In December of 1999, Portia returned to her hometown of Melbourne, Australia, to visit her family for the holidays. At the time, Portia says she weighed around 95 pounds.

On Christmas Day, Portia sat down to eat with her family. Even though she took very small portions of food, Portia says it was a "big deal" for her to eat turkey roasted in its own fat, beans glazed with oil and potatoes. But she says she soon became panicked. Her family looked on as she jumped up and down in the living room to burn off the calories she'd just eaten.

"At the time I thought: 'You don't know what it's like to be me. You don't have to be on TV. You don't have to worry about that extra 10 pounds that the camera puts on,'" she says. "So I didn't really think that my behavior was that crazy. I just thought that nobody could really understand my life and what I needed to do to keep it up." 

Soon after that Christmas dinner, Portia's brother confronted her about her weight. "He broke down," she says. "I'd never really seen him cry before, and he just said to me, 'You're gonna die.' And it just woke me up. It was the thing that led me to think about getting better."

While that conversation opened Portia's eyes, the thing that made her change was when she collapsed on a movie set. Afterward, she was sent to a doctor who told her that her organs were failing and her health was in a dangerous state. She was only 25.

"At that point, I thought, 'I have a choice,'" she says. "And I didn't want to live like a sick person. I thought that maybe there was something out there that was going to give me joy. I just didn't want it to be all over.”


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