Fast Food Heaven may not appear on any map, but it's how Zakiee Labib refers to her Ohio hometown of Olmsted Falls. Even before she became pregnant in 2005, the interior designer ate out or hit a drive-through at least four nights a week--pushing 5'6" Zakiee's weight over 200 pounds. A year and a half after delivering a girl, Zakiee was still wearing size-18 clothes. With her busy job and a new baby, "I didn't feel as if I had time to focus on myself," she says.
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Until her daughter was 18 months old, Zakiee believed her poor diet, low energy, and stubborn pregnancy pounds were just part of being a new mom. But as her daughter grew, Zakiee could no longer deny the truth. "I finally took a hard look at my health," she says. (Video: An Olympians tips for post-baby weight loss)
After she discovered she was eating twice the recommended servings of most foods, Zakiee replaced fast food with healthy, low-cal recipes, such as whole-wheat pasta loaded with veggies. She also dusted off her barely used elliptical and hopped on for half an hour a day while her daughter napped. As she grew fitter, she added more resistance. In June 2007, Zakiee was down to 187 pounds when she learned she was pregnant again. With her doctor's approval, she kept an eye on her portions, used the elliptical, walked, and did prenatal yoga three or four times a week until her son was born in February 2008. Three weeks later, with her M.D.'s permission, she was working out again. She added running, strength training, and kickboxing to her routine, and the number on the scale fell below 200 by April. Come August 2010, it dropped to 134. "This is the least I've ever weighed as an adult!" she says. "I've completely transformed."
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Zakiee replaced her maternity wardrobe with size-4 outfits, including the shorts and form-fitting dresses she used to avoid. And she has become an avid exerciser. "I can run five miles and still have energy to run around with my kids at the park. Being active makes me happy."
Drive with, not through: "I make sure I have a healthy snack, like an apple, in the car."
Go to class: "Group workout classes help push you. It's a silent competition."
Eliminate temptation: "I bring only my plate of food into the dining room. Serving meals family-style leads to eating more just because the food is in front of you."
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