It’s time for another Q&A! And I couldn’t be more excited to have The Biggest Loser’s season 14 second runner up, Jackson, on the blog today. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that The Biggest Loser is one of my absolute favorite shows on television—so inspiring, so motivating, and that Bob Harper isn’t too bad either. 🙂
Last season, Jackson was one of my favorite contestants to watch. His persistent optimism and positive attitude were contagious, and he went from a starting weight of 328 lbs down to 190 lbs. Talk about a rockstar.
Q: To start, how is post-Biggest Loser life treating you? I know you work with a gay youth organization—what else are you up to these days?
Jackson: Post-Loser life is absolutely fantastic! I’m still with the youth group OUTreach and I’m now working as their health and wellness coordinator. Going to school full-time for human performance, which is basically a degree in training, nutrition and mental/emotional wellness. I will start working as a personal trainer at my local Planet Fitness. I have also been traveling around the country talking about what it means to fully live your life, which is something that I am lucky enough to experience because of the show (more on that at jacksoncarterspeaks.com).
Q: What was one particularly significant or memorable moment for you on the Biggest Loser ranch that didn’t air on TV (feel free to take this in the serious or goofy direction)?
Jackson: I remember playing Frisbee out on the lawn, which happened to be completely gopher-infested (those filthy rodents!). My foot caught a gopher hole and I ended up getting a grade 2 ankle sprain on my right ankle. It swelled up to the size of a softball and my leg was black and blue from my knee to my toes. I started sobbing—not just crying, SOBBING. It wasn’t so much the pain. It was more the fear that after all the work I put in, how many obstacles I overcame, and how far I had come, I was going to leave because I was doing something as stupid as playing Frisbee on an uneven surface.
Luckily our athletic trainer, Sandy Krum, was there to calm me down, get me out of my own head, and teach me that there is ALWAYS a way to workout. Even if I could barely walk, he helped me realize that I could overcome the pain and get back to work. I am eternally grateful to Sandy for that. I ended up being the biggest loser in the house that week.
Q: What’s been the biggest challenge in keeping off the weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle post-Biggest Loser? How do you overcome it?
Jackson: The hardest part about being off the ranch is prioritizing my schedule. Between work, school, travel, volunteering, running my blog and speaking engagements, it can be challenging. I have to consciously make an effort to cook and work out. Luckily I still have my BodyMedia fitness tracker because I can refer to it as a guide. If I need to know how much time I need to spend at the gym, I look at my calorie burn and calorie intake on the app and I can figure out how long I need to schedule my gym time for. That, on top of prepping meals ahead of time, are my keys to keeping it off.
Q: What does your weekly workout regimen look like these days?
Jackson: I tend to work out 6 days per week. On my off day I also try to squeeze in a small walk or yoga Class to rehab my mind and body. My roommate and I are currently looking for a spartan race to run, so together we have been doing a lot of strength training. Having each other keeps us motivated to go to the gym.
Q: Do you have a favorite workout (yoga, running, CrossFit, etc.)?
Jackson: A absolutely adore spinning. I actually have an audition to become a spin instructor at my university. It’s just such a fun way to get my cardio in. When the room is dark and the music is pumping, you can’t help but move your feet.
Q: Is there one exercise or workout in particular that you have a love/hate relationship with?
Jackson: Running is both my best friend and my scorned ex-lover. The first couple miles are painful and I always want to quit. But when I break passed that wall, there’s no stopping me and I get such an amazing high off it.
Q: You’ve mentioned the importance of balance in living a healthy life (which I love, because I’m definitely a green juice in the morning, beer on the weekends kind of girl!). When it comes to balancing your social life, do you have any tips for eating at restaurants or parties without sabotaging healthy eating habits?
Jackson: The best advice I have ever given was to someone who caught me with a mug of beer in my hand. She asked why on earth I would be drinking that after all I have gone through. Without even thinking about it, I told her that I allow myself these things in moderation on the weekends to avoid binging on them during the week.
Sunday-Thursday, I eat lean meat, whole grains and tons of veggies. The weekends are my time to indulge. If you completely cut everything you love out of your life, you are going to fail because that is a crash diet, not a balanced lifestyle. Health isn’t a sprint; it’s a lifelong marathon. Enjoy the course.
Q: What’s your go-to healthy snack?
Jackson: I am all about the hummus, pita chips and baby carrot life. I pre-portion hummus into little cups and the chips into baggies. Great for a good-to-go hunger fighter.
Q: If we were to open up your refrigerator right now, what would we see?
Jackson: You’d see a ton of meat because my grocery store was having an awesome sale. Pre-cut veggies ready to be thrown into an omelet. Avocados for DAYS. Almond milk for added protein and calories for recover days. And, of course, a sampler pack of locally brewed beer because I’m human.
Q; I saw on your blog that you were snapped for an Atlanta street fashion blog (killin’ it with the bowtie-pocket-square combo!). I’m sure losing the weight opened up your clothing options—how has your personal style changed since Biggest Loser?
Jackson: I dress now how I have always wanted to, which means I can walk into any store anywhere and know that something will fit. At 330 lbs, options for clothing were few and far between. I am loving the variety of color, patterns and materials that I could never wear before. I’m having a blast experimenting with new things.
Q: And on another fashion note, when it comes time to hit the gym, do you have any favorite fitness apparel brands?
Jackson: When it comes to the gym, I pretty much wear whatever is clean (or only worn a couple times if I’m running short of quarters for laundry). I’ve always wanted to try some Lululemon because they have some very handsome clothing options. The only name brand I look for in the gym though is my BodyMedia. It’s the most important because it’s my lifeline.
Q: What’s currently your favorite song to workout to?
Jackson: I am falling all over myself for Katy Perry’s “Roar.” It’s an absolutely phenomenal song for when I’m feeling like I can’t do something. I hear it and I can’t help but feel like I can take on the world.
Q: It’s the big morning vs. evening debate: when’s your favorite time of day to workout?
Jackson: I usually work out at night. My school schedule usually has me up pretty early, so my roommate and I hit the gym after class and work. It always puts me right to sleep and relieves me from the stress of the day.
Q: Having now been on the show yourself, I’m sure watching this upcoming season’s contestants will be a totally different experience. What are you most looking forward to in Season 15?
Jackson: I’m mostly excited to get to know the new contestants. All of us on BL are like family. Going through what we all have gone through bonds us more than I can even explain. I have relationships with contestants that I have never even met before that would make you guess we have been life-long best friends. I can’t wait to share that part of my life with 15 new people. Bring it, season 15.
To keep up with Jackson, check out his blog, Jackson Carter Speaks. You can also follow him here:
A big thanks to Jackson, and be sure to tune into the season premier of Biggest Loser Tuesday October 15th 8PM on NBC. Ahhh I can’t wait!