Fitness guru Tracy Anderson helped Gwyneth Paltrow get back in shape post-baby—and she wants to help you, too.
You've seen the sleek, enviable bodies of the A-list new moms Tracy Anderson trains (Gwyneth Paltrow for starters), but you may not have known that 39-year-old Anderson has been pregnant, too—twice! The fitness icon is mom to 16-year-old Sam and 2-year-old Penelope, and she gets it. "I've felt those cravings when I'd go to any lengths for pizza," she says. "And the hardest moments can come later, when you're recovering and can't believe this is your body. But if you put in the work, you can look as good or even better than you did before pregnancy." In fact, she filmed her Post-Pregnancy 2 Workout Series ($30, amazon.com) 11 weeks after Penelope was born. Here, she shares her friendly-yet-firm rules for making it happen. (Don't miss her exclusive workout for Fit Pregnancy.)
The Master's Method
Control what you can; roll with the rest
"When I was pregnant with my son, I was 22 years old and gained 60 pounds. I had the attitude that absolutely everything was for the baby—I'd eat The Edge pizza from Pizza Hut every day, and get this massive Dairy Queen Blizzard. I felt like it was what my body wanted and I was entitled to give into it. Of course, I learned that that wasn't ideal for the baby or me. With my second pregnancy, I knew so much more about the importance of prenatal fitness and nutrition—I gained 38 pounds, stayed active and listened to my body, and had an incredibly easy road back after delivery. That said, there's your plan and then there's the baby's plan: I got gestational diabetes with Penny, and the pregnancy turned high risk. I realized there are certain things you can't control."
Don't try to prove anything
"Pregnancy for me was not about showing the world that I could have the cutest pregnant body ever! It also wasn't about gaining a ton of weight and showing people how successful I could be at losing it. The goal is to be your best self for the baby. You can't be in some ridiculous vanity race to lose the weight. It's not about anybody else."
The first workouts back might suck
"When my doctor released me to work out at six weeks, I felt disconnected from my body, like I couldn't make certain things fire. You might feel like you have low endurance, you're tired, you're uncoordinated. Even me! And when I started back, it was the one time in my life where I was like, 'I need a water break, I'm going to check on the baby'—I never took breaks before. Those first few workouts back are uncomfortable, but you have to know that getting through them will let you get to the next level and the next."
Nursing can help you rebound
"Both of my children took to nursing immediately. That was an important part of helping my body return to its natural state after expanding for the baby: Breastfeeding triggers the uterus to contract and expends calories. If you're able to nurse, it can make a huge difference. But you have to balance your fitness goals with your milk quality—if you work out too hard, you may notice your breast milk declining, and that's not good."
Set a fitness example
"People ask me all the time: How am I supposed to dedicate this time to working out for myself? But it's not just for yourself. One of the most important things we teach our kids is that they have to take care of their bodies, and that it takes time. If you show your kids that you dedicate an hour a day to taking care of your body, they learn that health is something worth investing in. Plus, there's such an incredibly long list of benefits besides your health—your mental state, your ability to perform, your clarity throughout the day—that the time you put into exercise truly pays off in helping you be a more present parent."
5 Simple Food Rules
Anderson cringes when new moms say they're on a diet—getting plenty of nutrients (and calories!) is crucial as you nurse, recover from birth and rebuild strength. But that doesn't mean she wants you to go hog-wild. Here, five tips she gives her post-preg clients.
- Start with a shake A breakfast smoothie packed with whole foods helps you start the day on the right foot. Try a concoction such as whole milk, a scoop of protein powder, fruit (e.g., a banana, some berries) and a bunch of greens. Also, grab a half-piece of whole-grain toast so you get the crucial crunch-factor: Food you can chew makes you feel more satisfied, experts say.
- Snack often To keep from getting ravenous, aim for three meals and two or three snacks daily. Try ½ cup guacamole with baby carrots; 4 ounces of Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon honey; an apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter; or a hard-boiled egg.
- Get protein at lunch Step aside, sad little salad—if you don't include protein, you'll be dragging in no time. Try a healthy burrito: a corn tortilla with ½ cup grilled veggies and 3 to 4 ounces of chicken, fish or lean steak.
- Enjoy your dinner The evening—after a full day of diaper duty—is no time to feel deprived. Make sure dinner includes a healthy balance of protein, veggies and carbs. Try a cornmeal crusted tilapia fillet with braised Brussels sprouts and sweet potato cubes; or turkey meatloaf with parsley mashed potatoes.
- Drink lots of fluids It's crucial for breastfeeding and for staying hydrated during and after workouts. Keep a water bottle handy throughout the day (feel free to flavor it with fresh fruit or mint), and swig often!