By Engel Schmidl | Lilydale & Yarra Valley Leader Newspaper | 21 Dec 09 @ 03:01pm


Paul “PJ” James has lost 37kg after porking up to experience obesity


COBURG model and personal trainer Paul “PJ” James went on an epic journey this year: from Greek Adonis to Homer Simpson and back again.

What started as a mate’s joke challenge snowballed into a story that captured world attention since first reported in the Leader in February.

In a bid to get inside the mind of his overweight clients, PJ went from a buff 80kg to a bloated 120kg.

With less than two weeks to his New Year deadline to shed all that excess weight, 33-year-old PJ is 83kg, just shy of his target.

“There definitely was a point where I wasn’t sure I would make it back,” said PJ, who has just been offered a cover model spot for Men’s Fitness magazine.

His waist had bulged from 31.5 to 44- inches by July, his hips from 37.5 to 48 inches and his body fat reading from 6 to 32 per cent. A man is considered obese above 24 per cent body fat.

PJ said his doctor, who monitored his progress with fortnightly check-ups and blood tests, had been deeply concerned about his mental wellbeing.

“I became a different person, very sad, and my doctor said I was heading toward a depressed state,” PJ said. “It was a real struggle to get back into it and that’s when I became really worried and depressed.”

The journey has been captured for a documentary called Fat and Back, to be released next year.

Even ardent supporter and friend, Doherty’s gym owner Tony Doherty, was worried.

“I thought we had lost him there for a bit,” Mr Doherty said.

The experience has given PJ an insight into the struggle to lose weight.

“Because I had a dependency on fat and sugar I was craving it the whole time,” he said.

Good nutrition was the key to regaining his trim and taut body.

“Fat’s a drug of dependence and it’s amazing how your body craves and mentally you crave it,” PJ said.