"Everyone was saying how happy they were to see me at this place," she told PEOPLE. "I think my happiness and peace is now finally showing and so they were all like 'just stay right here.' "
Since she shot to fame to win season 3 of the show in 2004, the dynamic vocalist has chased ups and downs as she paired fame with motherhood and struggled to handle her new world in the spotlight.
Now, however, Barrino, 28, who attempted suicide in 2010, says she's newly fit and taking charge of her goals, feeling stronger about maintaining a balance as she enjoys her two children, daughter Zion, 12, and brother Dallas, who was born in December 2011.
"I always want to please everybody, and I want to help everybody and I think that that was draining me – moneywise, mentally," she said. "I had to change all of that. I still help people but in a different way. It's not about money."
She's also not only committed to her emotional health but she is taking care of herself physically, working out with a trainer who comes to her home to lay down the law.
"I work out twice a day. I love Pilates, yoga and spinning class," Barrino said.
"I've a trainer at home," she said. "She's the kind that she pops up at your house and if you have the wrong thing in front of you, she'll take your plate up and she'll throw it away."