*Former “American Idol” finalist Mandisa Hundley, a two-time Grammy nominee who finished in the top 10 the year Taylor Hicks won, is now 90 pounds lighter and planning to release her third gospel album April 5, called “What If We Were Real.”

She tells the Associated Press that her emotional weight loss journey began two years ago, and the struggles fueled her new music.

“Where I was at the beginning of this album and where I ended up are two very different places,” she told The AP in an e-mail. “It’s been a process. I will always struggle with my weight. It’s the thorn in my flesh.”

Standing on a scale one morning and seeing a disappointing number prompted Mandisa to finally get real with herself and her fans.

“I had gained weight and was so frustrated at that moment that I said so on Twitter.”

She tweeted: “I’m fed-up and over it.”

“I was feeling embarrassed and ashamed. I realized that I had only talked about how great things were. I never let people in when they were not. It was then that I decided I’d talk about the bad things too,” she said.

Mandisa - before and after

The result is what Mandisa calls her most honest record to date.

She began recording “in a very dark place.” The title track and the song “Just Cry” came out of those early sessions. However, by the end of the process, she said she was back to a place of peace and joy, with the song “Lifeline,” about unwavering trust in God, the last track she recorded.

Mandisa is on her way to losing 100 pounds but said she doesn’t have a goal weight.

“My only goal is to be healthy physically, spiritually, and emotionally. That is a lifelong journey,” she said.