For those who have not seen pictures of director Peter Jackson recently since the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, many fans may not recognize the slimmer and younger looking Hobbit director who had went through a period of weight loss and weight gain in the last 10 years. Jackson, 52, lost about 70 pounds within almost two years between early 2004 to December 2005, according to People. During that time, Peter Jackson was filming King Kong and working 21-hour days.
Instead of chowing down his meals from the food truck, he brought his own food, which consisted of yogurt, muesli and soup. For his workout, Jackson simply exercised at his home gym, blending traditional cardio and strength training. He said that he got “tired of being overweight and unfit,” which initiated his personal diet and exercise regimen.
However, between 2009 to 2011, Peter Jackson was gradually gaining some of the unwanted pounds back – up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds), according to New Zealand Herald in 2011. With the long hours of filming and directing of the film The Adventures of Tintin in 2010, it is very likely that Jackson had gained the weight from stress, lack of sleep, and other lifestyle habits. These factors may have caused him to revert back to his old eating habits.
For many years, the concept of why dieters tend to rebound and end up weighing even more than they did when they originally started dieting have baffled many health and fitness professionals. A 2007 editorial from the International Journal of Obesity by Dr. Abdul G. Dulloo from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland stated that there are several factors that could cause the rebound. One of these factors is biological feedback, which is the self-regulatory system in the brain that controls appetite and the ability to conserve energy. While this factor alone does not explain entirely why people tend to rebound after a period of weight loss, it is likely that dieting can cause the body to conserve and burn fewer calories (thermogenesis) to preserve the “normal” obese state. The less calories one eats, the less calories burned in the body, according to this theory. Other factors that were mentioned in the Dulloo’s editorial include self-regulatory failure and energy economy during the dieting period.
Whether Peter Jackson’s recent weight gain is caused by a combination of these factors or not, long work hours, sleep loss, and stress in directing and filming the new Hobbit trilogy could contribute to the director’s expanding waistline. Unlike other celebrities, such as Christian Bale or Mila Kunis who had to change their physical appearance to fulfill a character role, Jackson’s weight fluctuation is likely influenced more by lifestyle and environmental factors rather than a deliberate attempt to puff up or slim down.
In the case of Bale, he had to gain 40 pounds – mostly by indulging on cheeseburgers – to play his character in The American Hustle in 2013. However, to play Moses in the upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), Bale had to drop several pant sizes to depict his character more accurately.
Could Peter Jackson follow Bale’s ability to transform his physique to a healthier self? Not very likely. Both men have different lifestyles, responsibilities, and perhaps different genetics, which could influence the ability to lose weight or not. If Peter Jackson wants to stop the weight gain and loss cycle and change his rotund hobbit appearance, he may have to quit being a director and make different lifestyle changes. Then again, his fans may not like the idea of Jackson retiring yet.
Opinion by Nick Ng
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