Alison Sweeney was 31 when she began hosting The Biggest Loser. What soon followed was a truly devoted conversion to a fit lifestyle. "I was one of those people who would go on vacation and think, 'I can eat what I want, and I'm not working out,' " she says. "But eventually my mind-set changed, and I stopped looking at exercise as a chore. It became, 'Wow, I have all this free time on vacation. I get to work out. I get to take my time.' I started looking at exercise as reward, not punishment." There was something about watching people overcome exercise aversions on the show that led Sweeney in a more profound direction. "I've discovered so much about myself and about what motivates me," she says.
Like most busy women (Sweeney is also a cast member on Days of Our Lives and mom to Ben, 7, and Megan, 4), she has learned to give fitness time respect in her schedule and actually put it on her calendar. "I think about it the night before, and I figure out where I'm going to fit it into my day the next day. Otherwise, I won't find the time," Sweeney says. "Putting it at a specific time also gives it a level of importance equal to all the other things in there. I think that a lot of caretakers don't do that—we look after everyone else in the family, and our own health and wellness is last on the list, if it's on the list at all."
Today, Sweeney's daily exercise seems like a bigger reward than ever: "My Spinning teacher says this thing that I really love: 'Be present. Be in the moment, and appreciate this body and what it can do. It's time to let everything else go.' " Here Sweeney shares the philosophy that keeps her happily on the move.
ALISON'S TOP 3 TIPS
- Be a moving role model. "My son plays baseball, so I play with him and run to get the ball. Or I'll do lunges while we're walking the dog. Every time they're lollygagging, I do 50 jumping jacks or run in place. I give myself little ways to up my own cardio while they're getting hangout time with mom."
- Take on a challenge. "I just did my first triathlon for Stand Up 2 Cancer. It doesn't matter the event, just take on a challenge. I didn't have any of these skills two years ago, and here I am! It's just putting one foot in front of the other."
- Bask in the reward. "I wish I could bottle the feeling of accomplishment and give it to everybody. I came to the understanding that being healthy and feeling good about myself is something I enjoy, and exercise is part of that. I feel good about my day when I work out. It's not like I don't whine and whimper sometimes, but I truly enjoy the process."