ABC's Extreme Weight Loss returns for a fifth season on Tuesday, May 26, with a twist. This time, married trainers Chris and Heidi Powell are helping couples — whether siblings or spouses — meet their weight loss goals over the course of one year.
"It's interesting how we would coach one of our couples through a challenge they had in their relationship, and when it was all said and done I'd think, 'This is something that we struggle with too,' and it would cause some reflection on our part," Chris, 37, told Us Weekly ahead of the new season. "Sometimes that wasn't easy for us. Sometimes it would cause a rift between us, but breakdowns lead to breakthroughs."
Added his wife, 33, "It was nice to see how they interacted as a couple and to see the challenges they overcame together and how they grew from them, and then use their experience to better mine and Chris' relationship. This was definitely a trying year for me and Chris in a lot of different ways and I've gotta say if we didn't have our peeps — specifically the couples — to help us through our own struggles, we wouldn't be where we're at today."
The married couple, parents of four, think the series has been a success because of the universality of each contestant's struggle. "It doesn't matter if you're a world class athlete or if you're 600 pounds overweight, there's a human aspect of this show. The emotion of it speaks to anybody," Chris said. "You get to see people with the cards stacked against them do something extraordinary, and you realize if they can do it, anybody can do it."
Read on for the Powells' advice about how to approach a weight loss journey with your own partner.
1. Be Vulnerable
"We all have that ego," Chris said. "It's there to protect us but at the same time we can get so ingrained in that identity that we're not willing to let it go, we're not thrilled to break it down and actually be vulnerable with our significant other and be open and honest, which is so necessary in order for you to go through a lifelong change like this. To make a significant change, healing must be done. It's not just about diet and exercise."
He added, "We've been married for going on five years now and I have learned from my relationship with Heidi that when I'm real with her, when I'm vulnerable, when I'm open, it gives her permission to do the same and we grow so much closer and so much fonder that way."
2. Be Supportive
"If I were to give advice to the other partner, it would be to view that vulnerability as a gift," Heidi suggested. "When your partner opens up to you, it's a beautiful thing. When Chris talks to me about one of his weaknesses the worst thing I can do in that moment is take that weakness and use it against him. Just thank them for being authentic and vulnerable and real, even if it's something that hurts — sometimes those honest moments hurt but the more you can choose as an individual to love your significant other unconditionally and without judgement, the better off you are."
3. Lead By Example
If you want to make changes but your significant other doesn't, do it anyway. "You can never pull or force anybody to do anything," Heidi said. "The more you can realize you're not dependent on that other person and you can just be happy — and not rub it in their face — the more likely they are to jump on the bandwagon as well."
4. Keep Setting Goals
Often, compliments from friends and family stop coming once people reach their goal weights. "You don't get that constant feedback that you got when you were actually losing weight, but we need to get that feeling," Chris said. "[EWL participants are] constantly setting the next goal and moving toward that so that they can constantly see progress."
5. Don't Be a Statistic
You've heard the reports that the majority of people who lose weight don't keep it off, but don't think that'll be you. "All too often we allow statistics to dictate our future," Heidi said. "We do ourselves a disservice and don't think we are good enough or worthy enough to be that 10 percent [who maintains]. I don't think people realize their potential or their capabilities."
Extreme Weight Loss season 5 premieres Tuesday, May 26 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
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