Employee’s weight loss chronicled on reality TV program

September 08, 2014 / by / 0 Comment

By Janie Magruder
GCU News Bureau

Before she was selected as a contestant on ABC's "Extreme Weight Loss," GCU employee Sara Murphy weighed about 245 pounds. (Photos couresy of Sara Murphy)

Before she was selected as a contestant on ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss,” GCU employee Sara Murphy weighed about 245 pounds. (Photos courtesy of Sara Murphy)

GCU enrollment counselor Sara Murphy is in the best physical shape of her life — having lost 136 pounds, more than half her body weight — and her head’s in a good place now, too.

Murphy recently mustered the courage to let a national television audience of the ABC hit “Extreme Weight Loss” watch the painful “before” and the triumphant “after” of her weight loss and the brutal work in between. And this 40-year-old Kentucky native is just getting started.

Murphy, who is 4 feet, 5 inches tall because her vertical growth was stunted by hypochrondroplasia, a developmental disorder caused by a genetic defect, auditioned last year for the program. At 245 pounds, she was literally sick and tired of being overweight.

“I just knew I was meant for more than the person I was, and I knew I needed to do something to help myself to have a better quality of life,” said Murphy, who struggled even when taking the occasional walk. “I was sick of being tired, sick of hurting and sick of being out of breath.”

She created an audition video and was chosen in June 2013 to be on the show, then was enrolled in a three-month boot camp in Denver. She met and matched a challenge from the program’s co-host, trainer Chris Powell.

“Every participant in the show gets a six-month challenge, and Chris challenged me to 6 1/2 months,” Murphy said. “I think he let me off easy, so I challenged myself to a full marathon.”

After training five days a week, two to four hours a day for six weeks before the December marathon in Honolulu, she found herself strong enough to finish.

Murphy, with "Extreme Weight Loss" co-host Chris Powell, lost 136 pounds during the filming of her segment on the ABC program.

Murphy, with “Extreme Weight Loss” co-host Chris Powell, lost 136 pounds during the filming of her segment on the ABC program.

On the set of “Extreme Weight Loss,” the 17 contestants were required to weigh in once a week. That became a motivational tool for Murphy, who didn’t want to receive a follow-up phone call, if she had gained weight, from Powell. The contestants also had counseling to bring to the surface the source of their overeating. Murphy found she had plenty of things bottled up inside.

“It’s not just about diet and exercise,” she said. “It’s also about getting rid of things, about letting go of the past and taking hold of the future.”

In addition to doing Crossfit, an intensive training regimen, Murphy hikes and is training for a second marathon this winter. Her diet also has changed drastically.

“Before, I would eat 3,000 calories a day — fast food, processed frozen dinners, that kind of stuff,” she said. “Now, I eat about 1,200 calories a day. I eat five times a day, fresh veggies, health carbs and fats.”

Murphy underwent a 12-hour surgery in March to remove the excess skin from her weight loss.  Her final weigh-in was 109, which she is maintaining by keeping all the good habits she learned.

“One of the things I learned is not to be so hard on yourself — you are going to mess up, but you get back up,” she said. “Chris and I talked a lot about obstacles, and the only obstacles someone has is what’s in their head.”

On Aug. 12, when the two-hour “Extreme Weight Loss” segment about Murphy aired, The Arizona Republic did a short Q-and-A with her. She also is developing a website on fitness and nutrition, starting a book and has other plans that you can read about on her Facebook page, Sara Murphy Extreme Weight Loss.

Contact Janie Magruder at 602-639-8018 or janie.magruder@gcu.edu.

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