How do you top 10 years in the entertainment game and over 20 million albums sold worldwide? For 35-year-old Cornell Haynes, Jr., better known to us as Nelly, there is always a new page in the book of success to turn. The entertainer is on the verge of releasing a new fitness DVD called Celebrity Sweat on September 28, followed by his fifth studio album Nelly 5.0 on November 11.
While he’s been at the forefront of Apple Bottoms since 2003, Nelly’s endeavors outside of music have gone in several directions. He was the first ever spokesmodel for Sean John‘s underwear line, and put out his own branded lines with both Nike and Reebok.
Nelly is an active philanthropist, and campaigns for both the 4Sho4Kinds Foundation, which helps improve quality of life for children born with developmental disorders; and Jes Us 4 Jackie, set on recruiting people across the country to donate for bone marrow and stem cell transplants. As most fans are aware, the latter was named after Nelly’s sister Jackie, who passed away in 2005 after a valiant battle with leukemia.
Needless to say, 2010 marks a decade of trial and triumph for the busy entrepreneur. In the midst of his hectic New York promotions, Nelly sat down with UrbLife.com for a few moments to discuss the ways he balances fitness, family and career.
You’re putting out a workout DVD, and you’ve always stayed very physically fit. What has changed for you as you’ve gotten older? Have you had to make adjustments in your routine?
Nelly: When you’re younger you can get away with a lot of different things because your metabolism runs a different way. Sometimes it’s through the roof for no apparent reason. As you get older, your metabolism slows down and your body tends to be more tired than before. Any time you can do things to offset that and generate energy to feel better [is a good thing].
Life is about numbers anyway – you just want the percentages in your favor, but it’s about balance. I’m not saying you should be one specific way, you can have someone who never smoked or drank that worked out every day and still had a heart attack, and you can have someone who’s eating wrong and overweight with high cholesterol that outlives them. But if you’re going to do certain [unhealthy] things, you should try to offset that with things that may be a little better for you.
When you talk about balance, what is a day in your life like when it comes to eating, exercising and maintaining a good schedule along with your work?
Nelly: I’ve been really fortunate with a lot of things because I get away with eating a lot of junk foods, carbs and fast food. I don’t eat red meat, I haven’t eaten red meat in the past 12 to 15 years, and I try not to eat a lot of fried foods. Be that as it may, I do eat a lot of chicken and turkey products, and I’ll have a drink and things of that nature. But you try to create a balance for yourself.
Now I don’t get to work out as much, so I may only work out two to three times a week, as opposed to possibly working out every day for a month, two months or three months at a time if I’m gearing up for something. But also, I’ve been blessed with really good genetics by my father, he’s skinny and cut-up, and you look at me and it’s kind of the same way.
You have a teenage daughter and an almost-teenage son. How do you talk to them about living well and eating right?
Nelly: They’re very active, my son plays football, my daughter loves basketball and they both box. They come from a pretty athletic background as far as families go. Sports has been on both sides of their family, whether it’s my side or their mother’s side, so their involvement in sports just came naturally and through the love of it, so that’s what they do. I pretty much get a chance to lead by example.
Our generation is very much about living the fast life. Your daughter is 16-years-old now. Are you fearful of her dating? How are you dealing with that?
Nelly: As any other father would, I’m dreading it. It’s the worst thing ever! [laughs] It’s my baby, I’m ready to put her in a closet until she’s 30. But you try to be realistic about things, you have a talk with her and let her know that she’s priceless, and when you’re priceless don’t put things in your way that may devalue who you are and what you stand for. That’s what determines how people look at you, so in that sense so far so good.
Nelly: Even if it’s not, she’s done unbelievably well at keeping it away from me! [laughs] If she’s being smart about it, then one way or another, I taught her well.
You’re a long-term Hip Hop veteran at this point. Tell us about your new album Nelly 5.0 and what it means to you.
Nelly: It feels good any time you can drop an album, but this album means that I’m still here. I don’t know that I’ve ever left, but some people might think that because of the type of success you might have had on other projects. That’s understandable and how the game goes, so there’s no reason to bitch about it, you just move on. Now it’s like I’m just doing me, I haven’t really changed anything.
When I did Brass Knuckles  I was going through a rough time. I’m not making excuses, but music is a part of your life so when your life is going through certain things then obviously it’s going to affect everything that you do, which may not have resulted in the numbers that Nelly is used to doing, or that the label is used to seeing from Nelly. So now, it’s just like I’m back to doing what I do.
Follow Nelly on Twitter @Nelly_Mo