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    Mary J Blige, 42, Flaunts Abs in Bikini for Shape, Talks Whitney Houston's Death: "I Refuse to Go Out Like That!"

    Mary J. Blige, Shape Magazine Shape Magazine

    Hail Mary!

    Add Mary J. Blige to the list of celebrities who are proving that 40 is the new 20. The Grammy winner may have passed the milestone two years ago it's quite clear from her latest Shape cover—in which she flaunts washboard abs in a two piece—that she's not slowing down anytime soon.  In fact, she told the magazine that she's just getting started.

    Her fitness overhaul began in February 2012 when Whitney Houston died suddenly from an alleged accidental overdose. Reeling from the shock of the iconic singer's passing, Mary rid alcohol from her diet for 15 months and got serious with a new personal trainer.

    PHOTOS: Whitney Houston's life in photos

    "I'm off [alcohol] completely once more and now I feel stronger than ever!" she shared in the December issue. "Whitney Houston's death really crushed me. I saw someone so incredibly talented just diminish, and I refuse to go out like that!"

    The diva's workouts are a focused around cardio, which means the star goes running for six to eight miles a week.

    "The treadmill is fine but running outdoors gives me the best results," she shared. "It makes me feel better when I get that run in. I could be in the worst mood, but when I do my cardio I feel much, much better.

    VIDEO: Mary J Blige stops by Chelsea Lately

    But pounding the pavement isn't the only way she toned up. The actress recently learned how to swim, something she's wanted to do for decades.

    "I never swam as a kid and that always bothered me. At first, it was very hard, but once I got in the water and figured out how to breathe, it was so liberating," she gushes. "Now it's helping me with every aspect of my life—personally and professionally. Conquering that fear was a huge boost to my confidence. I'm as proud of this accomplishment as I would be if I had graduated from college, which I never got to do."

    Another huge boost to her confidence? Actually seeing that all of her hard work has truly paid off.

    "I had an ‘aha!' moment recently after a swim. I was walking by a mirror and I saw my abs, and they were crazy toned, and my arms looked unbelievable—in a good way, I was thrilled and so proud of myself." She says, adding: "When I'm fit, I can conquer the world. I love the way I look and feel right now and am truly comfortable in my own skin."

    PHOTOS: Celeb fitness stars

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