Even Alison Sweeney has fallen victim to fad diets (ack, cleansing) and failed workouts (so, about that first marathon …). She’s spilling her mistakes so you can learn from them.
- I took a cardio dance class once and immediately dismissed it as not being a real workout. But really, I didn’t know the choreography, so I couldn’t possibly benefit from it. I realize now how shortsighted that was–walking away from that class thinking I didn’t have time to waste on something I didn’t like. But I never gave myself a chance to get better at it, and maybe if I had, I would have loved it. So after taking a barre class recently and not being totally sold on it, I made the decision to go back a second and then a third time.
By the end of the third class 1 was so excited, because even though I wasn’t used to that teacher’s choreography, I picked up on it faster and really felt the burn. Now I’m hooked.
- For years, I thought I had to be hungry for a diet to be working. Then when I’d cave and eat something, I’d get mad at myself. It was a vicious cycle. The Biggest Loser helped change my attitude. Now I think, What can I do to take better care of myself today? And you know, the answer is never “Starve.” People think you have to suffer to be successful, and that’s just not true. In fact, I was less successful back then. I’d choose diets that were torture, inevitably fail, and end up right back where I started. When you love the things you’re eating and the exercise you’re doing, you’ll keep coming back for more. That’s the way to succeed.
- Years ago, I decided I wanted to run the Los Angeles Marathon. I thought, How hard could it be? So I started training on my own. Within three months, I was injured–really injured. It took almost a year for me to come back from it.I’ve run tons of races since then, including the marathon. But now I work with a trainer to make sure I’m doing it the right way. Turns out, I wasn’t stretching properly before or after my run. And my form was all wrong, which led to a knee injury, lower back pain, and, finally, shin splints. I’m all for challenging yourself to a 5K or triathlon, but get advice from someone who knows what they’re doing, even if you have to find it online.
- I used to read up on celebrities’ workouts, thinking I could have a body like theirs. But that wasn’t realistic. My plans were doomed from the start.Comparing myself to other people was a really negative space for me. So I changed my vocabulary: Instead of “skinny,” I strove to be “healthy.” “Ripped” became “fit.” Then I started setting more positive goals. Instead of wanting Halle Berry’s arms, I wanted to do things like triathlons, so I’d lay out the steps and workouts that would get me there.
It felt great to actually accomplish something instead of just wishing for the muscle tone I saw on someone in a magazine (which, let’s be honest, was probably just good lighting).
- I once tried a cleanse that had maple syrup as a main ingredient. I did lose weight, but after drinking the stuff for three weeks, I craved sugar all the time.That was an extreme, but I’ve learned that fad diets are only a short-term fix. You can’t live on juice (or shakes or cabbage soup) forever–your lifestyle has to change if you want lasting results. Now I focus on making a healthy choice at every meal. I cook foods I love that are also good for me, and I make sure I eat the proper portion, even of a kale salad. Because if I have a too-big bowl of that today, what’s to stop me from splurging on something unhealthy tomorrow?
* Alison Sweeney is the host of The Biggest Loser and an avid multitasker–the Scared Scriptless author is currently working on her third novel.