updated 11/18/2011 AT 5:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/21/2011 AT 2:30 PM ET
Sure, The X Factor’s Nicole Scherzinger exercises and watches what she eats to maintain her slim physique.
But there’s a whole other X factor involved in staying in tip-top shape, she says.
“My new motto is: Stay active, eat everything in moderation, and stop being so tough on myself,” Scherzinger, 33, tells the December issue of Shape.
To keep healthy, she sticks to a diet of lean meats and whole foods – and doesn’t starve herself.
“I eat – a lot!” she says. “Even with my crazy schedule, I never skip meals. I’ll often have soft-boiled eggs, smoked salmon, and whole-wheat toast for breakfast; cold cuts, veggies, and fruit for lunch; and usually chicken or fish with rice and more vegetables for dinner.”
Scherzinger, whose solo release Killer Love is out soon, says there are certain treats that will tempt her.
“To really satisfy my cravings, I turn to my roots,” she says. “I was born in Hawaii, so I love dried tuna dipped in soy sauce, kalua pig, banana pancakes with coconut syrup, and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. My gosh, I could gain 10 pounds just talking about these foods!”
The singer’s history with dieting and weight wasn’t always so healthy, however.
“It’s taken a long time to get here,” she tells the magazine. “I started jogging and counting calories when I was just 14. I’ve been on every diet you can imagine.”
One step she took to ease the stress of watching her weight? Skipping the scale altogether.
“By the time I was in the Pussycat Dolls, I was on the scale all the time,” she says. “It became my enemy because I noticed that when I exercised really hard, I’d gain weight. Now that I’m in my 30s, I ve stepped off the scale – I just go by how my clothes fit.”
She adds, “I’m more accepting of my body and have learned to really embrace it. These days it’s all about finding balance.”
She has another secret for shedding the pounds if she’s started to see her weight creep up: Dancing.
“When I’m getting ready for a tour or a video shoot, I throw myself full throttle into my work, and those extra 10 pounds just seem to melt off,” she says. “I also have a resistance workout that does wonders for my arms and abs.”