11/24/2008 at 09:00 AM EST
Debra Messing still recalls the hurtful stories about her as she tried to lose her baby weight.
"It was written about in the tabloids a lot," the actress, 40, says of her post-baby body in the January issue of Shape magazine
"On one page it showed all the actresses who got skinny in six weeks or less, and on the other page was me! I was so depressed and frustrated."
The Will & Grace
star, who gave birth to son Roman in 2004, first tried a physical trainer but the demanding workouts were too much.
"I was exhausted! I couldn't work out three hours a day and do my job as a mother and an actress. So I took the pressure off
: I cut back on seeing the trainer but started eating healthier."
Three years and 42 pounds later, her pre-baby figure is back.
"Ultimately I'm very proud of how I dropped the weight because I think it was the healthy approach," Messing says. "I've finally taken ownership of my body."
Now that she looks so great, all she needs is a date.
"I can't tell you the last time I had a date with my husband," she says. "My ideal date with Daniel would be a spectacular meal, maybe Italian, followed by dancing. That's a New Year's resolution I'm looking forward to."
2002: Debra credits good genes for her lean build
Star moms flaunt their post-baby bodies!