Paula Patton: Post-Baby Slimdown ‘One of the Hardest Things I’ve Done’

01/31/2012 at 08:00 AM ET
Dario Cantatore/Getty

Five months after giving birth to her son Julian Fuego, Paula Patton had to be in the best shape of her life to star opposite Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, a feat even she calls “crazy.”

“It was really the most grueling and one of the hardest things I’ve done,” Patton, 36, tells PEOPLE about her intense training while attending Thursday’s Reebok Crossfit Sport of Fitness campaign launch in New York.

“I worked out for two and half hours, six days a week for a couple of months. It was so hard!”

To stay motivated, “I would never cry in front of the boys, but inside I was hurting and a little depressed,” she admits.

“You have to get past that moment of self-doubt. After a month, the wall came down and the training felt doable. It still wasn’t easy, but doable and that felt really empowering.”

Today, Patton works out for one hour five days a week, doing such activities as running, weight training, Pilates and yoga with her husband, singer Robin Thicke.

“We started doing it together years ago,” says Patton. “I’m much more flexible than him, but he’s much stronger than I am. So it’s really fun to workout together. We balance each other.”

Though fitness is an important aspect in her life, Patton’s top priority is her toddler, now 21 months old.

“Becoming a mother is the best thing that’s happened to me,” she says. “He’s at the age where he’s talking. He’s not doing soliloquies, but he’s saying Mama, Dada, car and dog. His vocabulary is growing every day. He makes me so happy.”

— Paul Chi


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Showing 38 comments

Sherry on

Wow–2.5 hours 6 days a week?! I want to cry for you. You go girl!

Jenna on

I just saw her in Mission Impossible 4. There is a scene in the movie where she wears a jade colored dress, and she had to have been one of the most beautiful actresses ever to grace the silver screen. She’s not a skinny tooth pick, she has a strong, healthy body. She seems like a nice person in the articles I’ve read too. I like her.

Maggie on

It’s about time someone is so honest at how much work it takes to get back into shape. Thanks for the reality check…lol

krissa on

I love this couple! Beautiful family!

And wow – what a grueling schedule! I wish I had the motivation to work half that schedule into my life!

lolli on

I’m just hanging in there with 30-40 minutes a day. Two hours a day would probably do me in. I’d give it a shot though if I had to be on the big screen. I always enjoy her interviews.

JM on

yeah i’m afraid i can’t manage more than 30 minutes a day at the moment. of course time-wise her life is a lot easier than mine but good on her. fitness is important, i wish i had as much time as she does.

Ella on

Well she said that’s what it was when she was training for the movie. Now she works out an hour a day, five days a week. That’s totally doable. I’m just starting a running program now and that’s my goal.

Shannon on

You can tell she worked out a lot. She looks great!

DawnMiller on

There are about a million beautiful pictures out there of Paula, and they use this one?? She looks like she has three chins and nothing better than an average body. If you’re going to post a pic like this…maybe use it as the before and then show a more flattering after.

Melanie on

The photo is from the event she gave this interview at. She’s working out in all the others, I assume this one was the best.

sal on

FINALLY! Someone who doesnt say “I lost all my baby weight in 2 months chasing my toddler around”

Beth on

2.5 hours a day. 6 days a week? What normal woman has that kind of time?! SAHM or back to work, that is just crazy.

momto3 on

finally! an honest mom out there who didn’t lose the baby weight in 6 weeks, breast feeding and chasing her toddler!

Amodis on

Sweet lady with a great outlook! I am impressed that she sucked it up and did the hard work, talked to the press about the reality of just how hard it is, and looked so great in MI4. I too think she’s a beauty and class act!

me on

I love Paula, she and Robin are adorable together. Still remember seeing her in the audience crying when he performed on Oprah. She was so proud of him

amy on

she’s beautiful! i wish her the best…

Summer on

While I agree that working out 2.5 hours every day is a crazy hard schedule, you people comparing yourself to her are really off-base. This is her job. She HAS to do it to earn money. And while she’s a mother, that’s pretty much all she has to do during the day. She doesn’t have to go to work, take care of the kids, clean the house and do laundry (I’m assuming) etc. and then work out.

She’s a gorgeous woman and I like that she’s honest and down-to-earth – just trying to say that normal women shouldn’t look at her like, “Oh man. I wish I could be that dedicated!” because she doesn’t have normal-woman responsibilities. Go easy on yourself, ladies!

Jillian on

Summer, what makes you think she doesn’t have normal-woman responsibilities? Why does everyone assume that every A-B-C or D-list celebrity pays someone to do every minute thing for them?

Anonymous on

momto3- Some women DO lose weight by breastfeeding, though (I agree that saying you lost all the weight simply by chasing your toddler probably is a bit of a stretch!).

That being said, kudos to her for being honest about how hard it was for her (note that I said “for her”. Just because it was hard for her doesn’t mean it’s hard for every woman.)!

NickyAngel on

I love this woman 🙂 and her husbands’ not too bad either (lol)…she always has a smile on her face

Jenn on

I just love this family so much.

She is so pretty she even looks great without makeup.

Lynn on

This is what she looks like ‘slimmed down’…??? How fat was she, that this is ‘slim’ in comparisson?

NikNak on

I know this sounds petty, but the size of her neck irritates me so much. It’s so out of proportion. She’s actually quite skinny, but her neck is so big, it appears she’s stronger than she is.

doodlbeug on

Who was watching her new baby while she worked out that much????? Only in Hollywood. Hope the young moms of today realize this is not possible in the “real world”.


I commute 2.5 h every day

sandra on

Finally a celebrity that keeps it real about how hard it is to get in shape after having a baby.

Amanda B on

To the question of who was watching her baby while she was working out for 2.5 hours a day…ummm, her husband? People seem to forget that men are parents, too, and my husband, at least, was and still is AWESOME at taking care of our son so I can get things done. If I had needed to excercise for 2.5 hours a day for work (thank heaven I didn’t!!) then we would have worked it out. It’s all about priorities and being flexible (assuming you have the luxury to not be needing to work 16 hours a day just to pay the bills, of course).

Congratulations to Paula, you look amazing! The hard work definitley paid off!

Lizzielui on

DoodleUg, you do realize the child has a father who is just as capable of watching him while his mom works?

sal on

doodlbeug…OMG, you mean she was WITHOUT her baby for a whole TWO AND A HALF HOURS???!!! *rolling my eyes*

Shannon on

LOL maybe the kids was asleep or with his father.

Anonymous on

Amanda B and Lizzielui- Exactly! And if her husband had to work or do something else, then it’s very possible that the baby was being watched by a grandparent or an aunt or uncle.

NikNak- Size has nothing to do with strength. You can be a tiny little thing and still be very strong!

Missy on

@Amanda B,

You are so right! I see a lot of blame and responsibility being put on mothers. Paula Patton and Robin Thicke both have careers, and I’m sure they share the responsibilty of raising their child.

I do not spend every waking moment with my child (shocker!). Our son is just as much my husband’s responsibilty as he is mine. Children will not suffer if they spend a few hours a day with someone other than their mother.

cbaker on

or maybe the nanny is watching the baby. most, if not all have at least one nanny.

Janna on

doodlbeug… Who watches your kid while you do anything? Are you chained to them? Has it occurred to your pea brain that in the ‘real world’ people may also have to do things for 2.5 hours that don’t involve their kids?


Indira on

I work out about 2.5 hours a day when training for my sport and while it’s hard to get a straight 2.5 hours (and its unneeded if you’re just trying to stay fit). Most people can find an 1hr or 1.5 free time in the day if they really wanted to.

Eating lunch more quickly at work and using the other part of the break to go for a walk or do a mini-workout. Waking up early, or not reading a book or watching tv before bed, try jumping jacks or crunches instead.

I honestly get that having a family, job work is hectic but, I don’t think people realize if you treat working out as something for your health – like brushing your teeth – and less like an option for the vain or famous it really makes a difference.

Terri on

She looked amazing in that movie. I love her figure, so fit & toned – yet not a stick figure.

Yuri on

Love her nice to know how celebs are just as real as us…I do gotta admit it is lots of work getting back in shape after a baby… I am hanging in there I am doing 45-60min workout 4-5times a week and I am hating it but I gotta stay healthy for my toddler..

J on

People sure knows how to pick some flattering photos…lol!