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Hot Mamas: How 4 Moms Got Their Fitness Back

Even when life is crazy busy with cooking, cleaning, and kids, your own fitness shouldn't fall to the bottom of your to-do list. Here's how four moms shed the guilt, the pounds, and the excuses to reclaim their move groove -- and how you can, too.

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The Single Mom

Single Mom Destiny Vega, 25, Makes Exercise a Family Affair

For years I worked night shifts as a 911 dispatcher so I could be home with my boys during the day (my mother watched them overnight). The problem was, I constantly felt sleep-deprived and ate junk food at all hours. At 186 pounds, I still had weight to lose from my second pregnancy, but the scale wouldn't budge. I knew I had to make a change.

I switched to the day shift and began picking up Nehemiah and Nyechay from the sitter's so I could make it to my gym, the Human Performance Center, before dinner. The kids would play in the club's daycare center while I met with trainer Sarah Campbell, whom FITNESS had arranged for me to work with for two months. I couldn't last 10 minutes on the treadmill, but Sarah got me through an hour of circuit training. The hardest part was motivating myself to do it on my own three other days a week. More often than not, I skipped those first few weeks, but then it clicked: I wanted to be in shape so I could show my boys the sports I used to love, like track and basketball.

I did Sarah's routines at home while the kids watched TV, or I would take them to the park after work to play so we could all exercise together. The fitter I got, the healthier I ate. I've lost almost two inches from my waist and an inch from each thigh, and I'm not stopping there!

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End-of-Day Energy

"I wouldn't allow myself to crash on the couch after work until I'd done some sort of activity, even if it was just running around the park with the kids."

-- Destiny Vega, Allentown, Pennsylvania (with Nehemiah, 6, right, and Nyechay, 3)

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The Teacher

Teacher and Mother of Two Mary Casebolt, 42, Becomes a Healthy Role Model

Returning to my old job as a high school teacher last fall after taking off four years to be a stay-at-home mom was rough. On top of the 45-minute commute each way, I had to face my old colleagues weighing 40 pounds more.

Coming home after work, I'd spend time with my husband and two boys, Logan and Duncan, and then grade papers. If this was going to be my new normal, I had to find a way to make it healthier.

FITNESS arranged for me to work out with a trainer, April Pansy, at the nearby Elevations Health Club. April had me schedule my week in advance to eliminate any question of when I could exercise. At first I felt bad about leaving my sons in the kid-friendly area of the gym, until I realized they liked playing with new pals and new toys.

Also, by writing down my day's meals beforehand -- if it isn't on my list, I can't eat it -- I've lost two pants sizes so far. Recently, while our kids were at day care, I took a spur-of-the-moment 23-mile bike ride with my athletic husband. I haven't had that much energy in a long time!

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At-Home Workouts

"During workouts I did at home, I didn't answer the phone, I let wet laundry sit in the washer, and I had my husband watch the kids."

-- Mary Casebolt, Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania (with Logan, 5, right, and Duncan, 3)

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The Wall Street Mom

Wall Street Mom Danielle Reynolds, 36, Bounces Back After Baby Number Two

When my first son, Andrew, was born, he was a good sleeper, so I was able to get in a run before heading to my job as an operations manager at a commodity trading company. But after Jayden came along, I burned out on running on our home treadmill. I didn't even bother trying to exercise for the next couple of years, until FITNESS paired me up with trainer Larysa DiDio, the owner of PFX Fitness.

Larysa and I met on Saturday mornings at the gym for one hour of mostly body-weight exercises. Those sessions felt like a weekly recharge, and I looked forward to showing her how I had improved. Larysa also nudged me to give morning workouts another try by creating new treadmill routines for me.

It's still tough to exercise at 4:30 a.m., but now I lay my workout clothes on the floor the night before so I can literally roll out of bed onto them. For added inspiration not to skip, I've also set a goal of running a 5K. And now that I fit back into my prebaby jeans, I'm more motivated than ever.

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Early Morning Exercise

"When my alarm goes off, I tell myself a new reason why I'm waking up early to exercise. I couldn't keep thinking, I'll get up tomorrow to work out."

-- Danielle Reynolds, New York City (with Andrew, 5, right, and Jayden, 3)

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The Soccer Mom

Soccer Mom Poppy Murphy, 40, Finds Gym Time Between Carpooling Four Kids

As a stay-at-home mom with four children ages 12 to 6, my list of errands is endless. I've always had to choose between getting things done around the house and doing something for myself. As with so many mothers, the house almost always wins. My body had become soft and shapeless as a result. Six months before my 40th birthday, I had a wake-up call: I realized I had been yo-yo dieting after each pregnancy for 12 years, and I was still 30 pounds heavier than when my husband and I got married. I was finally determined to make a real lifestyle change.

When FITNESS set me up with trainer Larysa DiDio, who was based in nearby Pleasantville, New York, I jumped right in. Larysa and I met twice a week at my house for a one-hour strength-training session when the kids were in school, and she showed me four other workouts I could do on my own: one routine for strength and three that involved running. I planned exercise as if it were one of the household chores. After I waved good-bye to my kids on the school bus, it was time for my workout. If I began right away, no new excuses could get in the way. In the two months I worked with Larysa, I lost 17 pounds. I have kept up with my routine since and lost another 17, so I'm finally at my prebaby weight after all these years!

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Weekend Workouts

"On weekends, the kids weren't allowed to enter my 'mommy room,' a home gym in the basement with a treadmill, an elliptical, and weights. My husband watched them, and they got used to not interrupting me."

-- Poppy Murphy, Larchmont, New York (with, clockwise from top left, Liam, 12; Luke, 10; Connor, 6; and Grace, 9)

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2012.

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