Cover Model: Tia Mowry

After a health scare motivated Tia to start running, she’s loving life as a working mom more than ever.

Tia Mowry grew up eating a traditional Southern diet, full of staples like collard greens and fried chicken, and exercising only occasionally.

“A healthy lifestyle just wasn’t a part of my life,” says Mowry, who is best known for her role with twin sister Tamera in the ’90s hit comedy “Sister, Sister.” “I would pretty much eat whatever I wanted. I worked out, but it was random.”

Mowry, now 35, saw no reason to change her ways—until four years ago, when she was diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of the uterine cavity, potentially causing infertility.

Her doctor suggested that, as part of her treatment, Mowry work with a nutritionist to develop healthier eating habits. Over the next year, she underwent two surgeries and slowly cut processed foods, sugar and refined grains out of her diet.

The first few days of watching what she ate were brutal. Mowry says, “Sugar was like a drug I was addicted to.” But after about two weeks, she started to notice a definite increase in her energy. “I told my husband, ‘I feel like a kid again!’”

At the same time, she started working out with a trainer and running on the treadmill three to four days a week for 3 miles at a time. She says the routine reduced her stress levels and gave her a much-needed endorphin boost.

“Running is my go-to workout,” Mowry says. “If I’m traveling, I can just put on my shoes and go. It’s the easiest workout you can do.”

That’s especially important now that Mowry is a mom—her son, Cree, was born in July 2011. “Getting back on the healthy bandwagon as a working mom is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” says Mowry, who currently stars in Nick at Nite’s “Instant Mom.” “Being able to just put him in a jogging stroller and go for a run made it possible to get started.”

Tia’s Best Advice for New Moms

Before her son, Cree, was born in 2011, Mowry was working out five days a week. After she gave birth, she says it felt nearly impossible to get back to her routine. She eventually did—her best advice to new moms is: “Start slow. Work out two or three times a week in the beginning. As you get stronger again, you can start working out four times a week, then maybe five. Set small goals, and only set new goals once you accomplish the small ones.” Find more get-fit tips from other running mommas here.