Newly engaged "Big Love" star Ginnifer Goodwin says she was "shocked" by the reaction to her disclosure that she's been following the Weight Watchers program for 23 years..

"I was so shocked when it was this whole, 'Ginny's been on a diet since she was 9 years old!' I was like 'No!' I've never had body issues, I've never had an eating disorder," Ginnifer tells People. "I've never had to go on a diet and that's because of Weight Watchers."

The 32-year-old actress doesn't go to the group's meetings but is a member of Weight Watchers via the Internet, the mag says.

She recalls how she got involved with the program as a child: "I began to identify myself as fat," she says. "At 9 years old I weighed about 10 pounds less than what my weight is at 32. I needed to get help."

"I ended up going to my mother crying," she remembers. "With the counseling of my family doctor, my mother ended up turning to Weight Watchers and their children's program. I went to weekly meetings, got counseling and would exercise with my peers who were my size. It was the first time I saw a proper children's portion size, and it wasn't two burgers, it was one."

Shedding the pounds "was extremely easy to accomplish" but it took time, "because you lose the weight slowly. It's a healthy way to do it," the actress tells People. Meanwhile, she's critical of a certain unhealthy alternative approach: "I call it the 'Cocaine and Cigarettes Diet' in Hollywood," she says.

Ginnifer also reflects on how her appearance has changed in the years since she filmed the first episode of her HBO series.

"At lunch the last day [of shooting "Big Love"] they showed the pilot and I was shocked at how much rounder I looked. We shot the pilot almost a decade ago when I was just out of college," she says. "I think it took me a long time to lose more baby-fat. And yes, living in L.A., you exercise a lot more because it is gorgeous year round. I do a lot of hiking. I can see that my habits have changed."

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