Gwyneth Paltrow

She may be an Oscar®-winning actress who's married to a rock star, but Gwyneth Paltrow's life isn't all glamour and glitz. This mother of two says she's spent the past few years struggling with the same issues many young moms face.

At a statuesque 5'9'', Gwyneth says she's always been thin. Over the years, she's graced the pages of People magazine as one of the most beautiful people in the world and modeled designer gowns on the red carpet.

Then, in 2006, Gwyneth gave birth to her second child, a son named Moses. Post-pregnancy, she says she began battling persistent baby weight. "I could not get off these 20 extra pounds," she says. "I don't know if something changed. I don't know if it was being older and being in my 30s instead of my 20s. ... I [was] 34 when I had him, and I just couldn't get it off. It was kind of demoralizing."

Two years later, Gwyneth's body is looking better than ever! Photos of the star's new physique got people asking, "How'd she do it?" Now, Gwyneth's sharing her best weight loss advice.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah

Gwyneth says she wants people to know she had to work her butt off—literally—to achieve her weight loss goals. She also credits the person she calls her pint-size miracle, trainer Tracy Anderson. "She's the exercise genius of all time," Gwyneth says. "She developed this system of kind of doing dance aerobics so that you're not doing anything repetitive."

After meeting Tracy in Los Angeles, Gwyneth recommended her methods to her good friend, Madonna. Using cardio dance routines and resistance training, Tracy has helped both women transform their bodies. "She makes everything small," Gwyneth says. "She wants women to be long and lean and defined."

Most days, Gwyneth works out with Tracy at her home gym, but when she's traveling, she says she won't leave home without Tracy's exercise DVDs. "I do those DVDs whenever I travel," she says. "She completely changed my body."
Gwyneth Paltrow and trainer Tracy Anderson

Want a body like Gwyneth's? If so, prepare to lift, squat and sweat for two hours a day, six days a week! "I work freakin' hard," she says. "It's no accident."

In addition to these intense routines, Tracy helps her clients lose inches by cranking up the heat to 80 degrees. "She likes it hot in the room so you sweat, because she says if the room is hot, you're also burning calories to maintain homeostasis," Gwyneth says. "She's always coming up with new ways to kick up the calorie burning."

Watch Gwyneth and Tracy work their arms, abs and booties. Watch

The routine starts with Tracy's band system. "I developed the band system for Madonna, specifically, which we use to warm up the arms," Tracy says. "It just offers me a new way of getting to the muscle and the angles that I need to get a little bit deeper."

Then, Gwyneth moves on to arm exercises that require little to no resistance. "Only 3-pound weights," Tracy says. "No woman should lift more than 3 pounds."
Gwyneth Paltrow

At 35 years old, Gwyneth says she's realized she can either starve herself or eat what she wants and do serious cardio to maintain her shape. "There's no free ride," she says.

Thanks to her intense workouts, she says she doesn't have to watch her diet quite as carefully these days. "I don't eat four-legged animals, but I eat birds, I eat cheese, I eat dessert," she says. "I eat everything."

Gwyneth says dieting has never worked well for her. "I'll immediately gain like 5 pounds even just by thinking about cutting out dessert. It's a nightmare," she says. "I decided, for me, the healthiest thing was to eat what I want and just exercise. Some women can watch what they eat, but I just can't do that."

When she sits down at dinnertime, Gwyneth says she doesn't count calories, points or carbs. "If I did that, I would be 300 pounds. I would eat everything in sight," she says. "I think maybe it's the idea that you can't have something—the restriction."

In the past, Gwyneth did restrict her diet in a different way. She was once a macrobiotic eater, which means she didn't eat anything processed, anything made with sugar or anything refined. "You eat locally, seasonally and organically, but you don't eat sugar and cheese and stuff which now I eat," she says. "It's actually a really good way to eat. It's good for the environment."

Gwyneth says she still prefers to use fresh foods when cooking for her family of four. "It's better to just try and make something at home," she says. "I'm sort of getting into the idea of nourishing your inner aspect and doing that by investing in your family and making a meal and creating time together."
Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah

Post-baby weight wasn't the only issue Gwyneth had to contend with after her son's birth. She says she also struggled with postnatal depression, something she didn't experience after having her daughter, Apple, in 2004.

"It was very strange because I wasn't expecting it at all...not that you would expect it," she says. "After I had Apple, I would characterize it as postnatal euphoria. I was on cloud nine. I was in this bubble. Then, when I had him, I just didn't feel okay. I didn't feel right. He came out and I was like, 'This is really strange. It's not the same. What's wrong with me?' Then, I just went down kind of a slippery slope with it."

For six months, Gwyneth says she felt like a flat line. "I didn't realize what was wrong with me. I just thought, 'I'm not myself. I'm not connected.' I didn't feel integrated in my body," she says. "I wish I had known because I would have gone on medication or addressed it in some way or done something."

Eventually, Gwyneth says Tracy's workouts and a healthier diet helped her break through the darkness. "I started exercising, and I started recommitting to eating well, because when I was pregnant, I was eating doughnuts and kind of bad food," she says. "I have a real thing for fried dough."
Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna

During her postnatal depression, Gwyneth says she sought guidance from family and friends, including Madonna, a mother of three. One evening over dinner, Gwyneth says the music superstar gave her some perspective.

"She was very wise about life's bigger picture and that when obstacles come up in our life, it's for a very specific reason. They're there to teach us something that we haven't learned yet," she says. "She made me see that my postnatal depression was an opportunity for me to change certain things about the way I was living and the way I was going forward. She really sort of reorganized my molecules in that situation."

What most people don't know, Gwyneth says, is that Madonna's a very caring woman who's also very tough. "She's got an amazing sort of dichotomy," she says. "She's very wise, and she has a very soft, soft side."
Gwyneth Paltrow and Oprah

Like other moms with small children, Gwyneth says she and Madonna often get together for playdates at home or in the park. "I'm very, very involved in [my kids'] lives and what they're doing and where they're going," she says. "I take them to the park and meet other parents."

Gwyneth says Madonna's children, Lourdes, Rocco and David, her adopted son from Malawi, represent their mother's greatest qualities. "Her children are beyond," Gwyneth says. "You can measure somebody by their children ultimately, and these children are phenomenal. ... They're very polite. They're sweet, kind, conscientious."

At home, Gwyneth says 3-year-old David likes to perform dance routines from Madonna's concerts on the living room floor. When the kids get together, Gwyneth says her son Moses likes to listen to his father, Chris Martin's, Coldplay tracks, while David prefers his mom's music. "It's very funny," she says.
Gwyneth Paltrow and Mario Batali

With two children at home, Gwyneth says it's more difficult to commit to leading roles in films. "I love acting, but I have two little kids, and it's 14 hours a day out of the house," she says. "You don't get that time back."

While shooting a film in New York City, Gwyneth says she came home every night thinking about what she'd missed. "I left the house while my kids were asleep, and I came home and my kids were asleep," she says. "I walked into their room, and I just cried. I mean, it was pathetic. I was like, 'What am I doing? I missed the whole day. I don't know what they said today. I don't know what they ate. I don't know where they went.' I just felt terrible."

Gwyneth says she's always looking for great supporting roles that require less of her time. Recently, she signed on to a project that's completely out of her comfort zone. She and her pal chef Mario Batali set out on a culinary road trip across Spain, which was filmed for a 13-part PBS documentary.

See where the food lovers' adventure took Gwyneth and Mario!