In the darkness of the night, when the last thing she wanted was to be alone, Jamie Kinzett survived the solitude the only way she knew how: by hitting the kitchen. She would cook up a pot of mac and cheese, or layer gooey butter through popcorn and coat the top with flavoured sprinkles. Then came the cheese, the handfuls of fish-shaped crackers, the potato chips and anything else she could find in her cupboards. It was a flood of food to feed a sad soul.
"I didn't want to spend time alone," says Jamie, a 27-year-old mother who moved to the tiny community of Taylor, B.C., just over two years ago. "I didn't like myself a whole lot, so I would just binge. And then I would go to bed, and I would feel sick. It got to the point where I'd feel like puking in the middle of the night."
With a loving fiancé, George, and a toddler named Kayla, Jamie had her share of joy. But when her weight reached more than 250 pounds, obesity was her prison. She postponed her wedding because she didn't like the way she looked in a size 20 gown. And she lived like a hermit, staying in her house with her daughter, the TV and the computer. "I had just kind of accepted that I was going to be obese for the rest of my life," she says.
Finding the right community for the show
But by fate or by fluke, a very 21st-century kind of salvation was about to sweep into town. Force Four Entertainment, a Vancouver television production company, was searching the country for a community to feature in a new, big-budget CBC documentary series called "Village on a Diet." The show's goal: To help a town shed weight, get into shape and pump up its passion for healthy living.
At first, some locals weren't so sure they wanted the rest of the country getting the skinny on their weight woes. "We're trying to do what's right," says Glen Cross, the superintendent of the local golf course. "We don't want to come off as the silly hicks from northeast B.C. who don't know any better than to not eat the triple cheeseburger. [The producers] came up, and they were very reassuring that that's not what this show was about."
In the end, Force Four Entertainment picked Taylor, a community of around 1,400 people at Mile 36 on the Alaska Highway 97. Not just because of the picturesque Peace River, the walking trail and the serene green hills. Not just because the people of Taylor have a predilection for pepperoni pizza and 60 per cent of the population is overweight or obese. And not just because there's a 24-hour McDonald's nearby but no grocery store.
Page 1 of 5 – Meet Taylor residents young and old who took up the challenge of a healthier lifestyle on page 2.