Amy Elisa Keith
August 11, 2008 12:00 PM

To win the first season of American Gladiators, Monica Carlson bounced, whacked and body-slammed her way over the competition. And then the real work began, as her prize was returning as a Gladiators pro. “The minute I won I was working out twice a day—double what I normally did,” says Carlson, a former hairstylist and mom of twins Ellee and Emma, 8. She relied on a DVD called Xflowsion, combining yoga, martial arts and dance. (She’s since been in a commercial for the video.) Her diet became “protein, protein, protein,” says the 5’7″, 135 lb. Carlson. “I love cookies, but I cut out sweets and ate fruit.” She put on five pounds of muscle and toned once-soft areas that “I figured I’d have to live with.” Now home, “I’m back to being a wife and mom.” And she’s cut down the gym time. “Your body,” she concedes, “definitely needs a break.”

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