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Book Review: 'I Got This: How I Changed My Ways...' by Jennifer Hudson

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'I Got This' by Jennifer Hudson

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For someone who keeps losing, Jennifer Hudson sure is winning (and not the Charlie Sheen way).

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She lost the opportunity to sing back-up for Barry Manilow but later worked with him as a contestant on "American Idol" singing "Weekend in New England." She lost "American Idol" but gained a Grammy for a later single. She lost weight and gained better health. She turned down a role in "Precious" and gained an Oscar award for her performance in "Dreamgirls." She turned down the "sex kitten" ideas for her music video "No One's Gonna Love You" but was still sexy enough for reality show contest and wrestler David Otunga to propose to her.

She lost some support from females who ranted on Twitter about her weight loss but gained support from male followers who tweeted comments like "Why can't you leave her alone?" and "I think what Jennifer has done is terrific. She looks great."

And now she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In her 2012 book "I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down," J-Hud talks about what it was like growing up as a singer in a group who was more focused on looks than talent. She confirms that she's always been confident in her appearance — something her real fans have always known — but weight loss isn't new to her.

She talks about how happy she was at her comfortable size 10 but having to gain 20 pounds for the role of Effie in "Dreamgirls." When she went back to her size 10, which is technically considered plus size for Hollywood standards, she was frustrated when her publicist told her the producers wanted her to gain weight again.

"You no longer look like Effie," her publicist said. "The press and the media feels connected to Effie. If you want their support, you have to get into character."

Jennifer refused to gain weight again just for interviews, which makes sense, especially after reading about other instances when her weight became an issue for everyone else but her.

She was in a girl group (at 14) called Final Notice and wore a lot of clothes that were too tight and too small for her build, but they matched the outfits of the other two petite girls in the group.

There was the weight loss competition in her late teens (at 236 pounds) between J-Hud and another artist after she signed to a Chicago record label called Righteous Records, led by a man named David Johnson. (Whoever lost the most weight would win the most money.)

Her outfits caught some flack, too. By now we all know about former American Idol judge Simon Cowell calling her outfits "hideous," wearing a "leather nurse look" and reminding him of "something a Thanksgiving turkey should be wrapped in." But even Jennifer would admit that she had her own fashion style and called it "freestyle."

She overcame those hurdles and became the Chicago powerhouse we know of today. The latter half of the book talks about her experience with Weight Watchers and how her and her family lost weight. Jennifer seems to be more excited about her family jumping into the Weight Watchers plan, a family that felt she was too small at her heaviest and led by a mother who wanted her to not be "too skinny."

So the actor/singer is elated to talk about the way her family was a support system for her, either by teaming up with her to eat more healthy or cheering on her physical transition the old-fashioned way (portion control, physical activity and still being able to eat what she wants).

Her 74-year-old aunt Bae "Baby" Mae, who had never been on a diet and believed "everything is better with butter," talks about her weight loss. Her uncle Charles, known as the "barbecue" man, and her cousin Pam Curb joined, too. Not every family member was able to hold on to the Weight Watchers goal though.

Like many women who struggle with weight loss, her sister Julia joined the program but enjoyed junk food too much to stay on the plan even though she'd lost forty pounds. For the readers who are skeptical of weight loss or not as focused on the end goal, they will probably find comfort in Julia's story.

Not everybody is happy for her though. Weight Watchers leader Liz talked to Jennifer about other women who dealt with a social circle that were "jealous, envious and angry" and ended up pushing people away who'd lost weight. Liz told Jennifer that "when other people reject positive changes you make for yourself, there is always some nerve to get to the root of in those other people. It usually ends up being about fear and lack of self-esteem."

Stating that her son is her greatest accomplishment, she says, "Even though I had made up my mind to lose weight before I knew I was pregnant, having my son gave me the best reason not to fail."

And for the group of naysayers, Jennifer has this to say: "I may have a new body but I am still the same person."

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all her latest Chicago nutrition and fitness entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Diet and Exercise channel at the top of this page.

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