There used to be a good deal more of Sally Adams living in Dupont. “I stuck out like a sore thumb,” says the 46-year-old, who was the subject of Sunday’s “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition.” “There aren’t a lot of fat people here.”
Now that she’s shrunk from a peak of 352 pounds to 197 pounds, Adams feels more at home in her neighborhood of 23 years — and in her body.
Growing up in Virginia Beach, she was athletic and never heavy. But a series of injuries changed that. When she was 21, she was hit by a car. When she was 32, she fell down a flight a stairs. “I couldn’t walk for a year,” says Adams, who gained weight with every surgery.
And when she and her husband decided to have a baby, it didn’t go as planned. “I was pregnant three times to have one child,” she says. Between the devastation of two miscarriages and the postpartum depression after her son’s birth, she packed on even more pounds.
One day, Adams was watching football and recognized something shocking: “I outweighed everyone on the defensive line.” It was time to take action.
A weight-loss TV show isn’t the obvious choice for a Dartmouth grad with a successful career in marketing. “We’re classist when we think about weight, but the science is the same regardless of who you are,” says Adams, who decided to apply to “Extreme Makeover” because the show isn’t a competition, it gives participants a year to take off the weight and it allowed her to do it as part of her day-to-day life.
Filming began in September 2010, and Adams got her orders to limit herself to 1,200-1,500 calories a day — not much for someone used to eating out regularly at restaurants. (See box, above.)
It was the exercise portion of the plan that really forced Adams to reorder her life. She was working out four hours or more each day to fit in cardio, weights, stretching and Pilates. Because she couldn’t stand to exercise at home, she sought out new places to sweat.
“There’s a bike at Vida that needs a plaque: ‘Sally Adams lost her ass on this bike,’ ” says Adams, who was often at the Logan Circle health club until 11 p.m. and back again at 6 a.m. She trained with Jesse Woody at Primal Fitness, the parkour and CrossFit gym. She also got a pool membership at the Hilton, where she swam lap after lap.
The city was her other gym, and she took advantage of it by taking long walks, rowing on the Potomac and running along the Mall.
“As I got lighter, I could try different things,” Adams says. “I treated it as a smorgasbord.”
It’s been a year since the final reveal was filmed for the show, and now the slimmer, stronger Adams has found another athletic outlet: dance classes at Pole Pressure. “I’m there and I’m hanging and I’m doing it,” Adams says. “And I will lift myself on that pole by 2025.”
Locals watching Adams’ episode (viewable at Abc.com) had to appreciate the scene that showed her being tested at Lauriol Plaza with her husband. “Lauriol Plaza was my big sin. I’d eat baskets of chips, a big meal and dessert,” says Adams, who managed to stick to her diet.