Over on Fit Bottomed Girls, each year we name a Fit Bottomed Girl of the Year. In years past, it has been Dara Torres, Ruby Gettinger and Stacy Lewis—all very different women who all exemplify what is be a Fit Bottomed Girl. So when Erin and I first started talking about what special content we’d want to create for Fit Bottomed Mama’s one-year celebration, we both knew that naming a Fit Bottomed Mama was a must. We needed a mom who was honest, real, funny, a little sassy and, of course, had a healthy attitude and outlook for herself and her family (no mommy perfection in these parts!). After weeks of brainstorming, we threw around a lot of names, but one name stuck: Alison Sweeney.
Alison seemed a natural choice for a number of reasons: she’s a mom to two, she’s been candid about her body image and weight, she’s the host of The Biggest Loser, she’s Sami on Days of Our Lives, and her take on mommy-hood is both healthy and sane. We absolutely adored her new book The Mommy Diet for its funny and straightforward take on how to have your healthiest pregnancy and recovery.
A few months ago we had the opportunity to talk with Alison about all things health and family when she was promoting the pet weight-loss initiative Hills’s Science Diet Million Pound Pledge (which, by the way, is still going and is still super awesome—pet fitness matters, too, ya’ll!). Here are her top tips for being a fit mom and raising a healthy family!
Alison Sweeney’s Top Healthy Family Tips
1. Use everything as a learning opportunity. Awhile back, Alison and her family learned that their dog Winky, a Boston Terrier, was overweight. At the time, her son Ben was 6 years old and her daughter Megan was 2 years old, and the event became a wonderful way to educate her children about how excess weight affects health (pets are like people that way!).
“Ben was with me at the vet when we got lectured about Winky’s weight problem,” she remembers. “Ben took it really seriously, and he really felt a sense of responsibility and wanted to do what he could to help.”
After learning from the vet what they could do to get Winky healthy, Sweeney says they made it a family effort to help Winky lose the pounds through more frequent walks and better nutrition (no table scraps!). She says she used the time to teach her kids about how food is energy, and how calories are burned during activity. Through a pet, the kids understood how important exercise and nutrition was to them, too, she says.
2. Reach out for help. Moms have so many demands, but many of them are unnecessarily put on us by ourselves, Sweeney says. “Moms today say, ‘I should be able to do it all myself,’” but that’s damaging because no one can meet those expectations,” she says. “It’s important to have network of people you can count on who count on you, too.”
3. Taking time for you isn’t selfish—it’s essential. Sweeney says she wrote The Mommy Diet because she said she couldn’t find a book that was really for the moms of the world—not just about parenting. From how to help your baby sleep to how to find the time to take a shower with a newborn, she wrote the guidebook for moms to also help them stay balanced and healthy.
“The misconception is that taking time for yourself to take care of your wellness is selfish,” she says. “But you have to really fight for the time to be fit and focus on nutrition. By taking time to take care of you, you’re a better mom and are able to give yourself more to those around you.”
4. Teach good nutrition just like you would math. Sweeney believes that good nutrition can be taught as a simple math equation and by understanding it that way—instead of developing emotional eating tendencies where food is more about comfort that actual nutrition and fuel—kids are more apt to have a better body image and therefore better confidence, she says.
5. Make fitness fun for your family and yourself! Keeping your family fit and healthy isn’t just about doing what they like; it’s really about finding activities that everyone likes, including you! Sweeney’s favorite family activities? Walking with the family (Winky included!) and cooking healthy meals together.
“It’s important to include them in the cooking process,” she says. “My son helps season the meal, stir—we all do it together.”
A big congrats to Alison Sweeney for being our Fit Bottomed Mama of 2011! —Jenn