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Angelina Jolie

To shed her pregnancy pounds, the mother of Maddox, 5, Zahara, 20 months, and baby Shiloh (born May 27) didn't have to look further than her own nursery. Chasing around after the children keeps her more than active, says a source close to Jolie, adding that although the star doesn't have a formal workout routine, she does take the occasional Pilates class and "tries to eat healthy, with lots of fruits and vegetables. She doesn't believe in depriving herself. She actually eats all the time, but does everything in moderation."

Breastfeeding—which can burn up to 500 calories a day—and snacking on popcorn (no butter!) have also helped Jolie, 31, get back into her size-26 jeans. But the naturally thin star (her own mother is, after all, an ex-model) hopes other women will not view her as a post-pregnancy role model. She doesn't want to send the message that a woman has to be a size 2 to look good, says a friend of Jolie's. "She wants women to realize they are beautiful at any size."

JOLIE'S BIGGEST FOOD WEAKNESS: Chocolate

Mariska Hargitay

It's a postpartum nightmare: You give birth, and still people ask when you're due. A woman did just that to Hargitay at a party last month. "I said, 'Six weeks ago,'" says Hargitay, 42. "She was horrified, but I wasn't." By the Aug. 27 Emmys, Hargitay hadn't shed all of her 55 pregnancy pounds, but enough that she felt—and looked—fantastic in a form-fitting Carolina Herrera gown (left). "I wasn't at all trying to be skinny—my mom is Jayne Mansfield, I'm allowed to have curves!" says the Law & Order: SVU star. (It also helped that she won an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Emmy.) Hargitay owes her new svelte self not just to a rigorous diet and exercise regimen (though she does jog when she can) but to her son August, who was born on June 28. "Because I'm nursing, I'm eating really well," she says. In deference to August's sensitive stomach she has cut down on dairy, sugar and wheat. "No more chocolate. [And] I'm off the Pringles," she says. "It's not about me anymore. It's about him." Not that Hargitay, who has just reported back to the SVU set, is completely happy with her current form. "I was thrilled to sublet my body for nine months. Now I'm ready to take ownership."

HARGITAY'S NEW MOM RULE NO. 1: No Scales

Gwen Stefani

A C-section delivery of son Kingston on May 26 meant Stefani had to hold off on exercise for several weeks. Now the 36-year-old pop star has resumed her favorite fitness activity, running, and keeps her body fueled by eating mostly fish and greens and drinking plenty of water. "She has always lived a very healthy life—that's who she is," says an insider. But there has been at least one physical change in Gwen postpartum. "She's glowing," adds the source. "Being a mommy has really agreed with her."

Jennifer Garner

In no rush to work after baby Violet Affleck's December birth, Garner asked trainer Valerie Waters for a "moderate" plan that, says Waters, would be "doable in a new mom's schedule." For a month, Garner, 34, did nothing but walk; in week five, she added 15-minute strength routines. Only by month four did she ramp up to four-day-a-week workouts. It worked: Now, says Waters, "she can confidently wear a bikini."

Brooke Shields

The actress sounds like a typical mother of young children (daughters Rowan, 3, and Grier, born in April) as she sighs, "When you're working and have kids, exercising seems to be the thing that falls by the wayside." Her solution for losing the 23 lbs. she gained while pregnant: going on hikes with Grier inside a sling across her chest ("You're carrying around 15 extra pounds," she says), and squeezing in yoga and spinning classes when she can. Even so, Shields, 41, admits, "I can't do [workouts] at the same level I was doing before pregnancy, which has been a shock to my system. You just think you're going to bounce back." Still, her two pregnancies have taught her "to respond to your body and what it needs," she told PEOPLE in April. And what her body is telling her now, she says, is that "it's less about vanity than comfort."

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Gwyneth Paltrow

Now the mother of two, Paltrow is "physically more beautiful than before," says her friend, the designer Valentino. And she's working hard at staying that way. Since the April birth of son Moses, the actress has hit Pilates classes. But to lose the final 20 lbs. of the 40 she gained, Paltrow, 33, has embarked on a six-week detox program with alternative medicine guru Nish Joshi in London, which entails colonics, acupuncture and a strict gluten-free diet.

PALTROW'S FREQUENT SECRET WEAPON: AGENT PROVOCATEUR Girdle

Joely Fisher

Even though she worked out almost until the Feb. 2 birth of second daughter True Harlow, Fisher gained 45 lbs. "For Hollywood standards, that's probably more than I should have," she says. To get camera-ready for her new sitcom (FOX's 'Til Death), Fisher, 38, followed a low-fat, low-carb diet and hopped on the elliptical machine five times a week. She still has 10 lbs. to go, but says, "This time is more about bonding with your child than getting your body back."

  • Contributors:
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  • Bethany Lye/New York City,
  • Julie Jordan/Los Angeles,
  • Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna/Los Angeles,
  • Amy Elisa Keith/Los Angeles,
  • Kimberly Lansing/Los Angeles,
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