Syesha Mercado made a spash on American Idol, finishing in third place, and now she’s continuing to make waves in the pages of OK!. Modeling some of the season’s hottest beach styles, the 21-year-old Florida native opens up to OK! about her bikini fashion, her Idol days, and why California is "awkward."

Are you a fan of bikinis?
I did one photo shoot where I was doing a few bikini shots and it was fun. And it was actually somebody I knew, so I was a little bit more comfortable. But this, to me, is just a lot of fun.

Are there any particular styles of swimsuit you dislike?
I love all kinds of bathing suits, like the one-piece, the two-piece, the itsy-bitsy ones. Well, if it’s too itsy-bitsy, then no. It just depends on what you are doing it for. If it’s like a personal photo, or whatever for yourself then whatever.

How to you stay in bikini shape?
I’m the type of who likes fitness, and I’ve always danced my entire life. So just being fit is kind of easy to do. But I really love chocolate and junk food. So I have to stay away from all those types of things because it puts on the pounds really easily.

Have you cut chocolate and junk food out completely, or do you limit them?
I’ve tried not to just eat them. But then what you do to yourself is you make your body crave it more. So then when you do eat it, you tend to eat too much of it. So I try to let my body have what it wants, but in proportion.

How has American Idol affected your workout and diet?
Lately, I haven’t even been working out. And I haven’t even been eating that good, because with Idol, we’re eating whatever they give us. I love eating organic food, and I’ve not been eating organic food lately. But now that the show’s over, I’m getting back to those healthy habits, like eating organic food and just eating enough and not overdoing it.

How would you describe you style?
My style really changes. It just depends on how I feel. Whatever look I want for the day. Like sometimes I’m incognito, so I’m wearing a hat and I’m in my chill mode with some jeans and some flip-flops. And then other times I want to look more glamorous, so I’ll put on some heels and wear a dress that shows my legs. It just depends on how I feel.

The Idol tour starts soon. Have you enjoyed reuniting with the other Idol contestants?
Well, it hasn’t been that much fun yet, because we’re not all together. We kind of have block schedules, where we go in and rehearse and then come out. It’s like three at a time, so we’re not with everybody. But when we did have our meeting, it was really cool. Michael Johns was cracking his jokes with David Cook. They’re like a little team cracking their jokes, so it was hilarious.

Who out of the finalists did you bond with?
[Malubay]. I was really cool with her. But I wasn’t really close to anybody during Top 24, because I had just got off of vocal rest. So a lot of people didn’t even know what type of person I was because I was so quiet all the time. So I guess the closest person to me at that point was Ramiele, because we had roomed together during Hollywood week, and we were roommates even then.

How do you feel about the way the judges critiqued your performances?
Well, you know, their comments can get really confusing if you let them get to you. So I always try to just take it in and use the good parts of it all, like the constructive criticism.

You just moved to California. How are you finding it here?
It’s awkward. It’s a bit difficult to find a place with a lot of space in California! I’m used to having a one-bedroom apartment for $600 with a lot of square feet. And there’s this one apartment that I checked out which was 676 for $1,5000. I was like, "What?!" I’m not used to that – $600 to $1,5000? What is this?! But you have to adapt with your environment, so I’m adapting. I’m not complaining, you’ve got tot do what you’ve got to do. I’m sure I’ll find a lovely home that’s at least 1,000 square feet.

You’re also engaged. How’s that going?
It’s good. We had a date planned. But now that all this crazy stuff is happening! I love that it’s happening, but it kind of altered everything. So we will reconvene on that. But we’re good. How much more do I have to say? I’m happy! All is good. Everything is gravy!

For more on Syesha, check out her gallery and pick up the latest issue of OK!, on newsstands now!

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