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Inside The Challenge: All Stars' Syrus Yarbrough's 60-Pound Weight Loss Journey

After suffering an injury and learning he had high blood pressure, MTV reality star Syrus Yarbrough told E! News how he went on to lose 60 pounds and get in the best shape of his life at 50.

ByTierney BrickerMay 14, 2022 12:00 PMTags
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A six-pack has taken on a whole new meeting for reality TV's party guy.  

Syrus Yarbrough was 25 years old when he starred onThe Real World: Boston, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary this summer. And the former college basketball star's stint on the MTV series and his five appearances on The Challenge led to decades of partying for a living, forming unhealthy habits in the process. 

"I tell people I've been 25 for 25 years," Syrus told E! News in a recent phone interview. "When you're touring the world and when you're paid to be you, it's a difficult thing. I was known as Sy the party guy, so I was partying my butt off and the butt got bigger and bigger!"

So longtime fans were stunned when Syrus showed up on the May 11 premiere of The Challenge: All Stars season three 40 pounds lighter than when he last appeared on season one of the Paramount+ spinoff. And since filming ended, Syrus revealed he has lost an additional 20 pounds, getting into the best shape of his life at 50.

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Check Out the Cast Of The Challenge: All Stars Season 3, Then & Now

"I feel completely reinvigorated. Honestly, every day is my birthday now," said Syrus, who was getting his miles in on a stationary bike at the gym while he was chatting with E! News. "It's amazing being back with the spotlight on me and get out there and show the world my natural life progression. It's a different kind of feeling when you are 50 years old and you still have the opportunity to get out there and compete."

And Syrus, who shares the honor of being the oldest cast member with Mark Long, showed up primed to compete this season, beating Tyler Duckworth in the first elimination challenge and proving he is ready to go toe-to-toe with the younger competitors.

Instragram/Syrus Yarbrough

"Being an ex-college athlete, you can't get that high again unless you get on The Challenge," Syrus explained. "So I've been waiting for this moment, I'm back in optimal shape."

Syrus revealed there were "several different factors" that led to his fitness transformation after an injury he suffered several years ago left him feeling "depressed" and caused him to "gain a bunch of weight."

Establishing himself as a TV personality after his time on The Real World and The Challenge, Syrus admitted the partying lifestyle ultimately took its toll.

"I was spiraling in this zone of just being unhealthy," he explained. "Partying every day, being paid for it, eating like crap, whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. It was just one of those things where I decided to make a complete change."

That meant giving up drinking, smoking and sugar, a plan Syrus put into place before the pandemic, which then kick-started his fitness regimen.

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"I do 20 miles a day, either by elliptical, by bike or outside by foot," Syrus revealed. "And then I do the rest of my workout on top of that." That could mean a gym session or playing basketball, which he does three times a week when he's at home. 

But Syrus took his commitment to his new lifestyle to the next level after he had "a little scare" when his doctor told him that his blood pressure was high. 

"I didn't know, I felt great and that was one of the factors to push it further," he recalled. "I was already going down the road, but after that I was like, 'Look, no, no way. This changes tomorrow.' And I just put into place everything I needed to do to get that back in order. Here I am now, feeling better and healthier than ever."

Amy Tierney/WireImage, Laura Barisonzi/MTV ENTERTAINMENT/Paramount+

Along with his daily workouts, Syrus follows the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting, which he didn't even find challenging to stick to while filming All Stars.

"My mentality is we are casted on the show for several reasons, but I think one of the reasons I'm on the show is I'm an extremist," Syrus said. "I'm not an average person. Sorry to say it like that, but whatever the average person does, I'm going to do it five times that and that's just my personality. Even on my horrible days, I will still go and bang out five miles, so there's no excuses for that. I hold myself accountable for everything in my life, good and bad."

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For Syrus, saying goodbye to alcohol and sugar didn't feel like a sacrifice, explaining, "I want to be in optimal shape by 60 and I want to live the longest life I can and in doing so I had to cut out a few things."

Laura Barisonzi/MTV ENTERTAINMENT/Paramount+

He continued, "The key to the whole thing is keeping it as sustainable as possible. People try to make a big deal out of it and I'm like, 'Dude, what are you tripping on? We can go to Burger King if you want, I don't care.' We can do anywhere and find something to eat, it's just the way you eat it. It's just a matter of willpower."

Still, Syrus did admit that a scene of him in 2006's The Gauntlet 2, in which he was wearing "a size medium Speedo at 238 pounds" and jokingly "popped, locked  and dropped it," gave him an extra push to change.

"I was like, 'Oh my god, did they really just do that to me?!'" he recalled of the 2006 moment. "So my motivation from that point forward was to make sure I'm not the guy looking like that ever again. That was very embarrassing."

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Now in peak physical condition at 50 years old, Syrus is looking beyond All Stars, revealing that he hopes to be cast on The Challenge's upcoming 38th season as well. "I'm ready to go," he shared. "My goal is to get back on the other one. I'm trying to stay as long as possible and show people that I still have the fight left in this old dog."

That means he wants to face off against the likes of Challenge beasts like six-time champion CT Tamburello, Fessy Shabaat and Cory Wharton, explaining, "I want to challenge myself on the highest level I possibly can and that's what happens every single day when I do anything."

Right by his side—literally—in his fitness journey is his fit fiancée, Stacy Elmer, who was on the elliptical machine right beside him as he spoke with E!.

"My girl's got a crazy six-pack," Syrus said. "I got her by 10 years already, so I was like, 'Look, I'll get a six-pack. I haven't had one in a long time.' She was like, 'Let's go!'"

That meant adapting the keto diet together and daily gym visits, with Syrus explaining, "So we got at it every day. That motivation that you find in a partner is unmatched."

As for their 2023 nuptials, the menu has yet to be finalized, with Syrus leaving the decision up to the bride-to-be about whether or not it will be a keto-friendly affair. "I might veer outside of that if she wants to," he said. "I don't have the need to, but it's up to her."

But, before their wedding, Syrus has another big celebration to throw as July marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of The Real World: Boston

"I am doing a 25-2or-25 years party to commemorate that moment," he revealed. "I have to celebrate that because most people are like, 'You're old!' and I'm like, I'm happy to be old and I'm happy to still be here. I'm thankful for it."

Even 60 pounds lighter, he's still Sy the party guy.

Check out more of The Challenge: All Stars season three cast, then and now: 

Wes Bergmann

One of the most notable figures from the OG franchise—with two wins in 14 seasons—The Real World: Austin vet is making his All Stars debut. When he's not masterminding blindsides and politicking in the Challenge house, the 38-year-old entrepreneur is the creator of the digital reality series The Blox and recaps Challenge episodes on his Patreon. Wes has been married to Amanda Hornick since 2018. 

Tina Bridges

The Road Rules: South Pacific vet went on to become one of the franchise's most iconic female competitors, making it to two finals but never bringing home a win, and the 40-year-old is back on All Stars seeking redemption after refusing to compete in an elimination round last season. Host TJ Lavin was less than impressed. 

In the 16 years since her memorable last appearance on the main show—The Duel, from which she was disqualified for punching Beth Stolarczyk—Tina's life is, in her words on the season two premiere, "fabulous. I have a husband, no kids. I don't work. I have a pool in the backyard. Life is really good."

Jemmye Carroll

One of the more recent alumni, Jemmye originated on 2010's The Real World: New Orleans, going on to compete on seven Challenges before making it to the final in the augural season of All Stars.

The 33-year-old lives in New Orleans and has her own swimwear collection, Just Jemm. She was part of the spinoff's first hookup, sharing a bed with Nehemiah Clark.

Kailah Casillas

While The Real World: Go Big or Go Home alum has yet to net a win on the main show, she's hoping to take home the prize money during her rookie season as an All Star. 

Kailah, 29, married Love Island UK alum Sam Bird in March 2022. 

Roni Chance

While the Road Rules: Northern Trail alum won both seasons of The Challenge she competed on, she has not appeared on TV since The Gauntlet II in 2004.

Roni, now 43, is married with two children and has worked at Hearst Magazines as a photo editor since 2006. 

Nehemiah Clark

After going 0-for-2 in his All Stars career, including a trip to the finals in season two, Nehemiah is hoping to finally become a champ in season three. During The Real World: Austin vet's time on The Challenge, he won one of the four seasons he competed on before making his final appearance on 2011's Rivals

But, even during his time away from the show, the 37-year-old still had ties to the franchise, remaining close friends with Wes Bergmann. The two created their own digital series, Friends With Benefits, during quarantine, which featured appearances from other alumni.

While he was once Beth Stolarcyzk's "Tenderoni," Nehemiah struck up a showmance with Jemmye Carroll during All Stars' first season.

Melinda Collins

After making it to the finals in season two, The Real World: Austin alum is back for another shot at the All Stars crown. Previously, Melinda appeared on four seasons of The Challenge, competing alongside and then against her Texas housemate-turned-husband Danny Jamieson before their divorce in 2010.

The 39-year-old married Matt Collins in 2016 and the couple have a 3-year-old son, Camden. Melinda is the co-host of the Blonde Moments podcast.

 

Tyler Duckworth

Back for his second outing as an All Star, the two-time champion from The Real World: Key West is hoping for a better outcome this season.

In his decade away from the franchise, the 40-year-old became a teacher in North Dakota and is currently getting his doctorate.

Yes Duffy

The OG All Stars champ is back to defend his title after sitting out the second season. The 44-year-old Road Rules: Semester at Sea vet works as an architect and activist and is married with two sons. 

"The immediate plan is I am going to take care of the people who helped get me here, from the child care to the family and friends who need support," Yes told E! News of his plans for the prize money after his big win. "And then the second part is a bit more intentional. As an architect and as an activist, throughout my career I've worked for a number of non-profits, I've started non-profits that fight for social justice and design affordable housing. And I'm really thinking of this $500,000 as a grant to elevate the social impact of our work and address this housing affordability crisis because that's really where my blood has been for so long and that's where this money will go."

Sylvia Elsrode

After making her debut on The Real World: Skeletons, All Stars newcomer Sylvia competed on three seasons of The Challenge, making it to the finals of 2018's Final Reckoning.

The 33-year-old works as a real estate agent in Kansas and Missouri. 

Brad Fiorenza

After making his debut on The Real World: San Diego in 2004, Brad became one of the show's most dominant male competitors, winning one season and making it to three additional finals. Brad last competed on the OG show in 2018 before joining All Stars in its second season, in which he was eliminated just before the final.

The 41-year-old has two sons with his ex-wife Tori Gwynn, whom he met on The Gauntlet III. After their divorce in 2016, Brad entered a brief romance with former Challenger Britni Thornton.

MJ Garrett

The reigning male champion is back to defend his title after The Real World: Philadelphia star won season two following a 12-year hiatus from the franchise.

The 42-year-old is married to Amanda Weaver (who starred as Mary Anne on The Real Gilligan's Island 2) and the couple have two daughters: Bella, 15, and Liv, 12.

KellyAnne Judd

After appearing on the inaugural season of All Stars, where she made it to the final, The Real World: Sydney vet is back for another shot at the title.

After last appearing on the OG show in 2015, the 35-year-old splits her time between Denver and California and is a yoga instructor and proud dog mom.

Derrick Kosinski

After disappointing exits in the first two All Stars seasons, Derrick is hoping for a win in his third spinoff outing after netting three wins during his Challenge career, establishing himself as one of the fiercest competitors. 

The 38-year-old hosts the popular Challenge Mania podcast and is engaged to his longtime girlfriend Nicole Gruman.

Mark Long

The godfather is back in action.

During his run on the original show, Mark competed on six seasons, winning two of them, after his 1995 stint on Road Rules: USA – The First Adventure. Though he retired in 2012, the TV host is the person responsible for All Stars after starting the "We Want OGs" campaign in the summer of 2020. Respect your elders!

While the 50-year-old has a producer credit, he gave up all executive privileges when he signed on to compete in the inaugural season, though he still has big plans for the spinoff's future.

"This is my ultimate plan: We do many seasons of the OG, maybe seven or eight seasons, and then what you have is the most epic OG vs. new school Challenge," Mark revealed to E! News last year. "It's the Super Bowl of Challenges."

Jonna Mannion

Following her big win in season two, All Stars' first female champion is back to defend her title. Hailing from The Real World: Cancun, Jonna appeared on five seasons of The Challenge, the last one being Battle of the Exes 2 in 2015.

The 34-year-old now has two children, daughter Naleigh, 6, and son Cal, 2, with her husband, Kevin. Jonna made it to the finals of season one just three months after welcoming her second child.

Nia Moore

The Real World: Portland star is making her return to the franchise for the first time since 2015's Battles of the Sexes II after she was disqualified for inappropriate behavior. 

The 33-year-old works as a private jet flight attendant and is dating her former Real World co-star (and onetime nemesis) Jordan Wiseley

Veronica Portillo

The Road Rules: Semester at Sea fan fave is making her All Stars debut after competing in 11 challenges, notching three wins during her career. The 44-year-old now works as an account executive and is mom to her three beloved dogs.

Cynthia Roberts

The first-ever female winner of The Challenge, Cynthia first debuted on The Real World: Miami in 1996 and made her last appearance on Battle of the Sexes II in 2005. 

The 48-year-old is an event planner and jewelry designer and has one son. 

Kendal Sheppard

The Road Rules: Campus Crawl vet is back for her third All Stars season after winning the only season of The Challenge she appeared on: 2004's The Inferno

Since then, the 43-year-old got married, became a mom of three, began a career as a nurse and started practicing yoga, which has helped turn her into a major threat on the spinoff.

Darrell Taylor

With four wins on the OG show and two appearances on All Stars, including a trip to the finals in season two, the Road Rules: Campus Crawl vet is hungry for the title.

When he's not on The Challenge, Darrell, 42, is a personal trainer and runs his own boxing gym, LB4LB Fitness, in Los Angeles. He married his longtime girlfriend Milasent Hernandez in 2017 and they have two children.

Laterrian Wallace

Will the third time be the charm for the Road Rules: Maximum Velocity Tour alum? Judging by the 45-year-old's intense workout regimen that he documents on social media, he is coming for the crown this season.

Jordan Wiseley

One of the most dominant competitors in the show's history, with three wins in six seasons, The Real World: Portland vet is making his All Stars debut following a hiatus from the franchise after he had, as he puts it in the May 11 premiere, "said and done some things that I'm incredibly ashamed of. I'm remorseful, but I'm grateful for the path that its led me on and the lessons I've learned. I'm committed to showing that."

After calling off his engagement to fellow Challenger Tori Deal in November of last year—Jordan memorably proposed after winning an elimination challenge during War of the Worlds 2—he reconnected with his former Real World housemate Nia Moore and the two are now dating. In addition to working as an actor, producer and clothing designer, the 31-year-old visited Ukraine to aid in humanitarian efforts in March.

Syrus Yarbrough

The Real World: Boston fan favorite competed on five seasons of The Challenge, winning 2001's Extreme Challenge. Following his exit during season one of All Stars, the 50-year-old has dropped over 40 pounds, getting into the best shape of his life in order to take home the grand prize.

In addition to making appearances as a TV personality and his work as an activist, Syrus is engaged to his longtime girlfriend Stacy Elmer.

The Challenge: All Stars premieres new episodes every Wednesday on Paramount+.