Debra Messing Debra Messing

Sticks and stones may break bones, but words can hurt too.

So says Debra Messing in the January issue of Shape as she recalls hurtful stories she read in tabloids about her as she tried to lose her baby weight. "On one page it showed all the actresses who got skinny in six weeks or less, and on the other page was me!" says the Will & Grace and Starter Wife star. "I was so depressed and frustrated."

Messing gave birth to son Roman in 2004, and began seeing a physical trainer to get her body back. But mixing workouts with her duties as a mom and actress took a toll. "I was exhausted!" she says. "I cut back on seeing the trainer but started eating healthier."

And now, 42 pounds later, Messing has never looked better. The actress, who shows off her bod on the cover of the magazine, says she's happy with the approach she took.

"Ultimately I'm very proud of how I dropped the weight because I think it was the healthy approach," she says. "I've finally taken ownership of my body."