Credit: Ladies Home Journal Photo: Maria Menounos Covers Ladies Home Journal's March 2014 Issue

Talk show host Maria Menounos has one of the best bikini bods in Hollywood. We've seen her flaunt those abs on the beach and strut her stuff as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars, but it's taken a lot of work and discipline for her to get in such great shape.

The Extra host and covergirl of the March 2014 issue of Ladies' Home Journal opened up to the magazine about her weight struggle growing up.

"There were no chips, ice cream, or sugary cereals anywhere at home … I didn't even know what bagels or waffles were until late in high school … For dinner we ate a variety of dishes made with lentils, vegetables, and beans from the garden. Our dessert? Fruit."

Maria's Greek parents were raised on a Mediterranean diet and her father had type 1 diabetes, so it wasn't until Maria got a job at a doughnut shop that she indulged in a lot of sugar.

Eating junk food only got worse for Maria in college, where she really packed on the pounds.

"I didn't gain the Freshman 15 — I gained the Freshman 40 … I could keep candy and chips in my room and eat all the late-night pizza I could afford. I grew to a size 14 and kept growing. I felt sick and lethargic. I wanted to nap all the time."

After deciding to make a change in her early 20s, Maria lost 40 pounds, moved to California, and started her television career. But it wasn't all a walk in the park. "Just because you're thinner doesn't mean you're healthier. I made it my mission to figure out the very best ways to control my weight and be healthy at the same time," Maria explained, after talking about being in and out of the hospital for exhaustion, malnutrition, and dehydration.

As for how Maria got into great shape the healthy way? "My goal was to stop overeating, make healthier choices, and lose weight slowly over the course of one year. Trying to rush or do crazy crash diets does not give you sustainable results," she said.

She also advises to make a weight loss journal to record what you eat in a week, and then cut back slowly. What else you should record? Your workouts! "Aim for 10,000 steps per day," Maria says.

We're proud of Maria for opening up about her story and inspiring other women to make healthy choices.

Read more about Maria's journey and weight loss tips at Ladies' Home Journal.