ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss star Chris Powell is many things: father, husband, author, coach, physiologist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and an inspiration. What doesn’t he do?
“I don’t care about weight,” said Powell. “I care about getting people to love themselves.”
That’s what his 365-day transformations are all about. Powell educates others on what is happening to their bodies, helping them achieve total body and lifestyle transformations. During the transformation, people learn to trust their own judgment by making promises to themselves and, in keeping those promises, they become self-reliant, discovering the hidden path of transformation, which frequently results in extreme weight loss as part of the overall lifestyle change.
“I always lay it all out for clients before it even happens,” he said. “Once we are in the exercise, I become a cheerleader. When you tell someone whats going to happen ahead of time, and then they actually experience it, it builds a whole new level of trust.”
Powell’s dedication to fitness and health began when he was 14 after an unsuccessful football tryout and a crushed spirit, his parents provided him with a way to remedy his problem.
“I was the tiniest kid in school. When I would come home, I was so down and defeated,” Powell explained. “My parents saw that. They cleared out the living room furniture and put a weight set in the middle of the room.”
After using the weight bench as a couch for the first few weeks, Powell decided to make a commitment to himself to get stronger. After a month, as strength continued to build, he began to feel powerful. Today, he strives to translate that feeling into his transformation program.
“The power is within the promise people make to themselves. Put all of your energy into yourself, not the treadmill. It has nothing to do with the treadmill it’s all about the promise. People will always do an extra five seconds because they are worth it. When a person gives their word, they will fight to keep it and aggressively defend it,” said Powell.
Powell works with people from all walks of life who share the same problem: a negative relationship with food. Food addiction is a serious problem among the obese. Powell and his team, which includes fellow trainer and wife Heidi, work with experts who pull brain scans of food addicts to show the relationship between enormous weight gain and food. For food addicts, simply smelling a trigger food can release chemical responses in the brain similar to the high of a narcotics addict.
“We really do consider what we do rehabilitation,” Powell said. “So what we do is essentially trade addictions. We take food away; they go through withdrawals. We get them training and exercising a lot, and they get hooked on stepping on the scale or receiving compliments from others.”
While compliments don’t last forever, attitude changes can.
“Even though the transformation process takes people in a better direction health-wise, they still have to be cognizant of what is happening, because when they transition to maintenance and the scale starts to show the same number, the compliments die down,” he said. “In the process of the rehab, we talk about that, and about transferring your addictions.”
In order to lose weight our bodies need the right combination of proteins, carbs and healthy fats. Powell’s techniques use a combination of carb cycling (an eating plan in which carbs are restricted, then unrestricted, at daily intervals to increase metabolism), mental exercises and physical exercises to jump-start his clients into the newly transformed life of which they have always dreamed. One of the things that Powell stresses the most is the hidden path of transformation: a path that is always there, but remains hidden by diet and exercise.
“People are so busy looking at diet and exercise, thinking that is going to get them where they want to go,” he said. “What happens is that diet and exercise will help you lose weight, but transformation is so much more than losing weight.”
As a self-proclaimed science guy, Powell believes that the transformations have nothing to do with weight loss, but everything to do with loving yourself. His unique approach is to reverse-engineer the weight loss process, coming up with a formula for how to love yourself.
“I know love is like this nebulous concept, but there is a tried and true formula: The root of the whole thing is in your own integrity,” he said. “Integrity is your ability to keep your word. If you give your word, gosh darn it, you are going to keep it. When we make a promise to ourselves, the most valuable thing in the world is on the line, and that’s our dignity. Dignity is pride and confidence and self-esteem. If I could give that gift to everyone in the world, my job would be complete.”
The key to transformation starts with two basic concepts: never giving up on your integrity, and never make overblown promises to yourself that you can’t keep.
“More than anything, anybody is capable of living the life they want I just want to give everyone out there permission to demand a better life for themselves,” he said. “I know there are a lot of people who beat themselves up on a regular basis, who haven’t given themselves permission to live a better life. I just want them to know that they can.”
Chris’ easy at-home exercises:The swing-up
Lie face up with your knees bent, feet lat on the floor, and arms extended overhead and resting on the floor. Swing your arms up and past your head and touch the top of your knees with your fingertips, keeping your back straight and elbows extended.
Step it up
Extend your swinging motion to touch your wrists to the tops of your knees.
Extend your swinging motion to touch your elbows to the tops of your knees.
The Sofa Squat
Stand in front of a sofa (stool or bench) placing your feet shoulder-width apart, slightly pointing toes out from the body. Keeping your weight on your heels, squat down leading with your bottom, hands out to the side feeling for the sofa. Lower your bottom onto the sofa until it touches then immediately stand up.
Extend your arms forward as a counterbalance instead of touching the sofa and perform the squat.
Step away from the sofa, with your arms extended squat down until the crease of your hip drops below your kneecap.
Lay facing down, elbows tucked in, and hands almost directly underneath your shoulders. Raise your upper body fully extending your elbows, then slowly lower your body back to the prone position.
Hinge at your knees, pushing your whole body up from the knees then slowly lowering it down.
Using your toes and hands as the focal points, press your whole body up until your elbows are fully extended, then slowly lower your body down.
Tweet @RealChrisPowell about his #SamsClubMag cover story and discover more about Chris in his new book, Choose More, Lose More for Life.
Jodi Marsh is Executive Editor for Healthy Living Made Simple.