Alison Sweeney has been in the spotlight as Samantha "Sami" Gene Brady on Days Of Our Lives, and now she's extra busy hosting the seventh season of The Biggest Loser. As a new mom, (her second child, Megan, was born in January, after Sweeney pretended to go into labor on Ellen) Sweeney knows a thing a two about balancing a hectic schedule (two jobs!) and loving her new-mom body.
How did you become part of The Biggest Loser?
AS: They approached me, and I was thrilled. I loved being part of something so positive and encouraging to people. The show teaches people the tools, it's not just about entertainment.
But it is entertaining. It's so emotional.
AS: It's a very emotional journey for most of the contestants, some more than others. It's always such an accomplishment for them. For some people the show literally saves their lives, and deals with deeply rooted issues. It is never easy -- these people work out for six to eight hours a day. They wouldn't stay if they didn't want this badly.
What are the major roadblocks for most of the contestants on their path toward losing weight?
AS: Every story is different, but it's completely different for moms. They always put everyone else first. Their health can slip through the cracks. Going to the gym seems selfish and too hard. They need to shift their priorities.
How do you convince a mom that's what she needs to do and it isn't selfish?
AS: By the time people are on the show, they see it. But once they get back to regular life, they need to find a way to balance it. I press upon them that good health will help you do a better job as a mom, and be a good role model for their kids. Nothing was cuter when my son, Ben, who my husband usually brought to the kid's club when he went to the gym, wanted to bring his own towel, just like Daddy. Fitness is part of our lives, our daily routine, and we're sending Ben that positive, healthy message.
What's the hardest thing about loving your new-mom body?
AS: It's difficult to let your body to change. It's hard to be proud and okay with that. It can be scary! There is a new person you're responsible for. You need to give yourself a break and say, "I'm proud of this [new body]." The best way to feel better is to start getting back into shape. Walk, go hiking with your baby.
Did you have a hard time losing your baby weight?
AS: With Ben, it was difficult. I don't remember how long it took for me to get back in shape, but when I could get back into my old jeans, I put the size tag on the wall. I was so proud of what I had achieved.
Did you struggle to get to that point?
AS: Yes. There are things in your life that are going to change, but your fitness and health are things you can always work on. It's not a goal that you reach and you're done. It's not about a number on a scale. It's about fitness, having a long life so you can be active with your kids and not let things get in the way.
What advice do you give to new moms who want to shed a few pounds?
AS: Cooking at home is my number one piece of advice. Healthy eating starts in your kitchen. You're in complete control, especially with the size of portions that you serve. I'm a big fan of the barbeque. I get a salmon filet or some chicken with lemon and a little bit of oil to keep it clean, fresh and light. I make my own chicken salad, and salads with everything but the kitchen sink in them, that I fill with crunchy things to make it yummy, like sugar snap peas and apples.
You're busy! Days of Our Lives, The Biggest Loser, a tiny baby. What else are you working on?
AS: Right now I'm campaigning for allergy season, bringing awareness to allergy sufferers. People who are dealing with them need to be aware what their options are. I don't have time, moms don't have time to waste with allergies. They slow down your life.
So what can moms do?
AS: We're super busy, we're moms. The key to dealing with allergies is to be prepared. Who knows more about being prepared than moms? We put together vacations, lunch boxes, diaper bags, I just tell them to add allergy stuff to their stash of crayons and hot wheels.