Jackson Carter is a Utah native originally from a Ute Indian Reservation. He was bullied a lot in school and began to turn to food for comfort. At 21, he was over 330 lbs when he auditioned for The Biggest Loser. He was the first openly gay contestant and took 3rd place in the competition. Since the show, he has pursued many of his childhood dreams and now works as a morning radio show host and a reptile handler in Salt Lake City. He also travels the country giving inspirational talks about overcoming obstacles and obtaining goals.
What do I do best?
The thing I do best is throw 100% of myself into everything I do. I currently work 3 jobs. I am a reptile handler/educator, a morning show radio host, and co-host of the Get Yourself Together podcast. Add in personal care (workout/relaxing) and a social life, it is easy to let things slip through the cracks. Here’s the thing though: when you do things that really matter to you, when you’re involved in things that ignite your passions, you can balance everything without half-assing it. I have worked exceptionally hard over the past 5 years or so to create a life that I want to live. If you’re not waking up every single day thinking “Yes! This is what I want to do. I am excited to go to work today,” you need to take stock in your life and push it in that direction.
What makes me the best version of myself?
I’m at my best when I’m surrounded by good people and positive environments. Negativity is a physical and creative drain on us. And all too often we invite it into our lives in the form of toxic relationships, bad working environments, poor eating habits, and lack of exercise. It can be very difficult to change these things. When I was on The Biggest Loser, I realized what landed me on the show was that even though I was miserable, I was comfortable. As humans, we’d rather be comfortable and miserable than take a step into the unknown in the pursuit of being happy. My best piece of advice here: stop. Stop allowing negative people to bring you down. Quit that job you hate. Choose to put yourself in a better situation.
What are my aspirations?
To be honest, I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I was in college for a little while when I realized “Okay, I’m ten grand in student loan debt and I still have no idea what my game plan is.” So I quit school and just started working. I’ve been working a bunch of different jobs. My goal is to figure out what I like most and then really pursue it. The only problem now is that I’ve fallen into a couple careers that I LOVE and I still can’t decide. My major personal goal is to become financially stable. Which is a lofty goal when you’re not sure what your future job will be. It just takes time and A LOT of discipline.
My Biggest Success?
It’s hard to pinpoint a “biggest success” because I see success as all of the times I’ve failed. Some people might say that having had over a dozen jobs by the time you’re 26 as a bad thing. On the contrary. I’ve figured out over a dozen things that don’t work for me. I feel like I’ve experienced a lifetime of challenges and heartbreaks and loss. But I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without going through each and every one of them.
My Most Challenging Moment?
My most challenging moment was earlier this year when my mom died. On my birthday 2015, my mother was rushed to the hospital after she was found unconscious in her bed. She had suffered several strokes and it looked like she wasn’t going to make it. But my mother was just as stubborn as I am. She defied every doctor’s expectation and lived for two more years (and two more strokes) before it all became too much for her. She died a week after my birthday this year. To say it was devastating doesn’t begin to cover it. My mom was my champion. My biggest fan. My therapist. My guiding light. She was the first person I’d call with good news or bad. Over the last few months, I’ve had to completely overhaul my life. I no longer have my mom as a sounding board. And I fell into a pretty deep depression. I immersed myself in work and tried to keep soldiering on the best I could. The problem with that, though, is the feelings never go away. They have to be confronted. It’s only been the past few weeks or so that I’ve started feeling like myself again. But like I said before: challenges and heartbreak are the best way to grow as a person. I will always miss my mom. But I now have the opportunity to depend more on myself and the inner drive to make her proud.
I tell myself at least 10 times per day “I’ll figure it out. Everything’s going to be fine.” Sometimes you just need to be reminded that the world isn’t going to end if you make a little mess.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
I’d have to say that my biggest role model is Judge Judy. I know, it sounds crazy. But at a time where women aren’t necessarily “allowed” to be snarky or openly speak their minds, Judge Judy defied all odds and became one of the highest paid women on TV. She gets in front of the camera every day and is unapologetically herself. We all have a lot to learn from her.
On a more personal level, I really look up to my dad. He’s always been very stoic. Doesn’t share a lot of emotions. But after my mom’s first stroke, he proved how strong and capable he really is. He never gave up on her; stayed by her side until the very end and handled it with such dignity. I hope to show even a fraction of the grace and strength my dad has.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
Living in Utah, there’s no shortage of beautiful scenery. I love to hike and camp in our beautiful mountains.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
I would die without my phone. It keeps me connect to both business contacts and strengthens my personal relationships. It keeps track of my crazy schedule and keeps me distracted when I need a little break from reality. Now that I’ve had a smartphone, I can’t imagine life without one.
My Current Passions?
I’m really enjoying the work that I get to do. Whether is recording a new episode of Get Yourself Together, hosting the radio show, or holding an alligator, I am overjoyed with the life I’ve been able to carve out for myself.