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Ruben Studdard on why he joined 'Biggest Loser': 'I'm fat as hell'

Sep. 4, 2013 at 1:00 PM ET

Image: Ruben Studdard.
Paul Drinkwater / NBC
Ruben Studdard didn't know he was borderline diabetic until he arrived at "The Biggest Loser" ranch.

Ten years after he took the crown on the second season of “American Idol,” Ruben Studdard is making his return to reality television — and trading microphones for weights. The soulful R &B singer said that the reason he decided to do the show is simple.

“Because I’m fat as hell!” Studdard joked to TODAY.com. “No, really though, they called and asked me to be a part of the show and I knew it was time for me to change my life. I’m 462 pounds. If anybody needs to be here, I do. “

He added that although his weight has fluctuated over the years, he's always been big. However, "I don't think I've ever been this big, though," he said.

After he arrived at the "Biggest Loser" ranch, the man known as the Velvet Teddy Bear learned that he was borderline diabetic. 

"What’s crazy is that I actually had a physical in December and I was fine," he said. "This is why when people ask me what my turning point was why I wanted to lose weight, I say my age. ... I have high blood pressure now, and, six months into being 34 I get here and find out I’m borderline diabetic, which means if I keep going, by the time I’m 35, I could probably have Type II diabetes. So this was perfect timing for me."

Studdard, who also suffers from sleep apnea because of his weight, said he was determined to get healthy even though he knew it would mean stepping in front of the reality TV cameras and putting his personal life in front of the world again.

“I had no desire to be the next ‘Real Husband’ or anything like that!” he said. “This opportunity was about me getting myself together. It had nothing to do with popularity or fame because I’ve got that. This was about me changing my life.”

Studdard, along with 14 other contestants, arrived at the ranch in June and began working out immediately with trainers Dolvett Quince, Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper. He admits that some of his cast mates seemed surprised — and even a bit star struck — when they walked in on the first day and saw an “Idol” champ. But that quickly subsided.

“They were most definitely shocked to see me when they came in the room, but that wore off really fast because the next day we were all here getting our butts whooped (by the trainers),” he explained.

Appearing on “The Biggest Loser” did force Studdard to rearrange his concert schedule and even cancel a few gigs, but the singer says in the end, it will be worth it.

“I’ve just been blessed not to have my weight be an issue that affects my musical career,” said Studdard. “Singing will be there. Being here for four months isn’t going to kill my career. If four months kills my career, then I don’t have a career.

“People come to your concerts, they come to hear me sing, but they also want to see Ruben Studdard,” he said. “If Ruben Studdard is not there because of health reasons, then what are they coming to see? Nothing. ... I want your children to be able to buy my record and come to my concerts.”

The 15th season of “The Biggest Loser” premieres on Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

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