” she said.
Finally, they both see the finish line. “If you want, you can just close your eyes and I will glide you over the finish line,” Chris says. She does, though continues running on her own. She crosses the finish line.
“It brought years of doubt and frustration to an end,” Chris says to the camera. Sara ran 26.2 miles. “Nobody can ever take it away from you,” Chris tells her. “I’m proud of you, so very proud of you.”
When Sara returned home, there was all-new exercise equipment there, her size. “My goal for Phase II is just to get to 50 percent. On a daily basis, I do three hours of weight-intensive cardio and..I want to get there.”
Sara says that her sister texted her and said she did not care how much she changed, she would go back to her old pathetic self. “I was really upset. I know it’s not true. It’s just her opinion and nobody else’s I’m just going to forget about what she said or I can make that a reality and I don’t want to do that.” Sara tells the camera.
“I can’t wait to see Sara,” Chris says. “She has the ‘running bug’ now,” When he meets her, he says how unbelievable it was and how different she looked form when she first started.
Sara tells Chris about the mean text messages that her sister has sent her “I can’t help how she or anybody else thinks.”
The weigh-in for Phase II is that night. Sara is worried because she wants to meet the goal and qualify for the skin reduction surgery. “Today, if the scale says 122 pounds or less, you will have met your goal. Looking for 120,” Chris says. The scale showed that she weighed 122 and had lost 18 pounds in Phase III.
“You are the lightest person I’ve ever worked with,” Chris says “You just beating all the records. You’ve lost 51 percent of your body weight. I’m so proud of you,” Chris tells her.
“Typically, for most people, I wold take them in to see the skin surgeon. What do you say we go see the surgeon tomorrow?”
The following day, Chris takes her in to see the doctor. He is worried that the doctor might have some different reasoning or qualifications for skin surgery if a person is Sara’s size. Extreme Weight Loss went to a commercial break, so whatever the doctor says will have to wait until after the break.
“I don’t think her size will be an issue. Sara is of short stature, but she has excess skin that needs to be excised. 100 pounds of the weight you’ve lost is pure fat,” the doctor says. He feels of her skin and searches for areas where she might still have fat cells. “I think you are a candidate for skin surgery,” the doctor tells her.
“Sara deserves this so much. She has faced this from Day One. Today id the victory she has deserved for a long time. How cool is that, huh?” Chris tells the camera.
He and Heidi are there with her when Sara goes in to have skin surgery, She tells Chris and Heidi that her family is stuck in a snowstorm, but that hopefully they will be there when she wakes up from the surgery.
“Chris basically saved my life. He believed in me when I didn’t,” Sara tells the camera.
“Sara is proof that you can do absolutely anything and everything if you put your mind to it,” Chris tells the camera.
Then, at the end of the year, Chris speaks in front of an auditorium full of people. He relates Sara’s story to them, of how she felt different when a doctor told her she would never grow taller. “Even today, her sister ridicules her,” Chris tells the audience.
Chris continued, saying “She made such a committed decision. She has turned out to be the most incredible person we’ve worked with. She felt different and she is different, because she is extraordinary. It is an honor to introduce to you the new Sara!” But, before we can see her, Extreme Weight Loss went to a commercial break…again.
Back from the break, we see Sara entering the auditorium. The entire audience stands and applauds wildly. she looks like an entirely different person! “What a year it’s been, huh?” Chris says.
He tells her about when she called him up and said she was not going to do a half marathon, she was going to do a full one. “I will never, ever forget that day in my whole life,” Chris said.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Nobody can ever take that away from me,” she said.
“No, they can’t,” Chris tells her.
Chris shows a video of Sara when she was post-surgery. “It’s unbelievable,” she said. “I’m excited about my future.”
“I hope that I have inspired people throughout the year to change their lives, day by day, one step at a time,” Sara says.
“You guys ready?” Chris says. “Whenever you’re ready, you may take that final step on the scale,” Chris tells her.
We then see black-and-white scenes of the past year and Sara’s accomplishments on the road to this point Before her final weight is revealed, Extreme Weight Loss went to another commercial break.
When the show returns, we finally get to see Sara’s final weight at the end of her year-long weight loss journey. She started the year at 245 pounds. Her final weight was 109 pounds!
“Oh, my God!” Chris says, laughing. He grabs her arm and raises it into the air to the crowd’s applause.
“You have lost 62 percent of your original body weight,” Chris says. Her parents are both very proud of her.
“It’s been great. It really has been,” Sara says. Next, she plans to come back out to Phoenix and train for another marathon. She is going to move to Arizona.
Chris hands her a one-week scholarship to the the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center. Sara says she wants to give it to her friend, Jill, who has already lost over 100 pounds on her own.
“Sara, we are all so, so proud of you. Congratulations! when it comes to transformations, you are a coach’s dream,” Chris tells her.
“Thanks for spending this time with me and opening up your family to me.”
“You will forever be a part of the Powell family,” Chris tells her. “Welcome to the family.”
“I’m going to get super-fit and super-skinny and do everything that I’ve always wanted to do. All of my dreams haven’t been accomplished, because I keep adding to my dreams.” Sara says.
Next week, Chris and Heidi have two people that they will be working with, one of them being a former marine. It should be another captivating episode. Still, it will be difficult to beat this one, about Sara. There were a ton of moments in this episode that were very emotional and tear-jerking ones and frankly made it difficult, at times, to type this recap/review.
A big reason why people watch and fall in love with viewing Extreme Weight Loss is that viewers get to know the people that Chris and Heidi choose for their year-long weight-loss journeys. Whether we also need to lose weight or are as skinny as rails does not matter, as the stories that unfold before the camera and are presented to the viewing public are about really human beings with real feelings and dreams and failings. The dramatic moments in the episodes are dramatic because there are dramatic moments in the lives of all of us. It is easy to identify with the people on the show, because in both their worst and best moments, they are like all of the viewers across the country who tune in to watch, in one way or the other.
Written By Douglas Cobb