‘American Idol’ Alum Randy Jackson Explains the Pros and Cons of Gastric Bypass Surgery After He Started Gaining Weight Back

Randy Jackson established a career in the music industry as a producer and session musician for artists such as Journey. However, he’s better known to most people for his work on multiple musical competition shows. He holds the record for the longest tenure on American Idol and is now the band leader on Name That Tune. Jackson’s appearance has changed drastically thanks to his efforts to reach a healthy weight after a serious diagnosis prompted him to get gastric bypass surgery.

Though his career keeps him busy, he takes the time to ensure he stays in shape. 

Health scares convinced Randy Jackson to get gastric bypass surgery

Randy Jackson gastric bypass surgery, Randy Jackson weight loss, Randy Jackson diet
Randy Jackson in 2018 | Greg Doherty/Getty Images

Randy Jackson first spoke with People in 2020 about his challenges with maintaining a healthy weight. At his heaviest, he weighed over 350 pounds, which led to health complications, including sleep apnea. (The condition can cause people to stop breathing at random intervals and is affected by a person’s weight.)

The situation came to a head in 2003 after some cruel feedback he received on television. “I think it was season 2 on Idol. You come in, and they go, ‘Yeah, dawg, you’re telling me I’m terrible, but you’re fat!’ he told People. “And I would go, ‘I am. I have mirrors in my house. I know!’ So I think that, finally, it was that, and also I had an emergency room visit that I thought I was really sick and had a cold or something.”

Jackson was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003. It became the final push he needed to change how he took care of himself. The same year, he got laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery, a procedure less invasive than standard gastric bypass surgery. 

His awareness that old habits die hard helped him stick to his regimen

The laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery — along with support from fitness experts, nutritionists, and mental health experts — helped Randy Jackson lose and keep off 114 pounds. He also founded Unify Health Labs to sell supplements scientifically proven to help others who want to slim down.

Losing all that weight is an accomplishment worth being proud of, but Jackson was wary of getting complacent about his progress and forgetting what had brought him to that point. 

“It’s a great jump starter. You lose a bunch of weight really fast, but maintaining’s another thing because you get there and your mind tells you: ‘OK, phew. I’m here now. I can start to party and bring out the cheesecakes,'” Jackson says in a 2022 People interview. 

He understands that the key to staying healthy is treating it like a lifelong pursuit instead of something with a fixed point. 

“Anybody that’s lost weight, you lose it, and then you start eating and drinking more, and it all starts coming back. That’s what started happening to me,” Jackson recalls. “I was like, ‘No, I’m not going to spend my life going through this.'”

Randy Jackson’s diet isn’t the only way the star maintains a healthy weight

Jackson adheres to a holistic approach to his health, putting energy into considering the psychological angle for why he ate so much.

“Eating’s all emotional. I needed to really get it together so I could keep it off,” he tells People.

To lower the risk of binge eating, he plans out five meals each day — “fish, some sort of veggie, and maybe a little handful of rice or potato” for lunch or dinner, he said — and reaches for bananas, apples, cheese, or protein bars and shakes when he wants a snack. 

But Jackson’s routine doesn’t stop him from eating candy on occasion. “The more you deny yourself, the more you’re going to go on a bender and have 18 candy bars without stopping at some point.” 

Jackson appears to have the right balance in his life. He starts each day with Pilates or spinning, and he now says he feels better physically and mentally than he did in his 20s and 30s. 

“I think if I had not figured it all out, I would’ve gained at least half, if not more, of that weight back,” says Jackson, who weighed more than 350 pounds during his time on Idol. “And I’m proud to know that we did something that helps me, that helps everyone else, and takes the guesswork out of it for everybody.”

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