How Alison Sweeney Stays Svelte
Alison Sweeney is a mother, an actress, an author, and host of the nation’s most successful transformation show, The Biggest Loser, but believe it or not, she’s just like us! (You know, minus that whole hanging out with Jillian Michaels thing.)
But seriously, this is one star who is not only super down-to-earth but also has a passion for helping other people. We caught up with Ali at a Healthy Living Panel hosted by the US Highbush Blueberry Council to get her best tips on healthy living, along with some of her favorite delish blueberry-packed recipes!
You’ve said before that you struggled with insecurities when you were younger, and struggled with your weight. Was there any one thing in particular that made you want to adopt a healthy lifestyle?
I was sick of complaining about it. I tried for a long time to get healthy and be healthy, and I didn’t have the information. I remember making pastas with four vegetables on it and thinking, “Oh, I’m eating healthy!” That’s actually one of the great things about working with Blueberry Council is that I feel like that’s what people need. They need the information, and they need to learn healthy tips. Making healthy choices and being healthy doesn’t have to be this huge, life-changing, you-can-never-eat-the-same-things-again type of thing. It can be little things like adding blueberries to your diet or morning routine. Have a fresh bowl of blueberries out on display instead of eating potato chips. You’ll be amazed at what little changes can do.
When we first started trying to eat healthy, we ate salads, but they had cheese, and fried chicken, and ranch dressing — do you remember what your very first move was to make a difference in your lifestyle?
The biggest change I remember was learning to cook. I fell for all sorts of fads that involved shakes and purchasing meals. I think learning to take that on for myself and be in charge of the ingredients I’m putting in my mouth made a huge difference. So, cooking at home was the number one thing that’s helped me.
What are your current health food go-to’s?
There’s a lot. I’m also somebody who’s so busy with work that there’s a routine that works for me. For example, Greek yogurt is one of my favorite snacks. And I just have it in my fridge at all times. I can make it and take it with me in my purse, and it’s just easy. Having things like that available are really great go-to, healthy options. I add blueberries, a little bit of cinnamon, and some honey or agave. It’s actually really satisfying and it tastes so delicious and decadent that you’re not thinking to yourself, “Oh, I’m eating diet food.” But you’re actually eating something really healthy for you.
When it comes to working out, do you try fad workouts or do you stick to your tried and true?
Working out is different. It is important to go for new things, and to be adventurous, and try something different. My trainer, who I work with on strength training, we try something different all the time: I ran the marathon, he’s teaching me judo, I’ve done Filipino stick-fighting, hikes, runs, and I ride bikes … I’m willing to try lots of different things. It’s important to keep your body and your muscles on their toes, and always do something different rather than the same thing every day.
Do you have any guilty pleasures or things that you just can’t resist if they come up?
I think everything in moderation. It’s a lifestyle, and so I try not to look at certain foods as “luxury” items or things I can’t have. Y’know, if I want to have a bite of a cookie, I have a bite of a cookie. It’s not the end of the world, and I just accommodate for it in balancing out my calories for the rest of the day. So I’m actually not feeling like I’m dieting or I’m eating unhealthy foods. There’s tons of healthy things — I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself by eating the way I eat every day.
How do you stay consistent with your lifestyle changes? Especially in the beginning.
That’s a big part of it — not feeling like you’re depriving yourself. It isn’t about feeling hungry all the time. That doesn’t mean it’s working. I have snacks all the time — whether it’s cantaloupe, bell peppers, blueberries, or just having a nice big delicious salad that’s super-green and crunchy. The other big thing is that diet food is often bland. It doesn’t have to be bland; it can be filled with flavor. There’s tons of seasonings, and herbs, and spices that can make food delicious. Those are the kinds of tools that can really help you make it a lifestyle rather than a diet that five days later you’re like, “Ugh, I can’t do this anymore.”
When it comes to blueberries, you mentioned putting them in Greek yogurt; do you have any other favorite blueberry recipes?
I make a smoothie for after I workout with blueberries in it that’s really delicious, nice, and clean. But my new thing is I make a quinoa salad that my kids love too. It has feta cheese, sliced almonds, and I put in blueberries. It’s so delicious and it adds this spark of flavor. It’s really good. I also will chiffonade some spinach or kale and I mix that in too because I love when a plate is really colorful.
*Check out the full recipes here!
There are people who might think it’s too late for them, what would you say to them?
The Biggest Loser is a great example that it’s never too late. Whatever your obstacles are, whether it’s age, you’ve been overweight for too long, or you struggle with physical ailments — there are still things that you could do. Start with making small changes. It doesn’t have to be this big revolution; you don’t have to throw out everything in your house. You can if you want, but in order to be successful, it’s making one small change every day. A great attitude on a healthy plan can be effective.
xx, The FabFitFun Team