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Article By Abigail Cuffey, Woman's Day
Fri, Jul 30, 2010

"It’s no secret that motherhood takes a toll on your body. But for these six women, becoming a mom actually inspired them to lose weight and get healthy once and for all. In fact, they are all in better shape now than they ever were before getting pregnant. Find out what got them going and how they stayed motivated to drop the pounds and keep them off.

Leah Segedie, 32

Total weight loss: 174 lbs

Motivation: It was all about modeling healthy behavior for my kids. I didn't want them to grow up being overweight like me. And I knew if I was overweight, they were very likely to become overweight themselves. I wanted better for them. It was a no-brainer.

What I did: I started doing Tae Bo DVDs and followed the Weight Watchers program at first. Eventually I added weight training and switched to eating more fresh and homemade foods rather than packaged.

Advice I'd give to other moms: Don't think of yourself. Think of them. If your motivation comes from outside yourself, especially from your family, then you are constantly reminded you want to be the healthiest mom you can be. Plus, the emotional benefits of exercise make you a better and more patient mother. It's really a win-win. Photos courtesy of Leah Segedie

Alyssa Becthold, 30

Total weight loss: 76 lbs

Motivation: I have a rare brain condition called Chiari malformation. Shortly after the birth of my third child in March 2009, the brain condition worsened and I needed neurosurgery to fix the problem. Because I basically went from a birth into surgery, I was at least 60 pounds heavier than I needed to be. I realized just how important my health was after going through this ordeal, and decided I was going to get in shape once and for all so I could be around as long as possible for my kids. Now, I’m the smallest I’ve been since middle school and the most physically fit of my life.

What I did: I joined the Mamavation program—an online healthy-living boot camp for moms—and was given a diet plan that mapped out each day’s food according to recommended servings of fruits, veggies, grains, dairy and protein, as well as a workout program that included customized workouts ranging from cardio to strength training. Thankfully, I also had the support of the online community behind me, because the journey was tough.

Advice I'd give to other moms: Give yourself permission to succeed. Once I figured out it was OK to take time for myself to exercise, I stopped feeling guilty. Once I figured out I didn’t need to eat the same portion sizes as my husband, I stopped comparing my eating habits to others'. Once I figured out I was old enough to be responsible for my own body, I started succeeding in my journey to a healthier lifestyle. What an amazing feeling! Photos courtesy of Alyssa Becthold

Lori Bizzoco, 41

Total weight loss: 44 lbs

Motivation: Since I'm an older mom (I had my first child at 39), I knew I needed to be in shape for my children in order to keep up with them. Plus, I really felt it was important to establish good eating habits. My daughter is 2 now and her favorite foods are broccoli, green beans and fruit!

What I did: It was a combination of dieting, breastfeeding and exercise. I started walking around the park while pushing my daughter in her stroller and also bought a step machine at Target for $100. It was low impact but burned a significant number of calories, so I did this while watching television. I alternated between going to the park and using the stepper about 3 to 4 times per week. In terms of food, I began to make wiser decisions. For example, instead of eating a regular omelet and putting oil or butter in the pan, I would make an egg-white omelet, using Pam instead. These small changes saved a lot of calories.

Advice I'd give to other moms: Look at exercise as a way to bond and spend time with your child. Walking a child in a stroller a few times per week is great exercise. It takes focus and commitment, but after going through nine months of pregnancy and wearing oversize maternity clothes, nobody deserves to look good and feel great more than you do! Photos courtesy of Lori Vadala

Rachel Bishop, 33

Total weight loss: 95 lbs

Motivation: I was looking at a photo album shortly after having kids and I saw a picture of myself. I didn’t realize how big I was until I saw that picture! I wanted to be able to run and play with them, but was in no shape to do that. My kids deserve a mom who can do activities without becoming out of breath.

What I did: I attended my first Weight Watchers meeting and knew the structure and plan was what I needed. I followed it religiously. I began walking on the treadmill that I own and also joined Jazzercise (dance aerobics) and began doing it several times a week.

Advice I'd give to other moms: Make yourself a priority! Life can be so hectic at times and it’s easy to say we don’t have time to exercise or fix healthy meals. Time can be made. I had to actually schedule exercise on my calendar (even if this meant doing an exercise video along with my daughter or running errands on a bike with the kids in tow in a bicycle trailer) and plan my meals a week in advance so I had a set routine that I would follow. Photos courtesy of Rachel Bishop

Maria Sparks, 31

Total weight loss: 30 lbs

Motivation: There are many overweight and unhealthy women in my family, and for a long time, I was one of them. I didn't want my girls to go down that same path. I want my daughters to enjoy healthy foods and live an active lifestyle. I believe the only way to accomplish that is by living that way myself.

What I did: I began slowly by walking 3 to 4 times a week. After a few months, I added strength training and started seeing results. When I became pregnant with my second daughter, I continued to run, strength train and even tried spinning. I had a much easier pregnancy and a much easier delivery the second time around and I attribute it to my new lifestyle. I also became an ovo-lacto vegetarian (no meat, but I do eat dairy and eggs) and I think that has played a huge role in how I feel. What you put into your body is equally important as what you do with your body.

Advice I'd give to other moms: Nobody’s perfect, and I still struggle with balancing it all. I figure as long as I sweat a little every day I'm doing OK. If I notice I've gained weight (I try to stay within 5 lbs of my goal weight), I buckle down on my workout routine and watch what I’m eating more closely. Photos courtesy of Maria Sparks

Cristy Lawrence, 37

Total weight loss: 45 lbs

Motivation: Initially, I just wanted to get into my pre-pregnancy clothes because I didn't want to buy all new (and larger) clothes. But then I ended up really liking my new lifestyle and how I felt, so I kept going until I reached my ultimate goal of a size 6 (the smallest I’ve ever been).

What I did: I followed the Weight Watchers program, measured portions, started making better choices and went to WW meetings every week. I also played tennis and bought an elliptical machine to have at home to squeeze in exercise when I can.

Advice I'd give to other moms: You can do it! For me, moderation and measuring portions were key to losing weight and keeping it off. You can splurge, just don't do it every day. Photos courtesy of Cristy Lawrence"