"I went to my first club in Vegas and danced on the pole with friends!" Judd says in the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. "I feel more alive."
And that's a feeling she's not taking for granted after two health scares this year. In March, doctors found blood clots in her lungs, complications from surgery she had to repair damage to her stomach muscles. Four months later, Judd was involved in a head-on collision while in Salt Lake City for a show. Those two experiences left her "more determined than ever to commit to a healthier lifestyle."
That healthier lifestyle includes brain state conditioning, a treatment that helps patients be less inclined to turn to food during stressful situations. "My weight was a symptom and not the problem," says Judd, 46. "I used food to soothe and reward and I don't do that anymore."
She also gave her pantry a makeover. "Very seldom will you see donuts in my house because I can eat a box," says Judd. "It's like a chip, I can't eat just one." In addition, Judd also began taking daily walks around her expansive property in Leipers Fork, Tenn., and now "I can walk up the hill behind my house without puking."
Another perk of losing the weight? A new wardrobe! "If you look at old Judd photos I was hiding in turtlenecks and coats," she says. But now her favorite items to wear are jeans, low-cut tops and sexy new undergarments.
"I went into a lingerie store for the first time where I didn't feel embarrassed," says Judd, who picked up some lace stockings and push-up bras. "I left feeling like Miss America!"
To read more about Judd and the details of her weight loss, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now