Obese: A Year to Save My Life

Did you see the show “Obese: a year to save my life”?  It aired last night on Sky 1 at 9 pm and we watched Claire – here is her story.

Claire is 32 but feels twenty years older.  She is constantly juggling a busy and stressful job with the needs of her energetic four-year-old son. And when the stress spiralled out of control, Claire took comfort in food.


Name: Claire

Weight before show: 26st 7lbs

Metabolic age: 47

Actual age: 32

Since adolescence Claire would go from yo-yo dieting to extreme binges, and on a bad binge day she could pack away more than 8000 calories.  She turned to food to heal past emotional problems and even though she’s undergone therapy, she’s never been able to take control of her eating disorder. She was also at the point where she worried that she couldn’t keep up with her son.

Claire longed to break this vicious cycle and desperately wanted to get her life and her weight under control, so she could play a more active role in her young son’s life.

It’s a familiar story?  And handsome weight loss coach, Jesse Pavelka flew in from America and told Claire to eat less and exercise more.  That’s it in a nutshell really.

Claire-obese-afterAnd Claire did lose weight.  A staggering amount of weight……BUT…

What happens when the cameras leave and the attention fades?  Can you fill in the gaps?  What’s your experience of conventional dietary wisdom?  And why don’t these shows ever record a follow up 6 months, one year, two years down the line?  Because you’ve probably guessed it, Claire will have put the weight back on.  In the interim, the staggering transformation makes for perfect “fairy tale” television.

Sadly,  anyone watching this type of show with excess fat to lose can’t help but take on board the fact that to get from morbidly obese to “normal” involves getting up at 6 o’clock in the morning; putting in 2 to 4 hours of training per day and eating less that 1500 calories for each meal.  At least that’s what conventional dietary wisdom tells us.

And watching Claire’s secret diaries recording her binge eating during her diet when the stress of it all got too much for her (6 large bars of caramel chocolate in 4 hours on one occasion) suggests that things are not under “control” and that the long cycle of yo-yo dieting may well return.

jesse-pavelkaOh and did you catch Jesse Pavelka’s response when Claire fell so spectacularly off his wagon?  He blamed her and her “issues”.  This is horribly common amongst health professionals who will always blame the slimmer’s lack of will power and tend to believe that slimmers delude themselves about their eating and exercise habits and don’t stick to the rules.

At Paleo Works, we say that it’s not because people don’t work hard enough at “eating less and exercising more.” People don’t succeed because the strategy itself is based on flawed science and simply doesn’t work!  We say so called ‘healthy eating’ causes more problems than it solves and even leads to weight gain and ill health. We say “Eat More and Exercise Less!” This may go against the grain of what we’re told to believe but it’s absolutely true. If you just want to lose weight then it is entirely possible with diet alone, remember exercise is a fitness tool, diet is the weight loss tool.

Take a look at the Minnesota Starvation experiment.  Read the conclusions (and this was on a diet of 1560 calories per day)

 “Among the conclusions from the study was the confirmation that prolonged semi-starvation produces significant increases in depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis as measured using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Indeed, most of the subjects experienced periods of severe emotional distress and depression. There were extreme reactions to the psychological effects during the experiment including self-mutilation (one subject amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe, though the subject was unsure if he had done so intentionally or accidentally). Participants exhibited a preoccupation with food, both during the starvation period and the rehabilitation phase. Sexual interest was drastically reduced, and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation. The participants reported a decline in concentration, comprehension and judgment capabilities, although the standardized tests administered showed no actual signs of diminished capacity. There were marked declines in physiological processes indicative of decreases in each subject’s basal metabolic rate (the energy required by the body in a state of rest), reflected in reduced body temperature, respiration and heart rate. Some of the subjects exhibited edema (swelling) in their extremities, presumably due to the massive quantities of water the participants consumed attempting to fill their stomachs during the starvation period.” – Source Wikipedia

Claire needs to lose the physical addiction to sugar (and grains) and to build her diet up around good fats and protein with carbohydrates taking a back seat.  In this way, Claire will create balance and space for other good things to come into her life.  Once this process is up and running, Claire’s body will become a fat burning machine taking energy from fat stores and using the surplus fat in her body to fuel her life.

This is the basis of our diet.  A return to ancestral health.  Learning from our ancestors what drove them forward for in excess of 2.5 million years.  It’s only in the last 100 years we have turned to processed “high sugar” food.  It’s only in the last 30 years we have been told to eat less fat.  Its only in the last 20 years we have begun to develop such an intense problem with obesity….

How many more have to end up like Claire, or worse end up dying as a result of excess fat?  Well given current practices and standard dietary advice the answer perhaps is many more. However there is an alternative, a solution. So if you’ re overweight and believe you too only have a year to save your life, or simply want to improve your lifestyle and well being, take a look at what Paleo Works has to offer,  let us empower you to change your life forever.

About Paleo Works

Paleo Works Have you ever wondered how you arrived at “being overweight” and thought how difficult it is to get rid of and keep off those excess pounds? Hi, I’m Katie and together with Mike my husband, we are Paleo Works. As a busy working mum of four, I often watched others embark on weight loss progammes only to return to their start weight (and then some) shortly after reaching their target. Why was this happening? Conventional dietary wisdom would have us believe that it’s YOU who has failed. But Mike and I thought different. We felt that there had to be something wrong with that conventional dietary wisdom after all we can’t all be hopeless? So we studied intensely, sought out advice and read avidly. We questioned robustly and talked with many on various 'dieting' regimes. What we found was radical, our story has to be told, our knowledge has to be shared. So If you are ready to stop blaming your self for being overweight and ready to change your approach to weight loss then contact us and let’s get started!

Posted on January 24, 2012, in Addiction, Conventional Wisdom, Paleo Diet and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. Thanks so much for this article!!! I struggle and am probably pre-diabetic, and just found out one of my children are as well. I know it’s not about eating less, it’s about what we are eating.


    • Thank you for writing…you know this article is important to me too, for understanding the diet “trap” and for learning to question the “reality” TV would have us believe. In the end you have to work it our for yourself (and your family) just as you are doing..and keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other 🙂

  2. Great post! I totally agree that it’s about food 80% of the time and then exsercise. If people can get that right, they are pretty much there! 🙂

  3. Hi there, and thanks for your reply.

    Please let me just say, I completely disagree with shows such as ‘The Biggest Loser’ etc whose main focus as far as I can see is nothing more than pure entertainment. They are ridiculous and dangerous. ‘Obese; A Year To Save My Life’ has no connection to these shows whatsoever! The title in itself shows that this was a ‘life’ change rather than a quick fix.

    You cannot help how things are edited for media these days, the trainers had no idea whatsoever how it would be shown or what content would be used. Hence my need to put straight anyone who thinks it was exactly ‘as seen’ on tv.

    They were all ‘taught’ how to do things right, over a long period of time; and as I mentioned – I would suggest not all of them stuck to the ‘calorie’ control way of eating that was portrayed on tv, as most of the trainers I know certainly do not work in this ‘old fashioned’ way. (Once again, media is very powerful and this is very unfortunate in situations like this, but that’s why I’m sat here writing this!!)

    However, what I do know is that the majority of people I work with (be it trainers, nutritionists or all of our clients) have all remarked just how inspirational these people were – they took a challenge on, each and everyone of them knew what was expected of them for the entire year, and each one finsihed the year a new person. The show gave them a huge opportunity, that most people would never get. This should be seen as just that, a unique opportunity that gave 9 people a second chance. I think if you asked any of them personally not one would say they there was any point that they regretted getting involved. One has now become a fantastic personal trainer himself, one is in training for her second traithalon, one her second marathon….ALL of them now quote ‘the gym’ as being part of their life, and all of them are continuing their journey by ispiring and motivating the second group of 9 that are starting the journey.

    People can take from that what they want, but as far as I’m concerned it just proves what can be done. Yes it may take a while longer without the daily support, but.. the same support once or twice a week can go a heck of a long way – but only IF the determination is there in the first place.

    This will be my last post, it was a great chance for me to put my views across and I thank you very much for opening up a place for me to do that! I have great belief in the Paleo way of eating, so please keep doing what you are doing. But also remember to give credit where it is due and to congratulate the people who take the chances they are given in this life and use them to their full potential. I know I would do the same, as I hope everyone else would too 🙂

    Healthy regards

  4. I am Heather, Claire’s trainer & nutritionist during the show. I would just like to ask where you got the info that she has gained the weight back?? She hasn’t put the weight back on – in fact she has continued to lose. Jessie Pavelka saw these people only once every few months, it was us (the trainers) who were responsible for training and assessing, guiding and motivating day to day. Claire followed MY diet – not Jessie’s. These shows are edited to show in a certain light, they are not all they are cracked up to be in the ‘calorie counting, beasting’ way of training and diet. Well, at least Claire’s wasn’t.

    I know nutrition and I know exercise. I know what works and what doesn’t. We weight trained (alot) Plus we fat burned..(in her optimum zones that we got tested for her via gas exchange testing). She ate the right things, at the right times and never, ever counted a calorie.

    If ever I am ever quoted “Eat Less, Exercise More” I will quit my job.

    I just need to make you aware that the routines were not set by Jessie, they all followed different paths all set by their own individual trainers. Some follwed Jessie’s diet – myself and another trainer did not. We made that choice.

    We DID address her sugar addiction, and I taught her about carbs and their uses in nutrition, as well as the importance of protein and fats.

    Myself and Claire are very good friends as a result of the time and emotions we shared together. She worked so hard, and was an inspiration to me – I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years. And she inspired me in more ways that I could have imagined. She is continuing on her new life path – she is doing it the RIGHT way, no matter what the ‘TV Media’ make out. Things aren’t always as you see, or as you are lead to believe.

    Just had to leave my pennie’s worth. You cannot generalise about these people. People have no idea about the person she is, or was…or has become. It was a very hard, demanding, emotional journey, for both of us.

    But so incredibly worthwhile – she has her life back. And is healthier and happier than ever before. I just had to have my say here, thanks for listening 🙂

    • Heather, hi – thank you for taking the time to comment.

      Our comment that “Claire will have put the weight back on in 6 months, one year or two years time” is based on statistical evidence. The problem with this type of show and the aptly named “Biggest Loser” is that you are telling obese people the only way to shift the fat is to do up to four hours of exercise every day (and eat less).

      We read your comments that this is not how you operated with Claire BUT how do we as the viewing public know that – you suggest that the programme is edited and does not show us the whole picture but we say you are trading on people’s health and wellbeing and you have an absolute duty to set the record straight. Thank you for starting that here.

      You write that Claire ate the right things at the right time – could you elaborate?

      Claire is also lucky to have some one willing to work with her one on one every single day and to provide continuing friendship and guidance and support. Do you offer this service to every individual battling with obesity?

      There are much bigger issues at play here in every sense of the word….

      In the mean time, please pass on our very best wishes to Claire for every success in the future 🙂

  5. Good article Paleo. Diets focus on getting weight off fast – understandable but counterproductive. Without changes in mindset at the same time, the old habits kick in as soon as the ‘diet project’ finishes. As Ovid said 2000 years ago: ‘Nothing is stronger than habit’

  6. Two more medicos for you, on the right side of the fight.. Dr David Katz (turn the tide foundation) and Dr Mark Hyman…
    thanks for your work!

  7. This is an excellent website, I really enjoyed the advice. Thank you.

  8. I abhor the idea of making a game show out of obesity which is not just a personal issue but a complex social one. Just think of the way food is marketed…there are entire aisles in the grocery store devoted to pre-packaged foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt.

  9. I know a number of people who have been successful on a paleo diet. I, unfortunately, have a kidney issue which precludes me from eating too much protein, particularly animal protein. I can have small amounts, like a condiment, to the rest of my diet. I do eat fairly healthy, however, and basically load up on veg and fruit. My plate is typically half veg/fruit, and the other half is protein and carbs. (And I don’t load up a dinner plate…I’m just talking proportionately.) I definitely don’t starve myself or exercise two hours a day (HA! who has time?)

    I’m enjoying reading your blog, though!

  10. I completely agree: Eat more, exercise less. Slim people that eat right and exercise maintain their weight fine, but when you are obese you need to eat the right food, the right amount and not kill yourself in the gym that takes up hours a day. It’s not realistic for a working woman like myself that would still like to have a social life.

  11. Diet has become a four letter word for starvation and can induce depression, binge eating and weight gain. This is something that I have known all my life. It is nice to see that more people are looking for a sustainable lifestyle conducive to true wellness.

  12. Bingo! Most people have a flawed strategy, hence why they aren’t seeing results, despite trying really hard!

  13. May I ask a question? My boyfriend’s 7 year old son has been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (mild form of Autism). I firmly believe his damage was triggered by his immunizations (u “liked” my post earlier about the LeRoy girls, so you can guess where I stand lol). I believe his “gut” is damaged,and he is much less able to digest these processed foods. I have found a wonderful enzyme, and cannot keep him on any diet, because we share custody 50/50 with his mother, who….basically has the opposite view of everything… Any suggestions for helping his little body?

    Thank you so much

    • Hello Mrs Why?

      Read this

      and trust that if you continue with a paleo diet and primal eating and explain to your boy why you are choosing to eat this way (your tummy feels better) and how what he is eating can affect him in a good way and let him experience this..then he will follow your lead. He will experience a difference and although we can never dictate what our children eat outside the home it may be that he takes the positive eating experiences back with him to his other home? Good luck and let us know how you do?

  14. Since I’m working on improving my overall health, as well as weightloss, I’ll be looking into the Paleo way of eating. When I get back to my desktop I’ll check out the videos on your site as a start. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge in this area. Also, thanks for liking one of my post at A Walk With Words.

  15. thanks for this great article. 🙂

  16. One can have the same impression when watching the TV programme “The Biggest Loser” in the UK. Those few obese people who should feel lucky for being selected for this programme, are there to lose weight under the guidance of some wiseguys, who know very well how one should get slimmer, just their method does not seem to work at all. These fat people have to do prescribed exercises (very hard, literally making them ill), they are on prescribed (“healthy”) diet, and as a result, during one week they can get rid of a few pounds at most. At the end of the series the biggest loser will be the winner. (Unfortunately, they won’t win everything in the long run, so a least the title “the biggest loser” was a correct choice.) The whole series is very upsetting to watch, because 1. You see how desperately these people try to lose weight, 2. How totally impotent the method is, 3. How THEY are blamed for not having lost enough. (They do everything as they are told!) When I am watching this programme, I always think to myself: you should just try the paleo, and you would be amazed how easily you can get rid of those stones. It makes me sad that these people seemingly do their best to get slimmer, they are willing to do everything for this, and if they should only know how easily all this could be achieved… Just nobody tells them.

    • Absolutely, we find it heart breaking and has us getting all emotional about it too. It really is a travesty, though we are doing our bit in more ways than one to get the message out to the people of the UK.

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