Alison Sweeney, former Days of Our Lives actress and sunny host of The Biggest Loser, is one of those women who seem to seamlessly juggle personal and professional life. But even the peppy blonde mom of two – who looks fabulous after giving birth in January, by the way – struggles with the same issues as every other parent: excruciating midnight wake-up calls, stinky diapers and finding time to squeeze in a date with her treadmill. – Andrea Zimmerman
Congratulations on your newest addition to the family [daughter, Megan, born in January '09]! You look great. What’s your secret to losing the baby weight?
Oh wow, that’s a tough one. I’m actually writing a book about it that comes out next fall because it’s a whole long story. But I think it’s ultimately about not being too hard on yourself, giving yourself the time that you need and then prepping yourself. It’s about going through your pregnancy with that in mind, being healthy and not getting carried away, then afterwards, really giving [your body] attention – not just thinking about weight gain, but about fitness and health. And for your child and your mental well-being, it’s important to spend time on yourself and getting yourself back in the gym.
Did your parents give you any advice when you had kids?
I find that I’m starting to sound more and more like my mother every day – obviously she was right, as it turns out. I guess the best advice I got from them was, “Parent your first child as if you already had a child.” So, imagine if your baby is crying and imagine if you’re holding your other one-year-old at that moment, what would you do? You wouldn’t just drop your one-year-old and go running in because your other baby is crying. You have to relax, in other words. It gives you the ability to take a step back and realize its not the end of the world and it will be okay to take one more second. It helps you realize [everything's] going to be okay.
Is your son [Benjamin, 4] aware that you’re a celebrity yet?
No, I don’t think so. Especially because we watch home movies on our TV so he doesn’t necessarily get that it’s different from me being on TV. He knows I’m on television and that’s what I do, but he doesn’t think it’s cool; he just thinks that’s what I do. It’s funny.
What’s the best part about being a mom?
Oh my gosh, there are so many awesome parts about it! There isn’t one best. It’s seeing my kids grow up, seeing them smile, being a part of their lives and giving them a hug. It’s just so awesome. Every little bit of it. Every day is the best part about being a mom.
Are you telling us there are no duties you’d rather hand off to your husband [police officer David Sanov]?
Obviously, there are parts [about motherhood] that are more difficult. My husband and I are both strict parents. We take our discipline and manners very seriously. So is there something I’d want to pass off? No. I love all of it. I love everything.
Well, diapers are brutal. They’re gruesome. And sometimes, early mornings or middle-of the-night [wake-up calls] can be : I don’t sleep a lot. I work late and get up early and wonder, ‘What time is it? I can’t handle it :’ But my husband and I work together; we’re very much a team. We trade off. If I have an early call he handles a midnight nightmare and I do the opposite.
I’m sure he’s integral with your busy lifestyle, in terms of balancing career and family life.
Absolutely. Oh yeah! My husband and I – we’re a total tag-team. We’re equal parents.
How do you do it all? Even stay-at-home moms feel like there’s never enough time.
It’s tough. Believe me, staying at home with your kid all day, that’s exhausting. That’s a full-time commitment. It’s hard for me because I feel like I never get enough time. Mostly, I try to focus on the time I do have. I commit to [my kids], give them my full attention and put everything aside, so that time is precious. Everything doesn’t have to be a big event. Whether its playing Candyland or playing with the T-ball, its like, we’re having fun together, not just watching TV.
How did you get involved with The Biggest Loser?
They approached me. I was a huge fan. I’m a fan of reality TV anyway. I loved watching it! And when they asked me to be a part of the show, I thought it was awesome and I was really thrilled to do it and get a chance to participate.
Was there any particular contestant whose story really got to you?
Well, [Babble's] a parenting magazine, so I almost don’t even want to talk about or bring up Abby Rike’s story [Abby's husband and two young children were killed in a car crash] but sure. As a parent, there are so many stories that have affected me, like Jackie and Dan from Season Five. She affected me because she was the first person who really got on the scale and admitted she was the one who drove her son to the fast-food chain for eighteen years, and she’s responsible. And frankly, she should be. But then she was like, ‘I want to be part of the solution,’ and she was. She was right there by his side, encouraging him, and helping him make the change, and she helped herself along the way. And they really got healthy as a family.
Jillian has boot camp style and intensity but Bob brings you to tears.
But it was one of those moments when you realize how instrumental you are in shaping your kid’s life physically and emotionally – down to teaching your kid to floss their teeth, you need to set a good example. So every night, when my kid was old enough, I ordered the right food at the restaurant and I ate healthy because I expect him to eat healthy. And every night when we brush our teeth, we use fluoride and floss our teeth together. It’s one of those things that if you set from the beginning, it’s just routine; it’s something you do every day.
Absolutely. Have you gotten a workout from Jillian (Michaels) and Bob (Harper) yourself?
I have. Both of them.
How was it?
They’re both tough, but in different ways. They have a different approach, but they’re both really difficult. Jillian has her boot camp style and intensity, but Bob brings you to tears with his, ‘You can do it. I believe in you.’ And he’s just so sincere and he looks at you with those gorgeous blue eyes, and you’re saying, ‘I can’t run, I can’t run!’ He beat me up in D.C. making me run sprints with him during a location shoot and he literally almost made me cry. I was like, ‘I can’t do it!’ But it was awesome. They’re both awesome.
So as we head into the holiday season, have you put any thought into what you want for Christmas?
Wow. I hadn’t really thought about that yet! I know it sounds cheesy but I just like being with my family and celebrating Christmas together. I have such a new appreciation of Christmas morning, seeing my son open his presents from Santa.
Does he make anything for you?
He totally does. The pictures he makes me are adorable and he writes stories. At his preschool, they write books and they color them, and he tells hilarious stories. My husband’s a police officer, so a lot of the time he tells these really random stories about sharks but then the sheriff comes in at the end. I don’t expect that to be in there, and it blindsides me to see a police shark in the middle of his story. So I would love something like that. That would be a great gift.