Randy Jackson’s struggle with obesity began as a child in Louisiana, with its super spicy, often super-fatty cuisine. Even as an adult, Jackson still doesn't dream of sugarplums at Christmastime. Instead, he dreams of waltzing andouille sausage and grits, jigging jambalaya, and shimmying beignets and bread pudding with bourbon sauce.
“For the old Dawg, a holiday party was a chance to have something to eat, drink, and be merry, but the new Randy does not drink or eat at parties,” says Jackson, 52, today a slimmed-down 5 feet 11 inches and 220 pounds. These days his focus is more about good times and less about food since he’s recently lost -- and kept off -- more than 100 pounds since peaking at 350 in 2001.
Diabetes is a serious disease that can cause debilitating nerve pain.
Jackson’s approach to food and health is new -- certainly a lot different than when American Idol first aired in June 2002. Idol is, of course, the reality-show juggernaut that has dominated television and the radio waves ever since, rewarding one promising young singer with a recording contract after seven weeks of drama-filled elimination contests. Last year, the show was the No. 1 Nielsen-ranked program of the season, viewed by 56 million between January and May 2007.
Randy Jackson's Struggle With Obesity
Jackson has been there, in his judge’s slot, every season, but behind the scenes he’s weathered a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, major weight-loss surgery, and a wholesale rethinking of his health, especially when it comes to food and the role it plays in his life. (Check out Randy Jackson's workout playlist!)
Not that temptations don’t abound. Holidays aside, the self-proclaimed Dawg (Jackson’s nickname for himself and almost everyone else) has his resolve tested daily on the road, as he scours America for top singing talent with American Idol co-hosts Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and a new judge, Kara DioGuardi, who joins the gang this season. The days are long and the lavish catering spreads are everywhere.
Notoriously ornery Cowell is “always saying ‘We are ordering lunch, bring Randy a Dunkin’ Donut and 12 milkshakes,'” Jackson says. He pauses with a laugh, then adds, “We joke about it, but he and Paula are very supportive.”
Take the run-up to season eight, for example, which airs in January. Jackson and his cohorts visited eight cities over five weeks starting in July, dropping into Louisville, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco, among others, for two full days of hard-core judging on each stop.
Long auditions are packed with off-key contestants (and a few promising performers) -- and, yes, plenty of M&Ms and cookies. The pre- and post-show buffets do offer some healthy options, but junk food is in good supply, and who wouldn’t be tempted?
But Jackson says he’s up for the challenge. “It’s all about being aware of who you are, knowing your body, and accepting that,” Jackson says.
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