Alison Sweeney probably never imagined she'd end up posing on the cover of a national magazine in a bikini. After all, the now 35-year-old struggled with her weight publicly after being cast in the soap opera "Days of Our Lives" as a teenager.
"Most women go through phases of looking in the mirror and not being happy with what they see," the "Biggest Loser" hosts says in the April issue of Shape magazine, which features the mom of two posing in a string bikini — and showing off some truly fab abs — on the cover. "I was letting it dictate my entire life — I felt disappointed when I went clothes shopping and guilty about everything I put in my mouth. My appearance permeated my every thought and feeling I had about myself."
Her husband of 11 years, Dave Sanov, eventually encouraged her to make a lifestyle change after spending years listening to his wife express her disappointment in her figure. "He finally, gently, told me, 'I think you're beautiful, but you complain about your body and don't do anything about it. You either have to be happy with who you are or stop eating ice cream. Put up or shut up.' And he was right."
In an interview with omg! last year, Sweeney — whose weight has fluctuated over the years — admitted she initially tackled a new diet in the wrong way, focusing on cutting calories, but not necessarily the right calories. "I made the kind of traditional mistakes that lots of people make," she told omg!. "I was not eating breakfast. I was one of those people who would eat baked chips or low-fat cookies, who thought a Caesar salad was good for me. The saddest part is you think you're being healthy."
When she became host of weight-loss competition show "The Biggest Loser" in 2007, the job became a truly educational experience, teaching her how to eat better and make exercise a priority.
Sweeney, who's kept off the 20 pounds she lost, makes sure to pack healthy snacks like yogurt, sliced red peppers, and trail mix in her bag when she's on the go, incorporates workouts into her daily routine by treating the gym "just like any other appointment," and even just tackled her first marathon. "Of course I want to be with my children as much as possible," she told Shape when asked if there was any concern that the hefty task of training for the 26.2-mile run would take time away from family. "But I've discovered that being a better mother means taking time for myself, too."
Another important lesson Sweeney's learned? Forgiving herself if she misses a workout. "Give yourself a break. You can make up for it by adjusting your calorie intake. I refuse to torture myself if I don't make it to the gym," she explains. "I know I can always work out tomorrow."
The April issue of Shape hits newsstands on March 26.
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