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Jennifer Hudson on her new body, her new baby, and finding a balance

Sherie Holder-Olutayo

Jennifer Hudson on her new body, her new baby, and finding a balance

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JENNIFER?HUDSON?ARRIVED at Hilton Barbados in typical diva fashion with entourage in tow. Sporting her new, slimmer body and showing off her taut, defined legs, she seemed incredibly tall, an attribute that I associated with her highly publicized weight loss. 
Seeing the physical change, it was hard to believe this was the same woman who graced the American Idol stage back in 2004, was booted off and then bounced back to even greater accolades with an Academy Award-winning performance for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Dreamgirls, and a Grammy Award for her debut album Jennifer Hudson. 
Initially, she stopped to pose for the cameras and then walked to the area into which she was ushered for her interviews without too much fanfare. Surrounded by bodyguards, handlers and manager, I thought it was especially telling to see her sister among the group holding Jennifer’s 20-month-old son David Otunga Jr in her arms. 
It wasn’t until sitting down with the former American Idol icon that I realized her diva persona is more epitomized by her big, melodic voice than the trappings of arrogance and self-centredness that is often standard with celebrities of her stature.
Perhaps it is her humble beginnings growing up in Chicago, where week after week she would give soul-stirring gospel renditions to her church congregation. 
Or perhaps it is the horrific family tragedy that struck  in 2008 that claimed the life of her nephew, Julian King, along with Jennifer’s mother and brother. 
But Jennifer has managed, if only through her faith in God and through steely determination, to battle back and experience a rebirth of sorts.
Call it being born again, but the metamorphosis the singer has undergone is both physical and emotional. That is being reflected in her latest album, I Remember Me. 
“Sometimes I feel like I’ve lived four different lives in the last 29 years,” Jennifer said candidly, explaining how she came up with the name of the album. 
“It’s like I’ve gone through different chapters almost in a relatively short space of time. I remember this little black girl sitting on the church steps and so sometimes I’m like, let me hold on to myself.”
While her fans and audiences are still trying to get used to the new and svelte Jennifer, the songstress herself admits that she is getting used to her new look as well.
“It’s taken a while to get adjusted to my new body,” the singer told EASY magazine. 
“It’s like my mind has to catch up to the image. It’s almost like a different person. Sometimes if I see a photo I might say ‘who’s that’ and then I realize it’s me, so my mind has to catch up to it.”
Jennifer’s changes, though, haven’t only stemmed from weight loss. She is a new mother and is slated to marry her fiancé, lawyer and professional wrestler David Otunga. While fate took some of her greater family, she is building her own family – though she admits that motherhood has totally changed her life.
“Oh my God, I don’t even know the words to say but it’s definitely an amazing experience. It’s just a blessing and a joy to have him,” she says with a gleam in her eye when mentioning her son. 
She happily revealed that he turned 20 months that day and was marvelling at how fast his first years are going.
“He’s an amazing child, he’s a musical child and I feel like I see so much of myself in him.”
Unlike other stars who would turn over their motherly duties to the care of a nanny, Jennifer is very hands-on, happily toting him everywhere she goes.
“He goes everywhere with me at this point,” she says, smiling, to the point that he’s delirious. 
“He cries when he has to get up again at 4 a.m in the morning, but I want him to have normalness too, as normal as possible with this situation. But we’ll figure it out.”
In an effort to figure out her way forward and get back to some semblance of normalcy, Jennifer recently moved back to her hometown of Chicago, explaining that she and David are both from Chicago and they wanted their son to grow up around family. 
For her, it seems family is everything, it means more than the glare of spotlight or the trappings of living in the limelight.
For proof of that, one need only look outside the room where her son lay cradled in Julia’s arms.
“No matter what it is, you have to take it one step at a time, one day at a time,” Jennifer said of the balancing act she is trying to manage. 
“But the babies come first and you have to balance everything else out.”