Thursday, April 3rd, 2014
Like most moms, Alison Sweeney is super busy. But the Days of Our Lives actress, Biggest Loser host, author of the upcoming novel Scared Scriptless , and our cover girl along with her cute kids back in 2011 still makes living healthfully a top priority for herself, her husband, and Benjamin, now 9, and Megan, now 5. She’s recently teamed up with Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant to promote healthy smiles. Parents caught up with Sweeney to talk about good nutrition, keeping active, setting a good example, and maintaining a balance amidst the chaos.
P: How do you approach the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle?
AS: There are so many great tips from The Biggest Loser that I have incorporated into my daily life, but certainly I have tried to make it a lifestyle for my kids, too. Just that idea of healthy eating at home. Not making food or dessert a reward in any way. Trying not to put too much emphasis on food, trying to keep it in a healthy realm. I wish Popeye were on TV again eating his spinach to get big muscles, because that’s exactly what I’m going for: Your body needs fuel, but there’s good kinds and there’s bad kinds.
P: Are your kids healthy eaters naturally or do you get creative with your recipes?
AS: Maybe there are kids who are healthy eaters “naturally,” but I have yet to meet one. Our preschool taught us that kids’ palettes change over time so even if they don’t like something right away you should try it again. I just keep reintroducing foods, especially vegetables. I try different ways to prepare them. Brussesl sprouts are more a grownup thing, but I’m absolutely obsessed with them. They’re my favorite vegetable right now. I made a raw brussel sprout and kale salad the other day that I literally chopped up like a chopped salad and my kids devoured it. I had this olive oil and lemon juice dressing and roasted almonds on it and I’m not kidding, my son had third helpings. I couldn’t believe it. I do keep trying. I’m an old school parent; I’m pretty strict. “You don’t always get to eat your favorite thing. This is what I made for dinner tonight and you have to eat your vegetables.” That’s the rule.
P: Is there a go-to healthy snack that you like to give them after school or before an activity?
AS: I love greek yogurt. So I have tons in the house. It’s a 2% greek yogurt with blueberries, a little bit of agave and cinnamon and spiced almonds. My kids love it and so do I and it’s really good for you.
P: How do you like to get active with your kids?
AS: My kids are involved in lots of sports and different activities after school. I like to get involved with my son. He plays baseball and I love to go out and play catch with him and run the bases. I worked with him on his running technique because I am a runner. It was really fun to practice his breathing technique with him and his posture and his form. I was thinking to myself, “Wow. It’s pretty cool, a 9-year-old learning to run legitimately.”
P: With all of this encouragement of a healthy lifestyle, how do you still promote a healthy body image so that it doesn’t become a pressurized situation, especially because you have a young daughter?
AS: I think in today’s society it really is starting to become across the sexes. It’s something that I’m extremely aware of and concerned about. I know that my best course of action is to model the behavior that I hope to see in them. I don’t criticize my own body. I don’t cover up or shy away from wearing a bathing suit when we’re at the beach or when I’m with them. I work hard not to use dieting-type words in front of them.
P: How else do you set an example?
AS: It starts from the moment you wake up in the morning. We brush our teeth together. Your kids should see you work out and taking time for yourself. You would want your daughter to take time for herself to work out. You play with your phone in the family dynamic, that’s the choice they’re going to be making. I know lots of people with teenage kids who are like, “Why are they on the phone the whole time?” And I’m like, Aren’t you texting me right now to ask me that question?
P: It seems that women are always trying to achieve a perfect balance. How do you manage expectations and how do you hope to guide your daughter?
AS: I don’t expect everything to balance out at the end of one day or two days or even a week. I feel like it is a pendulum: We’re getting a little bit heavy on the work this week, so next week we’re gonna get a little heavy on the family life. If you’re looking at the scale over the course of my life, it will balance out in the end. It’s a conversation my husband and I work on together when we see how the family dynamic is shaping up.
P: Was the quest for that balance part of your choice to leave Days of Our Lives?
AS: I turned 16 at Days and I’ve loved being part of the show. That said, my son is now 9, my daughter is 5, and I’m wanting to spend more time with them and to explore new opportunities directing, acting, writing, and developing shows.
P: How do you hope to spend the time that this will free up?
AS: I’m still planning to be busy but I’m hoping the new schedule will enable me to take my kids to school more often, help them with their homework, go with them for a hike, and take vacations when they’re on break.
P: What is your favorite thing to do with your kids?
AS: I love when my husband, kids, and I have an impromptu dance party at our house. It’s so much fun, and hearing their laughter is the best.
Photograph: Alison Sweeney with her kids Benjamin and Megan/ S. Buckley for Shutterstock
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Thursday, April 11th, 2013
Check out blog posts by multitalented mompreneur Rosie Pope every week at Parents.com!
I was doing the usual “running” that I do yesterday—and by running I don’t mean putting on my Lululemons and jogging around the park! I mean running around like a wild thing to get everyone ready in the morning. Running to work, running to the subway, running to pick the kids up, running to make dinner. And then some more running until I finally collapse, flip open my laptop, and start tackling my inbox once the kids are tucked into bed.
As I was on my daily “run,” I suddenly noticed that instead of seeing the kids all huddled up in their stroller sleeping bags under a thousand layers of clothing (I tend to overdress them) and me wishing I had remembered my gloves, they had stripped down to their T-shirts during the school day, I had slipped on a pair of sunglasses, and there were even a few hours of daylight left to be enjoyed! Somehow spring had sprung upon us, and, in all the rushing around I had been doing lately, I hadn’t really noticed yet. It made me think: While having a schedule is important, would it really matter in the long run if today we didn’t rush home for dinner, baths, and stories? What if we skipped the normal routine and instead went on a park adventure, ate jumbo pretzels and ice cream for dinner, and then collapsed into bed together once the sun finally sets?
I believe in structure, and I often find myself obeying a rigid schedule with the kids. Many children find comfort and consistency in such things, as do we. But just as much as we need to change it up every now and then, so do our children. And the look of surprise and excitement on their faces when I tell them we can do something totally out of the ordinary warms the cockles of my heart. So when you find yourself enjoying the moment and appreciating the slightly warmer and longer days, really soak it up and make it last. Abandon the schedule, and make room for the moment. After all, we do want to teach our children about balance. Just because our lives sometimes seem all about the “running,” it doesn’t mean theirs have to be, too.
Whether it is playing in the rain instead of taking a bath, going on a park scavenger hunt during your usual story time, or deciding to have a picnic dinner on the carpet to shake things up, just do it! It’s these mini-rebellions to your carefully planned schedule and everyday routines that help teach our little ones (and us) about finding that delicate work-life balance for which we all so longingly strive.
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Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013
This is a photo of me from a few years ago before the More/Fitness Half Marathon, an all female race in New York City. It was pouring rain that day, but as you can see from the smile on my face, I was pumped. I wasn’t always so jazzed about running, though. I took it up my freshman year of college and I hated (I repeat HATED) those first couple months. I couldn’t run fast. I couldn’t run far. It sucked. But for whatever reason (probably fear of the infamous Freshman 15), I kept with it, and somewhere along the way I actually started looking forward to lacing up my sneaks and hitting the pavement.
Fast forward to January 2011, well after my college days, my love affair with running was in full swing, and I had one marathon, two halfs, and countless shorter races under my belt. Then I tore the cartilage in my knee. I remember the first thing I said after the doctor gave me the bad news was, “When can I run again?” And though he assured me I’d only be sidelined for a couple months, it took me a long time to get over my fear of reinjuring myself. Even after I had successfully reacquainted myself with running, and despite my feelings of jealousy every time I heard anyone talk of training for a half or full marathon, I was still terrified of attempting another long distance race…
…until now. I finally realized I’d never know if I’m still able to run long distances until I try, so this past weekend I began training for this year’s More/Fitness Half Marathon. I’m taking it slow, though, and will be using RunCoach as my guide. When I signed up for the program, I created a profile with my running history and got a plan customized for me. I’m sure I’ll miss workouts here and there—because of lack of motivation or if my knee is bothering me—but the thing I like about RunCoach is that I can adjust my training schedule and it’ll change up my routine and get me back on track. And if I have questions about stretching or warm ups (two things I’ve always been terrible about doing), I can email the folks at RunCoach for advice.
So now, at the end of January, I’ve made my New Year’s resolution. And no, it’s not to get back into distance racing. It’s to live by the motto, you never know unless you try. If my knee starts to hurt too much, I’ll stop training. But I’m no longer letting fear of the unknown hold me back from seeing what I’m capable of—in running, at my job, in everything. What’s holding you back from doing what you want to do?
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Friday, March 18th, 2011
Turns out that it’s hard to run away from the baby weight. I chatted with Kara Goucher yesterday, Olympic distance runner and new mom to 6-month-old Colt, who’s in town to compete in this Sunday’s New York City Half-Marathon. Goucher said that despite running 120 miles a week (nope, not a typo!) she still had had some trouble dropping her post-baby pounds—something that should make us non-Gold Medalists feel a little better about having to work our butts off, too, to shed the baby weight. If you’re looking to get your pre-pregnancy body back, you might like these exercise and eat-right tips. And be sure to check out the race and cheer Kara on if you’re in New York City this weekend!
Photo courtesy of New York Road Runners
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