"How I Lost 68 Pounds and Got My Pre-baby Body Back!"

Jennie, after her weight lossJennie, after her weight lossBEFORE 211 lbs
AFTER 143 lbs

When Jennie Nickel was pregnant in 2005, larger portions and excessive snacking caused her to tack more than 70 pounds onto her 5'7" figure. The baby weight refused to budge, so this aesthetician from Huntsville, Alabama, decided it was time to whip herself into shape. Today, at 30, Jennie is a part-time nursing student and a fitness junkie who has done three triathlons.

THE CHANGE Nine weeks into her maternity leave, Jennie was down only 15 pounds. "I didn't want to go back to work, because I worried that all of my clients would think I was still pregnant!" she says.

Find Your Motivation to Get Fit

"My biggest issue was mindless grazing--a handful of M&M's here, a few chips there," says Jennie. In April 2006, she began logging what she ate. "Writing it down made me aware of how much more I was eating than I was burning." With a newborn at home, getting to the gym was a challenge, so she turned to fitness DVDs. "It was the first time I attempted to exercise in at least five years," recalls Jennie.

Working out gave her newfound energy, and she dropped 20 pounds in the first nine months. She lost another 15 pounds by April 2007, but then she hit a wall. "My weight didn't change for a whole year," she says. Determined to kick-start her stalled progress, Jennie began running. She signed up for a 5-K in the spring of 2008, which gave her motivation. After she added swimming and biking to her routine, Jennie completed her first triathlon in May 2009. And by April 2010, she was down to 143 pounds.

5 Exercise Machines to Avoid

Jennie marvels that her waist is now smaller than one of her thighs had been, and that she has lost more pounds than her 4-year-old daughter currently weighs. But the journey has been just as important as seeing a slimmer figure in the mirror. "Nothing is more fulfilling than setting a goal, training for it, and getting that rush of pride when you cross the finish line," she says.

Plans to Help You Achieve Your Goals: You Can Do This

Plan ahead--way ahead. "I'm in nursing school now, so my next race won't be for three years. But I'll stay focused on that goal."

Splurge occasionally. "As long as I eat right 80 percent of the time, I don't beat myself up over the 20 percent of the time when I don't."

Make runs fun. "I go running with friends. Why else would I wake up at 4:45 in the morning if they weren't waiting for me?"

TELL US: What's your motivation for losing weight?

More from Women's Health:

6 Keys to Stopping Mindless Munching

A Cleanse That Isn't Crazy

5 Ways to Dress 10 Pounds Thinner

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