The Shedding for the Wedding host proudly bares her svelte body
Credit: Alison Dyer

Only a year and a half after she began the Jenny Craig program, Sara Rue has lost more than 50 lbs. – and 4 dress sizes! – and is wearing a bikini for the very first time in her life.

“It’s a little strange,” says the Shedding for the Wedding host, 32. “But after I tried it on, I thought, ‘I look good!’ ”

Since July of last year, Rue has been on a Jenny Craig maintenance plan that consists of cardio workouts four days a week and a 1,700-calorie-a-day diet.

“It’s hard. It’s a struggle,” she says of keeping off the weight. “There are days where I’ll say, ‘I feel off the rails.’ But I don’t give myself excuses.”

The actress – whose ABC Family movie My Future Boyfriend premieres Sunday – also has plenty of diet tricks up her sleeve.

“I try not to eat animal protein after 7:30 p.m.,” she says. “And when I make pasta, I layer the bottom of the bowl with fresh spinach. That way you’re having the pasta, but with half the carbs.”

Come May, when Rue exchanges vows with her fiancé, college consultant Kevin Price, 35, she won’t be skipping her wedding cake. “We’re having three kinds, including red velvet and pumpkin caramel,” Rue reveals. “I’ll be having one of each! Very small slivers of every kind is the way to go.”

See Sara as she inspires other couples to get in shape for their big days on the CW’s Shedding for the Wedding, on Wednesday night.

For more on Sara’s bikini-body transformation, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now