ABC is back in the weight-loss reality show game, only this time taking competition out of the equation. In the network's new series Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, trainer Chris Powell works with a different morbidly obese participant in each episode, which spans a year of their transformation. Monday's debut follows 21-year-old Rachel, who not only struggles with her weight, but with gaining her family's support in her new lifestyle. She spoke with TVGuide.com about her emotional journey and updates us on how she's doing today.
What did you think when you first met Chris?
Rachel: Oh, my goodness, the very first time I ever saw Chris Powell I remember calling up my mom and sisters and was like, "This guy is so hot; if they want me to lose weight, all they got to do is put him in front of me and let me chase after him." I thought he was the best-looking thing ever and then when I got to talk to him and know his personality I'm like, "Oh, no, this man is unbelievable." He's one-of-a-kind, but he's also like my big brother.
Your first workout was really emotional. What was going through your head?
Rachel: During that first workout all that kept going through my head was: Am I really going to do this? I knew that if I could make it through that first workout, there was going to be no turning back for me; I was not going to quit this journey no matter what. Starting and finishing that workout was like me starting and finishing that journey. The only time I've ever wanted to quit was during that first workout and then after that I've been full force wanting it more than anything.
Watch a clip from that workout here:
Has working out gotten easier?
Rachel: It got easier, but then I found different ways to push myself harder. Working out is actually fun for me, I look forward to it, I will sit and daydream about what I can make up and do. I like to run, but my thing is cross-fit, which is really intense different workouts that vary from swimming a mile to running a mile. It's pushing yourself beyond anything you ever thought you could do. I love it, it's competitive and exciting and challenging.
Was it harder not having your mom adjust to your diet?
Rachel: I never really got my family onboard. The hardest part was that I had the mindset that they had to change and do what I was doing, but you cannot force anyone to change or help someone who doesn't want to be helped or think they need it. So as soon as I got in my mindset that I was going to do whatever it took and do my own thing and let them do their own thing, it got so much better. I had temptation around me from Day One. When I got back from boot camp my little sister had a thing of brownies out on the counter. I actually am thankful for that because it's helped me with the fact that I do have self-control and I could do it no matter what.
Your weigh-in at the nine-month mark didn't go so well. What happened?
Rachel: Those three months [before the weigh-in] was probably the hardest for me because I had been pretty much perfect with nutrition up until Greece. When I was in Greece I had ice cream for the first time and as soon as I got a taste for it I was like: Oh, no. It's not like I went out of control, but I started allowing myself little things and I didn't know how to handle it yet. I gave myself too much leeway, trusted myself too much when I couldn't and got back into my old habits of not eating when I should and then overeating. I did not ask for help at all, I thought could do it and I put all that pressure on myself and wound up letting myself down. I knew I had to move on and not let it anger me for the rest of that year.
What's the greatest lesson you learned from Chris?
Rachel: The greatest lesson I've learned from him is that I was worth it. I made excuses all along. I had never truly devoted myself to losing this weight, I would go into it half-heartedly and never finish anything and he'd be like, "Rachel, you can do this." I learned that and it's stuck in my head and I feel like I can conquer anything.
How is life different for you today?
Rachel: It's difficult to comprehend that I have completely changed my life in just one year. I don't have to plan my day around not going to places because I was so overweight. ... [Talking to men] is a whole new thing. Sometimes I don't know how to deal with it I'm like an elementary school girl. I forget I'm not 400 pounds, so when a guy is checking me out or talking to me I'm like: Why in the world is he talking to me? And then I'm like: Oh, yeah.
Are you happy with the weight you're at right now?
Rachel: I'm around 200 pounds right now. I'd like to go maybe around 190, but other than that I am very happy with the way I look and the way I feel. I am in the best shape ever.
Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition premieres Monday at 10/9c on ABC.