Melissa Lawson, 32, made the top five on Nashville Star and is a favorite to win. After once tipping the scale at nearly 300 pounds, she’s now down 70 and counting. OK! went to Nashville and got the exclusive behind-the-scenes scoop on the shrinking star’s secret to success.

Was being on the show your motivation to lose weight?
No, I didn’t even know I was going to audition. I’ve lost about 45 pounds since the auditions started [in March]. I had lost almost 30 pounds before the auditions.
I had been yo-yo dieting all of my life, and I realized the only way I was going to get over it was to quit dieting.

How did you start?
I started researching healthy eating. I found out that your body needs carbs, fats and proteins to function. So I did things more balanced. I found this great Web site (vitabot.com). You can log your food on there, and it will tell you what you need.

What’s your exercise routine?
I started walking for 10 minutes, then built myself up. Now I work out seven days a week. I do interval training. I walk/run for two to three minutes then I do weights, then I go back to the treadmill. I do three sets. I have a trainer, Ray Wehr, at home. I’m doing a playground workout book with him. There are so many moms that go to the playground and sit on the bench. They can use the equipment to benefit themselves in two minutes of time.

What’s your diet like now?

I wake up and have a banana. Then I take my kids to school, come back and make myself an egg-and-mushroom tortilla or omelet. I’ll have another piece of fruit during the day. I eat a lot of grilled chicken and extra-lean ground turkey. If we have pasta, we use multigrain pasta. I eat a lot of broccoli. I love cheese, but I cut it out just to see what would happen and now it doesn’t agree with me anymore. I have things more in moderation now. I used to drink four 32-ounce [sugary] beverages a day. I gave that up. I drink unsweetened tea now.

Were you heavy as a kid?
I was pretty thin until third grade, and I just started getting bigger and bigger. Come high school, I was a size 14. I was obese compared to the other girls in school.

What diets had you tried?

Every franchise diet and diet book, I’ve done it. I’d lose 20 pounds, then I’d gain it back plus some. I had lap-band surgery and lost about 20 pounds. I had it revised four times, and I finally had it taken out.

Would you recommend it?
No! Ultimately, there is no quick fix.

When did your weight peak?
About nine months ago, I was 298 pounds. I saw the 300 coming up, and that was it. I weighed myself a couple of days ago, and I was 232 pounds. I’m a size 16.

Has your singing voice changed with your weight?
I know it can happen. I personally haven’t noticed, but maybe.

Who do you think is your stiffest competition on the show?
Gabe Garcia. Without a doubt!

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