A huge heart and giant voice are two big things American Idol fans remember about "Big Mike." The hometown favorite made his way back to the Bay area just in time for the holidays, and one of the biggest changes you'll notice about him right away is that he's not all that big any more.
"I've lost 90 pounds since last November," he said.
Mike, whose full name is Michael Lynche, says he gained a lot from the Idol experience.
"Well, you know, my wife doesn't have to work anymore, which is pretty cool, and we've got these great babies and I'm able to make music full-time for a living," he said.
Michael also welcomed his son Kingston earlier this year, and this time, he was there for the birth. While taping Idol, Lynche missed the birth of his daughter Laila.
"The fact that I missed her birth doing it, is always one of those things that's gonna be on my heart, so I wrote a song called 'Baby Boo' that's on the record."
The song is part of the self-titled album that Lynche released last August.
"There's a song called 'Lover's Symphony,' which is one of the most creative songs on the record. It's the one we spent the most time crafting."
Big Mike also had a chance to team up with former Idol Ruben Studdard.
"We wrote three songs together and he's just an amazing cat. Really great mentor for me and he'll always gonna be like a big brother to me."
The family moved to New York six weeks after idol to work on his music career. They returned home to St. Pete in November just in time for Big Mike's holiday album release. He performed live at the Tampa tree lighting at Curtis Hixon Park, letting everyone know that his album explores a different reason for the season.
"It's really about you know, bringing that sexy time back to Christmas because Christmas isn't just about Santa and snow. It's also about being with your person, being with your woman, being with your man and like enjoying some time by the fire."
That brings us to what hasn't changed in Big Mike's life -- his 15-year relationship with his wife Christa.
"He's so supportive, so funny, makes me laugh every single day, we just are like best friends," Christa says.
"My favorite song is ‘Love is You' and ‘Fragile' is a close tie."
Michael's role as husband and father is something he cherishes, as he watches little Laila, another star in the making, capture her gift for being in front of the camera. He has advice for the new Idol contestants as they face the cameras this season as well.
"Of course there's always like, you wish you had have sang this song or wore this outfit or this that or the other, of course there's always that stuff, but you can't ever go back, so you've really gotta like take your time and prepare every week."
Big Mike might be smaller in person now, but his life after 'Idol' continues to grow beyond his wildest dreams.
"It changed my life, it changed my life forever."