During my first pregnancy, I gave myself license to eat anything that I craved and I gained 70 pounds. When it came time to deliver, I weighed 195 pounds and, after a complicated delivery, gave birth to a healthy daughter.

When I came home, taking care of my daughter who depended on me for her well-being was overwhelming. Concern for myself came second. By the time she was 6 months old, I weighed 165 pounds. I was tired of my overweight, unhealthy body and knew I had to make some serious changes.

I followed a low-fat, low-calorie eating plan, but I knew that was only half of the battle. My biggest challenge was finding time to exercise. After some juggling, I found the best time to work out was while my daughter napped or before my husband woke up. I started off by exercising with a step-aerobics video in my living room. It had been a while since I'd exercised and it was hard. But I stayed with it, and soon I looked forward to my workouts. Exercise became my stress reliever and a way to devote time to myself. A year later, I had lost 40 pounds and reached 125 pounds.

Three months later, I became pregnant again and was devastated. Although I wanted another child, I wasn't ready to give up the body I had worked so hard to attain. After feeling depressed about losing my shape, I decided to maintain the fitness strides I had made by exercising and eating healthfully, all under my doctor's supervision. Two months after my second daughter was born, I was back in my favorite pre-pregnancy jeans.

When daughter No. 2 was 4 months old, I hit another obstacle: I slipped on a wet tile floor and developed severe back pain. My doctor found a herniated disc in my back that pinched a nerve, leaving me in excruciating pain from my lower back to my toes. Medication was the only thing that relieved my pain, but it left me feeling so dazed that I spent my days in bed, gaining weight and watching my hard-earned muscles sag.

After a year, I underwent surgery to remove the herniated disc. I soon felt like my old self and when my doctor gave me the OK, I resumed my workouts. But I couldn't do high-impact step aerobics or kickboxing as I had before. Instead, I used an elliptical trainer and started a light weight-training routine. Now, I'm loving life. I'm not in shape like I was before my second pregnancy, but I'm fit and happy. I've added walking and skating to my workouts and do as much as my body can handle. Being healthy has made every day a blessing.

WORKOUT SCHEDULE Elliptical training: 45 minutes/3-4 times a week In-line skating or walking: 45 minutes/2 times a week Weight training: 30 minutes/3 times a week

MAINTENANCE TIPS 1. Focus on your goal to eat healthfully and exercise consistently. 2. Record your feelings in a journal. It'll help you sort out your emotions when things get overwhelming. 3. Be proud of yourself. Even if you haven't reached your goal, be proud of how far you've come already.