"She wasn't worried about her body at all. Maggie is proof that life doesn't stop once you have a child"
—AGENT PROVOCATEUR COFOUNDER SERENA REES, on Maggie Gyllenhaal, who posed for the lingerie company's fall campaign just six months after giving birth to daughter Ramona.

HOW'D SHE DO THAT?

In photos taken in July, Janet Jackson, who got so tiny last year, suddenly looked much bigger. Now Jackson watchers can only marvel at the return of her famous abs. Liposuction? "Never," swears her longtime trainer Tony Martinez. Starvation? Nope, says nutritionist David Allen. Here's how Jackson regained her shape:

• Eating often, but right.
Allen prescribes three meals (grilled fish with a baked yam) and two snacks (2 oz. chicken and lettuce) daily.

• Working out hard.
Martinez has the singer, 41, log at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week, incorporating basketball, running, boxing, interval training and core work.

• Dressing better.
A mere 16 lbs. separates the two pictures at right. Sure, she is trimmer now, but the sweats aren't doing Jackson any favors—unless, maybe, she was on her way to the gym.

DENIS LEARY MADE ME LOSE 144 LBS.!

On the Brooklyn set of their FX firefighter drama Rescue Me, Denis Leary glares accusingly at costar Lenny Clarke. "There's a tiramisu in the makeup trailer," teases Leary. "I had nothing to do with it!" protests Clarke. "Well, I'm having a big chunk," says Leary. "Only to help you with your diet."

Add to Leary's résumé the unlikely role of personal diet coach. With his encouragement—playful threats, really—Clarke has lost 144 lbs.

Following a cancelled TV series in the '90s and a divorce, the 6'2" actor went from 176 lbs. to 380. "I was out of my mind eating," says Clarke, 53, who developed high blood pressure and difficulty breathing. "Denis was like, 'You're gonna die.'"

But Leary—Clarke's friend of 28 years—had a plan. As a writer and producer of Rescue Me, Leary asked, "If you had to do it for the show, how much weight could you lose?'" Clarke recalls. "I said, '100 lbs.'" Then, with a plot line that sent Clarke's character to prison (where he would waste away doing time), season 3 and 4 viewers watched him shrink. "The 'Murder 1' Diet," jokes Leary. In reality, Clarke joined Weight Watchers, began biking and swimming daily and eating salads, fruit and fresh fish, the last provided by wife Jennifer, a fishing boat captain. Though Clarke would like to lose another 36 lbs. to hit 200, Leary is already very proud. "I can't believe there's not a special weight-loss Emmy," he says. "Why doesn't Oprah have awards for that?"

KIMBERLEY LOCKE: A LIGHTER IDOL

Near her 40-lb. goal!

After suffering Simon Cowell's rebukes about her size on season 2 of American Idol and surviving the TV boot camp of Celebrity Fit Club, Kimberley Locke, 29, has gone from 178 lbs. to 141—just three pounds from the 40-lb. goal she set last fall. The 5'3" Locke, whose holiday CD hits stores this winter, is celebrating by cleaning her closets—"I gave away all my size 14s"—and sharing some hard-won tips.

• Pick a program you can stick with.
Locke chose the Jenny Craig diet plan and six-weekly cardio and strength-training workouts.

• Mix it up.
Locke breaks up treadmill monotony with jump rope.

• Beat temptation.
At the Croton Creek Steakhouse and Wine Bar she co-owns in New York state, "I haven't eaten a quarter of the stuff on our menu." Instead she sticks with salmon and "the chef will steam spinach for me."

• Enjoy the rewards.
"I never used to show my legs," says Locke. "This entire summer I've been in short dresses!"

  • Contributors:
  • CONTRIBUTORS Rennie Dyball,
  • Charlotte Triggs,
  • With Ryann Nicole Blackshere.