She became famous on "American Idol" for challenging Simon Cowell's notions of the proper weight for a woman. And now Mandisa is getting her revenge by dishing on her nemesis as well as her weight loss success on Katie Couric's October 21 talk show.
When she auditioned for "American Idol," Simon told Mandisa that she had a pretty face. But then came the comment that went down in history as his cruelest: "We’re going to have to build a bigger stage."
That unkind remark plus her subsequent desire to get healthy motivated Mandisa to shed more than 100 pounds. And doing Zumba has played a large role in her slim-down, she told Katie. She emphasizes that she finds joy in the movement while burning calories quickly.
In addition, Zumba has helped Mandisa realize that she can achieve anything. "I’m at such a different place than I was 120 pounds ago. It also makes me feel good knowing that I’ve introduced the program to other people."
Mandisa also advocates healthy eating, telling Essence magazine recently, "Try cutting out soda and drink water instead and have more fruits and vegetables."
But she recognizes that there's an emotional component as well.
"More importantly, beyond healthy eating and exercise is the mental and emotional health,” says Mandisa. “I’m a food addict, and just like an alcoholic, I tend to bury my troubles in something else. So even if I had lost the weight years ago, which I did, it would always come back until I learned to deal with my issues."
When Mandisa took action, she sought help in all areas of her life.
“For years I’ve known that fad diets don’t work because I’ve tried every one of them and have lost and regained,” says Mandisa. “This time I hired a personal trainer to get me physically fit, went to a Christian counselor to get my spirit and mind right, and found the root of my weight issues.”
However, Mandisa has a message for her fans: Beauty comes from within.
In an interview with Zlife, she said, "When my first album, True Beauty, came out, so many people would say, “Girl, I just love that you embrace your weight—and that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.” I do believe that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, but I didn’t want to be an advocate for morbid obesity. So I wanted to be as public with this message as I was about beauty coming from the inside."