By Rene Lynch Los Angeles Times
“American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard concedes that his weight loss on “The Biggest Loser” was less than stellar, leading to his elimination and marking the second time he was eliminated from the show for failing to lose enough weight.
But off screen? The balladeer Velvet Teddy Bear — who joined the weight loss reality show at 462 pounds — says he is down 113 pounds, and counting.
Perhaps more telling? He said he recently ran a 5K race, and was surprised that he still had some energy left at the finish line.
“After the second mile I still wasn’t tired,” he said. “I really kind of held back a lot because I’ve been having some issues with shin splints and knee issues after leaving the ranch.
“And so I kind of held back a lot and once I was coming across the finish line I was like ‘Wow, I probably could have ran that a lot faster’… I most definitely feel like ‘The Biggest Loser’ helped with that because I’m in much better physical condition.”
Studdard dismissed speculation that the show pulled strings to bring him back after his first elimination. Producers determined that trainer Jillian Michaels broke show rules by giving her players caffeine supplements. That violation led to the earlier week’s elimination being overturned, paving the way for Studdard’s return.
But some critics thought more was at work, and that the NBC weight-loss reality show was maneuvering to bring back their celebrity contestant.
“Well, I don’t think that happened,” Studdard said. “I don’t think it at all was any conspiracy to bring me back. … It’s just something that happened and because of fairness, you know, the issues, they brought me back.”
He said he has two priorities until the finale: His new album, and continuing to work on his health. Asked whether he would perform at the finale, he said: “You never know. … Watch and see what happens.”
Studdard said leaving the ranch was just as hard the second time, due to the close bonds he had made with his fellow competitors.
And he also knew going home wouldn’t be easy. “I knew in the back of my mind that I still had a lot of work that was waiting on me when I left the ranch. … The album that I had to work on with David Foster and I had to continue to work on myself.”
And he added that he got right to it: “As soon as the next day started, my work started.”
He said his time at the ranch was a “wonderful experience” and an unexpected one, too. “I had no intention of going there and making the new friends and I did.” He added: “I met some wonderful people that I’ll probably be friends with for the rest of my life.”
Studdard has long struggled with his weight, but said he believes this weight loss will last. “Finding out that I was diabetic … was like a real shock,” he said. “I have a lot to keep me motivated to stay healthy.”
He said that he was shocked, just like viewers, at his inability to lose big numbers while at the ranch. At the last weigh in, he only lost two pounds, while one of his teammates lost 12.
“We work hard, seven or eight hours a day and sometimes the scale just doesn’t show the hard work that you put in,” Studdard said.
“The Biggest Loser” airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC.