Looking at Jennifer Hudson now, it’s hard to believe she was the chubby also-ran on American Idol just a few short years ago. Now, 80 pounds lighter (and a lot of awards heavier!), she’s opening up about how her son inspired her to stick to a weight-loss plan.
She tells the February issue of Good Housekeeping that a childhood filled with lavish breakfasts and fried-chicken Sunday dinners contributed to her obesity. Stung by criticism about her size on Idol, she went into a yo-yo phase of dieting and regaining the pounds. “I would go into these detox programs – a total meat-tox, cheese-tox and sugar-tox,” she says. “But eventually, the cravings got so bad that I just couldn’t take it. I’d inevitably break down and eat a huge box of chicken wings.”
But all that stopped three years ago, when she and fiance David Otunga had their son. “Everything changed the day my son, David Jr., was born,” she says. Motherhood brought tremendous responsibilities – but none greater than the obligation I felt to get healthy and be there for my son.”
Wanting to be a role model for smart eating, Jennifer – who weighed a hefty 236 post-birth – joined Weight Watchers. It wasn’t a quick journey, but the end results were worth it. Now she’s a dedicated points-counter who practices portion control, eats her largest meal at lunch and isn’t afraid to interrogate chefs when she eats out. “I’ll ask, ‘What is in this? Can you tell me how many ounces it is? Do you use butter?’”
Among her favorite meals are egg-white omelettes, salads and boiled turkey wings. (She also snacks on the occasional Oreo with the cream center scraped out to reduce her sugar intake – a bit much, perhaps?) That, coupled with regular exercise, helped her drop to a size 6.
Little David is catching on – he loves to eat greens, and he’s content with just a couple of cookies for a snack. Jennifer points out that her son has never known her as an overweight person. “If he sees a clip of the old Jennifer from Dreamgirls, he doesn’t know who it is!”
But one beloved Sunday ritual from her childhood still remains. “We have to have dinner together,” she says. “I tell David, ‘You and Munchkin stay on the couch and let me cook for you, because this is what my mom did.’ I love those moments. Family makes a house a home.”
Couldn’t agree more!
[Photo: Art Streiber for Good Housekeeping]
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