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When Maria Menounos cleaned up her diet and began a new fitness regimen, she saw a body transformation.

“I lost five pounds just having a garden and eating from my garden every day,” the Access Hollywood host, 31, tells me following Earth Day Network’s Climate Rally sponsored by P&G Future Friendly. “Because I was going to chain restaurants and getting chips and salsa every day, I was not eating as well as I could, and now that I have a garden, I see these beautiful vegetables growing, and I start to think about what I could make to eat.”

She adds, “It’s forced me to stay home, which I love, because when I get home, if I were to go eat at a restaurant, that takes up most of my night. Now I get to be home with my family and my dogs, and I get to enjoy my home. And I eat healthier.”

Sample lunch?

“I ran out and I made a fresh salad completely from my garden – carrots, celery, lettuce, red onions and garlic,” she says. “Everything was from the garden. I threw turkey on top, and I’m taking my lunch to work today.”

For Maria, a 5-lb. weight loss tops off a pre-fame 40-lb. dip.

“When you shed that much weight, you feel like a completely different person,” she says. “I feel even more confident than I did before. I’ve had a healthy self-esteem even through major weight gain in my life, so it’s even elevated more. I feel that much better.”

READ THIS: MARIA MENOUNOS, 40 LBS. LIGHTER

But she doesn’t always eat like an angel.

“I have a lot of favorite junk foods, unfortunately. I love ice cream, I love cookies, I love Doritos – I love a lot of junk – but I balance it out by eating super-healthy.”

She continues, “I’m trying to balance all the fat I ate yesterday and eat clean and healthy today. That’s always been my way of eating everything I want in moderation, and making sure that I balance it out.”

One way she keeps splurges in her life is to maintain a mandatory 30-minutes-a-day workout schedule.

“I play basketball with Harley Pasternak – he’s a celebrity trainer to the stars,” she says. “When we’re playing, I’m like ‘God, I wish I worked out, I wouldn’t be so winded.’ He says, ‘You have 30 minutes a day.’ And I said, ‘No I don’t, I work so hard.’ And he said ‘You have 30 minutes a day.’ And I’m like ‘You know what? You’re right. I do have 30 minutes a day.’ I could wake up 30 minutes earlier and get whatever I can done in 30 minutes.’

She continues, “He finally reached me, and I had that moment where it completely made sense in my brain, and every day – I wake up a half-hour earlier, I go to the gym or I go to my backyard and workout. I do anything I can in half-an-hour.  When the half-hour’s up, I’m done.”

Even on days when she doesn’t bounce out of bed, Maria doesn’t make excuses.

“On those mornings like this morning – I traveled, I didn’t get in until late, and this morning I was cuddled with my dogs – I said to myself, ‘You’re going to feel better if you do get up and do something.’ I got up ten minutes late for it, so I only got 25 minutes in the gym because I ran over a little – but I felt amazing.”

What does she do?

“I usually get on the treadmill and I’ll walk on an incline for a little bit at a 4.3, and then I’ll start to run for the last half of it – even if it’s five minutes or 5-10 minutes, I’ll run at a 5.5, and for the last minute, I’ll make it as fast as I possibly can run. I learned that on the Biggest Loser ranch. They make them run as fast as they can for a minute, and then I’ll get down on the floor and do some leg-based Pilates and I’ll do some squats and lunges, quick abs. While I’m doing squats, I’ll do bicep curls. All of this doesn’t require anything aside from two dumbbells and a treadmill. If I didn’t have a treadmill, I would run outside.”

How would she encourage others who are looking to drop a significant amount of weight?

“Get past the first couple days, and you’ll be fine, because the first couple days are the tough, challenging, mental days,” she says. “You don’t want to be doing it. You don’t think it’s going to make a difference. But once you get through the first couple days, you’ll immediately start to see results. When you see those results, use that motivation and keep going.”

She continues, “If people can look at it the way I’ve recently looked at it – I’ve worked out my whole life on-and-off – but I find myself getting lazy. I generally don’t want to do it. If you look at it like Harley taught me to look at it, ‘It’s just 30 minutes a day. You can do it. Don’t try to go overboard; don’t try to be a hero and do more. Just do 30 minutes.’ You can wrap your head around that. It’s such a big deal for me because I’ve been doing it consistently for over a month now.”

How has her body changed?

“I’ve been seeing a difference in my body  – my body’s getting tighter and more toned. It’s not a lot of commitment, and it’s not a lot of work because 30 minutes goes by so fast. Every day I feel great.”

She adds, “Now when I’m playing basketball, I can run a lot longer full-court than I was before. And I feel great in my bathing suit – I was in the Bahamas recently, and I’ve always been afraid of someone getting a bad shot and having to wear a wrap or whatever. It’s cool. I feel great!”

Pick up the OK! on newsstands now for a What I Ate Today feature on Maria Menounos. The cover line is Kendra/Kim/Audrina: “Boob Jobs, Botox and Lipo.”

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