When Jason Derulo was a kid, he would go for a run around the block with his brother and sister—it felt essential. As a heavier kid, the Florida native thought running was the only way to remedy the weight. When he got older, he joined the track team. The goal was the same, though, this time, the motivations changed; all the fit, pretty girls ran track. Derulo was still bigger than most and lacked speed and hops. “What I did have was the mental toughness to work harder than everyone else,” Derulo says. “I started off chubby, and, by the end, I became amazing.” And girls noticed.
Derulo’s hard work also paid off beyond the track fields. After high school, he began writing songs for the world’s biggest hip-hop artists—Lil Wayne, Pitbull, and Diddy. Derulo’s own music, alongside his dancing and performance abilities, then granted him his own limelight. He’s since sold over 50 million singles, recorded 11 platinum songs, and reached over 2 billion views on Youtube. (He only just turned 30 this week.) Later this year, Derulo’s due to release an EP.
He’ll also star in the critically-anticipated Cats (that’s right, a movie adaptation of the timeless musical) come December, which will find the pop star as the feline human hybrid “Rum Tum Tugger.” (Trust us, it’s way more badass than it sounds.)
Men’s Health caught up with Derulo at his LA home to learn a bit more about his mental toughness—and how he’s deployed this toughness in the service of attaining a pop star physique. Despite his athletic youth, however, Derulo tells us the latter accomplishment is actually more recent. The real change came after Derulo broke a vertebrae in his neck in 2012. He was “sitting on his hands” for seven months, unable to be active or go to the gym. While recovering, Derulo realized how much he needed activity. After he recovered, he took fitness to “the next level,” cleaning up his diet and refining his workout regimen.
“I’m a real foodie, so I eat a ton,” says Derulo, who stands at six foot and about 190 pounds. “And because I eat so much, I have to make sure that my diet is strict. I stock my fridge in a way that I can’t really mess up too much.” That means plenty of top shelf protein—literally—and a disciplined meal plan.
Derulo skips breakfast as part of his intermittent fast, but he’ll carry breakfast foods over to late morning, especially omelettes. “Ladies, if you want me to cook you an omelette, I can make you the bombest omelette you’ve ever had,” he says, grinning. Derulo himself eats anywhere from 4-8 eggs a day, and he requires so much protein that his fridge is about twice the size of your standard unit, requiring him to throw it open like a pair of Beverly Hills double doors.
On the fitness front, Derulo has added reason not to fall behind. “My show is very vigorous,” he explains. Derulo will be dancing and performing for hours on end—not a small cardio workout. He says he does light cardio and weights before he takes the stage. “From the first song, it’s balls to the wall. It’s got to be amazing from the start.”
Derulo’s challenge now that he’s sculpted and fit is adding variability to his workouts, especially when he’s on the road. Variety comes in the forms of boxing, jump rope, swimming, snow-boarding, and even car-pulling—anything to keep him from getting bored. The five months he spent shooting Cats also gave Derulo some unconventional moves. “Five months of full cat vibes. I was engulfed in the cat world. I went to cat school to learn how to be that cat human hybrid. It was a lot of all four movements,” he says. Cat movements meant doing the sort of burpees and crawls typical in dynamic workouts.
Derulo fights boredom, because he knows his physique isn’t something he can retain without effort. He’s never too far from loading up on food and having to take a jog around the block. Since he’s come so far, he knows what it takes, and he sympathizes with the struggle.
“For all of you who feel like you don’t have the genetics on your side—you feel like you gotta work harder than everybody else; you gotta eat cleaner than everybody else—I’m the same way,” he says. “Just because your friend can eat pizza and still have abs, that don’t mean that you gotta do the same thing. If you know that you gotta eat cleaner, that’s what you gotta do. But just know that you’re not alone. Shit, I want some pizza too.”