It was supposed to be relaxing. But for Jade Roper, a January vacation in St. Lucia with husband Tanner Tolbert was proving anything but. The trip was just five months after she gave birth to daughter Emerson, and the Bachelor in Paradise alum insists she was “not ready” to slip into her once trusty two-pieces. Instead, she grabbed her new standby: maternity shorts.
“That’s when I decided to make a change,” she recalls exclusively to Us. “I was like, ‘Jade, you have to get yourself moving.’”
Though it was taking longer than she expected to snap back into shape, Roper was now determined. To drop the 30 pounds she had gained — which she noticed most in her “middle section, hips, thighs and waist,” she notes — Roper turned her attention to her diet.
Enter Nutrisystem. “I was excited to try it because it’s a lot of the foods that I like to eat, but it’s the perfect portions,” Roper says of the plan, which lets users combine prepackaged foods with their usual fare. “It’s so convenient.”
Next, she began a fitness routine centered on free weights and stationary bike rides. “It was pretty gentle,” she says. But combined with her diet, it was enough to shed the weight and build her confidence: On April 17, the 31-year-old made a triumphant return to the beach — this time, in a bikini, noting, “I feel like I’m back to my normal self!”
While Roper was expecting Emerson, she admits she, well, expected a quick comeback. But though many moms say breastfeeding helps loose pounds, the reality star found it had the opposite effect. “I had crazy nursing cravings,” she says. “I was ravenous and felt like I could eat a 16-ounce steak!”
Once on Nutrisystem, she found her favorites, including omelets and pasta, in portion-controlled versions. Explains Roper, “It keeps me on track.”
And it does the same for her husband — who gained 20 pounds of sympathy weight during her pregnancy. “He was in such denial!” jokes Roper. “Then one day he could not put his pants on.” So the 30-year-old started the plan too. As he notes, “It’s been easy, because she can eat what I eat and I can eat what she eats.”
Especially now that dinners out are a rarity. “Date nights are slim,” admits the former model. “And, just when you think you have 10 minutes alone together, the baby cries!” When they do get a sitter, the conversation strays back to Emerson anyway. Adds Roper, “It’s all we talk about!”
Lack of romance aside, parenthood has made them a stronger couple — literally. When temperatures are freezing in their Kansas City, Missouri hometown, “Jade will do lunges while holding the baby,” says Tolbert. “Emmy is her medicine ball!” Indeed, the 5-foot-5 TV personality has completely tossed aside her strenuous pre-baby workouts. “As a new mom, I still try to be gentle with myself,” she says. “I go on walks with Emerson in her stroller around our lake.”
The slow and steady tack has proved efficient. “I’m really proud that I got my waist back down and I’m fitting into jeans I wore before pregnancy,” notes Roper. “That feels really good!”
But she’s not retiring those maternity shorts for good. “My goal was to get back to my regular weight so I could have another baby,” she says. “I didn’t want to be accumulating weight. I wanted to feel good so I could have another.” Hopefully, a son. “We’ve settled on three,” chimes in Tolbert. “I definitely want at least one boy.”
In the meantime, life with a daughter continues to surprise them. Though pals comment Emerson looks more like Mom — “I’ll take it!” she says — she has Dad’s charisma. “She’s a little ham,” says Roper. “She’s so outgoing. That’s more Tanner than me. She’s so sweet and funny and ours.”
It’s a point of pride for the husband and wife of two years. “It’s just crazy that you can make a human with your own body,” says Roper. “She’s an amazing little girl. I’m honored she’s my baby. Period.”
For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on YouTube!