Lately, Robbie Gibbons feels like he “kind of get looks at the gym.” It might be because people have seen him on commercials for the new Castaways TV show, and it might be because when the trailer aired he weighed 170 pounds more than he does now. The reality show follows Robbie, a Homewood Middle School PE teacher, and 11 others as they’re dropped alone throughout various islets in Indonesia and challenged to survive. Catch the show on ABC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. this fall starting Aug. 7, but first see what Robbie has to say about his journey on screen and at home.

How did you get cast for the show?

Four years ago The Biggest Loser came to Birmingham, and I went down there for the casting call for people who were past athletes. They liked me enough to where I got a call back, but then it fizzled out. The Casting Duo kept my information, and I got an email about a new show. I thought it would be a way for me to lose some weight and inspire others. I wanted to challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone, so I embraced my fears and took at leap of faith.

What can people expect to see on Castaways?

Visually the show is going to be unbelievable, so I hope it catches fire and becomes the Wednesday morning water cooler talk and that it raises questions. Twelve ordinary people were stranded, and I want people to be able to relate to one or two or three of them and to fall in love with them and pull for them. It’s not a last man standing show, so drama isn’t created by elimination. It’s more of a social experiment to look at yourself and see how far you can go.



How did being on Castaways start your weight loss journey?

I have always been a bigger guy, but I gained a lot of weight over the past five years and was up to 390 pounds. Before the show, I would start a diet every Monday, and by Wednesday I’d decide to wait until the next Monday. I’d do that religiously. Being a teacher and coach you’d think you work out with them, but it was hard for me to work out at work. What the show did is show me who I was and what I was meant to be and what my relationships with food was. Now I see myself and how we were living as a family, and I realize it wasn’t me.

What does your life look like now versus before weight loss?

Whatever happened on that island never ends for me because I battle with my weight and battle with my addiction. Weight loss happens in the kitchen, and transformation happens in the mind. I start my mornings at the gym at 4:30 a.m. When it comes to food, I am into clean eating, so no sauces. I eat fish, fresh vegetables, chicken and ground turkey. When I shop at the grocery store, I only shop the perimeters, not the aisles.

I still get in these moods where I binge eat, but I am working on it. I know what to order when I go out, to order a salad or grilled meat with nothing on it. Where I am still struggling is inside my house. We have taken out all the junk food to eliminate the mind game. Now if I eat, it’s vegetables or I have to cook meat or an egg.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring?

I would bring a fishing rod, a net and a musical instrument. I won’t say sunscreen because you can find shade.