As an actress and mother of two, Alison Sweeney has never had a problem with keeping exciting endeavors on the table. After 21 years performing in NBC's popular TV drama Days of Our Lives, Sweeney now dedicates her focus to her family, hosting NBC's The Biggest Loser, and working on her new novel set to be released in June. Without a doubt, she knows a thing or two about wearing a number of hats—with style and grace, I might add.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to chat with Sweeney about how she finds the balance between a demanding agenda and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. While she makes clear that she's far from finished learning, Sweeney offers the following tips for those on a similar path:
Prioritize/Organize. Sweeney's first major step forward in developing a healthy balance within her schedule was to take a step back, take off the pressure, and take a look at the week ahead, deciding what major tasks should take priority on which days. For example, if you commit to pouring into your work and staying a bit after hours at the office on Monday, maybe block off time for your favorite fitness class at the gym followed by diving into a personal project on Wednesday.
A large aspect of building and maintaining balance is preparation—both physically and mentally. Even at the end of a long day, creating a nutritious meal is an exponentially more surmountable task when you already have the necessary ingredients waiting in your kitchen. Sweeney makes certain at the onset of each week that she is stocked on grocery staples for some of her favorite go-to meals and snacks, like almonds, so that a trip to the market is never the determining factor of whether or not she will be eating a healthy dinner. Thinking ahead further helps Sweeney to painlessly transition from working to working out. If she knows that she might have a pocket of time the following day for a run or a stint at the gym, Sweeney has a bag of gear packed and ready in her car the night before. Because let's get real... if you have to go home to pick up your sneakers, the chances of you actually walking back at the door are slim.
Be kind to yourself. Always. This one cannot be stressed enough. Once personal and professional obligations and projects evolve into a constant juggling act, dedicating precious time and energy to maintaining a nutritious diet and regular physical activity can start to feel like a hassle, or even punishment. But for Sweeney, remembering that doing so is a demonstration of self-love and one of the primary ways she can take charge of her well-being helps her to indulge in the aspects she enjoys most about health an fitness without stressing. Because she takes such pleasure cooking, Sweeney finds that giving herself plenty of time in the kitchen is part of being kind to herself. Furthermore, because she knows that eating fresh and healthy meals will make her feel physically well, being able to prepare them for herself is a huge source of satisfaction. By the same token, she encourages treating yourself to a break as necessary. If a day comes when you need a manicure more than you need a workout, or you need an hour with your book more than you need another hour on your feet in the kitchen, then go for it.
Develop Flexibility. Sweeney finds that while it's important to have portions of time in your schedule dedicated to some form of physical fitness, on especially hectic days, "it's always better to do something than nothing." Even if you can't make it to an hour-long fitness class on any given day, she recommends doing a little something to raise your heartbeat (like taking a walk around your neighborhood or doing a few armchair exercises). No doubt, there will be days when you won't go for the walk, and you will eat the potato chips; that's OK, she says. It's all about working out that balance and finding your own groove. If you skip working out for a couple of days, just be sure to remind yourself how great you'll feel after that first day back at it.
Take Each Day as it Comes. Sweeney's #1 pro-tip for creating a well-balanced life: simply take things day-by-day. This is a journey—treat it as such. When feeling overwhelmed, "Ask yourself what is best for you today, what fits into your schedule today?" Sweeney says. "There's just no need to borrow stress from tomorrow."