Credit: Jeff Kravitz/

Her romance with Zac Efron made Vanessa Hudgens the envy of tween girls everywhere, but the Beastly actress tells this month's Shape Magazine it actually helped her stay normal.

"The relationship kept me grounded," Hudgens, 22, says. "And Because I was with someone who knew me so well, I didn't need to try to be someone that I'm not."

But Hudgens, who split with the 23-year-old actor in December, says that busy schedules made things difficult to maintain.

"Long-distance relationships are hard no matter what," she says. "When You don't have face-to-face time, it's just different. Having an iPhone helped but it wasn't the same."

Still she expressed no regrets about spending nearly five years with the High School Musical hunk.

"We grew up together," she says. "It was nice to have someone share all those experiences with. It was a good thing."