On Extreme Weight Loss on ABC tonight, fun-loving drama coach Rod hides the sorrow and unhappiness he feels inside by smiling on the outside. Rod, 49, dreams of trying out on Broadway, but he weighs 448 pounds, which he believes makes that dream impossible. He serves as his parents’ caregivers, as well, but he has never told his father about his sexuality, keeping the fact that he is gay buried, also. Rod finally decides that he would like to change, to lose the weight that has held him back. He writes a letter to transformational coaches Chris and Heidi Powell in the hopes that they will be able to help him lose his extra weight on his year-long weight loss journey and qualify for skin reduction surgery.
As the episode opens, Rod says he substitutes food for fellowship, friendship, and camaraderie. It doesn’t make any sense, but that is what I do.” He says that he is “about 125 pounds overweight.” Free of rejection has ran his life, in negative ways. In front of his classes, though, he feels that he is the “best me that I can be.”
He tells the camera that there “are several sides of me.” He plays roles every day; he looks at himself in the mirror and says “this is not me. I see this — I see fat, I see ugly. It is tough to be me, most of the time. I’m tired of wearing two faces most of the time. I don’t want to die.” His mom had a stroke three years ago. He now realizes that life is precious.
Rod tells the camera that he probably realized he was attracted to men in college. He does not want to have secrets anymore. When he admits that to his father, his father says “I love you as much today as before I knew it. It doesn’t change anything. You’re our son.” Rod is amazed and relieved at his dad’s reaction. He wants to change before his 50th birthday.
Chris shows up at a rehearsal for a play. “Little does he know I just added a character to his script,” Chris says.
“This time, I’m the teacher!” he says. “Rod, I choose you for the transformation of your lifetime.”
“I don’t know what to say. I’m overwhelmed, and ready,” Rod says.
One of his students says “There’s no one who deserves it more than Rod.”
Right there, Chris weighs Rod, in front of everyone. “There’s no more secrets,” Rod says. Then, Extreme Weight Loss went to the first commercial break of the episode.
He weighs 448 pounds. “That number is a health risk to me. That number is death.” He tells Chris he wants to weigh maybe 225 pounds by the end of the year. “It’s time for me to live my life,” Rod says.
“We need time, We need three months to re-program him,” Chris says. “He will go through a nutritional consultation and he will be working out with me,” Chris tells the camera.
Rod, like all of the people Chris and Heidi have selected this year to assist in their year-long transformations, will be spending the first 90 days at the renowned University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) in Aurora, Colorado. Chris and Heidi Powell are there with Rod the first 90 days.
Rod says “He was relentless and not always positive,” in describing Chris. Chris has set the 90-Day Weight-Loss Goal at 125 pounds.
“Keep going, Rod! You’re better than that! C’mon, Rod; don’t give up!” Then, Chris adds “What are you thinking right now, Rod?” and Rod breaks down and cries. Then, Extreme Weight Loss went to another commercial break.
“I’m scared about dying,” he answers.
“What are you going to do when you’re scared?” What do you do?”
“I’m going to fight! I deserve it all!” Rod says.
“That’s the kind of Rod who doesn’t care what anyone else thinks,” Chris says. “What do you deserve right now?”
“I deserve it all. I deserve it all.” he answers Chris. He felt he does not have to hold back anything anymore, that the “fight of Flight” made him be more like himself.
He does think that the “first few weeks of Boot Camp are brutal,” but he adds he “has tapped into the warrior,” inside of himself. He says “I have learned parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. I don’t always have to be happy.”
Chris says he signed himself and Rod up for a Color Run. He gives Rod a tutu to wear, and during the race, they both get coated with colored chalk. “When the true Rod is shining through, there is a big difference,” Chris tells the camera. “When Rod was running in his tutu and covered with chalk, he was truly happy and enjoying himself.”
At his 45-Day Weigh-In, Chris wants Rod to have lost at least half of the 125 pounds that he set for the 90-Day Weigh-In Goal. Before Extreme Weight Loss goes to another commercial break, both Chris and Rod are laughing as they see the weight.
After the commercials, we get to see how much Rod weighed. Rod weighed in at 369 pounds “Holy moley!” Chris says “Check that out!”
“It was the first time I’ve been under 400 pounds in 10 years,” Rod says. However, he has lost 20 pounds of lean tissue and muscle, as well as the fat he has lost, according to one of the doctors at the Wellness Center. She says it is important for him to get the correct nutrition and protein. “Rod’s going to have to lift a lot more weights,” Chris says.
“That’s it; build up the muscles right there,” Chris tells him, as Rod works out with weights. It will make it more difficult to lose weight, though.
“I’ll be honest,” Chris says. “At the 45-Day mark, you were ahead of the curve. But, we can’t really afford things slowing down at the 90-Day mark,” Chris says. “If the scale says 323 pounds or less, you’ve met the goal.”
Rod weighs in at 322 pounds. “I feel unstoppable!” he says. He cries again, and Chris says “Can I give you a hug now?” and Rod tells him “Yes.” Extreme Weight Loss went to yet another commercial break.
“Today is the day I have to say good-bye to Chris and Heidi. They have been such God-sends to me,” Rod says. Chris sets the Phase II Goal to be to lose 55 pounds.
“Your Six Month Milestone,” Chris tells him, “will be in the Big Apple. You need to be as slim as you can be. I’m not going to tell you any more about it.” Chris tells the camera that he is confident that Rod will continue to lose weight.
When Rod gets back to Tallahassee, a tremendous crowd is there at the high school where Rod teaches to welcome him back. The football stadium is filled up. His father and mother are there, also.
“It’s amazing to see what he’s done,” his father says. “He doesn’t even look like the same Rodney.”
Rod tells the crowd that he is “so thankful to have had the chance to be selected by Chris and Heidi.” The cheerleaders announce that he has lost 126 pounds. “That was all structured. Now, it’s all on me,” Rod says. “To feel all of that love from everybody, I was overwhelmed. To see how everybody wanted me to succeed was awesome.”
When Rod returns home, he remembers how he had left it. “I remembered how I left that place, and the place I was in when Chris surprised me.” The place is very messy. “It was like a weight that came back on me and made me remember how depressed I must have been. I just didn’t care,” Rod tells the camera right before Extreme Weight Loss on ABC went to another commercial break.
At Day 119, Chris shows up in Tallahassee. Rod has been missing sessions and has been “late every time, every single time. Cleaning up his apartment, it’s been happening every single day,” says his coach, Kim.
“It sounds like something bigger is happening,” Chris says. Rod was not there at his apartment when Chris arrived. When Rod pulls up, he is laughing. “But, at the same time, I knew he was not happy,” Chris tells the camera.
Rod told Chris “I’m great! I’m good!” But, to the camera, he says “I was really not that good.”
When Chris walked into his apartment, he saw how messy it was. Chris tells Rod “I have to call you out. It’s not okay, and you know in your heart it’s not okay.”
“Phase II sucks,” Rod tells Chris. “It’s been hard to keep my promises to myself. You can’t go to to get a steak at 10:00 at night. You can’t go get a salad somewhere else and end up eating more.”
“Why? Why did you go back to the same type of behavior?” Chris asks him.
“I know a lot of people like me or love me; whatever, but, I don’t have…”
“Do you have any friends or support to help you?”
“No,” Rod admits. Chris suggests that he join a support group of other people in the area who are having the same sorts of problems. Rod goes with Chris to one and it seems to help him.
“You are not alone,” says one of the group members. “But, you are an inspiration.”
Rod says that he felt very much accepted in that room. “Being authentic and showing the not-so-perfect side of him has been a good first step for Rod,” Chris tells the camera. “I hope he can keep being real and keep losing weight after I leave him,” Chris says, right as Extreme Weight Loss goes to another commercial break.
Three months ago, you weighed in at 322 pounds. If the scale says 267 pounds or less, you’ve met your Phase II Goal.” Rod is nervous. He weighs in at 285 pounds, having lost 37 pounds. “37 pounds lost is really not that bad. The journey is not over,” Chris tells him. “In four weeks, you will be audtioning for the part of Amos in Chicago on Broadway. I couldn’t think of a better 50th birthday present to him than to help him conquer another fear. You want to be in the best shape of your life, because it’s also the Empire State Building Stair Climb.”
“To be able to have my milestone there, I’m telling you, it was a dream come true,” Rod tells the camera.
The day arrives for the Empire State Stair Climbing event. Both he and Chris are going to climb the stairs together. Chris encourages him the entire way up, telling him “pace yourself.”
“The last time I was in New York City was in 2011. I took taxis everywhere. I saw sweating and my back was hurting. If the Rod from 2011 heard me telling him that I would be climbing up the stairs of the Empire State Building and auditioning for a Broadway play, he would say I was high,” Rod tells the camera.
Chris worries about Rod, as he is still carrying a lot of excess weight. “Rod, are you okay? It looks like you’re slowing down a little bit. Keep breathing, Rod; breath, buddy,” Chris tells him.
At Level 63, Chris tells the camera “I kept thinking if Rod has to be pulled off of this stairwell now, it’s going to crush him.”
“It’s hard, but I’m going to keep going,” Rod tells Chris.
“You haven’t stopped yet. Not now, Rod; not now. You’re going to go all the way!” Chris tells him. “Rod did it. He came off like a champ. We did it together. He will always have that.”
“I stand here now as kind of a success story of what you can do if you work hard. I did this, and it’s a big deal,” Rod says.
The following day, it is both Rod’s 50th birthday and his chance to audition for Chicago in the role of Amos. Chris introduces Rod to two casting directors there and they ask him for his resume and pictures. He gives them his resume, but he says that he doesn’t have a recent photo available and what he looked like before does not look like he looks like now. He has a couple of songs ready, and the audition goes pretty well.
“It stopped being terrifying and it started being: this is my shot. And, you only get one,” Rod tells the camera.
“I’m having the experience of my life with this journey,” he says. “It was something I’d dreamed of, and it couldn’t have gone better for me.”
“That was terrific!” said one of the casting directors. “That’s how the character should be.”
“I would have never thought that this year would be the best one of my life,” Rod tells the camera.
Chris tells the camera that Rod still feels like he is overeating too much on his “Reward Days.” Carla Hall, of The Chew, meets with Rod and shows him how to cook traditional Southern food that is not unhealthy for him.
“I am so thankful to have gotten to learn how to cook food I love that is more healthy for me,” Rod says. He will need to put what he has learned to the test, as he must make up for not meeting his Phase II Goal in Phase III, if he has a chance to qualify for the skin removal surgery.
“I’ve been keeping up with Rod and it looks like he’s doing mcuh better,” Chris tells the camera. He has also sent Rod gym equipment to help with his workouts. He is eating healthier and finds that he can still eat a lot of food, as long as it is low in calories.
Back in Colorado for his 9 Month Weigh-In, Rod meets with Chris and he has “head shots” with him that he has had professionally done. “Tonight is your 9 Month Weigh-In. To be able to qualify for the skin loss surgery, you need to have lost at least 40 percent of your overall body weight. You need to weigh in at 269 pounds or less.” Rod weighs in at 267 pounds.
“My friend, we are going to the doctor tomorrow.” Rod lost 18 pounds in Phase III.
“To qualify for skin removal surgery would be the culmination of all of this,” Rod tells the camera. He wants to be the best version of him that is possible. The doctor tells him he wants Rod to lose another 35 pounds and then he would be a really good candidate.
“What it felt like to me was I was rejected from a club I wasn’t meant to be a part of,” Rod tells the camera.
Chris says Rod can use this and be motivated by it, or he can fall back into his old patterns.
At the end of the year, Chris tells an audience about Rod’s life and the struggles that he has faced. “He lived in fear, trying to be someone that he thought everyone else wanted him to be. This was such an incredibly powerful transformation to see Rod become himself. Put your hands together for the real Rod!” Chris says. Everyone there stands up and applauds as Rod walks in. Extreme Weight Loss went to another commercial break.
Rod enters wearing a stylish grey suit and looking slim and trim. “The first phase was magnificent. The other phases there were some stumbling blocks. I went home and was devastated when I didn’t qualify for the skin reduction surgery. It wasn’t a perfect year, but I felt the love of a lot of people. I would always pretend and put on the mask of happiness. There’s nothing like being who you are and people loving you because of that, or in spite of that.”
“Are you guys ready?” Chris asks the audience. “Let’s do this!” “Tonight, we’re looking at 232 or less on the scale. Take a deep breath and take that final step on the scale,” Chris tells him. Then, we see scenes in black-and-white of the past year and some of the struggles that Rod has faced. At this very dramatic moment, Extreme Weight Loss on ABC went to another commercial break.
Rod weighed in at 260. “That’s okay,” he says, laughing.
“What happened?” Chris asks.
“I feel like my best years are ahead of me. I have work still to do. Don’t give up on me,” he tells the audience. They applaud him. Chris gives him a one-week scholarship to go back to the Colorado Boot Camp. “I know you will never give up,” Chris tells him.
Generally, in the cases where a person has met his or her goal and has qualified for the skin reduction surgery, Chris has the person “pay forward” and give the one-week scholarship to someone who the person believes would benefit the most. However, realizing how close Rod is to qualifying for the skin reduction surgery, Chris gave the extra week at the Colorado Wellness Center to Rod.
“I can’t believe it’s over,” Rod says at the end of this episode of Extreme Weight Loss.
“You know, it’s not really all over,” Chris tells him. “It’s all in your control.”
“It will always be a battle,” Rod says. But, he is happier now and feels more fulfilled than he has in a long time. He is determined to keep on striving and not to give up, despite any setbacks he might face.
On Extreme Weight Loss tonight, there were many touching and tear-jerking moments, as there often are in episodes of this series. After all, these are real people that people around the country are viewing, real people with real problems, like all of us. Though some of us may not be overweight and face that problem, nobody is perfect, so it is easy to identify with the people on Extreme Weight Loss. Rod did not meet his final year-long Weight Loss Goal, but he did succeed in transforming himself inside and out, for the better.
Written By Douglas Cobb