Flat abs don't make a perfect, model mom

Just when you thought it was safe to strap on the holiday feed bag, here comes another celeb flashing her pencil-thin bod days after giving birth.

Heidi Klum recently appeared in a Victoria's Secret lingerie show a mere eight weeks after having a baby. (And no, she wasn't wearing a nursing bra and granny panties.)

Between her silver-beaded bra and sparkly bikini bottom lay tanned, toned abs that looked like they had never been within 300 feet of a baby, much had one kicking them from the inside.

No leaky breasts or jiggly abs for Heidi - just a humongous pair of silver angel wings strapped to her back, stiletto heels and a big ol' smile that sparkled as brightly as her diamond necklace.

Kinda reminds you of how you felt after having a baby, right?

As a mere mortal who thought maternity leave meant, "Feed me ice cream, I just gave birth to your child," I must ask: Who are these women?

It's been seven years since my last child was born, and my abs haven't seen the light of day since - and they're not the only part of my body that's not fit for public display. Don't even get me started on the droopy breasts, turkey drumstick arms and varicose vein down the back of my thigh.

But just when I was beginning to accept my ravaged body as a badge of honor, proof that I was woman enough to weather the physical perils of bringing another life into this world, here come all these postpartum celebs prancing around in their hip-huggers, acting like giving birth is easier to get over than a paper cut.

People magazine says Heidi's secret was a low-carb diet and two-a-day workouts with her personal trainer. Call me crazy, but chugging protein shakes in between rounds of shadow boxing isn't exactly what I felt like doing when I got home from the hospital.

Even before she had the baby (her second in two years) it was fairly obvious that Klum had drawn a pretty good hand in the high-stakes game of gene pool poker. And of course we all know celebrities have access to non-PTA mom perks like trainers, chefs and full-time nannies to aid them in their quest for physical perfection.

But I have to be honest, even if I did have a $2.5 million modeling contract, I doubt I would have the self-control to live on egg whites and broiled chicken while I was nursing.

"Celebrities and models absolutely lose their baby weight much more rapidly than 'civilian' women," says Liz Lange, the mind behind Liz Lange Maternity. "They're photographed by the paparazzi nonstop and they make their living based on their looks, so that's a great motivator most of us don't have."

OK, I guess if I knew the world was going to see me half-naked, I could get motivated enough to give up french fries for a while.

Realistically, though, while Klum may have gotten her body by Victoria in shape the healthy way, many celebs rely on two other little secrets: caffeine and nicotine. So while we're battling postpartum depression with chocolate, all they have to console themselves with is Starbucks and the Marlboro Man.

Lange suggests, "For the rest of us, women need to give themselves a break and realize that the old adage 'nine months on, nine months off' is very true and it can take even longer than that."

As the mother of two, Lange says she wore her own maternity clothing for "ages" after her kids were born. Lange's company now carries a line of "fourth trimester" clothing for after the baby, and as best I can tell from the Web site www.LizLange.com there aren't any thongs or sparkly bikinis in that collection. I'm also guessing the store doesn't issue a warrant if you're still wearing the fourth trimester clothes when your kid turns 1.

For every woman who lost her baby weight, there are a hundred of us whose bodies will never be the same again. The pregnancy weight never quite goes away, and just when you have the energy to exercise again, your child refuses to sit in the stroller. Combine that with the warm, salty french fries toddlers never seem to finish and the cut-off crust from every PB&J you make, and most of us will never see a size 6 again.

So as the woman who considers herself living proof that you can live an absolutely fabulous life and still be 20 pounds overweight, I've decided to give myself a gift this holiday season. (And you won't find it in a lingerie catalog.)

This year, I'm giving myself the gift of mediocrity, at least when it comes to my body.

So bring on the cookies. And if the glitter push-up bra doesn't come in a breast-feeding model, who cares?

Snellville resident Lisa Earle McLeod is nationally recognized speaker and the author of "Forget Perfect: Finding Joy, Meaning, and Satisfaction in the Life You've Already Got and the YOU You Already Are." She has been seen on "Good Morning America" and featured in Lifetime, Glamour and The New York Times. Contact her at www.ForgetPerfect.com.