JewelJewel may be known for her clever songwriting and beautiful voice, but lately the Grammy-nominated singer is being noticed for something else -- her rocking body! Gracing the cover of Shape magazine this month, clad in a only a tiny blue bikini, Jewel dishes on her health secrets, her scary illness, and the attitude she admires most in men.

Once referred to as "the chubby Renee Zelwegger" in a newspaper article, Jewel says that the painful write-up stirred a vicious cycle of hating her appearance, followed by comforting herself with food, before she finally learned to accept herself the way she is, without any drastic diets or cosmetic procedures. "I had to remind myself that standards of beauty are very fickle. One minute J. Lo's body is considered beautiful, and the next everyone wants to look like Kate Moss. I'm all for people wanting to feel more confident, but altering your body to fit a current trend is serious stuff."

Still, even her healthy self-esteem couldn't protect her from a potentially dangerous disease that went undiagnosed for almost a year. "My energy was low and my weight was up -- and no matter what I did, I couldn't change either," she reveals. "Every doctor I saw said there was nothing wrong with me, but I was pretty sure there was."

It was only after she found a medical group that worked specifically on hormonal imbalances in women that she was able to receive treatment for a thyroid condition. "They figured out that my thyroid was functioning low, which was one of my issues with trying to lose weight. They put me on something called ArmourThyroid and helped me adjust my diet. But what I really liked about this group is that they listened to me. As a result, I changed my lifestyle and stress levels and started really paying attention to what I eat."

Now, the blond starlet feasts mostly on a balanced diet, including high-fiber cereal, healthy protein and plenty of raw vegetables, with very little processed food. But, she adds, she refuses to deprive herself of anything. "I try to stay away from an all-or-nothing mentality when it comes to food," she says. "It's like a pendulum: The more extreme I am -- like saying, 'I'm not going to eat any carbs' -- the further it's going to swing to the other side and I'm going to binge." She even allows herself to indulge in her favorite dessert from time to time. "I love a vanilla cupcake with butter cream frosting!"

More than her healthy eating, though, Jewel finds it's a healthy attitude that contributes the most to her overall well-being. "We should be more like men, God bless 'em. They can take their shirts off and show their man boobs, and they don't give a hoot. But women are so critical of themselves. We can be gorgeous and hot and still be embarrassed to wear a tank top. So if you can't stop looking in the mirror, at least try to not think badly about yourself when you do."

Jewel recently wrapped up an acoustic tour, with prolific songwriter Radney Foster serving as the opening act. Her latest CD, 'Sweet and Wild,' is steadily climbing the charts. Click here for Jewel's exclusive video interview with The Boot.

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