*2003 “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard finds himself in yet another primetime reality competition series, this time to battle his own declining health.
Studdard will in fact be the heaviest cast member on the show at 462 pounds as a borderline diabetic suffering from sleep apnea and high blood pressure. If he is able to win “The Biggest Loser” it would mark the first time anyone won two primetime reality TV shows.
“I never came on the show with the thought of actually winning, I just wanted to change my life,” the 35-year-old tells theGrio. “It’s easier in our society now to make unhealthy choices than it is to make healthy choices. For me, coming on this show, especially after this is over, it’s given me perspective. I love myself enough to take time to make better choices.”
Joining the 15th season of the show was not something Studdard sought out but was rather an invitation from the producers that forced Studdard to really evaluate his outlook on life.
He takes full responsibility for the excessive weight and is looking to make complete change.
“A lot of times you think you live on an island,” he explains. “That’s what coming on the show has shown me. I’m not the only person which that is an issue for. Everybody is busy in their own way, whether it’s running behind children or having a career life.”
In the past he has taken steps towards shedding some of his unwanted fat and in 2006 he successfully dropped 100 points after becoming a vegetarian on a low calorie diet. But unfortunately he put the weight back on and then some.
“Just like education is wasted when you don’t use it, I think a lot of life experiences are wasted on just the ignorance of youth and your ability to feel like there is no real mortality,” the artist points out. “The older we get, those youthful inhibitions and abilities to keep going without making smart choices go away because you clearly understand that life is something that’s precious.”
He continues, “The difference with me now is that I’m a lot older than I was when I was having people tell me that it’s important to get healthy. I think now it’s something that I want to do for myself.”
No matter the struggles he faces or those others come across, he maintains its not McDonalds fault or any other fast food spot.
“It’s not McDonald’s fault that people are fat and like their food,” Studdard says, “I mean, it’s good. At some point, I think what the show gives all of us an opportunity to do is to start taking responsibility for ourselves and not blaming anyone but ourselves for where we are. To say it’s Pizza Hut’s fault that I’m 462 pounds, that’s a lie. It’s my fault that I didn’t take the time out to make better choices for myself. Coming on the ranch gives you the opportunity to just take a minute out. Especially for me, because I’m used to having people cater to me.”
Along with the 14 other contestants shacked up at a California Ranch, Studdard’s journey consists in not only counting calories, but learning to cook, exercise, and formulate a daily lifestyle that can be followed when he returns to the real world.
Not typically much of a chef, Studdard says he loves to cook and the experience has taught him to reconsider his meals.
“At the ranch, every day you have to cook,” he describes. “We have to pay closer attention to the things we put in our mouth. That’s something I most definitely over the years have not been doing…You really get an opportunity to see how far you’ve left yourself go.”
Read more at The Grio.