Caroline Manzo: How I Lost 20 Lbs. Eating Pasta and Cheesecake

06/24/2010 at 01:00 AM EDT

Caroline Manzo: How I Lost 20 Lbs. Eating Pasta and Cheesecake
Richie Buxo/Splash News Online
Move over Bethenny Frankel, there's a new "Skinny Girl" in town.

Caroline Manzo showed up to the premiere of Grown Ups at New York's Ziegfeld Theatre on Wednesday wearing a pair of skinny jeans – and they fit just right!

What's her secret? "Just portion control. I eat what I want. I just eat the bad things earlier on in the day," she said. For example, "If I want pasta, I have it for lunch instead of for dinner. That's all. If I want a piece of cheesecake, I have half instead of a whole."

Exercise has also helped the Real Housewives of New Jersey star, who recently dropped more than 20 lbs. by doing "a lot of treadmill" and drinking "a lot of water."

Manzo spends about 45 minutes to an hour working out at least three times a week. "I try to do it every day. And as the day progresses, I eat lighter and lighter," she says of her routine. "And I stopped drinking soda and juice ... I drink just one coffee a day and buckets and buckets and buckets of water."

And alcohol? "I love mojitos," she says. "I'm not going to lie."

Beginning her new regimen in March, Manzo says the weight came off slowly. "I think that's healthy," she says. "That's the way to do it, so it's not like yo-yo dieting."

Unlike other reality stars who slimmed down after seeing themselves on TV, Manzo says, "That is not me." Still, that doesn't mean she loves to watch herself on Real Housewives: "I could look like Raquel Welch and I'm not going to like the way I look on TV."

Why did she decide to go on her first diet? "When I was married, I was 92 lbs.," she says. "I'm tiny. I'm only 5'1". And once I hit 40, I always say the wheels fell off. Now, I'll be 49 in August, so it's the time. Now I really have to start thinking about my weight because the metabolism is slowing down. And health issues could start kicking in now. So I just want to be aware of my body and start taking really good care of it."

Manzo says she feels "so much better" since losing the weight. "I love it ... I always felt uncomfortable in my clothes. But now I'm good." And she's got the skinny jeans to prove it! –Jeffrey Slonim

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