Woman Intentionally Gains and Loses 42 Lbs. for Controversial TLC Documentary

The British TV personality aims to show weight loss is easy in Fat and Back

Photo: Discovery Communicatons

While plenty of people are trying to shed a few pounds, one woman purposely got chunky to prove a controversial point.

British television personality Katie Hopkins, 39, consumed 6,500 calories a day and gained 3 stone (42 lbs.) in three months with the goal of dropping it all to show that losing weight is not difficult. The entire process was taped for a two-part TLC documentary, Fat and Back, which airs beginning Jan. 18.

Hopkins says the project was inspired by the rate of childhood obesity in the United Kingdom.

“One in 10 of our children starts school at the age of 4 already obese,” she tells PEOPLE. “Seeing fat kids at school really upsets me.”

She continues: “One of the key messages [of this documentary] is that we tend to give people excuses all the time for being fat, but there are no excuses. If you eat too much and you don’t move enough, then you get fat. But if you eat a bit less and you move a lot more, you can get rid of that weight again.”

To gain weight for the show, the former reality show contestant ate every two hours, consuming full-fat beverages, junk food and candy. Although eating anything you want sounds fun in theory, Hopkins says the thrill wore off after the first day.

“I’m nearly 40 years old, and watching your body get bigger and bigger and bigger in a really short timeframe is a weird thing,” she explains.

The added pounds took an unexpected emotional toll on the typically tough Hopkins.

“I thought it would be an interesting physical thing to watch someone get fat and then get thin, but actually this turned out to be much more an emotional journey than I ever imagined,” she says. “I didn’t cry at my weddings, I didn’t cry at childbirth, I don’t cry at pain, but I did cry a lot during the making of this program.”

“I get emotional strength from being physically fit, and when I was at my fattest I felt very low. I felt very vulnerable.”

To lose the weight, Hopkins limited her daily caloric intake to 1,500 calories and took 20,000 steps a day. Though slimming down was difficult, she found it less emotionally exhausting than gaining the weight.

“There was a lot of sweat and tears and pushing myself to lose my weight, but I enjoyed that journey more because I was going back to something that I knew best, which is how to be strong and how to be Katie,” she says.

And although Hopkins says she now better understands what it’s like to be overweight, she still sees reaching a healthy weight as an achievable goal for anybody who’s motivated.

“None of our lives are perfect, but you have to own your problems,” she says. “I think [those who criticize me] just feel offended that someone’s coming out and saying that. We’re so used to people being polite. My attitude is that sometimes people need a little kick up the a— instead.”

Fat and Back will air Jan. 18 and Jan. 25 at 10 p.m. ET on TLC.

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