As one of the original American Idol judges, Randy Jackson was an iconic presence on the show for a whopping 12 seasons. But he was also struggling with his health during that part of his life, and fans took notice.
“I was struggling with my weight,” Jackson told People in an interview. “You come in and they go ‘Yeah dawg, you’re telling me I’m terrible but you’re fat!’ And I would go, ‘I am. I have mirrors in my house. I know!’”
The Name That Tune star said his weight hit 358 pounds during season 2 of the show, and then in 2003, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Jackson decided to make changes to his lifestyle, resulting in a 114-pound weight loss. He recently told Today’s Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager that his health transformation was long overdue.
“It’s been a long time running, a long time coming,” he said. Two decades later, he’s managed to keep the weight off. Here’s everything Jackson has shared about how he took back his health.
His type 2 diabetes diagnosis inspired him to take charge of his health.
During a typical check-up, Jackson’s dentist noticed his gums looked abnormal, potentially indicating high blood sugar. (People with diabetes are more prone to gum disease, per the American Dental Association.)
A month later, Jackson paid a visit to the emergency room and learned that his blood sugar was over 500. (A healthy blood sugar range sits between 70 to 99 mg/dL.) He then learned that he had type 2 diabetes.
“It was kind of crazy for me because it ran in my family, but you always think someone else is going to get it, never you,” Jackson said. “I got it.” In his book Body With Soul, Jackson called his diagnosis “both a blessing and a curse.”
“It’s a curse to be saddled with a disease that’s life threatening and that you can’t completely get rid of (though you can certainly manage it). But it’s a blessing to get that huge wake-up call,” he wrote in the book, Today reported.
He first tried weight loss surgery.
Jackson’s diabetes diagnosis was a major wake-up call. In 2003, he decided to have weight loss surgery, which helped him lose 100 pounds. But the weight came back, and the former musician knew he needed to make other changes.
“As soon as I was diagnosed, I learned a lot about the disease really fast,” Jackson told Health. Diabetes is linked to other health problems like heart disease, blindness, and nerve damage. “I realized a lot of things that can happen if you don’t manage it, which is why I encourage everyone to do so.”
So, he told Today that he “went on my own journey to try and discover ‘How do I keep it off? What do I do?’”
Overhauling his diet was the next step.
After his weight loss surgery, Jackson had to change the way he thought about food to keep the pounds off. The star told comedian Tiffany Haddish on The Ellen Degeneres Show that he previously suffered from emotional eating. “I had to get it down man,” he said of his weight. “I had a food divorce is what I usually say. I had to let it all go and start over.”
Growing up in Louisiana, he ate sausage and grits, bread pudding, and beignets on the regular. “Food was always my thing because I grew up in the South where food and good times were king,” Jackson told WebMD in 2008. And a high-profile job touring with celebrities only made it harder to eat healthy: “After the show, everybody hangs out and eats and drinks,” he said. “There are all kinds of sandwiches plus chips, cheeses, cookies, cakes, candy, beer, wine.”
“You have to almost have a complete divorce break up … and start back bit by bit and find out the things that work with your body and you also find out the allergies and really pay attention to how you feel,” he told People.
Today, Jackson keeps lots of fruits and vegetables in his house, and “we now have the corn without the bread,” he told WebMD. But there is still room for his favorite treats—in moderation. “If you make a mistake, change it the next day,” he said. “Never say ‘I will never have another piece of chocolate,’ because it won’t happen, and as soon as you say never, there is a binge coming.” To satisfy sugar cravings, Jackson will reach for frozen yogurt or a protein shake.
He became more active with walking.
Before his diabetes diagnosis, Jackson walked for 30 minutes a week for exercise. His doctor emphasized that he needed to get more active, so he ramped things up.
“I needed to start with something I could do that was simple,” Jackson told Health. To make sure he gets his steps in, he keeps a treadmill next to his bed. “It’s right there staring at me, going, ‘Come here. You know you need this,’ [and] that makes the ugliness worth it,” he told WebMD, adding that he now walks on the treadmill for 35 to 45 minutes a day.
Along with walking, Jackson enjoys yoga. “I have become accustomed to yoga,” he told the outlet. “I love the stretching and how it makes my body feel better and looser.”
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