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Laila Ali: How I Got My Bikini Body Back

05/27/2013 at 08:00 AM ET

Laila Ali Bikini Body
Don Flood

After delivering her second child, daughter Sydney, in 2011, Laila Ali wasn’t stressed about getting her pre-baby body back.

“The second time around I knew what to expect so I was a little easier on myself,” says Ali, who also has son CJ, 4, with her husband, former NFL star Curtis Conway. “Once I saw that you just have to eat right and exercise that’s what I did and it worked.”

It worked really well: In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, Ali, 35, shows off her toned physique for her first ever bikini shoot.

“I’ve never done a bikini shoot before,” she admits.

“I’m kind of shy, I’m not one of those people whose comfortable walking around with my butt out. But I had a baby, I got my weight down and I’m always talking about fitness and health. It’s time to show people what I’m working with.”

“I’m naturally a big girl,” Ali explains. “I have to work to be fit. I love running. I run three times a week and I do strength training and weights. And sometimes I throw a little spinning in there.”

Apart from her time in the gym, Ali watches what she eats by sticking to lean proteins and vegetables most of the time.

“It’s what you do 90 percent of the time that matters,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’m not really into junk food, but I like to have a cheat day no matter what, usually on the weekend. I might have pizza, frozen yogurt or a brownie.”

Though the discipline matters to Ali — it’s also a much-needed dose of personal time for the mom of two.

“I know how to work hard and push myself,” she says. “It’s my time for myself. I need to get it in.”

For more on how Ali stays fit and healthy, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE — featuring our Bodies special — on newsstands now.

– Raha Lewis

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Showing 56 comments

Brandi on

Laila looks AMAZING!!! Just beautiful…

Shaz on

Laila is beautiful.

Edie on

She looks great!

KC on

Laila looks fabulous.

Stormy on

She’s ONE sexy momma..

Ginger on

She looks great!

Kelly on

she looks amazing and like a real woman!! Not a size zero a month after delivering a baby. She looks very healthy!

katrina on

PEOPLE is really body obsessed

Guest on

Wow weeee. I’m a woman and I think I have a girl crush :-)

Jennifer on

she is gorgeous and looks great

kooch on

Gorgeous!! Way to go! She has a better body than most 20 year olds. I need to get my butt to the gym now…like ASAP!

JDiva on

Laila, you’re Gorg!!!!! Totally beautiful!

Laura on

She has a beautiful figure.

Amy on

Gee, a brownie – you rebel. She looks great.

Anna on

Not only does she look amazing, but I applaud her for saying it takes work. I feel like celebrities often make it seem so easy to be fit, but it definitely requires dedication and effort. Good job Laila!

Tamy on

Who cares? Is that all PEOPLE has to report is celebrities in their bikinis “getting their bodies back” Really? Why are we so fascinated? I like reading PEOPLE for somewhat “mindless entertainment” but I’m so sick of every female celebrity flaunting their bods. Funny we don’t see the same from the men? Wait! Oh, that’s right, they don’t care what we think…

Lori on

Touché Katrina. I agree.

Summer on

Tamy, I agree with you. I think Laila is a wonderful role model for many things and I applaud her for promoting a healthy lifestyle. That said, I’m so sick of People and other mags focusing on a woman’s post-baby body. It’s a weird obsession in our society to judge women on how fast they rebound after birth. What about celebrating the new life that is here? It places an emphasis on something shallow instead of something more profound. Sad.

Charli on

She looks great. Love the swimsuit. The color is awesome on her.

Tajma on

Gorgeous

Callie on

AMAZING! She looks GORGEOUS!!!! Good job

Cheryl Neely on

Laila…you rock! What an amazing body…very inspirational!

Cheryl Neely on

Wow…there are some real jealous haters making comments! Don’t be jealous…just put down the bucket of wings and run a few miles…sheesh!

Anonymous on

Laila, teach these younger nit wits that you don’t need to kill yourself to get your body back in 6 weeks. It took 9 months to get that pregnancy body, why in the world would a person thinks that it is healthy and wise to get back down to the same size you were before getting pregnant in 6 weeks? This is a very bad example and a unrealistic goal, that People Magazine and Hollywood is setting for women who are or desire to be pregnant.

betty boop on

one beautiful lady and I bet she is a nice person

Julie on

Wow! Laila looks great!

Krista on

The obsession with bouncing back from having babies has spiraled out of control. This one skinny size fits all mentality has to go. What matters is how you feel when you slip into your clothes, not hopping on the scale everyday, eating relatively healthy, but letting yourself have that one day to indulge in those treats. It’s called balance and moderation! This generation of girls we are rearing up will no doubt have poor self-esteem, body image problems, and lack of confidence because of this silliness! Will no one that has the platform stand up and turn this ship around?

Tracie on

She is Fabulous. Simply beautiful…..

Tiffany on

Laila, you look beautiful! Regardless of what People is focusing on Laila is a grown woman who can think for herself and decided to do the photo shoot and the interview. Which I think is great! She is an inspiration. I just get so sick of people getting on their soapboxes about these articles. It’s People magazine- it’s light easy reading! If you want something more hard hitting go buy The New York Times or something!

boohoobytch on

beautiful

TiGi on

soooooo pretty!!! at first glance she looked like brooke burke lol

Smithy on

She looks amazing!

KC on

She looks awesome! Just beautiful.

Debbie on

She looks amazing! I’ve read several interviews with her and I love her attitude and outlook on life.

fan of boardwalk empire on

Laila looks incredible! congratulations!

CABL on

If anyone knows how to bust their butt, it’s definitely her; she looks awesome!

Lynnette on

She should have been People magazine’s most beautiful woman. She is absolutely gorgeous.

Tiffany on

WHY is it people are amazed that to lose weight all you have to do is eat right and exercise? I just find it funny that some think it’s some miracle. No, it’s called hard work and dedication.

BBB on

I’m also sick of People and their post-baby fit articles but I will say that this one was refreshing. They always post really skinny moms and hold them as the ideal. However, Laila isn’t just skinny mini, she’s FIT. There’s an obsession with dropping weight after giving birth but a bag of bones is nowhere near as hot as a fit, toned body.

Tammy on

Laila looks amazing but People, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Why do you always have to focus on what famous people look like in a bikini? You’re just as bad as Hollywood when it comes to making women think they have to be thin to be beautiful. Good for those women who are size 2 but most women aren’t and we’re “people” too.

kitty62862 on

She looks awesome!

Slender but not gaunt, achieved in a sensible amount of time.

Bravo!

thyeknowwho on

She looks amazing. She has always been beautiful and fit!!

kitty62862 on

On second thought, I am so jealous, I want to cry!

Congrats, Laila, you look lovely.

Anonymous on

Work it girl!! She looks beautiful!!

Marky on

Krista, I think it IS about eating healthy, exercising (walking is great and good for the mind) regularly, and having a treat day. When I was younger, my family ate healthy, we had a pint of ice cream for 4 people occasionally, not 4 dips apiece every day, and we were outside as much as possible instead of in front of the TV all the time. Most of the time we didn’t even own a TV when my kids were growing up, and they didn’t have one in their rooms, period. None of us were overweight, and we felt great. Why do some of you think the best way to raise your children is to obsess about eating whatever you want, and weight just shouldn’t matter? It damages joints, sets you up for heart disease, has caused a rise in Gout (something that used to be a rarity!), and a multitude of other health issues. No way should people not have some concern about what they eat and what they weigh; Laila isn’t a size 2, she looks great and she looks healthy. No one has to be fat just because they had a baby, and unless you overindulged, you shouldn’t still be losing the weight when your baby is 2 years old…..

Sherri on

Wow, she looks great! I would love to look like that!

dsfg on

“Not a size zero a month after delivering a baby.”
“Good for those women who are size 2 but most women aren’t and we’re “people” too.”

Why do you guys keep focusing on pant/dress sizes??? That has NOTHING to do with being thin or fat or in shape. I’d be fat if I wore a (US) size 4, and that’s because I have a very small body frame. I have friends who wear size 10, size 12, and they are very thin and in good shape–they just have a taller, wider skeleton than I do.

Julesy on

Wow, impressive! Good for you, Laila!

Kica on

HA!! Show ‘em how it’s done girl!

jae on

In my opinion, Laila is one of the most beautiful women ever. She is also a down to earth, lovely woman and would love to see her on TV more often. Enjoyed her on DWTS.

Anonymous on

She looks great. But can we please stop with the “like a real woman,” comment when referencing her body. Women come in all shapes and sizes. Let us not give strength to complexes and stereotypes of what a woman should be.

EMcCall on

She looks amazing! My husband and I are working on baby and I hope I can look as good as she does after the fact.

Melita De Sousa on

wow, Laila looks amazingly beautiful

Tam on

My inspiration. She looks fab.

TT on

She looks like Brook Burke! She’s a GORGEOUS WOMAN!

khidjah on

Thank you, Anonymous! I hate when I read someone looks like “a real woman” or “real” women have curves. As a naturally thin person with a boyish frame, you’re telling me I’m not really a woman? Something is wrong with that. People come in all shapes and sizes naturally, and it does nothing to end stereotypes to negate others.

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