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Ali Sweeney: A Winner on 'Loser'

Working mom Ali Sweeney is best known for her award-winning portrayal of Sami Brady on the NBC soap opera Days of our Lives. But these days, Sweeney is also the host of NBC’s The Biggest Loser, a show where contestants battle to see who can lose the most weight.

The show’s concept hits home for Sweeney because she has dealt with her own personal weight struggle. She also knows how difficult it is to manage a career, household, marriage and healthy lifestyle.

Ali Sweeney-A Winner on 'Loser'

Sweeney, who joined the cast of Days at the age of 16, has won numerous awards for her acting. She is also the author of All The Days of My Life (So Far) (2004). She took a break from her busy schedule as wife to a California Highway Patrol Officer and mom to 2-year old son, Ben, to talk about her life.

EA: You’re busy! How do you balance your roles on two shows?

AS: I think the time commitments are the most difficult. Luckily, both productions are really great and supportive, so we are all working together to make sure that I have time to sleep! Just kidding. I am concerned about how difficult it will be to juggle both schedules and still make special time for Ben and my family. But my philosophy has always been to take it one day at a time, and so that’s
how I plan to approach this – so that I don’t feel overwhelmed by everything.

EA: How do you think The Biggest Loser may inspire moms to lose post-baby weight?

AS: I think the show inspires everyone – no matter what your background or experience. If you’ve never worked out, or only recently gained weight, it shows that with will power and commitment you can do it! So moms who can’t seem to shake that post-baby weight need to look at it like anyone else. It’s easy to feel frustrated by baby weight, also because mentally you’re dealing with being a mom, too, and all the stress pressure and emotions that come with it. So seeing other people succeed is very inspiring, I think.

EA: Have you had struggles with your weight?

AS: I have dealt with weight issues my entire life. I don’t have a naturally trim body type, and as an actress, it’s always a struggle (emotionally as well as physically) to fit in with my super-slim co-stars. I finally reached a breaking point, where I finally gave up all the fad dieting and decided to commit myself to being healthy instead of making ‘skinny’ my goal. Once I did that, working out and eating right became much easier because my goal wasn’t so impossible. I reached a weight I was really happy with, and able to maintain. And then I became pregnant. It was a battle to look in the mirror and see my body changing and be OK with it. But after Ben was born, I again made the conscious decision to focus on getting healthy and exercising for my heart and body not to compete with super models.

EA: What have you found to be the best strategy for staying fit and healthy?

AS: See above! Also, I’ve found that allowing myself a little leeway in my diet helps me stay focused long term. And I set short-term goals also. If I have a special party to go to, or an event, or certain revealing scenes or something, I can get in a couple extra workouts that week, and lean out my diet without being unhealthy. And then go back to my regular routine afterwards. That way I stay fit without making myself crazy.

EA: What is your workout routine?

AS: I work out at Barry’s Boot Camp. He has DVDs that are awesome and really motivating. I like the toughness of the workout because you can really push yourself to the limit. And then I accompany that with some basic cardio – treadmill or taking my dogs for a run. Basically, I recommend trying different workouts until you figure out what works best for you – workouts that you like and will stick to.

EA: Do you follow an eating plan?

AS: Mostly. I try to avoid processed carbs (white bread, white rice, pasta, etc.) and only have healthy carbs (like oatmeal or brown rice, etc). I stick to proteins and veggies for lunch and dinner. Mostly it’s about portion control and not eating too late at night.

EA: Do you cook? How often do you eat out?

AS: I love to cook. I don’t always have time to do it, so I have easy ingredients close at hand for healthy snacks (like almonds or low-fat string cheese) so that I never get too hungry. That always leads to eating a bigger meal than necessary. I eat out maybe two times a week. I try to stay healthy at restaurants, too, that’s not an excuse to cheat. The easiest way to save calories is to say ‘no’ to the bread basket!

EA: How did you lose the baby weight?

AS: Pretty much the way I described above. It’s always a balance of eating right and working out. There are no short cuts to that!

EA: What are your top three tips for moms for staying fit and healthy during and after pregnancy?

AS: During your pregnancy, you have to stick to what the doctor recommends. And I know a lot of moms who discovered that their babies had strong opinions about foods before they were even born! So, you have to follow your doctor’s advice while pregnant and during nursing as well. I know it’s tough because sometimes all your stomach can handle or all you really crave is pasta or a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s all about moderation. Trying not to stress yourself out too much over your weight, and still walk or do yoga or some sort of exercise, will help make you feel better, too.

EA: How was your pregnancy? How was the delivery?

AS: I had a very uneventful pregnancy. I didn’t get terribly sick. I was just nauseous for about three months. Ha! The delivery was a little more difficult. I’ll spare you the details – I was just glad when it was over.

EA: How is life as a working mom?

AS: Being a working mom is fulfilling and difficult. Ben has completely changed my priorities in life – he is No. 1! And everything else after that. So at first it was hard to get back into work mode because I just wanted to be with him all the time. And now, I’ve found a happy medium – where Ben inspires me to want to be better at my job, and to hurry home, too!!

EA: How do you balance work and motherhood?

AS: It’s always difficult to find that perfect balance. And I don’t think I have some secret to making it all work – just that I take each day as it comes. Sometimes I win – others, I break even! And there are days when I’m filming all day, and Ben’s already asleep when I get home. It’s difficult for me emotionally, but I try not to beat myself up about it. I just look for ways to include him more in my day tomorrow. He comes to set a lot, which is really fun for me – not to mention the cast and crew! Ben has a lot of friends on the Days set.

EA: What is the best part about being a mom?

AS: BEN!!!!!!