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Lose Those Last Few Pounds

"The numbers on the scale are creeping up."

sneak in activity. It's hard enough getting to the gym when you don't have a kid -- and you do. So look for opportunities to add in extra movement. Walking for 30 minutes at a brisk pace (and yep, while pushing a stroller counts) will burn an additional 100 calories -- enough to start reversing the numbers on the scale.

Eat like a child. Little kids have little stomachs, so they nibble throughout the day. Doing the same will rev up your metabolism -- and keep you from getting so hungry that you wolf down everything in sight!

Put pen to paper. A recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that dieters who jotted down everything they ate -- even if it was on the back of an envelope -- lost twice as much weight as those who didn't. This is also a great way to see where any extra calories might be creeping in (leftover chicken nuggets, anyone?)

"My weight's okay, but I want to be healthier."

Test your body fat. Start by calculating your body mass index (BMI): Divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared, then multiply by 703. Next, place a tape measure around your bare abdomen, just above your hip bones. If you have a BMI over 25 or a waist circumference greater than 35 inches, get more cardio and lift weights twice a week to build metabolism-upping muscle.

Coddle your core. Pregnancy can do a number on your abs, leaving you with a paunch even when you're back down to your prebaby weight; what's more, weak abs can increase your risk of back problems. Battle the bulge by exercising on a stationary ball: You'll work your muscles 50 percent harder. Go to mayoclinic.com and search for "core exercises" to find a slide show of good basic moves.

Go veggie. Plan two or three vegetarian (or at least vegetable-heavy -- think pizza piled with broccoli, peppers, and tomatoes) meals a week. You'll up your nutrients and fiber and reduce your risk for high blood pressure and heart disease.

"I can't seem to lose those last ten pounds."

Pick up the pace. Make your workout more intense. Been walking? Do a jog-walk combo or challenge yourself to some hills (you'll burn more calories per hour). Instead of biking at the gym, take a spinning class. At home, jump rope or sprint up the stairs.

Eat protein at every meal. At breakfast, choose skim milk and other low-fat dairy. For lunch and dinner, go for fish, skinless poultry, lean red meats, beans, or soy foods. This strategy will help you keep muscle as you lose fat, and keep you feeling full.

Pack snacks. If you have grapes, baby carrots, or a small bag of pretzels or peanuts on hand, you're less likely to succumb to that Cinnabon at the mall. If you can only get junk food, those 100-calorie bags of cookies and chips are a great way to keep portions under control.

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