As songbird Jennifer Hudson faces scrutiny over the 80 pounds she recently dropped, fellow Oscar-winning actress Mo'Nique isn't fazed by public opinion and plans to drop even more weight.
Two years after unveiling her new physique, Mo'Nique is still a stunner. She initially dropped 45 pounds, down from 262 to 217, and currently fluctuates between 211 and 206. While her progress is pretty impressive, the late-night talk show diva has another goal in mind.
"I want to get to 180. That's an amazing weight for me. I'm still a thick girl but it's a healthy weight," Mo'Nique, 43, says, explaining that she'd never seen that weight when she stepped on the scale. "I went from being a child to a woman. I remember being weighed in the tenth grade and I was 190."
She has shared with her 'The Mo'Nique Show' audience that keeping the weight off "is a constant commitment that you have to follow." Mo'Nique admits that while promoting being big, beautiful and healthy, she wasn't always taking her advice on the healthy part.
"I have worked so hard to get to this, do you hear me?" she told audience members during her show's premier season as she sashayed in a very flattering black dress and pointed out her new-found curves.
So, just how much hard work has she put in? Well, at least five times a week, Mo'Nique is up at 5:30 a.m. getting it in at the gym. She works for an hour with a trainer who keeps the routines exciting by having the comedienne do everything from weight training, boxing, and football drills to sprinting, pull-ups on the dip bar and, on warm days, jogging outdoors. Her workouts have increased in intensity and frequency over time, with her starting out with three times a week two years ago.
And Mo'Nique enjoys it. "It's fun, especially when you start seeing results," says the svelte actress, who works out with two other women. Although she could feel the weight coming off, it took about a year before she could really see the difference, and that was motivating.
"I love the way that shape is shaping up. Not that it's all the way I want it to be but the way it's shaping up!" she exclaims excitedly.
Now, when it comes to eating, Mo'Nique's found that to be a bit more challenging. Sure, she has will power, but avoiding late-night eating was an adjustment. She tries not to eat after 8 p.m. and her menu options often consists of fish, soups, yogurt, cashews and salads sprinkled with strawberries, cucumbers, raisins and a homemade dressing of honey, apple cider vinegar and oil.
"It's very healthy, but it's very good. You begin to know what your body needs," she says.
Moderation is key in order to maintain her weight while consuming the calorie-rich foods typically served during the holiday season. "The one thing I didn't want to do is drive myself crazy where it's I can only have this, I can only have that," she says. Presently there are things that her body doesn't even crave anymore.
"I used to absolutely adore Buffalo wings. Girl, I used to adore Buffalo wings. Now I can leave it," says Mo'Nique, referencing a feat which may be tougher in metro Atlanta, where there are wing spots all over.
She takes it moment-by-moment and realizes the risks involved if not disciplined.
"I know if I go eat those Buffalo wings and I don't go to the gym, one day becomes the next day and the next day and the next day and then you look up and you're almost 300 pounds," she explains.
In all honesty, Mo'Nique is trying to get away from eating chicken as well and one day would like to have a diet that mirrors vegetarianism.
"I'm aiming not to eat anything with a face. Because they have parents; they come from a family. Really, it's like, if we were back in the dinosaur days, the dinosaurs were eating the people. You see? I want to really not eat anything with a face; anything that's living," Mo'Nique says half-jokingly.
Her current weight loss plan is the first one she's stuck with consistently, although she did try a few diets in the past. "I remember when they talked about the cabbage diet. I think I did that for two days, I was like uhn-uhn," Mo'Nique says.
This time, she says, she couldn't fool around because "at 262 pounds I could have never done that show because I wouldn't have been able to have the energy."
But it's the men in her life – husband Sidney Hicks, her 5-year-old twin sons and her 20-year-old son – that keep her sticking with her new regimen.
"When I look at our kids, it's like, 'let me go put the work in because I don't want to be a burden to my family for being neglectful,'" says Mo'Nique, who also started to see a therapist as she began to slim down. The sessions help her uncover the reasons behind the weight gain and help her to really get to know herself.
That's the message she tells other plus-sized women who seem inspired by her progress and want to make a lifestyle change too.
"For the most part sisters are like, 'hey, let's do it,'" she says.
Mo'Nique has a few motivational tips women who may need a little nudge with weight management:
1. Don't let a hairstyle stop you. "Often times I hear sisters say, 'Girl, I ain't getting my hair messed up.' It's like we'll be unhealthy because we're worried what our hair looks like," Mo'Nique says. Her suggestion? "Get you some fabulous wigs, honey, slap that hair up and go get fit."
Not into wigs? Try one of BV Hair Talk's workout-friendly hairdo suggestions!
2. Make the time. Many women say they're too busy to workout. No excuses, says Mo'Nique. "You deserve that time. You still deserve your time. It takes 60 minutes out of a 24-hour day. You still have 23 hours left," she says.
3. Just do it. Mo'Nique advises you to put your best foot forward and keep on moving. "Discover the woman inside," she says. "You'll feel better."
Do you have an inspiring weight loss story? Tell us!