Tenealle and Johnee went on The Biggest Loser in the hope of falling pregnant. This is their son Arrow.

Tenealle Auvale never doubted that she and her husband Johnee would have a baby, even after eight unsuccessful IVF cycles.

“I always had a belief, through the 10 years of trying, every failure we got, everything that came up against us, I always remained hopeful,” she tells Mamamia. “We’re good people, we really wanted to be able to love a child and give them a good life, so there was no reason why that should be withheld from us.”

Tenealle’s doctor suggested a way to boost their odds of falling pregnant.

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“She goes, ‘Even if you lose 10 per cent of your body weight, it does increase your chances’.”

Tenealle did more than that. In 2015, she, Johnee, Johnee’s brother Moses, and Moses’s wife Rina, went on The Biggest Loser: Families and were trained by Steve “Commando” Willis. Tenealle, who was 134kg when filming started, lost 28 per cent of her body weight, while Johnee, who was 215kg, also lost 28 per cent of his body weight.

Johnee and Tenealle (left) appeared on the show with Johnee's brother, Moses, and his wife, Rina. Image: Network 10.

“The first cycle that we did after The Biggest Loser worked. It was our ninth cycle, and it worked.”

One of the first people Tenealle and Johnee told about their pregnancy was Commando.

“He was so happy. I just remember saying to him, ‘I’m sorry, Steve, but all I’m eating is carbs – Saladas and pasta and toast – because I don’t want to eat anything else,’ and he said, ‘Tenealle, as long as you’re not eating dirt, it’s okay. After you have that baby you know what to do to lose that weight.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, thank you. Now I can enjoy my pregnancy'.”

Tenealle and Johnee’s son, Arrow, was born in early 2017. They took his name from a verse in the Bible about children being a blessing.

Tenealle making faces with her son, Arrow. Image: Supplied. 


“When we found out we were having a baby it was such a huge blessing,” Tenealle, now 31, explains. “We felt like it tied in with that.”

A month before Arrow was born, Johnee, now 42, and Moses, decided to buy a gym together. Tenealle wasn’t keen on the idea because she knew how much of their time it would take up. But Johnee wanted to be able to “give back” by running activities for community groups and people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“His love is for people,” Tenealle says. “He has such a heart and a passion for people that any way he can help people is just enriching to his life.”

Commando helped launch the gym, and the brothers were involved in running it for two-and-a-half years. When they had to close it, due to other gyms opening nearby, Johnee and Tenealle held onto some of the equipment and set it up in their garage. They still exercise three or four times a week.

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“Johnee’s got such a great knowledge of constructing workouts, so he just writes them up on the whiteboard in the garage and then we just smash them out together and encourage each other.”

Tenealle says Johnee is “probably now the lightest he’s ever been”, while she’s put about 10kg back on. But she’s aiming to keep her weight down because the couple are trying for another baby.

“Johnee is such a good example to me. He’s tough love: ‘Is having that chocolate ice cream going to get you a baby? Why don’t we make some protein balls or do something else?’ He does kind of pull me in line.”

Johnee was more than 200kg when Tenealle first met him, and before The Biggest Loser, she used to wonder whether he would be able to run after their children or even get down on the ground and play with them. Now, that’s not an issue.

“Now we can go to the park and he literally runs laps around with Arrow. He’s so fast.”

Tenealle says their son brings “so much joy” to them.

“He’s amazing. We still sit on the lounge and we look at him and he’ll be talking or whatever and it gets really overwhelming sometimes. We look at him and we’re like, ‘Wow, he’s just so beautiful and he’s ours forever.’”

Feature Image: Supplied.