Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty
01/18/2014 at 10:25 AM EST
Jay Sheets, one of this season
's most earnest contestants on The Biggest Loser
says he's using lessons he learned in his weight-loss journey to build character in his two young sons. He wants them to know that it's important to give your all to the things that matter in life.
The Farmington, Mo., dad, who was eliminated this week
as the season 15
finale approaches, told reporters on Wednesday that he's at hovering at his goal weight of 185 lbs., down from 297, and is using his newfound health and strength to return to one of his passions, riding rodeo, something he let fall by the wayside as his size got in the way. He said he was "thrilled" with how far he's come.
"The biggest thing I wanted to show my kids was that when you have a goal or a dream you have got to go for it. Don’t ever give up on that kind of stuff," Sheets, 38, said.
"It doesn't matter how old you are, how young you are. If you believe in something or there's something you want to do you have got to put forth 100 percent to do it."
During the show
, Sheets opened up about personal traumas that were setbacks throughout his life. Among those painful revelations: his home burned to the ground when he was a child and his parents divorced after being together 40 years.
"I got sidetracked in life and had to kind of change the past, priorities changed … I got lost for a while," Sheets confided of his past.
And now that he's regained control of his eating – and resurrected his own life in the process – he's determined to return to the professional rodeo circuit, something that had become impossible once his weight ballooned.
"It's just something I am too passionate about to give up on," Sheets said. "So it was just a matter of time, and I seized the opportunity."
He did so with his trademark cowboy hat on his head, something he continues to wear even when doing his twice-daily workouts. "The cowboy hat, it has a leather band inside of it so it doesn't soak up any sweat or anything. I just wipe it out," Sheets said. "And it doesn't smell. I promise."