Kara DioGuardi is all about the bikini!
Nearly a year after strutting around in a black two-piece on stage at last season's American Idol finale, the judge -- who poses in a white bikini in April's Women's Health magazine -- admits the stunt "probably saved my job."
"I kept saying no," the songwriter, 39, tells Women's Health, recalling the plan to face off against "Bikini Girl" Katrina Darrell. "I mean, what crazy nut is gonna go out there in a bikini at almost 40 years of age against a girl who is 20 and probably cosmetically enhanced?"
Still, she calls it "a defining moment" that helped her fit in among judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.
"Like, 'She’s serious and industry, but also as kooky as everyone else on this panel,'" DioGuardi says. "I looked a little pasty. But hey, at least I didn’t wet myself!"
So, how has she maintained her bikini body?
She hits the gym four times a week. While there, she runs two miles or does 25 minutes of cardio.
"Boxing, treadmill, step-ups, walking lunges, sprints... I mix it up," she says. "And weight training is important as you get older. You build muscle, which burns fat when you're at rest."
And in addition to drinking at least "two huge bottles" of water a day, she eats plenty of veggie stir-fry, adding that "the more roughage you eat, the more it fills you up."
And if she ever loses motivation to maintain her fitness and diet plan, she counts on her loved ones.
"Someone [close to me] said, ‘You may want to work on your arms -- they’re a little jiggly,'" she says. "The people in my life have no qualms about telling me when I don't look great!"