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James Garrison “Blows Whistle” on Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Treatment of Contestants

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. This month he had another rush to the hospital which resulted in the removal of his gall bladder. It got him thinking.

“Well it took another near death stay in the hospital, my second in a year, to realize exactly what I was promoting. Yes, I lost 313lbs in one year on ABC’s Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition, but should you? The answer is no. No one should lose that much weight that fast and if anything I am proof positive as to why its not a good idea. Those are unrealistic expectations that in reality are more harmful than good,” is the statement Garrison wrote in the blog post that started it all.

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 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.”

Garrison is certainly not the first weight loss reality star to reveal his experience. Kai Hibbard, a member of Biggest Loser season 3, famously spoke out against that show citing similar unhealthy weight loss tactics to help the contestants lose weight.

We have reached out to ABC publicity and James Garrison for comment and will update as those are available.

UPDATED 10/14/11 at 10:20pm:

We spoke with James by phone and he told his actions are an attempt to right a wrong. “By participating in that show I was wrong.” He also responded to critics saying “If I was out for fortune I wouldn’t be hanging myself right now.” He says some of his fellow castmates have “turned their backs on me” but others have voiced support.

October 14th, 2011