A personal trainer intentionally gains 50% of his body weight to better understand obesity, by increasing his calorie intake and quitting all forms of exercise. His 12-month return journey from 80kg (176lbs) to 120kg (264lbs) and back again is documented as he sets out to gain an understanding of how difficult it really is to go from fit to Fat and Back again.
Paul ‘P.J.’ James has never been fat. As a successful international fitness and underwear model, as well as a personal trainer, he trains daily to stay in shape and always strives to help his clients achieve great results. Already feeling a need to gain an elevated psychological understanding of the plight of overweight people, one of his struggling obese clients dares P.J. to live like him so he can get a feel for just how hard it is to lose weight. Seeing the value in walking a mile in their shoes, that is what he decides to do. P.J. aims to gain 40 kg in four months, maintain that weight for two months, then lose the weight over another six months — a full 12-month journey from fit to Fat and Back. To add to the challenge, P.J. decides to work with an overweight person (Michelle) on the way back; someone who has struggled with their weight their entire life. What he thought would be a straightforward experiment however, quickly becomes the challenge of his life. After gaining weight quickly, P.J. begins to lose muscle, causing him to struggle to reach his target, as depression sets in. Will he make it to 120kg (264lbs) with his mental health intact? On the way back, P.J. ironically, also struggles to lose the fat. The weight-loss is slow, and as this starts to play havoc with his confidence and mental toughness, Michelle also begins to waiver. Emotions run high, truths are faced and dramatic lessons are learned. Will P.J. make it back to 80kg (176lbs)? If so, will he make it back alone, or will Michelle turn the corner and also achieve dramatic results? Leading obesity experts discuss some of the key and often misunderstood factors that are contributing to the continual growth of the obesity epidemic, from evolutionary factors, to the changing food environment, to the science of over-eating and the addictive nature of junk food, as they help to describe some of the things that P.J. and millions of others around the world are experiencing, as P.J. seeks to achieve what no other trainer has done before him.
Underwear model and personal trainer Paul ‘PJ’ James only knows what it feels like to be in shape. He works hard for his physique, one that takes him to catwalks around the world. As a personal trainer, P.J. also endeavours to help his clients achieve great results. But the 33-year-old is growing frustrated by an emotional disconnect he has with some of his overweight clients to help them achieve dramatic results. They often tell him: “You don’t know what it feels like”. He concedes: “They’re right, I don’t know what it feels like”. One particular day, one of his obese clients, already struggling to maintain the necessary commitment needed for fat-loss, tells P.J. to live like him so he can get a feel for just how hard it is to lose weight. This had a dramatic impact on P.J. In order to establish that connection and to understand the struggles that obese people face physically and emotionally, he must become fat and experience it for himself. P.J. decides to gain 40kg (88lbs) over four months, maintain that weight for another two months to really experience the obese lifestyle, and then bring it all back within the subsequent six months. Put simply, over 12 months, P.J. is going Fat and Back! On January 1, P.J. puts down the dumbbells, throws his good eating habits into the deep fryer and begins a six-month journey to get fat. And the weight-gain is rapid. In just one month, P.J. stacks on 15kg (33lbs) and by the end of April he has gained 30kg (66lbs). Closing in on his target of 120 (264), his body starts to resist. His appetite begins to fluctuate, his muscle mass is receding which means the weight gain is made even harder, his skin breaks out in markings and pimples and his mood takes a sudden and steep decline towards depression. P.J. may have hit a plateau on the scales, but his body is looking worse as the weeks roll on. At the beginning of May, P.J.’s doctor asks him to stop and come back before he completely falls apart mentally. Despite the warnings, he pushes on. He takes his diet to another level and finally hits his target of 120kg (264lbs), before breaking down. Without making contact with anyone, P.J. escapes for the isolation of Japan where he once modeled, leaving family and friends concerned. The stress, sickness, depression and isolation have led P.J. to run away. After two weeks away, he returns to Australia in a horrible condition. Before he has time to reflect, July 1 arrives. It’s time to come back and for the first time in his life, P.J. is about to embark upon a weight-loss regime and the fear of the unknown in P.J.’s eyes is evident. To demonstrate that incredible results can be achieved by anyone, P.J. introduces us to Michelle, a 34-year-old single woman who has suffered weight issues her entire life. She will take on P.J. as her trainer and they will come back together. As the weeks transpire, to P.J.’s shock, neither plan is going to schedule. P.J.’s weight isn’t coming off nearly as quickly as he thought. Meanwhile, he is struggling to keep Michelle motivated as she resists and starts to waiver from the plan. Can he get Michelle back and can he himself make it to 80kg (176lbs) again before December 31? In addition to capturing the real-life drama of P.J. and Michelle’s journey, the filmmakers interview some of the leading obesity experts and researchers, and they shed light on the things that PJ and others experience when gaining weight and then when attempting to lose weight and keep it off. Some of the issues explored include the evolution of obesity, the science of overeating, our poor food environment, the addictive properties of junk food, the difficulties in turning these behaviours around, the physical and psychological stumbling blocks of weight loss and why as a society, despite all the knowledge and understanding of the problem at our disposal, we continue to get fat. As the deadline draws near, with emotions running high and valuable lessons continuing to be learned, one thing becomes certain: P.J.’s views on obesity and his approach to personal training will be changed forever.