rachel 'Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition' premiere: Meet RachelEach week on “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition,” viewers meet one “super obese” (ABC’s term, not ours) person who spends a year guided by personal trainer Chris Powell. Although the show isn’t competitive, the goal is for participants to lose half their body weight in 365 days.

The show kicks off Monday (May 30) with the story of Rachel, a 21-year-old Georgia physical education teacher who weighs 400 pounds when Powell parachutes into her life.

Last week, we talked with Rachel about her transformation.

Zap2it: What was it like when you found out you were selected for the show?

Rachel: The one word that seriously comes to mind is unbelievable. When Chris picked me I couldn’t believe it. I’d been wanting to do something like this for a while. I didn’t think I could do it on my own. There was a connection there. And he saw something in me.

Zap2it: How have you fared since the taping wrapped? Keeping up with your new lifestyle?

Rachel: I’m doing pretty good. It’s about balance, about learning how to work in the gym with your everyday life. Really not much has changed because this is my life now. It’s not just one year — it’s the rest of my life.

Zap2it: What about diet?

Rachel: I have brought in more foods. I’m trying to learn how to reward myself once or twice a week and not feel guilty about it since I do know that I’m going to go to the gym and work it off.

Zap2it: What’s different about “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition” compared with “The Biggest Loser” (NBC) or “Heavy” (A&E)?

Rachel: I know that this is exactly what I was supposed to do. It’s not some competition. It’s not going off to a ranch for three or four months. This is you in your home. There were times I forgot I was on a TV show. I would think what am I going to do to better myself today and do my every day thing. If you get those tools and have that drive, it’s really all about knowing that you can do it. We weren’t some people that were 220 pounds and needed to lose 80 pounds. We were morbidly obese. I guess we can really show people that you can do it no matter what.

Zap2it: Would your life had changed if you hadn’t been chosen?

Rachel: Yes. During casting when I met Chris he talked with all of us. You could tell talking to him that he had a lot of passion for us. Right then and there I was like, “I’m going to do this no matter what.” He said even if he didn’t pick us that we could make a difference. I remember thinking “I’m going to do this.” It was like a moment of clarity for me.

Zap2it: What one piece of advice would you give people who don’t have access to a Chris Powell?

Rachel: Find a substitute when it comes to nutrition. If you have a sweet tooth go to fruits and natural sugars. When it comes to working out, cardio is what’s going to get you. You don’t have to have a Chris in your life to change your life.

“Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition” premieres Monday (May 30) at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

Posted by:Liz Kelly Nelson