'Biggest Loser's' Biggest Contestant Ruben Studdard: I'll Drop the Pounds, but Don't Touch My 'Taco Meat'
Can "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard become the first person to win two major network reality competitions? The man "Idol" fans remember as Season 2's "Velvet Teddy Bear" certainly wants to trim his 462-pound frame, which makes him the heaviest competitor when the new season premieres Oct. 15.
And while he says he's completely on board with dramatically changing his eating habits and committing to daily workouts, there's one thing the Grammy-nominated singer won't give up: his "taco meat."
In the preview clip above, Studdard joins his fellow contestants in an ice bath, to relax the muscles that have taken a beating during one of "Biggest Loser" trainer Jillian Michaels's trademark workouts.
When he steps out of the tub, Studdard's generous covering of back hair — or what he refers to as his "taco meat" — catches Michaels's eye.
"We're gonna need to wax that back of yours, I'm telling you right now," she tells Studdard.
"Let me tell you something, baby. ... That's the real man in me," Studdard says with a laugh. "You know what, that's what's wrong with y'all. Y'all have womanized men. Back in the day, artists would have their taco meat showing on the album covers, and everybody liked it. ... I'm bringing the real man back!"
The Birmingham native, a borderline diabetic who's also dealing with high blood pressure and sleep apnea, has said he decided to join "The Biggest Loser" after several years of touring and yo-yo dieting, which included losing 100 pounds in 2006 — then regaining it, and additional weight — while following a vegan diet.
"What I found when I was a vegan was that I never really paid attention [to] or looked for the healthy options," says Studdard, who turned 35 in September. "So that's why I didn't know they were there. I just went to what was quick. Or I got somebody, a roadie, to go out and get pizzas for everybody. ... It was, 'How can we get the band on the bus and movin' in 30 minutes?' And how you do that is you send someone out with a $100 bill to McDonald's and buy everybody sandwiches."
Studdard also says he and the other contestants on "The Biggest Loser" have learned that one of the keys to their success on the show, and continuing to lose weight afterward, is making the time to prepare their own healthy food.
"The biggest takeaway I want from this experience is just how to be a better me," he says. "I've already accomplished more in my life than I ever expected to. ... I said I wanted to be a national recording artist, and I did that. It took a lot of hard work. It took me 23 years to get there, but I got there. And after I got there, and after I got to that point, I started working with that and not really taking care of this [body]. I want to leave [the "Biggest Loser" ranch] knowing they're both equally important."
There's good news for fans who wished the network would shorten those filler-packed two-hour episodes every week: Most of the Season 15 installments of "The Biggest Loser" will be shortened to one hour.
Another potentially fun change for the new season: Each "Biggest Loser" trainer — Michaels, Bob Harper, and Dolvett Quince — will get a "Trainer Save," which they can use to spare one eliminated contestant from going home.