Sitting across from Alison Sweeney in Vancouver, where she’s flown in as spokesperson for Arm & Hammer’s Truly Radiant line of whitening and enamel-strengthening toothpaste, is like sitting across from a motivational speaker. And it’s no surprise, since she was surrounded by the best of them during her time as host of The Biggest Loser, where she gleaned countless weight loss and fitness tips. Here, she shares views on diets, cleanses, meditation and more.
FASHION: We’ve heard you don’t like the word “diet.”
Sweeney: People consider the world diet like, ‘There’s a beginning, a middle and an end—it’s like a set time. To me, it’s much more about a lifestyle and choices. It’s a decision you make every day for the rest of your life.
F: What do you think about juice cleanses, raw food diets and stuff like that?
AS: I think the statistics, by and large, show that if you go on cleanses or extreme diets, you’ll gain that weight back the second you go back to eating normally. For me, it’s all about making healthy choices and finding normal, balanced meals that you can eat in every situation, whether you’re travelling, at home or eating at a restaurant. It’s not bringing a bottle of something with you to a restaurant.
F: How do you stay healthy when travelling?
AS: Travelling and being in hotels all the time with really decadent, delicious food is hard. People definitely have the mindset—and I should say, me especially—that when you’re on location or at a fancy restaurant, it’s like, ‘This is the perfect opportunity for me to have a dessert. I never would have this at home!’ If you find yourself travelling a lot, you make that excuse a lot. So it’s all about portions. For example, today I was at this beautiful restaurant for lunch, and they offered this delicious dessert, so I had a bite.
F: How do you deal with late-night cravings?
AS: One of the best things I learned from The Biggest Loser was when Jillian Michaels explained to me that the reason why you crave food at night is because it’s your body’s way of saying, ‘If I’m going to be awake, then I need to eat something,’ and often that [thing is] sugar because your brain kind of works off of sugar. And so when you’re hungry late at night, it’s actually your body saying, ‘I’m tired.’ It made me stop being mad at myself all the time [for eating late] and now I [try to] sleep more. The other late-night trick I have is I brush my teeth [to keep myself from snacking].
F: Do you have any tips on improving your sleep?
AS: Unplugging is a huge tip. But whatever your routine is, whether it’s taking a shower or a bath or reading a book, you should have a half-hour routine before bedtime—before midnight! Your body will start to crave that and rely on that.
F: Do you meditate?
AS: I do meditate. I think your brain can really run away with you. It can be like the train in Divergent, if you let it. And especially at night—I have to really take control and be like, ‘No, we’re not going to think about that right now. We’re gonna let that go and relax.’ And that’s really hard for me.
F: What’s the best confidence advice you’ve ever been given?
AS: There are two things. One I’ve learned is that you really can fake it until you make it. It’s such a silly expression, but it’s true! And also choosing to be happy with what you’ve accomplished. If I’m looking to lose 20 pounds, then instead of being miserable until all 20 pounds are lost, be proud of the two pounds you lost this week. Celebrate the small victories along the way.
F: What is your favourite workout?
AS: My go-to would be running—it’s easy, I have sneakers and can do it anywhere. It’s a great way to see places, especially on vacation. But certainly I love to challenge myself with new stuff. I’m a very competitive person. So taking tennis or sports of any variety is always a win for me. I also do strength training. I really like to feel the burn or the soreness afterward.
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