Extreme weight loss: Daughter and dad - minus 300 lbs.
By Claire Martin
The Denver Post
Posted: 09/09/2014 12:01:00 AM MDT2 Comments | Updated: 4 days ago
Dad Jeff and daughter Juliana, 16, Macht of Highlands Ranch teamed up to lose weight on the ABC television show "Extreme Weight Loss." Jeff lost about 200 pounds and Juliana lost 100 pounds. (Cyrus McCrimmon, Denver Post file)
Extreme Workout = Extreme Weight Loss
HIGHLANDS RANCH — Here's what fans of ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss" won't know when see the transformations of teenager Juliana Macht and her father, Jeff, tonight: They weren't the only ones in the family who lost weight. "As a family, we've lost more than 530 pounds, including Juliana, Jeff, our son Joseph and his wife, our daughter Joanna and me," said Michelle Macht, Jeff's wife.
Jeff's weight, when he joined the "Extreme Weight Loss" cast last summer, was 423 pounds. Sixteen-year-old Juliana was 265. (Michelle was 2 pounds shy of 200.)
Before being cast, Jeff, director of education for the Independent Electrical Contractors Rocky Mountain, was consideringbariatric surgery. Looking back over the past year, he and Michelle are pleased and relieved that his audition for "Extreme Weight Loss" was successful.
"If he'd gotten the gastric sleeve, I'm not sure that Juliana would still be here with us," Michelle said.
Juliana, her youngest child, was suicidal. Her parents learned that she'd attempted to cut her wrists, driven to desperation by other teenagers mocking her weight.
"They called me Earthquake and worse," she said.
"There was a game, when I was in fifth grade, where kids dared each other to touch me, and then pass on the Juliana germs."
Their bullying only made Juliana's weight problems worse. She had high blood pressure, breathing problems, and a test found that she had nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can lead to liver failure.
"When I got home from school, my old snack would be Nutella and chips," Juliana Macht said.
"Now, it's yogurt. I used to pretend to be sick to get out of going to school when we had Mile Day. Now Mile Day is just another day. I've turned into a runner. I went to Disney World and did a half-marathon in 2:15."
Everything changed when she and her father joined the others whose stories are being told on "Extreme Weight Loss" this season. The final episode airs tonight a 7 p.m. on ABC As the weight melted off — thanks to a dramatic change in nutrition, and three workouts a day — Juliana's classmates began asking her for diet and exercise advice.
"I still hear from some bullies, but more people are sending me texts like, 'You're such an inspiration,' and 'What do you eat?' and 'How do you work out?' " she said.
"So now, when the bullies try to get at me, I think, 'You come do what I did. I don't think you could do it.' I'd like to have a school assembly so I could get up in front of those bullies and tell them my story, and let them know I'm stronger now."
She's also an ambassador for the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program, an anti-bullying program that invited Juliana to work with them — something she could never have imagined 18 months ago, she said.
"I was kind of thrown into 'Extreme Weight Loss,' because I didn't really expect to be on the show," she said. "But the producers were like, 'It's Jeff AND Juliana or no one,' so it was like, 'Oh. I guess I'm gonna lose some weight.' "
It was a long, hard journey. There were tears. There were fights. There was despair.
"This whole thing has been about truth in transformation," Jeff said.
"When people ask me what's important, I tell them, 'What's most important is examining my heart, followed by exercise and eating healthy.' I got that epiphany on what I call my wonderful, terrible Tuesday."
On that particular Tuesday, Jeff lied to "Extreme Weight Loss" trainers Chris and Heidi Powell when they asked about his workout that day. He was stunned when he learned they already knew he had skipped the exercise.
"They knew! And that made me stop and think" about who really loses when he skips a workout, he said. (Producers and trainers closely monitor the "Extreme Weight Loss" cast, and will call out individuals when they stray.)
"At that point in the program, I'd only lost six or seven pounds after the Phase 1 boot camp. Once I faced the truth, then the pounds started falling off. And it changed the way things taste. Last week, we were at a comedy place, and I'd asked for something without salt. But I couldn't eat it. Everyone else thought it was wonderful. But to me it only tasted like sodium."
Juliana and Michelle know what he means. They used to like sweet tea. Now they use stevia as a sweetener, and don't use much of that. Even on "reset day," the one day a week when "Extreme Weight Loss" participants are allowed a high-calorie indulgence, the Machts found their tastes literally had changed.
"On reset day, we used to order two stuffed-crust pizzas and eat it all, but now, we order one thin-crust pizza and we have leftovers," Michelle said.
She has a list of the Macht family's favorite foods predating "Extreme Weight Loss": Cookies, sweets, processed food, Hamburger Helper, frozen meals, regular milk, lots of sugar, chips and take-out.
The new favorites: Hummus, low-sodium pita bread, popcorn, fresh green veggies, almond milk, unsalted almonds, protein bars and home-smoked meat.
The Machts still work out two to four hours a day — once in the morning, again at midday, and after work or school. Juliana's new goals include running a seven-minute mile. Her father's accomplishments include running four miles at 13 to 15 minutes per mile.
"It was amazing, and it gave me a real change in attitude," he said.
"I'll come against a challenge, and I'll think, 'Hey, I ran a stinkin' half-marathon! I can do this!'"
Claire Martin: 303-954-1477, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff and Juliana Macht will appear in the final of "Extreme Weight Loss" at 7 p.m. tonight on ABC