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Get in the Best Shape of Your Life

Excuses for those extra pounds? Oh, you've got good ones: Maybe you had a kid or two. Maybe an injury came between you and your Zumba addiction. Maybe you moved, switched jobs, got really busy. Or perhaps it was just the damn holiday cookies. Whatever the cause, you're eager to reclaim your shape; you're just not sure how.

Celeb trainer Tracy Anderson, 37, feels your pain. You'd never tell by looking at her rock-solid body, but 14 years ago, five-foot-tall Anderson struggled to shed the 60 pounds she gained while pregnant with her first child. "I ate everything in sight," she says. "I swam if I felt like it, or did a walk, but I had no exercise strategy or regimen." After getting back in shape, she used her experience to create The Tracy Anderson Method, an ever-changing set of exercises designed to whittle the body into shape; they helped her drop the 30 pounds she gained while pregnant with her second baby in just four months.

The program uses lower resistance and high reps that firm without adding bulk, inspiring a devoted following that includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Nicole Richie, and Molly Sims. Anderson's shape-up, designed especially for Health readers, "will sculpt the arms, legs, and core and pull your body into its healthiest proportions," she promises—even if it's been a while since you were on speaking terms with your abs. As she says, "Our muscles are really powerful; they'll do what we empower them to do."

The workout basics: an hour of exercise four to six times a week, split up into 30 minutes of cardio (whether it's Anderson's dance aerobics DVD or a combo of running, skipping, and galloping sideways on a treadmill) and 30 minutes of muscle sculptors. If you can't fit one focused hour of exercise into your schedule, break up the cardio and the moves; just make sure you do the full 30 minutes of each.

As for the food part of the program (you knew that was coming!), it's a 1,400-calories-a-day mix of lean protein, nonstarchy veggies, and healthy carbs, created by Ashley Koff, RD, author of Mom Energy. Stick with the single serving sizes and do not skip meals, Koff cautions: "It'll play with your body's energy signals, making it harder to make good choices and reach your goal."

Follow both parts of Health's plan and you could drop up to 12 pounds in one month, ultimately lose more than 35 pounds, and get the most buff you've ever been. "Once that first breakthrough happens," Anderson says, "it's the most freeing thing in the world."

Here's how to do it:

How to Stick to a Workout Plan
Anyone who's paid for a gym membership knows this much: Starting a workout program is one thing, but keeping at it? Challenging! Stay motivated with the help of Anderson's seven stick-with-it strategies.
8 Moves to a Stronger and Leaner You
These exercises by Anderson are designed to work body parts in the most muscle-targeted, time-efficient way. (All together now: Woo-hoo!)
How to Eat Right on 1,400 Calories a Day
Koff has a philosophy—that you should eat the right amount of nutrients at each "eating occasion"(that's Koff-speak for three meals and one snack a day). To make it easier, follow the RD's six pound-melting tactics.
The 1,400-Calorie, Metabolism-Boosting Meal Plan
When Koff tells her clients they get to eat at least 1,400 calories on her plan, they're pleasantly surprised. But it's overly restricting calories or skipping meals that backfires.
How Molly Sims Lost the Baby Weight
Molly Sims has had her share of firsts in the past 16 months. She got married to producer Scott Stuber in September 2011. Then last June came the most thrilling production of the model/actresss life: the birth of her first child, Brooks Alan Stuber. But she soon found herself facing another first—losing the 50 pounds she gained during pregnancy. Anderson and Koff to the rescue!






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