07/26/2010 at 01:00 AM EDT
Even though Miami is the the land of the barely-there bikini, Jersey Shore
's Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi
opted for one-piece bathing suits while filming season 2
of MTV's hit reality show. But not because she's unhappy with her body.
“I would rather wear a sexy one-piece whether I am heavy or down to 90 pounds,” Snooki, 22, tells PEOPLE. "I wore one-piece suits when I was really skinny to hide my nakedness in a sexy way. I think they are more provocative because it makes guys want to see more of me."
Snooki admits she gained weight in Miami, where she indulged in junk food and plenty of tequila during late night parties
at South Beach clubs like Ocean’s 10 and Tantra. "I do like to feel healthy," she says. "After eating fast food and drinking booze every day in Miami, I know I need to lose weight. I want to feel better. I plan to go back to eating salads and chicken with no drinking."
Snooki also plans on working out, but in a fun and familiar way. "I was more fit when I was cheerleading in high school,” she says. "I will hit the gym and do cheerleading stunts for some good exercise in coming days.”
But her desire to lose weight has nothing to do with the exotic, bikini-clad beauties who flock to Miami's beaches. "My self image was fine when I came down to Miami in April and it's fine now,” she says. "We all have flaws. We work within them to look our best."
Besides, hitting the beach, she believes, shouldn't be about comparing yourself to others. "My roommates and I just go to hang out and have fun,” says Snooki, who spray tans herself with a portable machine for a richer tone before and after sunbathing. "We don't sit around wondering how hot we look. We want to see how hot the guys are." Jersey Shore
's second season premieres Thursday (10 p.m. EST) on MTV. –Linda Marx