Ruben Studdard Reveals How Weight Loss Transformed His Career [Exclusive]

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 01/23/2014 | 03:45 PM EST

The former "American Idol" talks new album and new beginnings in exclusive interview

Everyone loves a great comeback story, and no one has had one more triumphant than Ruben Studdard. Having made headlines last year for his dramatic 112-pound weight loss since joining reality show, The Biggest Loser, the former American Idol-- affectionately known as R&B’s Velvet Teddy Bear-- is ready to return to music with his first studio album in two years. But this time around, we’re hearing and seeing a whole new Ruben.

“My life is completely different,” Studdard tells Centric. “My energy level is through the roof.”

The singer is translating that feel-good energy into his upcoming studio album, Unconditional Love, which will house a majority of cover songs and two originals. Studdard says that he wants to model his career after the many greats-- from Luther Vandross to Frank Sinatra-- who covered previously recorded tracks and made them their own. Two of his favorite covers on the album, he says, are “Close To You,” which was originally recorded by The Carpenters and later Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye’s “If This World Were Mine,” which features Lalah Hathaway, who Studdard says is his favorite singer. “That’s been a goal of mine for a very long time,” he says.

But one goal that was transformative for the 35-year-old was adopting a healthier lifestyle, which he says has benefited his career for the long haul. “It’s funny how you go around and you feel like you’re feeling great until you see how you feel after losing 100 pounds. I can sing on stage for hours like the best of them but am I tired after a concert now? No. Was I tired before? Yeah,” Studdard admits. “When you’re standing up for two hours at 400-plus pounds you’re tired. I really see a complete change in my energy level and the way I’m able to deliver on stage.”

The Birmingham, Alabama native says since ending his three-month stay on the Biggest Loser ranch, he now sees the importance his health has made on his singing career. “It showed me my complete health profile, the things that I need to do to change to stay around for a long time,” he says. “I’ve worked too hard as a child and adolescent studying music to get to the place where I’m at to allow my health to take my career away from me.”

Studdard says he works out for about two hours a day, which includes cardio and weightlifting, while his diet consists of protein, fruits and vegetables and a ton of water. He does admit, however, that he allots at least one cheat day a week. “When you give yourself that cheat meal it gives you something to look forward to.”

Though Studdard has made this lifestyle change for his own personal well-being, he’s in turn inspired others to live healthier lives. The singer has a little advice for those who are, too, looking to transform their lives.

"The biggest advice I’d give anybody is to get moving. The first day generally is always the hardest day. Don’t put off working out another day. Get off the couch. Go outside, even if you’re just walking your dog for thirty minutes,” he says. “Start really small and build yourself up to it. The Biggest Loser is a TV show that everybody is not going to be able to be a part of it, but there’s a street everywhere.”

Ruben Studdard’s Unconditional Love album release and his return to The Biggest Loser finale is on Feb 4.

Check out an exclusive listen of Ruben Studdard and Lalah Hathaway's "If This World Were Mine" HERE!

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