"Stop being so dramatic!
Give me a break! Leave the soap opera acting on the stage!"
No, this is not an acting class. This is not a paparazzo trying to get a rise out of a celebrity. This is Alison Sweeney relating how The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper speaks to her when she takes one of his Spinning classes at a Crunch fitness club. "Sometimes he doesn't feel like I'm putting enough resistance on the bike," she admits. "And I want to kill him for yelling at me. But he likes making me mad, because he knows I'm really competitive and that if he calls me out, he'll get my best effort. He always thinks that I can give him more."
And so she does—just like so many of the contestants on The Biggest Loser, the NBC reality juggernaut that Sweeney has hosted for the past 4 years. (Search: Who hosted The Biggest Loser before Sweeney?) It's that innate empathy that makes her such an integral part of The Biggest Loser's team. When she stands beside contestants as they step onto the giant scale at weigh-ins or watches them push themselves so hard in workouts that they start to cry, she gets it. She's been overweight. She understands that dropping pounds, whether it's 20 or 200, is not just a physical effort but an emotional one, and it often means overcoming that little voice inside saying, Maybe I just can't do this.
Instant Motivation Tricks That Help Your Weight Loss
Surprising as it may seem, the 35-year-old mother of two (Ben, 7, and Megan, 3), who has been happily married for 11 years to Dave Sanov, an investigator with the California Highway Patrol, continues to have periods of self-doubt. It's something she felt back when she was 16 and landed the role of bad girl Sami Brady on Days of Our Lives, a part she still plays, 19 years later. But she also knows it's possible to get past it.
"The body and the confidence I have today are hard-won," says Sweeney. "I can put up a good front, even though sometimes I feel like the only thing I have going for me is my willingness to give it my all. It's taken me a long time to celebrate who I am. Age really does help."
What changed for Sweeney besides getting older was getting educated: learning how to eat right, choosing challenging workouts, and—toughest of all for her—asking for help. (Video: Torch calories from your couch when you watch The Biggest Loser) Now she wants to return the favor to other women, so she's sharing her knowledge of food, fitness, and "me" time in a book, The Mommy Diet, which just came out in paperback. It's chock-full of things Sweeney has learned from other moms, The Biggest Loser, and her own trial and error.
If your kids are in their teens or even out of the house, you can still benefit from the advice. "It's not just for new moms," Sweeney says. "My book is really about how important it is to make time for your own health and wellness." Here, she shares some of the lessons she's learned.
Fitness and Weight Loss Tips from Biggest Loser Experts
Be Healthy, Not Skinny
"I was never obese, but I felt ‘less than' because I wasn't as thin as other actresses," says Sweeney. Still, she was cast on Days and at 18 began living on her own.
Her eating habits tanked. She tried to lose weight by choosing fat-free cookies but would scarf down an entire package. "I totally fell for that low-fat craze," she says. "My goal was to be X jeans size or a specific number on the scale. (Discover how to Look Better Naked and eat healthy while you're at it.)
"When I saw contestants fighting for their lives on The Biggest Loser, I realized I just wanted to be healthy—or have fun playing soccer with my son or teaching my daughter to shoot hoops," Sweeney says. "Then it was so much easier to say no to carbs, soda, or dessert, and the weight just came off."
Weight Loss Mistakes Even Healthy Women Make
Know What You Eat
Back in 1998, Sweeney kept a food journal for 3 months just to get a handle on where the calories were coming from. "People can deceive themselves about how much they're eating. I did. You stand up and nibble a snack or say, ‘Oh, I'll have just one red wine.' "
Alison Sweeney and The Biggest Loser
The Biggest Winner
Image: Kwaku Alston
"Stop being so dramatic!