What’s up everybody? Thanks so much for listening to the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. I am your host, Drew Manning.
Lynn: And I am your cohost, Lynn Manning.
Drew: Thank you guys so much for joining us today. Today we have such an awesome, amazing Podcast for you guys. We are interviewing the one and only Chris Powell today. We are super stoked for this episode and I think you guys will really enjoy it. Chris Powell is from the hit TV show on ABC, Extreme Weight Loss. In todays episode, we get into some very interesting topics with Chris. For example, I bet a lot of you guys didn’t know he was broke at one point in time and living out of his car before he became the host of this extremely successful TV show.
Lynn: Yeah, such a humble guy.
Drew: Exactly. So, we talk about his story, of how he went from broke and living out of his car to now all of a sudden they are on Season 5 of Extreme Weight Loss and they are already filming Season 6. We talk about how he went from rags to riches, almost. It’s an amazing story, you guys are going to love it. We actually also get into how he eats Cinnamon Toast Crunch, believe this or not, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and how he fits it into his current diet.
Drew: *laughing* If you guys remember my Fit2Fat2Fit journey, I was addicted to Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but that’s what caused me to gain weight. Now he’s doing this as he is prepping for a physique competition, which is really cool. We also talk about our first experience of when we first met, which is really funny. *laughing* And then we talk about Chris’s most embarrassing moment, along with a bunch of other stuff.
Lynn: A lot of good stuff. A lot of good stuff. Such a great guy.
Drew: A really great episode, you guys are going to love this episode. So let’s go hang out with Chris.
Drew: Aloha everybody. Welcome to the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience. Today we have an awesome guest. The one and only Chris Powell from Extreme Weight Loss. Now 99.9% of you guys already know who he is, but for the .1% that doesn’t know Chris, I will just introduce him really quick. Chris, is first of all, an awesome guy. He’s the father, first and foremost, of four beautiful children. He’s married to Heidi Powell. But most of you guys know him as the host of Extreme Weight Loss, which is on ABC. He’s a New York Times bestselling author of two books now, right?
Chris: Correct, two books and we got one on the way.
Drew: That’s awesome, congrats.
Chris: *laughing* Thank you.
Drew: No, thank you so much for taking the time to be a part of our Podcast today, Chris. We really appreciate you. We had the chance to interview Heidi, now we’re interviewing you and we couldn’t be more excited man, so thank you for being on.
Chris: Well absolutely and obviously thanks for having us. We’ve been long time friends now so, anytime you reach out to us and your like, ‘Hey we’ve got this going on’ and we are like, ‘Oh that’s so cool you guys are doing a Podcast now!’ So, we’ve been thrilled to do this so thank you for having us.
Drew: *laughing* Yeah, no problem man. We talked about with Heidi, you know, we felt like an instant connection and it’s rare that you find that with people, where you meet someone and you feel this instant connection with them. And that’s how we felt with you guys. Just to start things off, I have a really quick funny story to tell you about Chris, when I first met him. Which is going to kind of lead into our first question, and Chris will remember this as I’m talking about it. I first meet Chris in the hotel before I actually was a guest on the show. We were in the hotel, like the cafeteria area, and we’re eating and we’re chatting, you know. Things go well and then anyways, he’s got to go. I remember I went up to my room, came down the elevator and Chris is coming back on the elevator as I’m getting off and he has this plate of food in his hands and he looks at me and he’s like, ‘Oh man I knew I was going to run into you at this moment!’
Drew: The cafeteria food at the hotel wasn’t the healthiest and he has like ….. it was like potato salad and macaroni salad, baked beans. You know, nothing too unhealthy but, Chris was like ‘Oh of course I had to run into you at this moment!’ It’s what I love about you, your real. It’s not like you bring chicken and broccoli with you on the airplane when you travel. You have to eat, you have to adjust and eat real food when your out and about. But the question I have was, do you feel like there’s a lot of pressure when your out in public to eat a certain way since you’re the host of this TV show? Do you feel like, ‘Oh man, I really want that donut right now, but what if somebody recognizes me?’ Do you ever feel like there is that pressure?
Chris: Yeah, you know, to a certain extent, yes. And by the way, I will never forget that moment. *laughing*
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Chris: Because even when I was loading up on that macaroni salad and I think I even had like an oatmeal cookie on my plate, I thought, just watch, my luck, I’m going to step into that elevator with Drew. *laughing* And sure enough, as soon as that door opened, I was like, come on! What are the chances?!
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Chris: And then of course I had to throw out an excuse like, ‘Oh yeah, I hit heavy legs today, you know bro?!’ *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* That’s so funny, man!
Chris: And of course, as trainers we can totally get away with it. Or I can like throw out some kind of scientific jargon and be like, ‘Yeah, my glycogen stores were super low and so I just needed to super composite.’ *laughing* So normally I can sweet talk my way out of a situation like that. It’s funny because, to a certain extent as trainers and being in the public eye, and you understand this just as well as anybody, there is a certain amount of pressure to live that healthy lifestyle. Fortunately, and I know I can speak for you too because we have known each other for years, 80% of the time, we do. It’s funny because living this for a long time now, I know as far as like the amount of calories I’m eating every day, I know I’m getting 3100 calories. I know I’m getting 2700 calories. I know when I’m getting 35 grams of protein in a shake. I know when I am getting a cup of rice, I’m eating 42 grams of carbs. Subconsciously, I’m always doing math in my head.
Chris: So, it’s always there. Typically, I would say 80% of the time, most of my food choices are good. But it’s funny because, it’s always ironic, because typically when my food choices aren’t so good, I am usually in public. *laughing* And, that’s usually when somebody recognizes me and they want take a picture.
Drew: *laughing* Exactly, I know!
Lynn: *laughing* Your holding your donut and your like, ‘Sure…..’ *laughing*
Chris: It’s so ironic. *laughing*
Lynn: You know what though, I love that about you. Actually yesterday when we were interviewing your wife, she said, ‘You know Chris is the one that has the sweet tooth.’ I laughed because that’s always me. Anytime I’ve sent Drew to the store and I ask him, ‘Can you pick up some ice cream or can you pick up donuts?’ He’s like, ‘No, what if someone sees me, what if someone recognizes me?’
Drew: *laughing* Yeah, I’m always worried.
Chris: Totally! *laughing* But you know what, especially for us, we’ve learned really cool tricks of the trade to actually make it count. My weakness right now, I go in stages, so I just came off this huge cereal phase. And I’m not talking All Bran, we’re talking ….
Drew: *laughing* Cinnamon Toast Crunch?! Cinnamon Toast Crunch?
Chris: Wait, we even have a name for it. We call it the ‘CTT’ in our house. Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cocoa Krispies, Golden Grahams.
Lynn: *laughing* Ohhhh …. the good stuff.
Chris: I came off this huge cereal kick and now I’m on to those Cookies and Cream milkshakes from Chick-Fil-A. It’s real ice cream by the way.
Lynn: Oh, you know what? Their peach from Chick-Fil-A is to die for.
Drew: You guys are making me hungry now, you guys are making me hungry. *laughing*
Chris: *laughing* But keep in mind, before I indulge in something like that, number one, I’m going to make sure I am going to hit like a really good body part that I want to focus on growing. But before I’m going to indulge in a milkshake or I’m going to have a couple of bowls of cereal, well I am going to hit my legs hard. Or I am going to focus on my shoulders or I’m going to be hitting all the muscle parts of my body. And then of course, right before I am going to indulge in cereal or ice cream or whatever other junk food that I want, I am going to push a bunch of protein in there so that I know that I am going to get maximum growth. Basically, it’s like, it’s strategically eating junk food so I can get what I want, but it’s also benefiting me in the long run.
Drew: Yeah. *laughing*
Chris: It’s really cool, it’s cool when you know the science of it because now we can constantly manipulate it and get what we want and get closer to our goals. You can eat that stuff without derailing yourself.
Lynn: Yeah. I love that.
Drew: Yeah. It just comes …. it’s a knowledge thing. People have to understand that there is a place for it and this is how you use it to your advantage. ‘Hey Chris eats CTT, I can eat it too, it works for him!’ But you’ve got to know how to eat it and when to eat it, right?
Chris: That’s just it. It’s almost like …. and when you know better, you almost feel like your cheating the system. But at the same time, you use it to your advantage and you can actually use it to benefit you.
Lynn: Yeah, and I love that. And like Chris said, I think a big key of it is people. Because people sometimes will get on my case. Like, ‘It seems like your eating a lot of junk.’ And it’s funny you said that because I can totally justify it too and a lot of times I’ll be like, ‘Hey, I’m eating this donut post legs.’ And actually having that glycogen push right back into my muscles is actually going to help with the recovery. Like you said, I pair that with a protein to also make sure I don’t spike my insulin levels too much. So it’s like, you can strategically eat. But the big key here, is like Chris said, he eats healthy 75-80% of the time.
Lynn: It’s not like he’s eating it every day all day long.
Drew: Yeah, exactly. So Chris, kind of shifting gears here. I had a lot of people submit questions on Facebook. The number one thing people wanted to know is who was Chris Powell before Extreme Weight Loss? Like people want to get to know who you were, your story which led up to Extreme Weight Loss and your struggles back then. What you went through to become this …. everyone knows you now, the host of Extreme Weight Loss. But who were you before?
Chris: Oh wow, sure. How long do we have?
Drew: *laughing* Six hours, we have a six hour time limit. I’m just kidding. *laughing*
Chris: It’s a long story. Just to kind of fill everyone in on a little bit of backstory, believe it or not, I never thought I was going to be a trainer. Training was something that I loved for myself, it empowered me. It’s what made me feel good about myself, especially when I was growing up, because I was the tiniest kid in school. I remember I was picked on a lot and when I was 14, my parents actually got me my very first weight set. I came home from school one day and they could tell it was really starting to wear on me. It was kind of breaking my spirit. I came home from school one day and all the furniture in the living room was cleared out and there was a weight set in the middle of the living room floor. I didn’t know what to do with it for the first couple of weeks, so I just started messing around on the thing. After a month, I was hooked. Because I started to see and feel differences in my body. I started to notice I was getting stronger. Before I knew it, even though I was still the smallest kid in school, I was the strongest and so that’s what really started my passion. To back up a little bit, my dad was always my hero. He was a fighter pilot in the military growing up and then he went into the airlines. So he was an airline pilot, that’s what I wanted to do.
Drew: Wow, I didn’t know that. That’s cool.
Chris: I have a secret passion for airplanes. I could name every airplane you could ever possibly imagine. I know all the stats on them.
Lynn: Oh my gosh. Chris, I just fell in love with you, no offense Heidi. I mean Chris, I used to fly a Cessna 152, no joke.
Chris: *laughing* Oh no way! So cool!
Drew: *laughing* Yeah.
Lynn: Ok, we’re back to you, sorry.
Chris: Oh that’s awesome. I got my private pilot’s license on a Cessna 152. Yeah, actually the first plane I ever flew, that was a Taylorcraft. I don’t know if you know those very well, but they’re old cloth. They are made of wooden cloth, it’s an old Taylorcraft. I ended up getting my private pilots license when I was 17 years old. It was actually a really fun way to ask my date to the prom. I took her flying and of course …. had my buddies toilet paper a field and drew out the saying, ‘Will you go to prom with me.’ So of course, I was the man in high school for that. That was fun.
Drew: *laughing* Oh my gosh!
Chris: So I got my private when I was 17 and believe it or not, in college, that’s actually how I made my money. Even though I was studying exercise science because of my own personal passion, I was actually a flight instructor in college. So I went and got my instrument rating, commercial rating, multi-engine rating. I was a multi-engine flight instructor, building hours to go to the airlines, when I was in college. And so, gosh I’ve got almost over 1200 hours flying now. And believe it or not, I actually had an airline interview on September 13, 2001.
Lynn and Drew: Whoa ….
Chris: My suit was being tailored when my girlfriend at the time called me up and she said, ‘Hey, turn on the TV, your not going to believe this.’ And obviously I saw everything that happened. First thing I thought of is, my dad’s on a trip. I freaked out because I was thinking, was one of those airplanes …. was it Northwest. Actually I think …. yeah, he was Northwest at the time, then they were bought by Delta. So I was freaking out because I knew he was on the east coast and I knew he was flying. My heart sank when everything happened. I just thought, there’s going to be so many long term ramifications in so many ways. Obviously, it just …. the consequences were just so profound. For so many people in so many different professions and sure enough, obviously the airline industry really suffered after that. With flyers and furloughs, there is no way I could have got a job after that. After September 11th, on September 12th, 2001, I made the decision. I said you know what, I don’t think flying is the direction I am going to go. I love training, this is my passion, this is what I love to do. I walked right into the local gym, I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got a degree in exercise science. It’s my passion, I would love to be a trainer here.’ They gave me a job.
Drew: Wow. *laughing*
Chris: It was a crazy kind of twist and turn of events. Sure enough, that’s when it all started, and within a couple of months. Training has been a passion for me and obviously, when I am excited about something, I can’t be quiet about it. Clearly I talk a lot. I was that trainer in the gym who was always excited. When my client would demonstrate proper form, I’d get all fired up. So sure enough, within a couple of months, I just had a full roster. I had a waiting list.
Drew: Oh wow.
Chris: Which was awesome and I was doing what I loved. The days were flying by and I started thinking about how I could grow my business and how I could take this to another level. Here in Arizona there are some awesome morning news shows and so, I actually …. a buddy of mine, he worked over at KTVK, which is news channel 3. He said, ‘You should come in sometime and check it out.’ So I walked in there, I said, ‘Hey, who is one of the producers here for the news segments?’ They pointed me over to this one ladies desk, they said, ‘Oh, go talk to her.’ So I walked over there, I said ‘Hi, my names Chris. I have a degree in exercise science. I love training. I’ve got a few ideas that I would love to do for a news segment. Would you give me a shot?’ And she’s like, ‘Well gosh, nobody ever asks me that. Yeah, do you want to do something Monday?’ And it was so wild because so many people they watch TV and they listen to the radio and they are like, ‘Oh, I could never do that.’ Seriously, these producers are always looking for new ideas, all you’ve got to do is ask. I literally just walked in and asked if I could do a spot on the morning news, and they were like, ‘Well yeah, no one ever asks.’
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Drew: That’s awesome.
Chris: I went that Monday, ended up doing a gig on Good Morning Arizona and it did well. A couple Monday’s later, I did another one and before you know it, I’m doing a regular spot as the Fitness Guy on Good Morning Arizona.
Drew: Yeah. And you weren’t getting paid for this? This was all just for free, yeah?
Chris: Yeah, yeah, this is just passion. This is just having fun and getting out there and talking to the residents of Arizona about stuff that I love. At first it was funny, because it was all very scientific. It was like, how to increase your bench press, and how to run a faster 40. And then she pulls me aside and she’s like, ‘Hey, everybody wants to know about weight loss. So the more you can talk about weight loss, the more people are going to watch.’ So we started doing a lot more weight loss segments and then something really interesting and really cool started happening. A lot of people started writing in that were 400, 500 and 600 pounds and I realized that there is a subculture of people out there that are super obese, but they pride themselves on being invisible. They’re here and they have a voice and they want help, but we don’t know about them because they are hidden in their homes. So, I started doing more segments geared toward large weight loss. And even though I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with it myself, I just kind of banked on my education. I got an email from this one gentleman, this is June 2003. He wrote in and he was just a year older than I was and he said he was 635 pounds. The doctor had just left his basement, because he hadn’t left his house in two years. He told him he wasn’t going to live another couple of years. He was scared to die. That email, it haunted me for a good week, week and a half. I thought about it and then I emailed him back. I just said, ‘Hey, I just want to meet you.’ So this is the summer of 2003, I just went over to his house one day. I sat down and we talked for 15-30 minutes.
And I said, ‘Look, I have no idea where this is going to go, but I’ll see you on Tuesday.’ I showed up every other day for two years and he ended up losing 400 pounds.
Drew: That’s crazy.
Chris: Drew, it was wild. And through that process, it opened my eyes to a whole new world of transformation. It was so scientific at first. I didn’t realize that there were emotionally all these other things that I was satisfying and fulfilling for him emotionally. I was his friend. I was his confidant. I was his accountability. It was such an amazing experience of transformation, not just for him, but for me. It opened my eyes to just a whole new world of fulfilling. A feeling of being fulfilled. So, after those two years, I actually spent another two years rounding up some of my doctor friends and getting him surgeries, eyes, teeth, everything. Helping him complete his transformation. He ended up posting his before and after pictures on a social media site, some of us might know, I’m about to date myself here, called Myspace.
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Chris: Good old Myspace back in the day. Sure enough, some websites found his before and after pictures and they were just so profound that it went viral. So within a couple of weeks, producers from The View and 20/20, and Oprah and The Doctors, they reached out to us. They said, ‘Hey, come on our show, we want to talk about this amazing journey.’ We ended up doing that, this was all over the course of, gosh, another six months, so like two years for his transformation, two years for all of his surgeries and then probably a year of this crazy media whirlwind. Then TLC contacted us. They wanted to shoot a documentary on his transformation. All of this stuff happened before Extreme Weight Loss came about. In the meantime, as a trainer I would continue training and I was trying to develop this nutrition system that I was so passionate about. I made some really bad investments and I ended up losing all of my money.
Chris: I’m a good trainer but I am a terrible businessman, I’ll tell you that. I screwed way up. It’s so funny because you know, everyone knows that trainers can’t count, right? So, when it comes to money and business, I can take a business and run in into the ground real fast.
Drew: Ok, interesting.
Chris: But I can help people transform. *laughing* I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses now. So I ran a business into the ground, lost everything. It’s crazy because here I am on TV, known for helping this gentleman change his life. I was running these amazing group chats with all these super obese individuals and we’re creating transformation. But in the meantime, financially I was broke. I lost everything. I actually ended up living out of my car for six months. Believe it or not, when I was living out of my car for almost five months, that’s when David, my buddy who I helped transform, his family said, ‘Hey, come over here and sleep on our couch until you get back on your feet.’
Lynn and Drew: Wow.
Chris: So, I actually slept on his couch for three months, while I slowly got back on my feet and started earning some money again. And when I started making some money, I started renting a house. David, my buddy who I helped transform, who lost the 400 pounds, moved in with me and we lived together for two years. Actually, when I got back on my feet, just two months after I got back on my feet and when I started renting this house, is when I went to a self improvement seminar to try to just figure myself out. To try to figure out what went wrong, how I can improve and that’s actually where I met my lovely wife, Heidi.
Lynn: And isn’t that where you asked her something like, ‘Hey, nice arms. What do you do to work out?’ *laughing*
Chris: Yeah! *laughing* That’s when I dropped the cheesiest pick up line on her and clearly it worked.
Lynn: Yes, it did! *laughing*
Drew: Yeah. *laughing*
Chris: From that moment, the TLC documentary that we ended up shooting, that aired. And when it aired, it became this really popular documentary on TLC, like the most viewed documentary on TLC like in years.
Lynn and Drew: Wow.
Chris: We did another media tour and after the media tour, a production company from Los Angeles, they actually produced the show The Biggest Loser that was on air for a few years at the time, they reached out. They said, ‘Hey, it’s awesome that your doing these transformations, we’d like to talk to you.’ Sure enough, I grabbed my girlfriend at the time, who was Heidi, and we drove out to Los Angeles. We sat there with the creative team, in front of the whiteboard and we helped them create the concept of what we wanted the transformations to be on television. We told them right off the bat, we said, ‘Hey, when it comes to transformation, we need time. We need a full year.’ And they said, ‘Oh, that’s never going to happen.’ We created the concept and they said they would pitch it and see where it goes. Phones went dead for gosh, a couple of months. Never heard anything after that, we thought, it was a nice try, we pitched the show, you know, there’s no traction. One day we get a phone call from the CEO of the production company, and he’s like, ‘Dude, we just sold your show.’
Drew: At what point in time was it? How far after you pitched it did it happen though?
Chris: About two months.
Drew: Ok, so two months, yeah. That’s so cool.
Lynn: Very cool.
Chris: And I was like, ‘So, who bought it?’ I was thinking, you know, it’s probably someone like a cable network. Which obviously, that’s brilliant, if anybody picks up your show, that’s like a major win. And he’s like, ‘No, ABC the network bought it.’
Drew: *laughing* What does that mean, yeah? Exactly.
Chris: So, yeah, I was like, ‘What does that mean?’ Exactly. And then my next question was actually, ‘So, who’s the guy?’ Because we were developing the show for a celebrity trainer to be the face of it. There was like a pause and he’s like, ‘Well, you’re the guy.’
Drew: Yeah! *laughing*
Lynn: Wow. *laughing*
Chris: I go, ‘Whoa, what does that mean?’ He goes, ‘Yeah, pack your bags. Your hitting the road in five weeks.’
Drew: Whoa man.
Chris: And here we are five years later. Sorry for the long story.
Drew: No, thank you so much.
Lynn: I love the long story.
Drew: I think that’s what people want to know, is like how did it come about, like what’s the backstory. Because, so many people love the show. Here we are season five, super successful show. Season six is already filming, or already being cast?
Chris: Yeah, we are underway.
Drew: It’s awesome for people to kind of see where you came from. We could go on for hours about the struggles you went through and you losing all your money. We could go into all of that, but just so people know, like you were living out of your car at one point in time and then here you are now, super successful. I think that’s motivational for people to hear that story.
Lynn: Yeah and I also think that it actually sheds a huge light on a lot of things. We know because we met you and were able to see how genuine you and Heidi are. But a lot of people, I see the comments on Facebook or Instagram, about how you guys seem so genuine and considerate and loving and concerning and how you are with your clients. I think a lot of that stems from because of your guys background, you know the experiences you guys went through. The fact that you had lost everything and you had been down and coming back from that. I think that’s why you can relate so well to your clients and to everybody else.
Chris: Well absolutely. And thank you for the kind words. I really appreciate it. For the longest time, and I will be totally honest, especially when I was losing everything and when I was living out of my car, it was without a doubt something I had to go through. It’s one of the biggest blessings in my life and one of the biggest struggles. I was bitter when I lost everything. I was really bitter. I was bitter with the world. I will be honest, I was bitter with God. I was like, ‘I’m trying to do good in this world. I’m trying to create something that’s going to help a lot of people. Why are you doing this to me? Why me? I’m trying to help.’ And I didn’t realize it, but they were all lessons that I needed to learn. And I will be totally honest, there was a lot of ego involved. Yes, I wanted to do good but at the same time, it was like I wanted to be recognized for it. It was more about me and even through my intentions, it was still about me. I had to let that go and be like, ‘I’m going to ask for help now.’ It’s funny, I was already on TV and I was already known for helping David go through his transformation, so I was still trying to be that guy who’s got it all. Like, ‘Oh yeah, he’s got everything taken care of and yeah, he’s coming up and he’s doing great.’ So everything needed to be taken away from me, because I wasn’t doing great. I was struggling and I had so much ego in the way and I was trying to be something I wasn’t. It was the most necessary thing in the world and especially for me to just reach out and ask for help. And the people I asked for help, were the people I helped. And they extended grace to me and that changed everything for me. It was the most humbling thing I could have ever experienced in my life and it gave me a whole new sense of appreciation for the blessings that I have now and the opportunities I have now. This opportunity, what we are doing on the show is amazing and it won’t be here forever. So, I’m appreciating every second of it, every moment of it and we’re going to try to do as much good as we possibly can in this time that we have.
Lynn: Yeah, and you know I just, man, I really do see like such a huge connection though. I love hearing about you changing your life and then seeing you do that and facilitate that in your TV show. Now, keeping that in mind, what would you say is one of the biggest pieces of advice that you give to your contestants or to your community in general on what you can do to change your life or change your circumstances?
Chris: I think the biggest piece of advice I could give to anybody is, I’m going to go back to the biggest thing that changed my life, and that is finally being vulnerable. Finally accepting the reality of the situation. When you finally take it for what it is, a lot of times it can be a little bit painful, the reality of the situation. But at the same time, it’s in that moment when you can accept it for what it is, that’s the moment that your pliable. Your open for growth and you can finally change and make your life better. A lot of times, when I say vulnerable, most people think, ‘Oh well vulnerable, that’s weakness.’ No, it’s not, that’s not weakness at all. Vulnerability really is the greatest marker of courage. How often have you sat there listening to somebody talk about some of the struggles they’ve been through like, ‘Oh, I’m an addict. Or I went through this struggle. I lost everything financially, and then I was able to overcome it.’ When people say that, I mean rarely do you ever think, ‘Oh, your a loser.’ No, it’s like wow. Because we are all human. Were all totally perfectly imperfect. When someone is vulnerable, it creates that much more of a connection with everybody else around them. If you try to pretend like everything is perfect all the time and you’re what we call the “pretendo” all the time. You are always putting on that face for everybody else, there is no connection there. There’s no growth, there’s no …. I’m trying to think of the word Steven Covey uses …. there is no ability to actually work with other people together as a team to get you to where you want to go. What we’re looking for, when people are looking to change their lives, and when Heidi and I are actually looking for the perfect candidates for change, it’s those individuals that are vulnerable. It’s the ones that come to us …. especially in like the first couple of weeks when we are working with them. It’s funny because a lot of people will try to pretend like they are going to be like our perfect transformation. ‘I want to do everything perfectly, I want to do everything right.’ What we look for is the individual that comes to us after a few days and says, ‘Hey, I struggled last night and ended up eating a whole pizza.’ And they are in tears and they are open and they are vulnerable and we go, ‘Wow, now that took courage.’
Lynn and Drew: Wow, yeah.
Chris: Because most of these individuals they think that’s it. My chance of actually getting this change, this life changing transformation is over. But they are being open and honest and real and that’s the courage that it takes to truly transform. Vulnerability is not easy, in fact it is the most difficult step of transformation, of being open and honest and real and raw. It’s also the most freeing thing for all of us. Because we all have this ego that’s protecting us that wants to look good for everybody else. When we can get that out of the way, we can truly be self expressed and we can free ourselves from whatever is holding us back. We can totally change our lives forever. So that is my advice and that’s my challenge to everybody out there is to totally be open, honest, real and vulnerable. Watch and see, it wont just change your life, but it will also change the lives of other people around you. Just watch, because when your vulnerable with other people, the most common answer that your going to hear from other people around you, when you open up about your struggles and where you feel like you may be slipping or where you may have gone wrong in life, everyone else around you is going to go, ‘Oh, me too. Me too. Oh, me too.’ And then you realize that you are not alone. You are not alone.
Drew: That’s huge man. And I’ve had to learn that the hard way, to be honest with you. Like being vulnerable, there is strength that comes with that. Whereas before, I looked at it as a weakness and trying to be perfect on the outside my whole entire life. It is so freeing when you finally do get the courage to be vulnerable. I think that’s super powerful for everybody to hear. It has nothing to do with weight loss, per se, it has to do with like everything in your life in general. From other struggles or addictions, things like that, but it can help with weight loss as well.
Chris: I got to tell you, one of the most amazing applications of vulnerability I’ve ever had is with my wife. I mean how many times, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been in a crazy argument and really all I’m trying to do is be right. It’s a power struggle. I’m guilty. I’m totally guilty. Until I finally take a couple of steps back, I see it for what it is and I’m realizing, I’m being a jerk right now. This is all about power and I’m just trying to enforce me being right over her. The moment that I’m actually vulnerable and tell her that, I’ll be like, ‘Wow babe, I’m so sorry. This has totally been a power struggle on my part. I want to be vulnerable right now and I’m just going to tell you exactly how I truly feel.’ Then all of a sudden, she opens up and our communication, it goes to a whole new level. But when that happens, our relationship goes to a whole new level as well.
Chris: There is so much application for this and yeah, your spot on Drew. It’s not about weight loss, it’s about life.
Lynn: Yeah, I love that.
Drew: It’s so true, man. Thank you for sharing that, man. That’s what I love about you and Heidi, being so open and talking about struggles that you guys have. Kind of going back to the show, Extreme Weight Loss, there are so many success stories that happened from the TV show. My question for you, and you can even maybe talk about David as well, what do you think the number one struggle for people is after the show. Once the camera’s are gone, once the lights are gone, once the fame and all that glory is gone, what do you think people struggle with the most once their episode is over?
Chris: I think it’s accountability, without a doubt. I am going to talk about ego again here, and when I say ego, there’s always a negative contestation with ego, and I don’t want there to be in this conversation here. Because ego is something we all have. It’s that driving force that always makes us want to look good in front of other people. Ego is one of the most powerful tools that we actually have in the transformations that we do on the show. You have these individuals, they’re going through this incredibly difficult journey of change. It takes a ton of courage, but such a huge driving force also is …. and it adds this amazing level of accountability, is the fact that at the end of the year, their story will be told no matter what. They get to make the end of their story. We tell them all of this the very first day. You write the end of your story. And whether your story is me walking you into a rehabilitation facility or you not getting surgery, or me raising your arms over your head, because you hit your goal, you write the end of it. Nobody wants to look bad, we are human. The major driving force is, we are all humans and we want to be loved and we want that connection. We want to be desired by everybody. It is such a powerful force for all these individuals. Because every single one of those cast members, they want to look good at the end. That’s what keeps them accountable on a huge level, because it’s not like answering to their family and friends. No, they are answering to 400 million American’s, right?
Drew: *laughing* Yeah, right.
Chris: And not just Americans, but in 148 countries worldwide, their show is going to be aired. So there is a lot of pressure then. Unbeknownst to them, it’s that constant driving force that is under the surface. They don’t always talk about it all the time, but it’s always there. And then all of a sudden, the cameras go away and their at their goal. And what’s funny is, the whole time they were losing weight, there’s these amazing payoffs. I mean every time they would run into someone who hasn’t seen them, they were like, ‘Oh my gosh, you look so good.’ And they were sacrificing an emotional need they had for food, but at the same time with that sacrifice, every week they step on the scale, they are getting a pay off. The scale is going down three pounds, or it’s going down five pounds. Everyone is telling them how good they look. Now all of a sudden not only do the cameras go away, but every time they step on the scale, it says the same thing. There is no more pay off on the scale.
Chris: And it’s not like people are coming up to them like, ‘Oh dude, you’re killing it in maintenance!’
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Drew: That’s so true.
Chris: Nobody says that, right?
Lynn: I’m going to start saying that now. I’m going to start saying that. *laughing*
Chris: Totally. You know what, though? Do you know how far that would go for individuals who have actually gone through the journey? They need to hear that because they are still sacrificing. They’re still sacrificing that …. addiction that they had. If they haven’t found another purpose and they are not training for something, or they are not moving towards something, they are finding themselves in a very dangerous situation. Because they are seeking a reward, we are human. And it’s exactly what we need, we need a pay off on something. Obviously, right after that, Heidi and I were always asking people, ‘What’s the next thing your going to do? What’s your next goal?’ You always have to keep setting those goals or you will find yourself neck deep back in your addiction. And a handful of them do, they really struggle with that. That’s the biggest thing, is a lot of our individuals …. their biggest struggle when it’s all said and done is that they don’t continue goal setting. As much as Heidi and I try to hammer it in to them, if they don’t set those goals …. a lot of them they might set one goal because Heidi and I will pressure them to. But if they don’t continue to set goals, and they don’t continue to move towards something and train for something to get that reward, they will find themselves basically backsliding back into their addiction.
Drew: Yeah. I plan on having on people like Bruce Pitcher, who is a perfect example of staying accountable after the show, and kind of picking his brain to help people with maintaining once they’ve reached their goal. Like ok, ‘How do you live this lifestyle afterwards? Because for so many years or decades you’ve lived this way. Now all of a sudden your at your goal, now what?’ And Bruce is a great person to have on and that’s a perfect example. I plan on having a bunch of people from the show on. Kind of shifting gears here again Chris, we’re running out of time. I have to ask every guest this question on the show because I want to tie in my Fit2Fat2Fit Experience and what I learned from it. But first off, let me ask you, have you ever been overweight in your life?
Chris: No, you know what, I’ve never been overweight. I’ve always been on the opposite end of the spectrum. I’ve always been underweight.
Drew: Ok, I can relate to that, for sure. Would you ever do a Fit2Fat2Fit Experience? *laughing*
Drew: I have to ask man, I have to ask.
Chris: Absolutely not! *laughing* I tell you what, kudos to you for actually going through that process and I’m sure …. it created such a profound awareness for you for what the journey really is like, not physically but emotionally, because I couldn’t. I really couldn’t imagine, you know. It’s just, even in helping our own people through their own weight loss journey, it is so daunting. It is a struggle and it takes a lot of courage to create change. But granted obviously, you see them as they are going through the process and as they make it. As they continue on the journey, it gets easier and easier. I must say, Drew, what you did, gaining all that weight and then turning around and losing it, it really is impressive what you were able to put yourself through. Once again, not just physically but emotionally and mentally. It’s a heck of a struggle. And I know, I’m not sure if you can even talk about this, but I know some of the other coaches and trainers that have recently been going through the processes that you went through on the show that’s going to be coming out here pretty soon, boy. Just hearing some of their stories, because I know a handful of them personally, I know it was quite the struggle for them and honestly, I don’t know if I could handle it. I don’t know if I could.
Drew: Yeah, and not a super serious question. I just like to ask each guest on the show if they have ever been overweight or if they would do this Fit2Fat2Fit experience.
Lynn: And you answered no just as quickly as your wife. *laughing*
Drew: Yeah, you answered just like Heidi. *laughing* Of course not. But anyways, for me, I learned a lot from it and I don’t think every trainer needs to go through it to gain a better understanding. But for me, it was something I needed to go through. I think a lot of people can understand, can gain a better understanding seeing it from someone else’s perspective and for walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Or even if it’s just a quarter of a mile. Ok, let’s say you did do this, Chris. What foods would you eat for six months? *laughing* What would be your diet?
Chris: *laughing* Yeah well, I think we’ve addressed a couple of these I would eat around the house.
Chris: Yeah, a lot of CTT, probably some Cocoa Krispies, some Golden Grahams. I would eat a ton of breakfast cereal and I wouldn’t use Almond Milk, I would use Whole Milk for sure.
Lynn: Maybe even cream, just pour cream in there.
Drew: Cream straight from the cow.
Chris: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. And then of course, I’m a milkshake kind of guy, so I’d put down a ton of cookies and cream milkshakes. I would eat so many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches it would be ridiculous.
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Chris: Because I love them and gosh, what else? I love me some good old fashioned bacon and eggs, I would go big there. Just all the good old fashioned stuff, pizza every once in a while, I would definitely do that. Oh, fried chicken! I love fried chicken.
Drew: *laughing* Ok, you’re making me hungry now Chris. *laughing*
Chris: I am going down a slippery slope here! *laughing*
Lynn: *laughing* What’s funny is that, your answer would be like my answer. I would be like, ‘Well this …. and this ….’ Your wife was like, ‘Um, maybe donuts or something.’
Drew: *laughing* Yeah, and Chris is like, 30 minutes later still going ….
Chris: That’s the thing, because every food I come up with, I’m like ‘Oh wait a second, that sounds good too.’
Lynn: I’m wrapping it up with the same way, I don’t know if Heidi told you, I’m hoping she didn’t. I’m wrapping it up the same way, this is where I ask you several random fun questions, that literally have no rhyme or reason, that you are completely unprepared for. You have to answer them as quickly as possible and as fast as possible.
Chris: Ok, so this is going to be some hard hitting journalism, right?
Lynn: Yes. Are you ready?
Chris: I’m ready, go ahead.
Lynn: Ok, favorite dessert?
Chris: All I can think of is fried chicken right now!
Lynn: Ok, favorite dessert, fried chicken. Next, your biggest pet peeve about Heidi?
Chris: She’s got an obsession with Starbucks and we go three times a day. It drives me nuts.
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Lynn: Ok, your most embarrassing moment?
Chris: All I can think of is I was deadlifting in the gym the other day and there was a bunch of people around and I farted and it was really loud. *laughing*
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Lynn: Oh I love it. *laughing*
Chris: True story. *laughing* Drew, I know you can appreciate that because when your lifting heavy you can’t control it.
Drew: *laughing* You can’t, you can’t man. When your deadlifting 600 pounds, it’s ridiculous.
Lynn: *laughing* Ok, your favorite CrossFit Wod and why? Drew obviously has one.
Drew: Girl Wods
Chris: Cindy, because I am good at it. I can grind through Cindy like none other. Real quick, I am dying to know Drew’s. Drew, what’s yours?
Drew: Whats mine? I don’t know if I have a favorite to be honest with you because they are all hell. *laughing* Mine is, you know what, I’m not really good at the names of them. What’s the one that is, it’s push ups, pull ups, body squats?
Chris: Oh that’s Cindy.
Drew: Cindy? Oh, yeah, ok that’s mine too dude!
Lynn: Oh my gosh, you guys are twiners.
Drew: I’m like 20, I can’t remember if I did 23 rounds or 25 rounds.
Chris: Wow, that’s awesome.
Lynn: Ok, two more. Last two most important questions. Would you ever switch over to the Nike Metcom shoe.
Chris: Oh no! No, I’m Rebok all the way.
Drew: Rebok is listening. *laughing* I had some of my CrossFit buddies tell me to ask you that.
Lynn: Ok, any plans for another tattoo?
Chris: Absolutely. I want to get a Phoenix. I need to get a Phoenix. It’s part of my journey and I’ve been talking about it for years. And it’s funny because I wanted to cover my back and Heidi is like cringing every time I talk about it.
Lynn and Drew: *laughing*
Drew: You need to get a beard and a Phoenix tattoo and Heidi …. it would drive her crazy.
Lynn: *laughing* You survived the gauntlet of random questions at the end.
Drew: Yeah, thank you so much Chris. We really appreciate your time, man.
Chris: Oh guys, you are the best.
Drew: Where can …. where do you want me to send people?
Lynn: To find out more about you guys?
Chris: Just send them to my website. ChrisPowell.com or they can always follow us on any of our social media handles @realchrispowell.
Extreme Weight Loss
Chris Powell, from the hit TV show Extreme Weight Loss, joins us this episode to talk about his life and how he went from broke and living out of his car to a successful TV show and career. He openly admits to his hard times and shares how being in a bitter place helped transform him into a better person. He shares how finally embracing vulnerability made him pliable and allowed him to change and grow, as well as how vulnerability is truly the greatest marker of courage.
“What We Learned”
Weight loss isn’t just physical, it’s emotional and mental as well.
Losing everything was one of the greatest blessings in Chris’s life.
The biggest piece of advise Chris gives to others is to be vulnerable. Being open, honest and real encompasses the courage it takes to truly transform your life.
The biggest struggle people have after a big weight loss is accountability.
Setting goals is important during, as well as after weight loss. Once you hit your goal, it is important to continue to set goals or you will find yourself backsliding into your addiction.
“How To Take Action”
Learn to be vulnerable and live authentically. Read books on vulnerability and self love.
Find someone to be accountable to on your journey, whether it is a friend, family or trainer.
Set goals. Setting several small goals will help encourage you to continue and reach your bigger goals over time.
Find a purpose. If you’ve reached your goals, help encourage others to complete theirs, become their accountability and training partner.
Train for something. Sign up for races or marathons to keep yourself in shape and training.