Formerly a size 14, the newly trim size-8 singer poses for her first ever bikini-shoot with PEOPLE

By Jessica Herndon
Updated June 15, 2011 09:35 AM

At age 17, Jordin Sparks took home the title of American Idol at a size 14. Now a size 8, the 21-year-old says she’s feeling more confident – and it shows in her first-ever bikini shoot with PEOPLE.

“I’ve always felt cute, but now I feel sexier,” the singer says in the new issue of PEOPLE this week.

She credits her new figure to taking Zumba classes, scaling down her portion sizes and sticking to her new healthy lifestyle. Says the singer: “I was determined.”

Finding a healthy lifestyle has been a challenge for Sparks. In the past she tried to go vegetarian, “but I smelled a steak and was, like, ‘I can’t do this!’ ” she says. She even tried quick fixes like the Master Cleanse. “I lasted a day,” she admits.

But don’t worry. Sparks assures her fans she’s not going to take her weight loss too far. “I definitely didn’t want to lose my curves,” she says. “I’m in a good place now.”

For more on Jordin’s incredible transformation and her exact meal plan, pick up this week’s Most Amazing Bodies issue of PEOPLE magazine