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‘Heavy’ television star loses 100 pounds

Gainesville woman's weight loss inspired husband to get in shape, too

POSTED: February 27, 2011 11:23 p.m.
/Courtesy David Holloway

Jill Adams works out during the filming of the A&E series "Heavy" in Hilton Head, S.C. last July.

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Jill Adams of Gainesville was not the teacher she thought she could be.

At 305 pounds, the future star of an episode of A&E's "Heavy" spent most of her time sitting down in her Sawnee Elementary School classroom.

"I was tired all the time," she said. "I would sit at my desk and teach."

The 35-year-old's struggles with weight began as a child. Though she was always very involved in school activities, her feelings of inferiority turned her into an emotional eater.

"I was definitely a people-pleaser," Adams said.

She went from being a chubby child to an obese adult. When a doctor told her that she couldn't have children because of her weight, she gained another 20 pounds as a result of emotional eating.

"It's just a vicious cycle," she said.

Adams started trying to get on shows like "Biggest Loser." She was a finalist, but was not accepted.

Her failure just made her eat more.

In early 2010, a producer contacted her about applying for "Heavy," a new docudrama. Unlike other obesity-themed, shows, "Heavy" was not a competition. It focused on people achieving their personal goals.

But Adams said she wasn't interested.

"At first I said ‘No. I've been rejected already; I've gained thirty pounds. I can't do this; I can't be rejected again.'"

But when the producer sent her a long e-mail telling her not to give up, Adams spoke with her husband, and he encouraged her to submit the application video. On March 1, 2010, Adams learned she was chosen to be on "Heavy."

Taking a medical leave of absence from her job, on May 3 Adams went to Hilton Head Health, a resort-style weight loss facility in South Carolina.

The "Heavy" series has two parts filmed by two different camera crews. Unlike the participants in the previous Texas episodes, Adams and the 11 others she joined would stay at the weight-loss facility for the duration of the filming. The camera crew came in intervals, checking on the progress of the cast.

"Every other week you'd see a camera in your face," Adams said.

But the prospect of being on television kept her responsible.

"It's just a great accountability partner," she said.

The day would begin with a light breakfast buffet, with lunch and dinner served by the staff. The cast exercised four to five hours a day, taking part in kick boxing classes, yoga, swimming or beach boot camp.

Adams found the first half of her stay the most difficult.

"My body was in shock the first couple of days," she said.

After three weeks she was hospitalized because of dehydration. Once released, she had a day of rest, but jumped back into exercise too quickly. The camera crews were there, and she wanted to do well.

"I felt like I had to perform," she said, "I couldn't let anyone down."

Adams fainted during kick boxing and broke down again later. But despite her difficulty, Adams said she and the rest of the cast found the trainers to be very supportive.

"They were like my biggest cheerleaders," she said.

Adams said her time at Hilton Head Health was a chance to get to know who she was and what she wanted. She was allowed one opportunity to see her husband, but the couple decided to hold off until her revealing at the end of the six months.

"This was a time I needed to focus on myself, and I wanted him to be wowed when he saw me."

Back at home, husband Clint kept himself busy with finishing the basement and jump-starting his own weight loss program by working out.

The couple spoke on the phone every day. Having met via eHarmony in 2004, the couple had done the long-distance thing before. Their separation was most difficult around July, when Adams' birthday and the couple's anniversary is.

"It was tough around then," Clint Adams said.

The two reunited at the hair salon, where Adams was getting ready for her revealing. She had lost 100 pounds.

"I was kind of taken aback. I was shocked," Clint Adams said.

After the big reveal at the elementary school, the couple went to the fertility clinic, where they received good news: Pregnancy was now a possibility.

Together Adams and her husband have improved their eating habits. They limit their eating out, and on Sunday Adams plans their meals for the week.

"Because her attitude about eating has changed, mine has too," Clint Adams said.

The couple are running in a half-marathon this weekend. They follow a training guide and increase their miles every week.

"I used to joke and say the only time I could run is if there was an ice cream truck," Adams said.

Adams has not seen any footage from the show and will be watching when it premieres on A&E tonight.

She said she hopes viewers will see her as a real person, and that they too can achieve their weight-loss goals.

"Take the first step," she said, "Just believe in yourself."

Adams's episode premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on A&E.



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