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Motherhood, or the Body You Always Wanted: Can a Woman Have Both?

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As you may have read in the news recently, some fitness personalities say that pregnancy and having a great body can't go hand-in-hand, that you have to choose between giving birth and looking great. I'm here to dispel those notions.

Being a mother is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding and meaningful connections you will ever experience. Your body and mind will forever be filled with a constant state of love, protection, concern, and selflessness from the day you find out you are pregnant.

Of course, there are many ways to become a mother, and all of them are beautiful. But to claim that pregnancy and natural childbirth are somehow unhealthful for a woman's body sends an incorrect message to women everywhere.

Although I gained 60 pounds when pregnant with my son, I have never felt more beautiful since then. I had discovered a new level of femininity that every mother owns. Even though I was tired and could hardly catch a shower as a new mom, I found myself with a new power and belief that I could achieve anything.

But I also knew that restoring my body after pregnancy would be an important gift for myself and my child, so during my pregnancy I began researching and creating a new fitness method that would give me the energy and strength I'd need once my baby was born. As soon as my OB-GYN gave me the green light to work out again, I started experimenting with my workouts whenever my son Sam was sleeping or with his Nana.

Six weeks after having Sam, I was smaller and more fit than I had been in my entire life. It took a lot of work, but I am a testament to the fact that pregnancy is not the end to your dreams of a perfect body.

I am a big believer in community and support to make change. I know too well some of the questions that run through a mother's head about her body after giving birth. Here are a few of the answers from my own experience:

1. YES -- you can have your best body ever after having babies, but just like having your best body anytime it takes discipline, focus, and dedication 6 days a week.

2. YES -- your skin will come back and be tight again without a tummy tuck. This too takes focus and patience and a really good program, but I have done it countless times.

3. NO -- you are not selfish to carve out time to exercise as a new mom. You will be in a better mood, empowered, and setting a good example of health and self respect for your children.

4. YES -- you will feel connected to your body again. Our muscles are mutable and our bodies can be designed. There is no reason to ever say that your body is destroyed because you gave birth to a child.

By nature, as mothers we put the needs of others ahead of our own, but that doesn't mean that our needs have to be ignored. With determination and a little guidance from those of us who have been there, you can have the baby and the body you always wanted.

Best known for training celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Shakira, Tracy Anderson has developed a series of workout DVDs for women to use at home. Learn more about her Perfect Design Series and Dance Aerobics workout DVDs at tracyandersonmethod.com.

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