"I Have No Limitations!"

Biggest Loser alum Ruben Studdard has lost 120 lbs and embraced a lifestyle that’s put the brakes on type 2 diabetes—and him in the driver’s seat!

Deborah Pike Olsen
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Ruben Studdard, Weight Loss, Diabetes, Biggest Loser

Here, Ruben’s tips for reining in diabetes—and how they can help you!

1. Map out your meals. Ruben eats in a similar way every day. He tries to have his carbs in the morning, and he prepares meals with healthy protein and veggies. For breakfast, he might have egg whites, oatmeal and turkey bacon. For lunch and dinner, he opts for salmon or chicken and salad. “I’m a real creature of habit,” he says. Was it difficult for him to make dietary changes? “It’s hard to walk past Pizza Hut,” he confesses, “but when you’re in a life-threatening situation, you have to just do it.”

Why it’s a good idea: Planning your meals in advance takes away any guesswork and reduces the possibility you’ll give into cravings. Your doctor or diabetes educator can help you create a meal plan that’s right for you.

2. Consider cross training. Ruben exercises six days a week. When he’s home, he works out with a trainer. When he’s on the road, he gets up and does an hour and a half of cardio and 30 minutes of free weights. He’s grown fond of cross training, and he recently ran in a 5k race. “I like a lot of bang for my buck when it comes to exercise,” he says. “I like classes like boot camp, which are really intense and only last for an hour, as opposed to working out for three hours.”

Why it’s a good idea: Doing aerobic exercise—walking, swimming—and strength training can help you burn calories and lower blood glucose levels. Aim for 150 minutes per week, recommends the American Diabetes Association. Working out is not only good for your health; it can also help boost your energy level.

3. Keep unhealthy foods out of sight.  “I don’t buy junk food anymore,” he says. “You get used to not having it. If you want to avoid something you crave, you can’t have it in your house all the time.”

Why it’s a good idea: You don’t want to be tempted to reach for something you might eat in large quantities. By the same token, place healthy foods—such as fruits and veggies—in easy-to-reach spots in your fridge. Chop carrots, cucumbers, apples or other produce into sticks or slices, and store in containers to keep fresh. Or make a fruit or green salad ahead so it will be there when you need a quick meal. Then, simply add some healthy protein like chicken or fish.

4. Don’t skip appointments with your healthcare team. “We have a tendency to not want to go to the doctor,” says Ruben. “But seeing my doctor helps me make sure my numbers are where they’re supposed to be.” Also, it’s the best way to get information on how you can combat diabetes, he adds.  

April 2014