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My Big Fat Diet - Claire Sweeney


Monday, January 5th, 2009 My Big Fat Diet - Claire Sweeney

Claire Sweeney has willingly put on two stones - in only six weeks. The idea being to highlight how easy it is to become obese. She goes from 9st 12lb at the beginning of the process to 11st 10lb at the end, and sees her bra size swell from a C cup to a G cup.

We are what we eat. In England alone nearly a quarter of men and women are obese, with the lack of self discipline thought to be the leading factor.

Claire Sweeney is slender and super fit. It’s a body that comes at a price – regular exercise, wide food choices and years of discipline.

The programme will show what happens when she relaxes all of her long held rules and throws self control to the wind.

Over a six week period, Claire gives up her usual healthy eating and regular fitness regime for a much more relaxed approach to food. Instead of watching what she eats and exercising, Claire will eat what she wants when she wants.

Furthermore, Claire will have “complete freedom” with her food choices to find out what changes her body and mind will go through and whether she will end up feeling like a “human dustbin”. But as well as measuring the impact on her dress size, the experiment will monitor the effects on her overall health.

Claire usually eats a balanced, healthy diet and exercises three times a week with a personal trainer. Claire doesn’t like exercise but sees it as a “necessary evil” that keeps her looking and feeling how she wants. She’d love to be someone who can eat whatever they want without putting on any weight but has to maintain her healthy lifestyle to avoid putting on any unwanted pounds. Whilst undertaking the new “diet” Claire will do no exercise.

And for Miss Sweeney, it is an experience that will bring back unpleasant memories.

Her weight ballooned after she appeared in the West End musical Chicago in 2001.

She said: ‘I went to my favourite restaurant in Soho every night and had Thai chicken, fat chips, eggs benedict, Jack Daniel’s and wine. And I loved Pizza Express - I was just eating everything and dancing it off during the performances.

‘I got so fat, gossips thought I was pregnant.’

Notwithstanding, Ms Sweeney became conscious of her figure after appearing on Celebrity Big Brother, also in 2001, and went on the low carbohydrate Atkins diet, but collapsed after four weeks.
However, for the purposes of the experiment her personal trainer and a doctor monitor Claire throughout her new care free diet, checking the effects on her fitness, weight, percentage body fat and blood pressure. In a culture where obesity is steadily rising and fatty foods are cheap and easily available, the results serve up a stark warning about the rapid effects of giving in to temptation.

It has been reported that at the beginning of the process, Ms Sweeney was in good physical shape. Indeed, she has a 27″ waist, weighs 9st 13lbs, her body fat is 22 per cent. The doctor says her blood pressure and pulse rate are those of a very fit person. She will not binge on foods that she does not normally enjoy. Her diet will consist of cheese, white chocolate, custard slices, crisps and full cream milk.

The documentary will reveal that in only a couple of weeks into the process, both Claire and her friends start to notice the difference in her body image. The first tell tale sign is that Claire can no longer fit into her much adored dress. Moreover, by week three, Claire has already gained a stone and her body fat has risen by five per cent.

What needs consideration is the fact that for Ms Sweeney, an actress, body image is extremely important. Claire has to stay ahead of her game. She has to look good for the photo shoot and her acting roles. Ms Sweeney, flies to Los Angeles, a city where if you want to be famous you need the right “look”. When Claire visits a top Hollywood plastic surgeon the procedures suggested to her range from liposuction to liposculpture. To make it in LA Claire is told she would have to drop three dress sizes and is shocked to discover that even at her original size 12, she would be considered too big for Hollywood.

Moving on, as Claire’s munch period continues, she indulges herself with a triple burger. Far from finding the football sized burger too much to handle she exclaims, “Who needs men,” as she takes another jaw breaking bite.

At this point, for Ms Sweeney, she is beginning to feel the direct effect to her health. She says, “I was definitely a bit more tired and lethargic. I hate exercise. I find exercise a necessary evil in my life, but at certain times I was craving it. It’s hard to describe but at times I felt like a human dustbin.”

Upon her return to London and after six weeks of the process, she’s gained two stone, put 10″ on her waist and is now officially overweight. Her blood pressure has rocketed and at her medical check-up she is warned about the increased risk of heart failure or a stroke she would now face, if she was to continue.

Ms Sweeney argues, “It was the thing that made me stop. Not the fact that I couldn’t get into my clothes anymore and that my energy levels were shot. It wasn’t those things at all; it was the medical aspect.

She adds”Weight isn’t just about vanity and fitting in your clothes. There are more serious issues, why you need to watch what you eat. When I thought about gaining weight, I thought about becoming less attractive and not fitting into my clothes and would men still fancy me and how will it affect my work. But the biggest revelation of it all was the medical side of it, which I hadn’t even considered. That was the part that alarmed me most at the end. ”

For Claire, she returns to her normal healthy balanced lifestyle and fitness. Although shocked by her quick weight gain, her busy schedule and healthy eating will ensure she is back to her fit self soon. Claire’s message: how you look and feel is “not about vanity or ego, it’s about health”.

Well done Claire for giving viewers and readers the opportunity to see the seriousness of poor diet.

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