Meet Tonya, Erika, Kristin
Tonya Jackson, 31
Daughter: Abby, 18 months
Lost: 54 pounds in 10 months
How Tonya did it: "When it comes to sweets, I have no willpower. I know I can't stop at just one cookie-I'll end up eating the whole box. So I got rid of all the fattening treats in the house and replaced them with nutritious ones like fruit and yogurt."
Why it works: Trigger foods (the ones you consistently overeat) can sabotage your healthy eating plan, so keeping them out of the house completely -- or at least out of reach -- may help you lose weight. In fact, a recent Cornell University study found that working women who kept chocolate candies in plain sight on their desks consistently ate twice as many as those who hid them away in a drawer.
Take-home tip: Keep healthy foods that you love front and center in your kitchen. And if you're really craving a trigger food, buy a single-serving size of it, such as one scoop of ice cream, a slice of pizza, or a snack-pack?size bag of chips.
Erika Gebhart, 26
Children: Tiger and Rory, 2 1/2; Allegra, 7 months
Lost: 60 pounds in 7 months
How Erika did it: "With twins and a new baby, I knew there was no way I could lose weight without the support and help of my husband. He watches the kids three nights a week so I can go running, and he eats healthier, lower-fat meals with me. We also regularly go for long walks as a family."
Why it works: According to research, the more supportive your spouse is of your weight-loss efforts, the greater your chances of successfully dropping the pounds. That's because your husband gives you invaluable day-to-day encouragement and motivation (not to mention the free childcare).
Take-home tip: If you don't ask for your husband's help, he probably won't figure out on his own that you want it. So sit down together, and come up with a list of the ways he can make your weight-loss efforts easier, including scheduling workout sessions on a calendar. Finally, don't forget to return the favor by giving him time to exercise as well.
Kristin Partenza, 28
Daughter: Ava, 9 months
Lost: 38 pounds in 8 months
How Kristin did it: "I joined a group exercise class called Stroller Strides that combines power walking with body-sculpting moves. Not only did it help me lose weight quickly, but it was a great way to meet other new moms."
Why it works: While cardio workouts are an excellent place to start, it's vital to incorporate strength training if you really want to lose weight and keep it off. That's because building muscle boosts your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories throughout the day. You also get group support in a structured exercise program, which improves your chances of sticking with it.
Take-home tip: Group classes like Stroller Strides, Baby Boot Camp, and StrollerFit are offered around the country, so check the Internet or the Yellow Pages to find one near you. Or start your own walking group with a few of your friends. Meet three or four times a week; plan to walk for 30 minutes to an hour, and spend 10 to 15 minutes doing strengthening exercises using hand weights or resistance bands.