Paul James' five tips to fitness
Be active everyday. Even it is just a brisk 30-minute walk, something is always better than nothing.
2. Make the time. It's easy to say you're too busy but everyone is busy. If you can find the time to watch your favourite TV show you can find 30 minutes of exercise.
3. Prioritise. Health and wellbeing doesn't need to be your top priority in life bit it does need to be on the list, ideally in the top 10.
4. Never give up. It's okay to have slips up, just don't repeat the mistakes. You only really fail if you give up.
5. Don't reward effort with food. The result is the reward.
Four large meat-lovers pizzas and eight cans of coke in one sitting. Roughly 14,000 calories. That was Aussie model and Hollywood-based trainer to the stars Paul "PJ" James' single-sitting binge-eating record as he transformed his frame from a chiselled 80kg to a blubbery 120kg and back again over a year in an exercise captured in the TV documentary Fat and Back.
"I found myself being comfortable eating a whole roast chicken," says PJ as we chew over his career at an Italian eatery on Ponsonby Rd. I've taken him to lunch to see what a bloke whose livelihood is based on his appearance and who has written a best-selling book called Take It Off, Keep It Off will order. Despite having a late breakfast he goes for the tagliatelle and an espresso.
"I don't believe in dieting," he says.
PJ - who emails me at 10 past midnight asking to be called PJ in the story - is in Auckland filming a health and fitness TV segment that will air some time after July. He can't go into the details as the producers have sworn him to secrecy. He can, however, talk about piling on 40kg of blubber in an attempt to discover what fat people really go through when they attempt to knock themselves into shape.
His clients, who include the likes of soap actress Lindsay Price (Beverly Hills 90210 etc), celebrity chef Curtis Stone (an Aussie mate also based in LA) and aspiring Hollywood wannabes, would complain that he had no idea what they were going through. The scariest thing about finding out was that he quickly came to accept the new him. He looked terrible but didn't care. As his body ballooned he suffered mood swings, anger and depression. Addicted to sugar and fat, he sought refuge in food. "Fat is a drug, it really is."
His girlfriend at the time, who is now his wife, tolerated the physical transformation but struggled to accept the changes to his personality. The road back to the body that had once modelled underwear on catwalks was far from the straightforward path he'd expected. He stashed junk food around the house, skipped workouts and lied to people about his progress. He'd lie to himself, but the mirror wouldn't lie back.
"Your body doesn't lie."
A looming photo shoot for a magazine cover to mark the end of the project finally forced his hands off the chip packets and on to the dumb-bells, but had it not been for that deadline his return to fitness would have taken much longer, he admits.
The publicity the project attracted boosted his media career but it was never about that, he insists. His goal is to help eradicate global obesity, so he targets projects likely to achieve a mass audience. If that sounds a touch on the lofty side, he points out that with obesity rates in many countries becoming super-sized, a decrease of just 1 or 2 per cent would have a positive impact on countless lives.
The key to going from fat to fit was to be as active as possible and never quit. Oh, and you could always buy PJ's book and give his KO90 three-month plan a crack. It seems to work.