Nov. 8, 2013 at 8:58 AM ET
Leaving "The Biggest Loser" ranch didn't mean leaving the hard work behind for recently ousted contestant Ruben Studdard. He may be out of the running for the primary prize, but Studdard still has his eye on the at-home win and a far more important personal victory.
In fact, with the end of the season still three months away, Studdard's already well on his way to success. When he started on the show, he weighed 462. He dropped 39 pounds on the ranch, and in an interview with TODAY, he revealed that he's now lost a total of 104 pounds.
But it wasn't easy, of course, and his four weeks on the ranch was the hardest part of it all.
"It was 10 times harder than I expected," he told TODAY. "You know, it wasn't the working out that was the hard part. It was all the other stuff that goes along with being on the ranch — not being able to talk to your family and that stuff. It's very mentally challenging."
Now that he's back home, it's "going really well," as the numbers on the scale bear out.
"Hopefully I can continue to keep that downward trend going," Studdard said.
That hope isn't just about the pounds either. The weight-loss and lifestyle changes have been crucial in managing his health, which is more important than ever before given his recent diabetes diagnosis.
"The only cure for that is diet and exercise," he said. "That's what I've been doing."
This isn't the first time the "American Idol" champ has shed a significant amount of weight. A decade ago, he adopted a vegan diet and lost 100 pounds, but he couldn't keep it off. This time, he thinks it will be different because he's different.
"The last time I lost weight, I was still young — I was 25," Studdard explained. "And it really wasn't as much for me as it was to prove people wrong. ... This is a lot different. I have a completely different set of circumstances now that affect the way I approach it for my life. So I have to take it a little bit more seriously — not a little bit, a lot more serious."
And he has a lot of support now. In addition to his friends from "The Biggest Loser" ranch, Studdard's family members have started their own weight-loss efforts alongside him, and he told TODAY they're all "doing very well at home."
As for Studdard, even though the at-home part of the competition is still ahead for him, he already considers himself a winner where it counts.
"I'm working hard, but if I don't (win the prize), I’m not going to be disappointed, because I went into the house with one goal — to change the way I thought about healthy living, and I did that," he assured us. "It's important for me to do this for the rest of my life. And I hope I can continue that. For me, it's not about the $100,000 (at-home prize) or the $250,000 (grand prize). It's about changing my life."