The Christian Post recently interviewed former NBC's Biggest Loser contestant Ken Andrews. In the second and final part of the series, CP interviews his son, Austin. Fans of the TV show may remember the Andrews, participants in the 11th season of the TV show featuring contestants trying to lose weight for a grand prize, as the father-son combo that both had emotional breakthroughs during the series. Three years later, after launching a health ministry based on Christian values, the duo are still having breakthroughs, but share about hard times as well.
Christian Post: Have you struggled with excessive weight all your life? How was that like for you growing up and now?
Austin Andrews: I like to say I was born a 10-pound baby, and I never looked back! I was never on the normal side of the scale, but when I hit 11 and 12 I had a few situations that happened that took my weight to a new unhealthy high. To be honest, it was during my time on Biggest Loser when some of the memories of events that really affected my self-esteem surfaced. I actually wrote a short book about that part of my Biggest Loser journey. Its called Check Into Life - You Are Worth It and I really explore my past, my present during the show, and the future I have in my Savior, Jesus Christ. As for who I am now, I have gone through good times and tough times since the show. I am not at my goal weight, a decent ways from it, but I am focused on taking myself there again, and bringing as many people with me as I can.
CP: After having success on Biggest Loser, like your dad, you had some setbacks. Can you tell us about them?
Andrews: Well, I started my journey at 435 lbs, and I lost a bit before the show. I started Biggest Loser at 396 lbs, and ended the show at 222 lbs. Setbacks for me after the Biggest Loser were a dime a dozen. I had a car wreck at one point, got myself into a relationship that was dividing my attention and my self esteem I had built during my journey on the show. I made some huge errors after the show where I quit stepping on the scale mostly out of arrogance because I had been on Biggest Loser and I believed I "could just do the whole healthy thing on my own." I made big errors, and I am, at times, a very bull-headed person to reason with. My Dad, as well as some trainers, on a few occasions tried to speak to me about the weight gain I was experiencing, and I would lie, mislead, and ultimately hurt myself by not being accountable to my teammates and not keeping a steady measure on my health. Please don't get me wrong. Not everyone needs to step on the scale daily, or weekly, but everyone needs a way to be accountable. I avoided accountability and that bit me in the end. One of the ways I try to stay accountable is by keeping my food log open on Myfitnesspal.com. Anyone can friend me, and look at my food journal to see what I am eating most days. My username is Andaustin if anyone wants to find me!
CP: Your dad describes himself as an emotional eater. How about you?
Andrews: I definitely identify with emotional eating. This is one of the reasons I think parents are the long-term key to health in the US. Parents model behaviors, provide the food, and kids learn the model. My dad and mom both demonstrated emotional eating. My dad hit his highest weight of 455 lbs after his mom (my grandma) died of emphysema at 50 years of age. I saw my dad turn to food immediately after the loss. I have the chance to change that habit for my future family, but it is hard. Emotional eating has been my go-to pattern in life and changing that pattern is not impossible but very difficult; but changing is worth the effort and it will affect the habits of my kids when I demonstrate other ways to cope!
CP: I've read your posts and comments on Facebook, you seem to have the gift of encouragement. How did you learn about using and growing in that gift?
Andrews: First of all, thank you, because I strive to represent the encouragement and hope that is in Christ for everyone who follows me. I have always been outspoken, but during the show I learned how much of a difference positively empowering others could make in their hope and therefore their performance. Since the show I've been blessed to have pastors including Rick Warren, Choco de Jesus, and Chuck Booher take the time to personally encourage me in my gifts. Personal encouragement is one of the reasons that my dad and I haven't designed a static "classroom" style online health course for churches and pastors to just learn information. We incorporate interaction and dialogue into everything because I believe that encouragement and positive accountability in a safe environment is one of the keys to men and women becoming healthy in the areas of our Physical, Spiritual and Emotional selves! So we've created 60 Day Challenges that focus on encouraging and empowering people to take care of their bodies so they can be more effective in their Christ centered callings! Don't get me wrong – we cover basic information about health and nutrition and simple workouts too, but so many people really need the hope and encouragement to get started.
CP: How is your role different than your dad's at RetroFit Ministries?
Andrews: My dad and I are very similar but we are at different stages in our journeys both with Christ and our personalities. I help to oversee all the technical aspects (website, social media) for the ministry and both my dad and I have been speaking in churches, big and small, coast to coast, and everywhere in between. I've had the pleasure of being a speaker for school assemblies and youth camps, and loved it. We both helped to create the 60 Day Challenges (the next challenge starting July 28th by the way) as well as our Faith and Fitness Retreats, and again our ages serve us well together. He has the experience and knowledge of being a pastor for 3 decades and managing retreats and biblically based experiences whereas I help to serve as a creative out-of-the-box thinker of how to incorporate health and wellness into church settings, and vice versa! Most ideas can't be traced to just one of us because ideas are always being bounced around, but our perspectives allow us to have a very unique ministry dynamic.
CP: What has God been teaching you through your journey for better health?
Andrews: The number one thing God has been teaching me is to trust Him. I am a pretty smart guy, I have a little wisdom, I am pretty logical in my steps and that's a combination that can have me relying on my own smarts and talents to overcome supernatural obstacles. In Isaiah 41:13 my Bible says that God takes our right hand into His, and says, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you." God has been teaching me what it is like to hold His hand and walk in the faith that He helps us. Being a natural born leader, and learning to let God have the lead is the journey of trust that I find myself walking constantly. I don't know if I will ever get it perfect, but I hope to make steps towards His end everyday.