Jennifer Love Hewitt is in the best shape of her life, making her the perfect cover girl for Shape's March issue. Modeling a pink and white bikini, the 33-year-old Client List actress cites her mother Patricia's June 2012 passing as the main reason she was inspired to get serious about her fitness.
"When life hits you so hard -- whether someone you care for dies or your lover leaves you -- working out can save your life," Hewitt explains. "It certainly saved mine."
The actress credits Buti -- a class created by L.A.'s Bizzie Gold that combines yoga, dance and plyometrics -- for reshaping her body. Hewitt finds her motivation to work out regularly from fans who view her as a role model. "I know they're counting on me to feel powerful," she says.
Hewitt didn't always feel confident in her own skin. In 2007, she was was devastated when unflattering bikini pictures were published online and in magazines. "I wasn't going to the gym or eating right when that unfortunate photo was taken," the actress recalls. "It was time to start working out and watching my diet more closely."
Though she frequently strips down for her role on Lifetime's racy nighttime soap The Client List, Hewitt admits it's still daunting to show so much skin. "Like every woman, I have my good days and my bad days," she tells Shape. "There are definitely moments when I don't have any confidence and want to hide my body under four parkas and stay in a dark corner. But then I think, 'Hey, I've got this! I'm totally rockin' this corset!'"
In a behind-the-scenes video with Shape's website, Hewitt said she was flattered to be appearing on the cover again after her most recent October 2009 appearance. "I'm getting ready to turn 34, so it's a very big deal to be asked to be in a bathing suit because I feel like in Hollywood sometimes, when you're an actress at 34, they're like, 'You should just pack your bags!'" she joked.
Hewitt also revealed her slimdown secrets during her photo shoot. "When you start to get fit and when you start to go down in weight, you think, 'Oh, I've got this! This is great!' And the joke is on you at that point because that's not how the body works. The body really does respond to what you put into it and how much you put into it . . . I find that when I'm rested and I'm working out and I'm drinking a lot of water, I feel better and so I look better," she explained. "I never look at a scale, I have no idea how much I weigh -- I never pay attention to that stuff. I go sort of on how I feel in my clothes, and that's what's important to me. And if I feel good in them, then I'm happy and it doesn't really matter what anybody else thinks."
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Jennifer Love Hewitt Unveils Incredible Bikini Body on Shape Cover