16 July 2010

Losing weight Jennifer's way

US star Jennifer Hudson is shooting a new movie in South Africa and her fabulous new figure is turning heads everywhere. Health24 discovered the secrets to her weight loss.

Award-winning actress, singer and new face of Weight Watchers International, Jennifer Hudson, is currently shooting a new movie in South Africa and her fabulous new figure is turning heads everywhere. Health24 discovered the secrets to her weight loss.

Award-winning actress, singer and new face of Weight Watchers International, Jennifer Hudson is currently in South Africa to shoot the movie Winnie, in which she stars as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. After the birth of her son, David in August last year, 28-year-old Jennifer was determined to lose her post-baby weight and to get her body in tip-top shape for her latest movie role. She wowed fans and friends by slimming down from a US size 16 to a slender size 6, and looking better than ever.  

What’s her secret?

Jennifer attributes her amazing weight loss success to the Weight Watchers weight loss programme and regular exercise. "I’m in the best shape of my life,” Hudson told People Magazine in a recent interview. “With Weight Watchers, I am enjoying the weight loss because I'm doing it the right way. I feel empowered with what I've learned. Everything from portion control to what foods will help keep me satisfied - it's a lifestyle change, not a diet."

Since joining Weight Watchers, Jennifer has never looked back. With the help of New York Weight Watchers counsellor and brand advocacy director Liz Josefsberg she has learned to make simple changes to her diet and lifestyle to help her reach and maintain a healthy body weight.

Liz, who joined Jennifer on the movie set in Johannesburg for a few days, shared the secrets to Weight Watchers and Jennifer Hudson’s amazing weight loss with Health24.

"Weight Watchers was a real eye-opening experience for Jennifer,” recalls Liz. “It is not just another diet - it is a lifestyle eating programme for life and Jennifer was amazed at all the new things that she learned.”

Jennifer, like most other people, had left-over diet baggage. “Whereas she tried diets in the past, she is now truly learning about food and healthy eating, and erasing all the old bad messages about food. She’s adapting to a new lifestyle which she finds very liberating and self-empowering."

Healthy role model

According to Liz, she and Jennifer clicked immediately: "Jennifer is such a happy and positive person and she inspires everyone who meets her. When her son was born last year, she decided that she wanted to be a healthy mom and a healthy role model for him. She was not unhappy with her body or her weight, but she wanted to bring more health and fitness into her life."

When Jennifer joined Weight Watchers she had already started a fitness programme but wanted to learn a healthy eating plan that she could use for life.” On the Weight Watchers programme there are no foods that are off limits,” says Liz. “As long as you count your points, write down what you’re eating, think about portion size, and incorporate some daily activity, you can still work in your favourite foods."

Jennifer was very happy to discover at one of her first Weight Watchers meetings that she could eat her favourite food sushi. “Everyone that knows me knows that I love sushi!,” she wrote on her blog. “I’m so happy that I can eat it again! I gave it up a couple of years ago because the diet I was on told me to stay away from white carbs. In my first meeting, my leader told me that it was actually a great choice and you could really work it in. I didn't believe that at first, but as we got into it I decided to give it a try. I went to a great sushi restaurant and had some sushi for the first time in years. I even lost weight that week. Amen! Sushi is back in my life!”

Points system

With the Weight Watchers programme you don’t have to weigh your foods – instead you work with points. “Having to weigh your food is impractical. Who carries a scale with them? Instead we work with points to help you quantify food,” says Liz.

She explains the points system as follows:

“All foods are assigned to points based on their nutritional value. You have a total budget of 20 points per day. Once you realise that you have this limited number of points that you can take in, you start to look at your food choices. For example: you might think that 2 pieces of dried toast make for a good diet breakfast. However that’s worth four points. Do you really want to spend a quarter of your day’s points on dry toast? You could have an egg white omelette filled with vegetables with a lighter piece of toast and a cup of strawberries for the same amount of points instead. Sounds much nicer, doesn’t it?"

 According to Liz the points system encourages you to explore other options and gently nudges you towards healthier eating. “Vegetables for example have zero points and fruits are very low on points. Suddenly the points system is pushing you towards eating more fruit and veggies.” Liz explains that they also give general guidelines to help you make good food choices. “These include eating at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, 2 servings of milk products and 2 servings of lean protein a day.”

Very flexible

The points system is also very flexible. “It’s about learning a new language. Once you know it, you can take it anywhere. While Jennifer is working in South Africa, she can still follow her healthy eating plan, despite her different work hours and the foreign cuisine.” Liz adds that with the points system it is easy to save some points for a special restaurant meal or a piece of birthday cake. “The fact that you never have to deprive yourself of anything, makes it so much easier to maintain your healthy eating plan for life.”

In one of her latest blogs Jennifer writes about spoiling herself with pizza in Johannesburg. “I am so excited. I found a really great Italian place here in Johannesburg that makes great pizza. It was unexpected, but we came across it a couple of days ago. It is a ‘build your own’ pizza place. I created my own pizza with light cheese, chicken, mushrooms and jalapeños. You know I like it spicy! The slices are really thin and tiny. I usually eat 3 small slices and some salad. The one thing I notice here is that the portion sizes are so much smaller and healthier.”

Whereas most Weight Watchers members go to regular weekly meetings for support and to share share tips and ideas, the busy Jennifer phones in every once in a while to touch base with Liz. “
I am not the least bit worried about Jennifer… She is an amazing and resilient personality who will be just fine in her surroundings," says Liz.

In fact, Jennifer’s is so hooked on her new healthy lifestyle that she has not only inspired family and friends, but even some of the people on the Winnie film set. “When several people told me how they hoped they could learn something from Jennifer regarding her new healthy eating plan, I suggested they start a Weight Watchers meeting at work,” says Liz. “Now they have joined Weight Watchers themselves and are learning a healthy new lifestyle together.”

Follow Liz’s 5 tips to a healthier lifestyle:

  1. Take baby steps. Start your new healthy eating plan by making small changes that you can maintain. Work on one new health option at a time. Once you’ve mastered that, you can move on to the next step.
  2. Learn to be honest with yourself. Keep a food journal, write down everything that you eat during the day and discover how your feelings are connected to food.  
  3. Incorporate some daily activity into your life. Find an activity that you enjoy, and you will be able to stick to it.
  4. Learn to understand and control portion size.
  5. Lose weight at a healthy and safe pace. Weight Watchers recommends weight loss of between 0.5 and 1kg per week.

Says Liz: “It is important to remember that weight loss won't change you as a person. You are still the same person and you must learn to love yourself regardless of your body size. However, if you adopt a healthy lifestyle for life, you will have far more energy, confidence and better health, and, like Jennifer, you will be an inspiration to everyone around you."

 - (Birgit Ottermann, Health24, July 2010)

(Images: Weight Watchers International)

Jennifer Hudson’s blog

Learn how Weight Watchers works

Join Weight Watchers in South Africa



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