Anyone who watches reality television knows that it isn’t all real, after all, whether it’s Loser, Housewives, or Hills, they still have a story to tell and a show to produce. But it’s one of those things that no one talks about. Until now. James Garrison, a participant in Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition‘s first season earlier this year, is calling himself a whistle blower and exposing what he describes as mistreatment of the shows participants.
“You read it here first… The Biggest Extreme Makeover Loser WhistleBlower,” said Garrison at the end of a nearly 2000-word diatribe against Extreme Makeover’s producers and cast, calling out by name JD Roth (the man also behind Biggest Loser) and the show’s trainer Chris Powell.
In our interview with James after his episode aired he described health problems he was having as, he says, a result of his rapid weight loss, which meant losing 313 pounds in 365 days.
He says that post was also followed up by personal emails to Roth and Powell, explaining his health problems, the $50,000 in hospital bills from the past year, and asking for help with it all, which he says were ignored.
“I guess what is hard to understand is, after emailing JD. Roth and Chris Powell asking for assistance with my medical and over $50,000 in hospital bills I was ignored.”
The only response he got was a cease and desist from show attorneys, which he posts a copy of on his blog.
“I write a blog about my health and why I don’t think its a good idea to lose 313lbs in one year on a Saturday night because to be honest it was weighing on my conscious that America believes that this is okay and by Sunday morning I have a cease and desist letter and phone calls from show producers and attorneys. They were all threatening calls, and none of which was about helping me. The attorney asked me to take the blog down out of good faith and to see if we can get this resolved but Its been 10 days and still no word back from him other than he is looking into it?”
All of this comes from a blog post Garrison published [Erika’s note, August 19 2015: Links to his blog were removed due to expiration of site and introduction of malware. Sorry!] on October 12, 2011, where he’s also posted images of emails between him and show producers. One such email is from Chris Powell to the show’s participants encouraging them and outlining for them how to do a flush to help them lose up to an extra 30 pounds of water weight before their weigh ins.
Garrison says that the flushes Powell encouraged them to do goes against everything that Powell has taught in his fitness career. He also calls out that they never followed the diet described on the show.
“None of us were on that 2,000 calorie diet that CHLI designed [the Extreme Makeover Diet]. We pretty much were told to eat less and less in email and later just verbally as in their words “your body is fighting back, we need these numbers”. Or what was better “there going to cancel the show, we wont be able to inspire anyone”. We even went without carbs 2-3 days a week, at their suggestion to get better numbers and better results.”
Other things about the show that Garrison “outs” in his blog post include:
- “We were made to take diet pills 2-3 times per day for an entire year.”
- “Chris Powell did not live with us for three months each. The fact is I maybe saw him 5 days last year…”
- “We were made to dehydrate ourselves every single week beginning on Thursday and ending on Saturday morning.”
I went out and found his blog post – it has since been deleted from his blog thanks to a cease and desist order, but nothing is ever deleted from the Internet! – and am excerpting, here:
They did set up a ranch and several of the contestants moved their for several months because they weren’t going to make their numbers. It was in Arizona, and you didn’t see that on the show because they wanted to tell you that we were able to do it on our own at home in our real environments. Which isnt true, and I think it creates unrealistic expectations for you guys and might ultimately make you wonder why you failed. However in this sense maybe he did live with a couple of them for a few days. I didn’t go, you would have to ask Alex, LaRhonda, Rachel, Wally, or Dana. Although I remember them saying he was never there he was out filming season two.
I was recruited to be on this show, I never wrote a letter and chances are if you did its not going to be anwsered. I agreed to be on this show because I wanted to help inspire. I had lost almost 100lbs on my own before the show and in fact told them in the final interview room that I did not think this was my last chance, and that the decision to save my life was something I made long ago and it wasnt theirs to make. Wham next thing I know I’m on tv. I went from 715 down to about 620… I was told to eat and drink a lot before the initial weigh in so that it would look like I was bigger. In their words “you have 5 star room service after all and its free, its not going to hurt if you weigh more : ) “. I guess this is how people get such HUGE week one weigh lossed numbers. So with the water rention from travel, and the **** load of water I drank it tacked on enough to get me to 651.
Everything about this is so wrong. Guilting the cast members by implying they’ll be the reason the show is canceled, to doing detoxes (for 30 days!) to get the weight off, to diet pills…
You know what this all highlights for me? The show was only concerned with “getting the numbers” for their episode, not James’ life or habits or any of that. I mean, sure, helping him had to be a part of it all because they needed it for filming (as in “I’m going to live with you for five months! Or not really! Let’s not talk about it, ok?!”) but did they help him or endanger him? Or both? At what point do you say “Enough!” and back out, especially when you acknowledge that what you were doing was wrong?
I also have to ask another question, here. So many people say/have said they turn to these shows for inspiration, and a few people even chided me for denigrating a show I hadn’t watched. They all follow the same formula to me, and by that logic I’m pretty much over the idea of supporting one. But I have to wonder – how motivating and inspiring can a lie really be? If you think they’re eating 2,000 calories a day – the recommended daily allowance, by the way – and working out at home to lose 300lbs in a year, even though they’re eating far less than that, working out in a ranch all day and doing detoxes to make those numbers… what kind of inspiration can you get from that? Better yet, what kind of inspiration should you get?