Although he was already a highly successful hip-hop record producer, there was a time when Tim Mosley -- better known in the music business as Timbaland -- had a hard time showing his face in his artists' videos and at industry parties. When confronted with the presence of unstoppably fit colleagues and rivals, such as LL Cool J, 50 Cent, and Eminem, Timbaland couldn't help but find his own "body of work" a bit lacking. But that's what drove the industry heavyweight to face the music--and to get in the best shape of his life.
In 2002, at the age of 31, Timbaland had already orchestrated monster hits such as Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" and Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'," making him one of the biggest music producers in the world. But the distinction was true in more ways than one. At 5'9" and a blimpy 331 pounds, Timbaland could barely fit into the recording studio. Originally from Norfolk, Va. (though now living in Miami), the southern man had grown up on foods high in sodium and trans-fats. Even worse, he would binge eat or -- due to his hectic schedule -- go hours without eating at all. "Sometimes I just didn't eat enough" he says. "And when you don't eat, your body stores more fat to compensate."
Timbaland knew carrying such a heavy load would only act as deadweight on his career, preventing him from raising his profile in music. As well as being heard, he wanted to be seen -- but not as the fat guy in his artists' videos. More than vanity, however, was on the line. By 2004, Timbaland's bad habits had caught up to him. "I was having problems with simple things like getting up" he says, "and I couldn't maintain energy throughout the day" A visit to his doctor confirmed his worst fears -- he had developed type-2 diabetes.
Not long after he got the bad news, however, a chance conversation with one of hip-hop's buffest bodies helped him finally turn things around. "LL Cool J is an inspiration," says Timbaland. "We were hanging out. He didn't know what I meant by it at the time, but when we finished talking, I told him that the next time I saw him, I would be right there with him." Intent on giving his friend a run for his money fitness-wise, Timbaland immediately hired Miami trainer Jose Garcia Jr. "Garcia told me to give him six weeks of my life and I'd definitely see results," says Timbaland. "And all I know is that it worked."