Cheryl Burke Responds to Body Critics: 'My Curves Are Never Going Away'

Dancing with the Stars' Cheryl Burke Talks Weight Loss
Cheryl Burke at the ESPY Awards
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage

updated 07/17/2014 at 02:00 PM EDT

originally published 07/17/2014 06:45PM

Cheryl Burke has found the sweet spot between embracing her curves and working to stay fit.

But it hasn't been an easy road from feeling hurt to feeling healthy, Burke told PEOPLE at the ESPY Awards Wednesday night.

"Five years ago, I got criticized by the press, like Howard Stern, about being too fat. But it's another thing when your fans say to you, 'Oh my god, you look like you're dying,' " the Dancing with the Stars pro said. "It hurt."

"I've had to change my lifestyle. I'm happy. I'm eating well. I'm working out every day. And I'm more responsible. I used to go out every single night in my 20s. It was one big party. And now, that's not the way I want to live my life," she said.

"When you change your lifestyle, your body changes. I'm completely healthy. My curves are never going to go away. Have I lost weight? Absolutely. But not in an unhealthy way. I want everyone to know that. I love my fans. But words are hurtful, especially coming from people you think always have your back."

To stay in shape, Burke says she's training, but not dancing, in the off-season.

"I'm taking care of my body. Eighty percent of it is what you eat and what you consume. It's all about portion control. I'm not on a diet. I'm not on Atkins or anything. It's just the fact that I'm eating right."

As far as advice for those who can relate to her struggle?

"Just keep moving on," Burke says. "At the end of the day, life is in front of you. You're going to hit the lows of the lows. But you'll be able to grow from that."

Reporting by MATTHEW COLE WEISS

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