Healthy Habits with Alison Sweeney

written by FRAN JENSEN / photography by TOM RAFALOVICH

healthy-mealAfter 13 seasons as host of The Biggest Loser, Alison Sweeney decided it was time to end her run on the weight-loss show last year. But healthy eating and fitness will always be a big part of her life.

“I am so proud of the eight years that I was a part of The Biggest Loser, and the journey of each contestant continues to inspire me,” she says.

The former Days of our Lives star—who recently returned to the show for a short stint to celebrate its 50th anniversary—has a busy schedule. Along with acting, directing, and producing, Alison has also written a trio of novels, with her newest book due out this spring. But amongst it all, the wife and mother of two still makes health and fitness a priority for herself and her family.

Read on as Alison lets us in on how she manages work, family, and staying in shape. Then, try one of her favorite recipes, created by Chef Scott Samuel for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, an organization Alison works with.

Describe a typical day for you.

I don’t know if I have a “typical” day. I usually take my kids to school and then have conference calls, meetings, or whatever else is on my planner for the day (assuming I’m not in production on a project). I get a workout scheduled ahead of time (to make sure I actually get it done), and I’m a shopping-ahead kind of person, so it’s fun to make dinner with my family. After dinner, my kids finish their homework and then brush their teeth with Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant spinbrushes and toothpaste.

With such a busy lifestyle, how do you keep health and fitness a priority?

The easy answer is that I just do my best. It’s not always easy—and sometimes just impossible—to get everything done in one day. The key for me is to realize that to be my best self and the best wife for my husband and mother to my kids, it needs to be a priority. So I make sure to eat well, work out, and get plenty of sleep as best I can. If one of those doesn’t happen on a day, I don’t beat myself up, I just reorganize the next day. The hardest part for me is to get plenty of sleep, but my Sleep Number bed motivates me to turn off the lights at night!

What’s the key to maintaining a healthy diet?

For me, the key is portion control. We don’t have those huge dinner plates at my house. We have medium-size ones so everything looks bigger in perspective. We try to have family time at dinner, so we eat slowly and enjoy each other’s company. It is important to give ourselves a chance to feel full instead of eating so quickly that you pass the point before even realizing it. Plus, I make a point to drink a ton of water and to always have healthy snacks available so I’m not stuck eating fast food or something from a vending machine.

How do you stay motivated?

My family motivates me—I want to set a great example, and seeing my kids make healthy choices for themselves motivates me every day.

Tell us more about your family and what you do together to stay in shape.

We are lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, which affords great weather most of the year so we can do things together outside. We take hikes together, walk the dog, sometimes play family baseball, or shoot hoops. In the winter, we ski and snowboard together. We make a point to do as much active stuff as we can.

How do you encourage your kids to eat healthy?

Being a good role model is the most important thing for me. My husband and I have taken the time to make them understand what is in the food they eat and why it’s good for them (or not good for them). So they are proud of themselves for making great choices of what they want for substance and what they want for treats.

How do you instill a positive body image in your daughter?

I never criticize my body in front of my daughter. This is a hard one, but I know that it is an important part. I want her to see me proud of myself so she feels that for herself.

Tell us about your new novel due out this spring.

I’m so excited for Opportunity Knocks to be out April 5. This is my third novel, and it’s from the perspective of a fledgling makeup artist. Readers of my other books, The Star Attraction and Scared Scriptless, will recognize some of the characters, as I try to weave each story together for them—but I also want to make sure each book can stand alone for anyone who hasn’t read the other two books in the series.

What other projects do you have coming up?

I have another movie in the Murder She Baked franchise for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries airing January 10. I’m really excited to continue developing and producing romantic comedies, to keep directing, and so much more.