Why Usher doesn’t eat on Wednesdays

Usher departs The Mark Hotel prior to attending The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala. (Photo: AP)
Usher departs The Mark Hotel prior to attending The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala. (Photo: AP)


Ahead of his world tour, the Grammy-winning musician talks about his Super Bowl exercise regimen, trying to impress his kids and the advice he lives by.

Despite the streak he’s been on this year, Usher is still struggling to impress his own children.

“I’m a boomer to my kids," he said. “I’m vying for their attention, I’ve never had to fight so much for attention—and then seem so uncool doing it."

After wrapping a Las Vegas residency that grossed over $100 million, the 45-year-old musician headlined the Super Bowl in February, performing hits like “Yeah!" and “Confessions Part II." He released his ninth studio album, “Coming Home," that same month and is now preparing to tour it internationally. The concerts—80 across six countries—kick off this August in the U.S.

Usher lives in Atlanta and Las Vegas with his wife, music industry executive Jennifer Raymond; their two children, Sovereign Bo, 3, and Sire Castrello, 2; and Usher’s children from a previous marriage, Usher Raymond V, 16, and Naviyd Ely, 15. Here, he discusses his yoga practice and the most fun he ever had making a music video.

What time do you get up on Mondays, and what’s the first thing you do after waking up?

I try to wake up early enough to have a moment of reflection. Some days I may grab a book and read to stimulate my mind. I may sit quietly and meditate. One thing that is a frequent practice is yoga. It really does help to activate my organs and get my mind moving in the right direction—as Tony Robbins would say, “make my move," you know what I mean?

Do you drink coffee?

It all depends on how I ended my night before. Sometimes a coffee martini is appropriate. No, typically I wake up and drink celery juice. I’ve been doing this concoction of lemon, ginger, water and cayenne pepper. I drink it hot.

How about breakfast?

I sometimes eat eggs scrambled with cheese. For the most part, I like them poached or over easy. But I don’t like to eat breakfast before I’ve worked out or done something physical: taking a walk, stretching or doing yoga, sitting in the sun and raising my body’s natural heat levels. Then I eat.

Is that part of intermittent fasting?

I fast, not for religious purposes, but it’s something my grandmother practiced. I fast on Wednesdays. I typically try to start around 11 p.m. the previous day, then go the entire day on Wednesday just drinking water.

What do you do for exercise? And how was it different when you were training for the Super Bowl?

That was one of the hardest 15 minutes that I’ll ever have in my life. Being able to go after it the way that I needed to do—vocally, energetically, spiritually and physically—it did call for me to consistently work out every day. I didn’t really have the time to do a lot of other things. I was remedying my body the night before and waking up the next day and eating a very regimented, low-carb diet.

Normally, my workout regimen starts either walking or with certain knee activations and reverse walking that I do to really engage my quads, my knees and glutes. I’ve had minor surgeries on my knee, I had a torn meniscus. Other than that, swimming is a really good thing to get me going, and bike riding. Weight lifting, don’t do a lot of that.

You’re working with the healthcare company Sanofi to raise diabetes awareness. How does being a caregiver to a child living with type 1 diabetes affect your day-to-day life?

Type 1 diabetes never leaves, no matter how great your number may be the day before. It was very hard to sleep at night. Before I chose to use devices that help [monitor his blood-glucose levels], I would spend the majority of my night waking up in two hour cycles, sometimes 30- to 40-minute cycles, depending on how I had to nurture my son’s glucose levels. Now, there’s a long-lasting insulin that he can take that keeps him at a level place at night.

“Coming Home" is your first studio album since 2016. What went into the making of it?

I’m a storyteller. A lot of the songs are a result of things that I experienced. This was a real opportunity for me to move in a different direction because… I own my record company [and made the album independently]. I own the masters of this album. I’m really looking forward to my “Past Present Future" tour to be able to explain some of the narrative of this album because I think the Super Bowl took the attention in a different direction, and obviously my Vegas residency had to focus on my catalog. So there’s a new chapter.

Do you have something you consider your most prized possession?

There’s a piece that I have here, “Obeah" by Romare Bearden. He’s an incredible African American artist who paved the way for a lot of artists. People should invest in art, not just because it doubles, triples, sometimes quadruples in value, but [because of] the value of opinion.

What’s one piece of advice you’ve gotten that’s been important to you?

I’ll tell you one. It’s a bit long, but you will really enjoy it, I promise you.

A: Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and bad habits.

B: Believe in yourself.

C: Consider things from every angle.

D: Don’t give up, don’t give in and don’t let a damn thing get you down.

E: Enjoy life today. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow will never come.

F: Family and friends are hidden treasures. Talk to them and enjoy their riches.

G: Give more than you plan to give every day.

H: Hang onto your dreams.

I: Ignore the bullshit.

J: Just do it.

K: Keep on trying. No matter how hard it may seem, it will always get easier.

L: Love yourself first, and most importantly, love God always.

M: Make it happen and never let them see you sweat.

O: Open your eyes, and see everything around you.

P: Practice makes perfect.

Q: Quitters never win, and winners never quit.

R: Read, learn, study about everything important in your life.

S: Stop procrastinating.

T: Take control of your own destiny.

U: Understand yourself first so that you can better understand others.

V: Visualize it.

W: Want it more than anything.

X: You’ve already made your spot on Earth. X marks it.

Y: You’re unique in God’s grace and no one can replace you.

Z: Zero in on your target and go forward.

That’s my alphabet that I’ve been reading every day.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Write to Lane Florsheim at lane.florsheim@wsj.com

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