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Getting Your Body Back After the Baby

A healthier mom

One year after having her baby -- and nine months after her video epiphany -- Ellyn Ward is a svelte 129 pounds. She lost 55 by joining Weight Watchers. When Gavin was about 10 months old, she and a girlfriend (who also has a baby) joined the YMCA. Each morning at 8 a.m. sharp -- rain, snow, or shine -- they drive to the Y, drop off the babies in the daycare, and work out in the gym.

"I was determined to do something about my weight," says Ward, who credits her husband, Brandon, for his support. "You can't do this, though, until you have the mindset to do it yourself. Other people saying that you need to lose weight is not helpful at all. The key is to really want to do it."

The payoff is terrific. Ward believes she's a healthier mom for Gavin and that her body is in shape for a possible second pregnancy. Perhaps best of all, she just feels good about herself.

There are no simple solutions to eating right and being active when taking care of an infant. But experts agree on one thing: A new mom can't put her own needs last. Women often make an effort to eat healthfully and take care of themselves while pregnant for the sake of their baby -- but then return to unhealthy behavior when "only" their own health is at stake. Says Rooney, "I think the message we need to give moms is 'If you can do this for your baby, why not do it for yourself?'"

Shari Roan, a health writer in southern California, is the author of three books, including Our Daughters' Health. She is a mom of two daughters.