April 11, 2014 07:15 PM

Donato Sardella/WireImage

It’s only been six months since Jaime King and husband Kyle Newman welcomed their son James Knight and while she’s already returned to her former svelte self, life in general is a lot more family oriented for the star.

“I go hiking with my husband and my son,” the Hart of Dixie actress tells PEOPLE of her desired workout regime. “I just like the bonding time that we have when we do that.”

But just because she is with her family doesn’t mean that she’s not focused on her body.

“I apply all the tricks I learn from Mary Helen Bower‘s Ballet Beautiful DVDs, which I also do,” King says. “When I am pushing the stroller and going on walks it’s like doing Pilates at the same time because you are really using your core and your arms. I just try and be focused when I am doing it.”

Putting her family first was also why it was a no-brainer when it came to nursing her son. “I breastfed exclusively for a long time,” the actress says. “It’s a commitment, but it’s worth it.”

It’s obvious that time with her son is her most precious asset. Though King, 34, works long hours on set, James comes to work with her so she can see him throughout the day. It’s part of how she maintains her work-life balance.

“Nothing in the world can prepare you — you just don’t know until you are a parent,” King says. “I bring him to set every single day and even if it’s stolen moments like me running into the trailer to be with him for 10 minutes, for me that’s better than me not seeing him for the 12 hours minimum that I’m on set.”

And it’s a lot of fun for James, who has all his toys with him. “He took over my trailer,” King says. “I have all his stuffed toys, play mats and Sophie the giraffe.”

As for how she maintains her killer body, King admits that it’s not as much about what you eat as it is about they way you think about diet and exercise. “I don’t diet anymore. I don’t believe in the word. I have had so many negative connotations, especially growing up in the industry where you feel you have to look a particular way,” King explains.

“About four years ago my thyroid had an imbalance. I was getting very upset because I gained weight and I couldn’t lose it. I realized I had a negative connotation with it like, ‘I’m doing all this exercise and eating healthy and nothing is changing.'”

She continues, “I took supplements and it helped the thyroid. But for me it’s about honoring our bodies and respecting them rather than judging them. I didn’t have the body I wanted until I let go of the idea that I have to be a certain way. When I stopped dieting my body really changed. I started eating for nutrition and I started exercising because it made me feel good.”

Hart of Dixie airs Friday nights at 9/8c on the CW.

— Raha Lewis

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