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'Extreme Weight Loss' trainer weighed down by emotions

Written by: Cary Castagna, QMI Agency
Jan. 23, 2014

Chris Powell. (Supplied)


As the star of ABC’s highly rated reality TV show Extreme Weight Loss, Chris Powell helps morbidly obese clients shed mounds of excess pounds.

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But the Phoenix-based celebrity trainer — a self-styled “transformation specialist” — admits he came from the opposite end of the size spectrum.

“I was the tiniest kid in school growing up. Like, the tiniest,” he recalls in a phone interview with Keeping Fit.

“I was picked on as a kid. I remember I went out for the football team and just got crushed. Physically, I was crushed. But, of course, mentally and psychologically I was even more devastated.”

And then one fateful day in his sophomore year of high school, Powell came home to find a weight bench in the middle of the living room. His parents, he explains, had removed the furniture to make room for the bench and some weights.

So there was just a weight set and a TV set in the living room, he adds.

But Powell didn’t start pumping iron right away. He had to warm up to the idea.

It took a couple weeks before he finally decided to test out his new weight set.

When he did, Powell was instantly bitten by the proverbial iron bug.

“I found myself on that weight bench every day after school,” he remembers. “After just a couple short months, I started noticing a change in my body. I’d look in the mirror and I was like, ‘Whoa, where’s this coming from? I see muscles popping out.’ I was hooked from that point forward.”

Powell dove headlong into fitness, reading every bodybuilding magazine he could get his hands on, including favourites Flex and Muscle & Fitness.

His passion for fitness soon eclipsed his football ambition.

Powell never returned to the gridiron. Instead, he became his school’s go-to fitness guru.

“I was the kid in the weight room every single day after school basically coaching everybody else, teaching them how to increase their bench or run a faster 40,” he says.

Powell also got a job as a lifeguard in his senior year.

“I never went back to football. That’s something I’ve always regretted in that it was a challenge that I never overcame,” he adds.

“Even to this day, it’s haunted me. And that’s kind of why I challenge myself to do all kinds of things physically because I don’t have the opportunity to go back and play high school football.”

Powell went on to earn a degree in exercise science with concentrations in biomechanics and physiology, before garnering international attention for helping a client drop an amazing 401 pounds in 26 months, and then eventually landing a role on the TV show, originally known as Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.

The show is now in its fourth season.

These days, the 35-year-old married father of four follows a five-days-a-week workout regimen consisting of CrossFit and a variety of endurance activities such as rowing, cycling and running.

For Powell, an uber-fit 182 pounds at five-foot-nine, the first step to attaining any sort of fitness success — whether it’s gaining 25 pounds of muscle or losing 300 pounds of fat — is self-love.

“So many of us, we struggle with those feelings and thoughts of not being worthy of change,” he explains.

“And once we do realize that we are worth it, then we can really begin to embrace the process and honour ourselves the way we should and treat ourselves the way we should and love ourselves.”

That critical concept is explored deeper in his New York Times bestseller, Choose to Lose: The 7-Day Carb Cycle Solution, which has just been released in paperback.

Powell, a regular contributor to Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show, understands and appreciates the emotional ups and downs involved with physical transformation.

“Mind and emotion, that’s everything,” says the down-to-earth fitness star with an infectious zeal for healthy living. “That’s the driving force because if the mind and the heart aren’t in it, you’re never going to change in the first place and you’re never going to alter your behaviour.”

And therein lies one of Powell’s most crucial challenges as a transformation specialist — a challenge that varies from client to client.

“How can we get your mind and your heart so enrolled in this process that you do it willingly, that it’s not a painful process, that you don’t feel deprived or restricted, and that it’s something that you actually embrace and enjoy doing? If we can do that, then we’re talking about lifelong change and transformation.”

Visit chrispowell.com

 

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