Whether you know her as Sami Brady on Days of Our Lives or as the incredibly motivating host of The Biggest Loser, there’s no denying Alison Sweeney is the real deal. We caught up with the TV veteran to chat all things beauty and fitness—and OK a little soap opera talk. Read on to get her top fitness tips as well as the best beauty trick she learned from set!
So how do you make fitness a priority?
Alison Sweeney: I like to set a good example for my kids, you know? [They know] Mommy is going to go workout after I drop them off at school, and they’re running and playing outside while I’m going to run and play at the gym or do my thing. And that’s how our family operates. It’s not a chore, it’s not a task. It’s like, that’s just the deal you know. And I want it to seem just as common, as everyday, as normal as possible, rather than, ‘You have to do XYZ.’ I don’t want it to seem like a punishment or a chore. Those are the big health hacks for me. I play that mind trick on myself, ‘Oh you know, that’s just what we do! It’s part of life.’
What are your gym bag essentials?
I’m definitely forgetful, so I have everything with me! I definitely have socks in there. I have an exercise band. You know I definitely workout, and I use the gym but not like a lot. I like to workout outside, and I’ll go to a class for like a spin class. I want to have my sneakers with me because I wear flip-flops in LA like 97 percent of the day. I have sneakers and socks, and a sports bra, hair ties. I don’t normally carry my makeup around. I do carry the foundation that I use by IT Cosmetics. It’s the one that’s the Pressed Powder Foundation ($35, ulta.com), so it’s really natural and it just goes on. Literally, it’s just all I would have with me to just brush it on after because my red face from the gym is not so pretty. And then I do like to brush my teeth a lot after lunch, so I have my little kit of my manual toothbrush and my Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant Clean and Fresh ($4, drugstore.com).* Oh I have a dry shampoo that I use—Batiste ($8, ulta.com), and I love it. That’s key. You’re going to rinse your hair out and dry it but you need a little something extra!
*Editor’s note: Sweeney is an ambassador for Arm & Hammer
I know you like working out outside, what do you prefer?
I run mostly. I hike a little, and I do like cycling. I have my own bike so I cycle outside, but my husband gets super concerned because it’s not super safe if you’re not on a trail. So I’ll do a spin class and then I like yoga and strength training. I mix it up. I think it’s really important to have variety!
How do you stay motivated to workout on the days when you just can’t?
In fact that is what I was just saying, ‘What is your bad habit?’ One of my bad habits used to be, I used to dismiss sleep. [I’d be] like, ‘Oh I can survive on three hours, four hours. It’ll be fine. I’ll sleep when I’m dead!’ And that, as it turns out, is really bad for you. I’ve read some studies lately about how crucial getting a full, I mean it sounds crazy to say, a full eight hours is. It regenerates you, it gives you more energy, it makes your skin better, mentally you’re better prepared for your day. So there are days when it’s like, you know it’s worth it to get the sleep and choose not to wake up extra early to go to the gym. But sometimes it’s like, ‘Oh I only have 10 minutes. I’m going to do some slow yoga. I’m going to do some stretches—some plank poses.’ Just finding the middle ground. And I used to be such a hardcore, ‘I need to do a double spin class!’ And then if I didn’t have time for that, I’d do nothing, and well that’s not necessarily helping either. So if you only have your lunch break and you can’t get that sweaty, go for a nice walk outside. Try some pushups on your desk. Do something so you get your body moving a little. Get the blood flowing. Little things like that actually do make a difference. And part of it is just that it keeps your blood flowing and keeps you feeling good about the choices you’re making. And every time you make a healthy choice, I think the next one is easier!
What’s the best on-set beauty trick you’ve learned?
I went and did this really cool performance at Christmas, and I had to do my own makeup the next night to match it. And so [my makeup artist] taught me to draw a line with the [eye] pencil all the way out—kind of straight away from my eye—and then take a cleaning cloth, the kind you wipe your face with, and take it underneath. She used that to clean under the eyeliner and draw it up. So if you drag [the wipe] along the line at an angle up and along your eye, it kind of pulls the pencil line with it, so I create a cat-eye look that’s really cool. I’ve done it a bunch since then, and it actually works!
Do you have a hidden beauty talent?
I am pretty good at painting my nails, some people are like, ‘Wow you did that?’ At Days of Our Lives, I would have to paint my own nails while getting my hair done, so I would say my talent is more of the multi-tasking. While having my hair done, by someone else, I can do the following six things: I can eat my breakfast, learn my lines, paint my nails—and have it all workout!
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