Ruben Studdard, Season 15 of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”
Some former contestants from “American Idol” have gone on to compete on other reality show competitions, myself included. (Fear Factor. A most horrible decision.) But Ruben Studdard, winner of Season 2 is the first ex-Idol to compete on “The Biggest Loser,” an opportunity he’s calling “a second chance.”
“In 2004 I was admitted to the hospital, and I ended up having an issue with my heart. For me, going to the doctor means the difference between me living or dying,” Ruben said on the program Tuesday night.
This week it was revealed that Studdard has type 2 diabetes.
“I am afraid,” he said.
The good news is, according to the on-site doctor, type 2 diabetes is “totally reversible” but it takes a lot of “hard work and perseverance.”
Ruben said he’s always been a heavy guy.
“I was raised in the South and it is what it is. I have a family that show love by cooking and giving you food, and that is not a bad thing, but it is a way of life where I am from,” he said in an interview with People.
“I’ve always been comfortable in my own skin. I’ve never had any difficulty with my weight, but I knew when I turned 35 that I am five years from 40 and I was going to have some things going on with me that I couldn’t reverse because of the age I was, so it is just perfect timing.”
Ruben was affectionally dubbed the “velvet teddy bear” on Season 2 of “American Idol” because of his big size and even bigger voice. I shared a bus with him, Clay Aiken and Kimberley Locke during our summer tour, and Ruben’s bus bed had to be custom-made for him because he couldn’t fit into a regular-sized bunk. I actually used to sneak and sleep in his bunk when he was out of town because it was so luxurious compared to the tiny ones we all had!
One day as we were getting ready to perform, I saw Ruben being rushed off stage with an oxygen mask. We were all worried about him and were told that the higher altitudes were taking their toll on Ruben’s bigger body. He was having a difficult time breathing.
I asked Ruben one time what his weight was: 375. But that number has gone up much, much higher in the past decade, even after losing almost 100 lbs. a few years ago.
“I feel like my unwillingness to look for healthy options now is the reason why I have put my weight back on. [People] did a piece on me in 2008 when I had lost 100 lbs. so it is not that I can’t lose the weight, it’s just for some reason I decided to stop making those healthy choices. When the opportunity presented itself, I said, ‘Man, I could come here and [the trainers on ‘The Biggest Loser’] can actually teach me not how to lose weight but how to keep the weight off’— because that is the biggest part of the battle people in America face.”
Ruben is the heaviest contestant on “The Biggest Loser,” tipping the scales at 462.
“You know what really pisses me off?” He said with a laugh. “No one said [expletive] to me about it. They just went on like it was just cool, like, ‘Oh, it’s just Ruben.’ All these so-called friends around me and nobody said, ‘You know what, Ruben, your [behind] has gotten pretty [darn] fat,” he laughs. (Edited by yours truly. Ruby could curse like a drunken sailor.)
“When I look down at this jersey I say, ‘You will never be that size again. Ever.'”
Ruben said on the program Tuesday night he doesn’t want his story to “be a story of defeat. I’m a champion. I’m very determined to reverse my prognosis.”