"Louis van Amstel and 'Dancing with the Stars' changed my life, and as cheesy and cliché and that sounds, America had a hugest part in that," the svelte Kelly told Access Hollywood's Tony Potts at "Dancing's" 200th episode party on Monday night in Los Angeles. "By picking up the phone and voting for me every week and all the amazing things they said gave me the confidence to keep going at something that I was so scared and so terrified to do."
Kelly is set to appear on the cover of Shape magazine soon – in a bikini – and she revealed that the experience affected her deeply.
"I did my first bikini shot that I've ever done in my life and it was one of the most fantastic experiences," she told Tony. "It was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster because I never thought that would be me or I'd ever look like that.
"I can't wait for you to see the magazine the shoot, it made me cry when I saw the first picture," she added.
Louis, Kelly's "DWTS" partner confirmed the shot was stunning.
"It looks good," he said with a smile.
With Louis by her side, Kelly added that it was her former "DWTS" partner that helped set her on a road to getting a healthy body, just over a year ago.
"Everyone's like what's your secret… is there a quick fix? And there isn't and that's something that Louis taught me," she said. "It takes dedication, it takes commitment to yourself, but also finding something that you love doing.
"What definitely got me started was 'Dancing with the Stars,' but then I went to Louis' dance classes," Kelly added.
Kelly said Louis really helped give her a foundation to stay healthy for the rest of her life.
"Louis taught me how to work out, he taught me how to look after myself and eat right, and then I got a trainer and it just went from there, but he is the one that started it all for me," she said.
In related news, Kelly had big praise for Bristol Palin, who tackled Kelly and Louis' famed Viennese waltz from Season 9 on Monday night's show.
"I love Bristol," Kelly told Tony. "I think she's what the show is all about. She puts her heart into what she's doing; there's such vulnerability in her and she gets up there every week by herself and does it. It's not like she's got like her cousins and her family and everyone there. She's there by herself and she misses her son like crazy and she's standing up there with everything everyone's saying about her and she is dancing her a** off."
Copyright 2010 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Related Content from AccessHollywood.com: