Totally Inspiring Way to Lose the Baby Weight

Kristen, left, with Helena and their babies at the finish line! Warning: This is not about Snooki or Kim or Kate or any other celeb whose post-baby weight drop is (frustratingly, inexplicably) deemed front-cover-of-a-magazine worthy. This is about real moms like you and me who wanted to do something good for others while doing good for themselves.

Kristen Hill and Helena Scott met in a new mom's group in New York City — their babies, 6 weeks old at the time. "We immediately hit it off and realized we were both looking for an outlet that enabled us to meet other moms, get back in shape and do something charitable," says Helena. They had something else in common: Helena is the senior director of Team In Training, the endurance training/fundraising arm of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in NYC. Kristen, who works in finance, had participated in TNT events in the past. "We'd both run marathons, but since that wasn't a reality at that moment, we wanted to create a more flexible/laid back version of TNT that catered to moms of all fitness levels," says Helena.

Their brainchild: Moms In Training, an 8-week-long flexible workout program with Saturday morning training sessions that culminates in an optional 10K charity race in Central Park. They pulled it together in weeks and had their first event in April 2012. Participants were asked to raise a minimum of $500 for LLS (the organization sets them up with websites and ideas to make this easy). In return they got training sessions with a certified coach, entry into the race, race tee, plus a bunch of social events throughout the season — family playdate, picnic in the park, moms night out. "When you're a new mom you really crave new mom friends, you need that network, people to talk to and ask questions," says Kristen. "This program fulfills that need and then some."Full disclosure: When I had my first baby I was lying around watching The Real Housewives of Whatever City Was On. These women are impressive.

The best part about Moms In Training: Strollers are welcome at all workout sessions (though Kristen tells me many moms use those Saturday morning hours for themselves and often leave the babies at home with the dads — totally get that). Oh, and the fundraising, of course. The first year the program included 30 moms who raised $45,000 for LLS, the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to blood cancer (as you guys may know, I'm a leukemia survivor and a huge supporter of LLS so this program and these women are particularly inspiring to me). Each mom can run in honor of someone they know or someone they meet through TNT. For the pilot program, the moms rallied around a little girl named Alex who, at 16 months, was diagnosed with leukemia. "Her mom, Lucy, joined Moms In Training and both became such a huge source of inspiration for the team," says Helena (read more about them here).

In just its third season, Moms In Training has grown from 30 to 160 moms raising over $300,000. "It's perfect for moms wanting to get back in shape or even learn how to run for the first time," says Kristen. "You can walk, run/walk, sprint, there's no pressure so no matter what your experience level, everyone feels supported." This upcoming season, they're training in seven parks across the NYC area and get this: Helena and Kristen's program is now going national (how awesome is that?). Soon LLS chapters all over the country will have a Moms In Training program (some cities already do--find out if yours is one of them). The New York City season kicks off on September 28th and still has some open spots. Check out all the details here and watch this incredible video that sums up just how feel-good a program like this is. "You can go to a playdate and meet other moms, you can volunteer, you can go for a run but this allows you to do all three--I don't know any other way to do that," says Kristen.

As a mother and a survivor, I want to say thanks to Helena and Kristen and all the moms who participate in Moms In Training. Lord knows it's hard enough just getting through the day sometimes with work/family/life obligations. To add something like this to an already-full parenting plate is remarkable. And I am personally very grateful. I am literally alive today because of the amazing work of organizations like LLS. They fund the research that creates new and better treatment options for people like me. In fact, the miracle drug I still take was funded in large part by LLS. Oh, and as someone who is about to have a third baby and will definitely be looking to shed the pounds (you may recall my doctor's lovely watch-the-weight-gain warning), I will definitely be getting a spring team started out here on Long Island. Who's with me?