Jennifer Hudson: "I Feel Empowered" by Weight Loss

The singer-actress opens up about how overcoming family tragedy -- as well as losing 80 pounds -- has changed her outlook on life

Jennifer Hudson has had many triumphs in her life, including an Oscar, a Grammy and her recent loss of 80 pounds, which she says has "empowered" her. But success has not come easily for the 30-year-old singer-actress. In October 2008, she faced unspeakable tragedy when her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew were shot to death inside their Chicago home. On Sunday night's episode of Dateline, Hudson talked about how she found the courage to go back into the spotlight after months of mourning. (Watch the video below.)

"I felt as though I had to (perform)," said Hudson. "I could hear my brother's voice in my head, like, 'Is she ever going to sing again?' He'd always say, 'Knock it off, Jenny!' if I was discouraged about something. I could either sit here and mope around, or do what I know would make them proud."

Hudson returned to the public eye when she sang the national anthem at the 2009 Super Bowl. She followed that by performing "You Pulled Me Through" at the Grammys, a moment about which she gets emotional even now.

"I loved to see people come together, everybody, strangers, my fans. I was literally lifted up by love," Hudson told Dateline through tears.

Engaged to professional wrestler David Otunga, Hudson gave birth to son David Jr. in August 2009. Now she works on living in the moment and taking control of her life -- which is where her weight loss journey comes into play.

"I feel empowered, I really do," Hudson told Anne Curry on Monday's Today show. "So many times we say I want to do this or I want to change that, and we never do it." (Watch an excerpt from the Today interview below.)

As for what she's taken away from her family tragedy, Hudson says she's realized that you have to seize the day until it's time to move on.

"I was thinking the other day, wow, we never sit and stop to tell someone 'I love you' or 'I appreciate you,' and in the blink of an eye they could be gone," Hudson tells Curry. "So live in the moment, and then when it is time to pick on, you have no choice but to. You have to. That's called life."

Jennifer opens up about her highs and lows in her new book,  I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down, in stores Tuesday.

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