Energy and weight loss secrets from Biggest Loser contestant Jackie Evans

When FOF Jackie Evans was eliminated from Season 5 of the Biggest Loser, she was 90 pounds lighter and had more energy than she’d ever had her entire life. Now, four years have passed, and Jackie no longer has a crew of pro trainers and nutritionists to keep her motivated, yet she has kept her weight down and energy up. How does she keep charged? Here, FOF chats with Jackie Evans about her post-Biggest Loser weight loss and energy secrets.

How did you get involved with “Biggest Loser?”
I had watched Biggest Loser every season. I’d sit with a bowl of popcorn with a stick of butter on it and say, ‘why can’t I lose weight?’ I wished I could be on the show but thought they wouldn’t let anyone my age compete.. They were having an open casting in Chicago and I encouraged my son Dan to go. He tried out and made the show, but the producers said, ‘we have a twist, this season duos will compete, is anyone else in your family overweight?’ And he said, ‘yes, my mom.’ They interviewed me, then they interviewed us together and low and behold we made the show.

Before you competed on The Biggest Loser what was your energy like?
I had no energy. I’d come home from work and I was exhausted. I had chronic fatigue. I remember my first day on the Biggest Loser, they wanted us to run on the treadmill. I couldn’t even run twelve seconds. By the end, I could run 45-minutes straight non stop. This year, I’m running 19 half marathons with my son Dan as part of an initiative called Team Future.

What is Team Future?
Since Dan and I lost a combined 225 pounds, we’ve been lucky enough to share our story with thousands. Our goal has been to educate children and families on the importance of exercise and healthy eating habits. We established a non-profit with this mission called Kids Fit. Dan and I [Team Future] are running a total of 500 miles to raise money and awareness.

You really went from not being able to run for twelve straight seconds to marathons?
Yes, [but a secret is] that I do the run-walk which is different than just running. You make your own intervals. When I first started I would run for 1 minute and walk for 6. Now I run for a minute and a half and walk for 3. Nineteen half marathons aren’t good for your body at all. You’ll break your body down instead of building it up. The run-walk is an incredible challenge every time I do it. It’s cardio challenge, interval challenge and energy booster, yet I’m not destroyed and I don’t feel punished.

What was a day in your life like before competing on The Biggest Loser?
I’ve always been an early riser. I’d get up between 6 and 7 in the morning and have what I call ‘me time.’ I’d drink a cup of coffee or two, sit in my chair and ponder and plan. Then, about 9 a.m. I’d go into work and grab another cup of coffee on the way out the door. No breakfast. I’d work all day at my computer. I knew if I ate I’d get tired, so I didn’t eat until 3 p.m. I’d eat whatever we were ordering out, maybe a sandwich, a burger or barbecue chicken. Then about an hour later, around 4 p.m. I’d get so tired. I’d want to take a nap, I’d try more coffee. Finally around 5 p.m. I’d go home, turn on my Tivo get my shows going, and pretty much eat all night long. I’d tell myself, ‘I had a heavy lunch I’m only going to eat a little something.’ So I’d have some cheese, I’d still be hungry and then I’d eat a half a sandwich. Then, maybe I’d have some popcorn. Then it would be back to bed and I’d pick up the same thing the next day.

Were you always overweight?
I struggled with my weight all my life. I tried every diet, I own every weight loss gadget you can buy on TV. I never ate regular meals. I found out when I was on The Bigger Loser that my yo-yo diet destroyed my metabolism.

What is day in your life like now, almost four years after to competing on The Biggest Loser?
I still get up early and have my “me time.” I have one cup of coffee instead of four. I eat breakfast now — four egg whites and one whole egg and one cup of fruit. I do three 12-minute workouts before I leave for work–  abs, lower body and upper body. Once I’m at my office, I set an alarm on my phone to tell me to eat every few hours because I can get so caught up in my work and forget to eat. For lunch I have a sandwich with four ounces of turkey, mustard (only 5 calories!) and lettuce on Ezekial bread, the whole thing is 450 calories. I cut the sandwich in half and eat each half a few hours apart. When I get home, I’ll have a protein bar, then I go outside and run a minimum of three miles but sometimes up to six. After, I’ll eat dinner — usually just protein and vegetables. Then I’ll watch TV in my chair, not in bed like I used to and go to bed at around 11 p.m.

Do you still get sleepy in the afternoon?
No. I go a full day and don’t get tired anymore. Food is your fuel. That’s the biggest thing I learned as a ‘Biggest Loser.’

Your favorite energy boosting snack?
I absolutely love Power Crunch bars. I’ve searched high and low and tried every protein bar in the world and these are the most delicious. They are 200 calories per bar and 14 carbs. It’s the perfect snack. On the show, they taught us to eat a protein and a carb together to kick-start your energy. So sometimes I’ll eat an apple and some almonds. For me, it’s about is keeping my blood sugar stable all day. I don’t drink energy drinks.

Have you had trouble maintaining your weight after the show?
I lost about 90 pounds on the show and right now I’m within five pounds of my finale weight. I struggled when I first came off the show because it was a whole new challenge when I was back at home. I had trouble figuring out how to make what I learned on the show part of my life.

What’s advice do you have for keeping energy up and weight down?
The most important thing is to plan.  I plan out what I’d eat and how I’d exercise on a perfect day. I plan a different routine for each day, because I have different commitments every day of the week.

What’s the biggest mistake you think people make when it comes to their energy?
They confuse mental exhaustion with physical exhaustion. I’d come home after sitting in an office all day and be exhausted. But, I was mentally tired not physically tired. I didn’t know the difference. You just need to get active immediately, get moving.

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