Local resident to appear on Extreme Weight Loss show

Jonathan McHenry in 2010 - Submitted
Jonathan McHenry in 2010
— image credit: Submitted

Jonathan McHenry knew he needed to lose weight. At 550 pounds, he would sit in his Port Orchard home watching the NBC reality show, “The Biggest Loser” and think, “Why not me?”

“I would sit on my couch eating ice cream and brownies and crying, thinking this could change my life,” 32-year-old McHenry said.

Nearly two years later, it’s safe to say his life has changed.

In November, McHenry finished a year of filming and training for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition” for an episode that will air July 22. Though he won’t reveal his weight before the show airs, the South Kitsap High School graduate is a trainer at the Annapolis Fitness on 2065 Bay St., where he teaches a boot-camp style fitness class while keeping a full-time job as a salesman.

He’s happy, he’s healthy and he feels like a new man.

“All I wanted was to be healthy,” he said. “The show was the perfect opportunity.”

McHenry was always a big guy. But it wasn’t until recently, he said, that his weight reached uncontrollable levels. So in 2010, he decided to film an audition tape for “The Biggest Loser.” While he wasn’t picked by that show, television producers came to him and told him they liked his tape and were hoping he was interested in filming for a different weight-loss program.

Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition features overweight people who are given a personal trainer for 90 days. Then, the trainer, weight-loss guru and former 650-pound virgin, Chris Powell leaves the contestant and they have the remainder of the year to live at home in their normal environment and lose weight, a unique component that truly challenges participants, McHenry said.

“We do it all from home, in my own element,” McHenry said. “It gives people hope that they don’t need to go on a ranch to lose weight.”

The hardest part of the entire program for McHenry was starting. For the first 90 days, he worked out under the watchful eyes of his trainer for 150 minutes a day. For someone who hadn’t worked out in years and was overweight, McHenry said, the first two weeks were by far the most difficult. Everyday, when he stepped on that treadmill, he wasn’t sure if he could make it.

“I thought, ‘This is how life is going to be for a year,’ “ he said. “I didn’t know if I could do that.”

But McHenry realized he wasn’t only doing it for himself, he was getting healthy for his wife and his two young children. Soon, he came to embrace the workouts with Powell and the extreme change in diet he underwent. Through it all, McHenry kept his job as a full-time salesman, something he said the producers of the show were impressed he could do.

“I didn’t want to lose my job and go bankrupt,” he said. “I didn’t want it to hurt my family. I’m the one who ate myself to where I was.”

As a trainer at Annapolis Fitness, it’s safe to say McHenry lost some weight, though he won’t give a pound report until the show airs next month. He said a big part of what helped him lose weight was the support of his family and the community.

Now, he’s trying to return the favor. On the other side of that couch, McHenry has lost the weight and is looking to inspire others to overcome hurdles in any facet of their life; be it weight loss, studying for a test, or kicking drugs and alcohol.

“Everyone needs someone to believe in them,” he said. “I’m hoping to be that guy.”

Even though the weight is gone, McHenry admits those first 10 minutes on a treadmill are never easy. But once he starts, once those feet are running underneath him, time flies by and everything else falls into place.

“You’re on a treadmill for the first 10 minutes and those are the hardest 10,” he said. “Mentally, if you can push through the start, time just kind of flies by.”


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