This week’s episode of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition (EMWLE) was set up to be an emotional one by the previews – and it was. In this episode we meet Alex, a 23 year old who lost his mother to cancer when he was in high school. Alex’s mom’s last wish was that he gets healthy.
Chris Powell EMWLE’s trainer shows up and again uses the powerful words of “I choose you.” I really can’t emphasize how important this phrase is when talking to a morbidly obese person. Many have never been wanted for anything and have been the recipient of taunts and jokes for years. To be wanted or chosen by someone gives the participants of this show a glimmer of hope.
Alex tells us that he wants to make his mom proud, so much so that he has the phrase “Make mom proud today” on his phone. We also learn that although Alex loved playing baseball when he was young but stopped playing when he started getting too big out of fear that he would be made fun of.
After learning a little about Alex’s background Chris whisks him off to California to the California Institute for Health and Longevity for a checkup and a weigh in. We once again are introduced to the quickly becoming infamous freight scale that is used to weigh in on. They use a freight scale because they say they don’t have a scale that can register Alex because of his size. I’m guessing it is more for dramatic effect.
At the initial weigh in we find out that Alex weighs a whopping 459 pounds. Alex then heads to the nutritionist for a cooking lesson where he learns to make over his favorite burger and in the process save himself nearly 600 calories.
Now the fun begins. Chris moves in with Alex for 90 days. They set a 90-day goal of 100 pounds and if Alex hits the goal he will get season tickets to his favorite baseball team the Atlanta Braves. They go to work in Alex’s new home gym where the majority of his transformation will occur.
One of the things that I like about this trainer is that he had Alex run at his first workout. This may seem insignificant to some and others dispute whether having someone that big run is safe or not, but I know firsthand that learning that you can push yourself is a very liberating feeling during a weight loss journey. When Alex learned that he could run on the treadmill you could see a confidence in his approach to his workouts.
90 days later…. It’s time for the weigh in. With a 90-day goal of 100 pounds, Alex needed to weigh 359 pounds in order to earn his Braves tickets. I’ll save the drama of the fluctuating scale to tell you that he weighed 362. 3 freaking pound, he missed his goal by only 3 pounds! He had a good attitude about it and that is great. Although he missed his goal, he still got to go to a Braves game and meet the players, which was a big deal for him.
Alex is on his own for the next 90-days. Chris leaves him with a goal of 60 pounds or 5 pounds a week so Alex will need to weigh 302 at his next check in. In an interesting change of events from the last episode, Chris installs video cameras!
Now we, and Chris, get to see the struggles that Alex has. Alex falls into some old habits and really struggles. His dad is getting remarried so Alex feels that his dad is forgetting his mom. As a comfort, he starts playing his video games, which infuriates Chris. Alex also started missing weigh-ins, which wasn’t going to help his cause either.
At the 90 day weigh in they flashed side-by-side photos and the change in appearance was drastic. Unfortunately, the change on the scale wasn’t. Alex’s goal was to be 302 and he weighed in at 341. The little funk he went through really cost him on his way toward his goal.
As punishment, or reward depending on how you look at it, Chris enrolls Alex in the Army for 24 hours. First things first, Alex’s head is shaved. He’s not really happy about it, but it shows a willingness to change on his part. This part of the episode was really fun to watch because they threw him right in with the real soldiers. The cool thing was that he kept up in the physical training.
The last part of his day in the Army was conquering the Eagle Tower. Enter symbolism. Alex has to repel down a wall. While doing so, he slams into the wall multiple times but keeps on going and makes it down. The wall represents the mental wall that so many dieters face on their journey and the importance of keeping on.
Next up is the high rope bridge. Again as viewers we are reminded of the importance of having balance in our lives as well as staying focused on the journey. Alex makes it through both these obstacles and you can instantly see a change in his demeanor. He is more confident and excited.
One vision; one goal is the phrase the Army sends Alex home with. When he gets home he goes into “beast” mode. His next goal is 70 pounds and if he hits it he will get skin removal surgery. I can’t emphasize enough the change in Alex’s mindset after returning from his day at the Army.
At the third weigh in Alex blasts his goal. He needed to weigh 271 and he crushes it by coming in at 264. Alex lost 195 pounds in 9 months! He earned his skin removal surgery. I would have liked to see more about the surgery and recovery but I’m not a producer so I didn’t.
We come to the last weigh in and the transformation is that of Biggest Loser proportions. Alex weighs in for the final time at 243 pounds, a 216-pound swing. At the ceremony he is given a plaque remembering his mother and I have to admit I got a little tear. He had wanted to make his mom proud and he did it!
This episode wasn’t as emotional as a viewer that I thought it would be. It was exciting to see the change in Alex’s mind and also see how he learned that even though he had tragedy occur in his life he still needed to keep living. I feel like Alex has a real good shot at maintaining and being successful from here on out.
See you next week for a rundown of episode 3!
Matt Hoover was the winner of The Biggest Loser 2 where he lost 157 pounds, and found confidence, love, and a brighter perspective on life. After winning the show, Matt married cast-mate Suzy Hoover. Matt and Suzy continue to live a happy and healthy lifestyle with their two boys in Seattle.