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The Biggest Loser Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview with eliminated contestant Ken Andrews on April 20, 2011 about the show The Biggest Loser.

Ken Andrews

Question:
Can you share with us the emotional journey for someone over 40 getting a second chance at a fabulous healthy life?

Ken Andrews:
The emotional journey is one that I've gone from existing to living and gone from a life of surviving to a life of thriving. And I would almost say that my life before was in front of a computer screen with computer games and movies and I've gone from being able to live a life that's virtual reality to actually being able to live a life that is real.

Question:
We saw changes in you and especially after your big jump. We could see a visible inner strength. Tell us about that experience and what it did for you and to you?

Ken Andrews:
There were two milestone things that happened and the first happened on the ranch where there were some things that happened in me that my life was changed on the inside. But when we traveled to New Zealand my life had been controlled by a lot of the fears that were on the outside of my life and that jump was really symbolic of me being able to deal with the fears on the outside and realizing that I can manage my fears and they don't have to control me. And it was life-changing what happened in New Zealand for me.

Question:
It gave you new-found freedom?

Ken Andrews:
Absolutely. Absolutely. I just don't have to be afraid anymore. I don't have to be afraid of failure. I wasn't afraid even at the end of getting eliminated I wasn't afraid of losing. That's what happened. And so, yeah, fear just kind of fell off the board. It wasn't a major player in my life at that point.

Question:
How has your time been at home now that you are off the ranch?

Ken Andrews:
You know what, being at home this time instead of just the short break has really been extremely positive. And our lives have changed. Everything has changed even the way our kitchen and our refrigerator's organized. My wife and the other two children have really got on board. My wife has been going to spin classes with me several times a week. It's just been a whole different life change for us as a family.

Question:
Austin did a fabulous job and is still on the ranch. How excited and how proud of you are of him?

Ken Andrews:
All of our greatest hopes and dreams for Austin are on the horizon and we're seeing come to pass. And when we first got there we were so dependent on each other I was actually physically dependent on him to help me even get up and get dressed and get moving during the day because of my health and the issues I was facing. And what's happened is there's been a healthy separation between the two of us that we're no longer dependent on each other.

We love each other and we want to be there for each other but it's not the same relationship it was before. He's actually grown up and become a man. It's an incredible opportunity to see it as a parent to actually have been able to be there with him and watch it day by day, week by week as he just progressed and became more and more. The first week we were there he would tell me, dad, I'm going to eat. I'm going to go get my dinner, this or that and by the end of the time it was like he's doing his own thing and we're teammates and we're father/son but it was very healthy.

Question:
How did your relationship with Cara change after you confronted her?

Ken Andrews:
You know what, my relationship with Cara was always really positive and part of what Cara did for me, especially in the beginning, was Cara really taught me to fight for my life and to fight for what I wanted. As a part of some of the confrontations that I had with Cara had to do with the fact of me finding my voice and saying this is what I want and this is what I need and then also recognizing that, you know, Bob and Jillian had, you know, ten seasons of experience and so I really wanted to get some of the knowledge and some of that experience that I needed to feel like me and Austin could move further in the game.

How did it change after that? There was mutual respect and I actually felt very much with Cara that as soon as it was over it was over and we went back to being as close as we were before. So there wasn't any tension that lingered or anything like that. It was just a very healthy dialogue and then we both were able to get what we needed.

Question:
Going back to your bungee jump with Bob, we got to see him saying I couldn't believe Ken said yes. Were you getting that vibe from Bob and what made you decide to go ahead and make that jump?

Ken Andrews:
First one of the things that was said to me by one of the producers was it's okay if you don't jump but we just need to have you on camera and you need to explain to the millions of people why you can't make this jump. Actually my response to that was well, I think about nine million of them would totally understand why I wouldn't be able to make this jump. But in the process of it I got upstairs and Bob said what he said and I said, you know, what, let's go up and look and to be really honest the walkway out to the edge was solid steel. And it wasn't that mesh where you were looking down through and seeing the bottom and I felt like if I could actually be able to stand on something that I could see that was solid I had a chance of being able to do it.

And so, you know what, I decided, you know what, I was there to deal with my fears. I was there to deal with my issues and my problems and so why not make my best attempt at even dealing with that one even though it was very mind numbing at the moment. The hardest thing was getting to the edge and then once I jumped it was awesome.

Question:
In the final vote we didn't even get to see Rulon's vote, but can you speak to what you think Rulon would have voted and what you thought about how the vote went down?

Ken Andrews:
I really don't know how Rulon would have voted. Let's just say it this way, the original alliance had basically fallen apart and it was because of some situations that were happening relationally and that and Austin and I realized we were at the bottom of the original alliance several weeks before. And so we had actually spoken with the girls and when I say the girls I'm talking about Hannah, Olivia and Irene and Courtney before she left and really had begun working with them. And yet it probably would have been in Rulon's best interest to try to keep me but in reality I do not know what his vote was.

Question:
You had spoken to them about the alliance but obviously it didn't go that way. How do you feel about being sent home over her?

Ken Andrews:
People have asked me whether I thought it was fair or not fair and they've asked me about how does it feel to be sent home when, you know, when you're against one of the girls that's much smaller? No I didn't think it was fair. But, you know, what, it's a game and I was with those girls. I prayed with those girls, I cried with those girls, we laughed with those girls and I could totally understand the decision that they made. And I have absolutely no hard feelings at all about how that game goes. And they're going to be friends with me for the rest of my life. Did I want to go home? Absolutely I didn't want to go home but its part of playing the game and I'm not going to be bitter over the fact that I was chosen out of hundreds of thousands of people to get on that show and have my life changed and me and my son have our lives back. Life's too short for that and I'm to excited to live the rest of my life to let that happen.

Question:
Can you elaborate on how you say the alliances crumbled behind the scenes?

Ken Andrews:
You can actually go back. There was actually a scene on camera at one point where I forget exactly which elimination it was but Moses actually said on camera in front of everyone, we need to do away with our allegiances of who's for what and who was here and who was there and we need to vote who needs to stay and who needs to go and who deserves to be here and who doesn't. And after that there was a real understanding that everybody was free to vote how they wanted to vote and how they felt they should vote.

Question:
How do the other competitors feel about Rulon? We started to get a little bit of it last night that there's a feeling that this is the guy to beat and if somebody gets a chance that they're going to off him. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Ken Andrews:
I will speak for me and Austin. I won't speak for anybody else. Austin and I had a conversation with Rulon and we had told him that the first chance we had we were going to vote him out. And it had to do with his attitude and the way he treated others. And it wasn't something that we wanted to support or be a part of. And we were trying to, and I'm not saying that we didn't make mistakes along the way too, play the game with some integrity and not allow the game play to tinge our character. And so doing we made some decisions that we made in that we were vocal to him about that and that caused some tension but we decided we weren't going to pretend to be one way when we really weren't.

Question:
Can you elaborate on what you mean by how he treated others and what his reaction was to that?

Ken Andrews:
I'm not. I'm not going to elaborate on more than that. He didn't mistreat me, okay. But the way he dealt with some of the others it just wasn't something that we wanted to be a part of.

Question:
And what was his reaction?

Ken Andrews:
Oh, he was very angry, very angry.

Question:
You Tweeted a link to a story in which you said a big part of your Biggest Loser experience was talking with the show psychologist about a really horrible childhood trauma. Can you kind of elaborate on that process?

Ken Andrews:
You know what, at the beginning of the show I - and I actually said even at the beginning of the show in some of the interviews that the process was like a boot camp where you it was kind of like we were physically getting beat down so that we could actually deal with what was on the inside. And one of the things that they kept saying over and over to us was if you don't fix what's wrong on the inside you can loose all of this weight but you'll put it back on. And so I began to have dreams and all of the sudden I would just have memories that would begin to come up. And one of those memories was a very harsh memory of my mother when I was probably three or four years old being raped. My dad was in the military and he was overseas at that time and as I would dream it each time I would remember more and I remember getting beaten and threatened and told that my dad wasn't there which now makes me realize that it was probably somebody from his base that had done this.

And to be really honest I had very few memories before I was seven years old, before the first grade. And, I mean, almost none. And through my time on the ranch and working with Dr. Hogan and actually being really loved and accepted by the contestants and by the casting and the production departments. I was really able to reintegrate most of those memories from childhood, my mother's depression, lots and lots of different things and come to grips with why I was the way I was and what drove me to deal with my emotions and the way I was dealing with them. So it was a pretty brutal attack and my mother never ever spoke of it and when I sat down at the break when we had the two-week break at Christmas time I shared with my brother and my father and said, you know, I want to be able to talk about this openly because I think the problem that's been in my life is everything's always been swept under the rug and I'm not going to sweep things under the rug anymore. So, yeah, that was the crux of what was broken inside of me and coming to grips with that was very difficult.

Question:
Can you tell us when that breakthrough moment happened and what kind of changes did you sort of feel after it did happen and just the way that you went about life?

Ken Andrews:
Because I'm going ahead and being transparent I'll be all the way. I also struggle with OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder and one of the things that happened at the beginning of the show, they take you off of all of your medications and most people don't have to continue them. I began to have some difficulties with my OCD about week three. And so along about week four they actually put me back on my medication and as I began to be able to cope with it again, once I was back on my meds, it was probably about the fifth week that things began to really click and I had really began to share with Dr. Hogan and things began to make a change and a turn for the better. By Christmas time I really had kind of turned a corner and I had actually begun to share with some of the people on the ranch some of the tragedy that had been in my life. And that's the reason Hannah and Olivia where, are, such dear friends to me is they were two of the ones, them and Courtney, were the ones that I was actually able to share what had happened to me and it drew us very close.

Question:
What do you think is the single most important thing you learned from being on the show?

Ken Andrews:
You know what, the single most important thing that I learned from the show, I began to learn from the very first day that I actually checked into the hotel when we were in sequester and that was that I deserved to be treated with respect. And one of the struggles that I had and I had never realized how disrespected I had been as an obese person until I got onto the ranch and I started getting involved with the people and involved with The Biggest Loser because they really treated me with complete respect. Even when I was so uncomfortable when they were doing the opening fitting, fitting cloths for me and that, and I was so uncomfortable with my body, they were so respectful. That was the single most important thing that started the road to the healing and health for me.

Question:
Thinking back to the first day, when you first walked on to the ranch, how was the reality different from what your expectations were before you got there?

Ken Andrews:
I never imagined it would be as hard as it actually was. I knew it was going to be hard I just didn't know that I would deal with the kind of pain that I was going to have to deal with physically.

Question:
What are some of the best or fondest memories that you will take from the ranch?

Ken Andrews:
I would have to say my fondest memories have to be the first three or four weeks because we had immunity and we were with the unknowns there was not the sense of game play. There was just this total sense of safety. So everybody was encouraging everyone and we were like one big happy team. But in those first four weeks I did so many first time things with my son that we had never ever done before. I had never been in a swimming pool with him at the same time ever in our lives together.

We had never had boxing gloves on and boxed. We had never run together. We had never exercised together. We had never punched a punching bag together. We had never - I mean, I literally - there was everyday, we had never gone on a hike together in the same kind of way that we did in those first few days on the ranch. I have to tell you, those were the most huge things. I was all of the sudden doing all of these things with my son for the very first time and realizing that it was going to change our lives and then we began to see the weight fall off. hose first four weeks and doing those things together for the first time, all these different things, those have to be the most precious memories to me.

Question:
Have you been able to keep up with your workouts since you've been away from the ranch and what has kind of been your strategy?

Ken Andrews:
You know what, what's been tough for me is because of the health issues and my injuries, and I have a really large abdominal hernia that I'm going to have to have repaired once the seasons over, and because of that I'm not able to do quite the intensity that some of the younger players can do. I've had to do the six to eight hours a day kind of thing rather than being able to do just, you know, solid running for three hours the way some of the girls can. I mean, some of those girls can fly and fly for a long time, okay?

It's been harder for me at home to be able to get that six or eight hours a day because I am back to pastoring my church and I'm back to regular life. But I've been working really hard at it and I've been doing a pretty good job. I've already jogged 4.5 miles today. I've had a spin class and I met with my trainer. So, I mean, I've been doing a good job of getting the hours I can in it just has been more difficult.

Question:
On a video on The Biggest Loser web site you say that if you had to do it again you would not choose the unknown trainers on the first day. Can you explain why you said that?

Ken Andrews:
Well, point blank, I chose the unknowns because I was afraid. I was afraid that I would not be able to last long enough to actually stay in the game. And in retrospect I realize I was a lot stronger than I ever thought I was and I would have not gone home that first month and I may have even stayed longer than I ended up staying. It really was the lack of relationships that I had with the people that were on the ranch that are what voted me out. I mean, when you look at how they voted, they voted me because they said, not Jay, I was with Hannah from day one.

And so, yeah, I would have chosen to stay with Bob an Jillian and here's the reason, the main reason why is Jillian was very crucial in helping to, and I guess the way I would say it, heal my heart. She was very critical in helping me to heal my heart. And I think I would have been able to do a little bit better and have that happen maybe a little bit quicker if I had been there. But it isn't a personal thing against Brett and Cara. Brett is an absolutely incredible trainer and his knowledge and understanding of physiology and the human body is as great or more than anybody else there.

And Cara, Cara was brought there to teach us to learn how to fight for our lives and she absolutely did that. She absolutely did that. So it's not so much that I have a beef with either one of them, it has to do with how the game was played and it had to deal with their extremes in how the game was played. And their knowledge and understanding of how that game's played because of their experience was worth a lot. And so in retrospect I would have chosen that side.

Question:
At the end of the show last night you said you planned to help fight obesity. Have you done anything along that line?

Ken Andrews:
I actually just received an email from the New Zealand Consulate in LA and they had given me contacts in New Zealand. And I feel very connected to New Zealand. And in doing some research I realized that New Zealand has the third highest obesity rate in the world behind the United States and Mexico. And so I'm hoping that I can go back and help them fight obesity and especially among the indigenous people, the Maori people their obesity rate is over 60%. And so I'm hoping to be able to do some work. Actually, I've talked with Moses and Moses said he'd go back in a minute with me to be able to do some work there and so we're hoping we can maybe do something like that in New Zealand and give back to them. Because I do feel like going there and being a part and being embraced by the people in New Zealand it changed my life. I thought I was done on the ranch because I had dealt with what was inside but when I went to New Zealand I dealt with what was on the outside and it changed me.

Question:
Can you talk about any future plans you may have?

Ken Andrews:
I have some things that I want to institute in my church and that has to do with helping to deal and address with the issue of obesity. I think in my tradition and I think in most churches, overeating and obesity has kind of become the accepted vise. And if someone in my congregation had a problem with alcohol or drugs we would very quickly help them address that. But it's not the same with food and so I'm hoping that I can, in a healthy way and in a very loving way, help bring some help to that issue and some attention to that issue. But also, you know in the immediate future I'm getting ready to participate in a 5K here at the Pasadena Marathon and trying to help people look at obesity in a different way and let people know that they can overcome it.

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