Hollywood Girl Alison Sweeney Dishes to Glamamom About Exercise, Eating Healthy & the Beloved Sami Brady

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Thanks to Yoplait, who has challenged me to swap my unhealthy cravings for one of 33 flavors of Yoplait Light low-calorie yogurt as a member of their "SWAP Team," I had the opportunity to chat with Alison Sweeney, host of The Biggest Loser, author of The Mommy Diet, and star of Hollywood Girls Night and Days of Our Lives, to learn her tips and tricks for staying fit and healthy, and balancing her food and exercise regime as a busy mom.

I met Ali last year at the 2011 Heart Truth's Red Dress Collection and it appears that her commitment to living a healthy lifestyle is as strong as ever. Have you seen the April cover of Shape Magazine? This is advice clearly worth reading...

Ali_Sweeney Shape

First, I want to congratulate you on looking absolutely phenomenal. I read that you recently completed the LA Marathon, which is such a huge accomplishment, and your April cover of Shape Magazine is so gorgeous and inspiring.

Thank you!

You had your daughter, your second child in 2009, not too long ago. What has your weight loss journey been like with respect to exercise and incorporating better food choices?

The most important thing for me was making the commitment to do it. We know the keys to being healthy are eating right and working out but you have to make those choices again and again, and reaffirm that you do want to be healthy and feel good about yourself every day, then back it up at every single meal. For me, my schedule being what it is, I’m so grateful to "The Biggest Loser" for teaching me so much about being healthy. It's important to learn to make educated decisions about how to take care of your body even under a tight schedule. For example, I know now that if I don’t have a lot of time to work out, doing something is better than nothing. I have a schedule of short cardio classes I can take and quick exercises I can do in my dressing room in between scenes that get me through busy days.

I’ve also learned how important nutrition is. What’s helped me most is arming myself with snacks and food during the day so that I’m not at the mercy of a cafeteria or a snack machine. I just had an experience today where an actor, one of my loving and considerate co-stars, brought in a whole plate full of red velvet cupcakes to work this morning. Of course I was eying them like everyone was so to avoid temptation I had a flavored yogurt and I got the same sweet satisfaction but for 300+ fewer calories. Having alternatives with me helps me to make better choices.

One of Glamamom's Facebook friends wants to know if you have any tips for getting rid of belly fat.

Experts have told me that targeting specific areas isn’t as successful as we would like it to be. For moms, women who have had babies and have gone through pregnancy, you have to address your body almost like an injury that you’re rehabilitating. Your stomach muscles were injured from carrying that weight. I remember the first sit-up I did after I had Ben. I went to the gym and knew it had been a long time since I did sit-ups and thought maybe it would be harder or I’d be able to do fewer than I’m used to and I did one sit-up and literally fell back laughing out loud. Ever since then, I’ve embraced the idea that you have to treat it like an injury and give yourself the time or you’re going to hurt yourself.

You have to go about getting your stomach back by concentrating on each muscle group and going slowly. It’s a lot more complicated than just sit-ups. I do a lot of specific exercises you can look into that have been helpful to me in toning my core from the inside out like planking, tricep push-up, pull-ups with your legs, and squats that use stomach muscles. I detail everything in my book, The Mommy Diet.

Shape

Do you have any favorite online resources for maintaining a healthy lifestyle?

I have a Pinterest page that I use for recipe inspiration but unfortunately it’s not that healthy (laughs). I love Shape’s tips for healthy eating and Yoplait Lite's Facebook page that has awesome dessert recipes that swap yogurt for more fattening ingredients. I make a mean parfait myself. "The Biggest Loser" has a great site also. I bring all of those to my own site [alisonsweeney .com] and will even go onto the Food Network to look for recipes and figure out ways to make it healthier. So even if it’s a decadent Emeril recipe that I love, I can maybe incorporate the seasonings and the flavor he’s going for with less butter.

You mentioned the positive impact working on The Biggest Loser has had on you. What is it like to be personally involved with all of the contestants? I bawl my eyes out every episode I watch. I imagine it must be very emotional for you.

It’s extremely emotional. It means so much to me and I love being a part of it. I love that these people are really changing their lives. And I love that they’re really doing the work. They’re just knuckling down and making it happen and it’s amazing to be a part of. My experience running the LA Marathon taught me first hand why it’s so emotional. I did not expect to have those feelings. At mile 21, I cried. It was hard and I was soul-searching. You learn things about yourself you never knew. I now have a much deeper understanding of why these contestants get so emotional when they’re pushed that hard and a greater appreciation for what Bob has created over 12 seasons. I get it now.

For viewers at home, that don't have the same resources as contestants on The Biggest Loser, what would you say is the first step to living a healthier lifestyle?

The first thing is not to wait. Everyone always talks about the diet that will start on Monday or next week or after the holidays. Also, for me, the biggest change came when I changed my expectations of the results. If I had set out to be in a bikini on the cover of a magazine, I feel like I would have failed immediately because I’d be setting unrealistic goals for myself. The same goes for looking at celebrities who are really thin and comparing yourself to them. My feelings would be hurt when I would fall behind and not be able to achieve these unrealistic goals I set for myself.

Things really started to happen for me when I decided my goals were to be healthy and take care of myself better. All of a sudden, the world opened up to me and at every meal I would readdress those feelings. I would sit down at a restaurant and think to myself, “I want to leave here feeling good about myself, not guilty and filled with regret.” As delicious as a decadent meal is, I would always leave with these horrible feelings of guilt and then beat myself up about it. When I finally realized I just want to feel good about the choices I’m making, and walk up the stairs without breathing heavy, go on a run and feel like I can accomplish a sport I want to play, or chase my kids around all day, that’s when I started seeing results. Realistic and achievable goals are the key to feeling good about your progress. I still have a glass of wine and I indulge from time to time but overall I try to make good choices that I can feel good about.

Tell me about your new show Hollywood Girls Night. I see you’re hanging out with some of my other favorite celeb mamas like Ali Landry.

I love her! She’s so awesome, It’s just that…a bunch of awesome women just hanging out. Some of us have known each other for a really long time. Last night’s episode with Daisy [Fuentes] and Patty [Stanger], I’ve known a very long time. I just didn’t know them well or that we had so much in common. We’re all social and we have a great time when we’re together but you don’t really get a chance at Hollywood events and on the red carpet to bond and connect with other strong women. These dinners have been so successful in helping us all open up and get to know each other better and we allow the cameras in to see more of who we are as people and get insider gossip and silly stuff. Like any girl’s dinner. We also talk about the meals we’re eating, give recipes for the cocktails we’re drinking, and give fashion advice.

I have to ask you about Days. Several of my Facebook friends are asking for some insight into Sami Brady. You’ve played her since the early 90’s, why do you think she keeps “sabotaging her own happiness?”

That is an excellent question! And it makes me laugh because that’s exactly what she does. She’s one of those people that always shoots herself in the foot and speaks before she thinks. I think a lot of it comes from the fact that she wears her heart on her sleeve, something I find really endearing. She’s so forthright about her feelings and that gets her into trouble. She says the wrong thing a lot. It’s her biggest strength, and her biggest weakness. She’s fun to play!

Sounds like you already have a lot on your plate but is there anything on the horizon that you're looking forward to?

I’m taking my family on Spring Break. We’re getting out of Dodge and having some family time, which I’m really excited about. I always have a bunch of projects I’m working on. I direct now on "Days of Our Lives" which has been a real treat for me and way to branch out.

{Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I'm a member of the Yoplait Light "SWAP Team," for which I receive compensation and complimentary product to review. All opinions expressed herein are mine and that of Alison Sweeney. Photos via Shape.com}