10/23/2013 AT 11:15 AM EDT
It's been a year of big changes for Kim Kardashian
– she became a mom to daughter North
, she got engaged
to North's father, boyfriend Kanye West
, and she's lost 43 of the 50 lbs. she gained while pregnant.
"Pregnancy for me was a lot tougher than people saw on my show or from magazines," Kardashian, 33, tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. "So to get back to feeling like myself just makes me feel good again."
Kardashian admits that the brutal scrutiny surrounding her pregnancy pounds – on social media, in magazines, in paparazzi photos – was painful and made her want to "tune out the media."
But a healthy Atkins
-based diet plan, along with regular exercise, has eased the new mom, who has been breast-feeding North, into losing the weight – and gaining enough confidence to post a sexy swimsuit selfie
showing off her results.
"I always envisioned that I would have this easy time just being pregnant, only my belly would get big," she told viewers on her E! reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians
in an Oct. 13 episode. "And it has just been so not that way for me. But sometimes, you just have to take life for what it is and enjoy the ride."
Reporting by ELIZABETH LEONARDFor more of Kim Kardashian's exclusive interview, including a daily menu plan and details of her exercise program, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands FridayPLUS: Watch for PEOPLE on
Katie every Thursday. Check your local listings for times.