Category Archives: Women’s Issues

My Favorite Lessons from Alison Sweeney

Hearing the news about Alison Sweeney’s departure from The Biggest Loser has caused me to recall the first time I met her and how I felt about her as I got to know her.

When I auditioned to be on TBL I had no idea that she would be the host of the show. She wasn’t the host DSCN0165(B)of the previous seasons. And let’s just be honest, she was a major soap star. So to say I was star-struck was putting it mildly. And she did not disappoint. She looked the part of a star and was as beautiful in person as she was on TV. But what I think we all thought was even more impressive ASis that she is just as nice a person as you would hope she would be. She was warm, genuine and truly cared about the contestants. What you saw on TV was exactly the person she was when the cameras stopped rolling.

I will admit I’m a little sad that she’s leaving Loser, but she has so many projects in the works. I enjoy watching everything she does because as a woman and a wife and mother – she seems to be living proof that you really can “have it all.” A few years ago I wrote a blAS2og about her. I thought in light of this recent news, I would repost it. I called it “My Favorite Lessons from Alison Sweeney.” They all still apply. So here it is again.

When Ali speaks of setting and attaining your goals; you had better listen because she’s obviously doing something right. She is sort of a role model for me in many ways. So I thought this week it would be fun to share My Five Favorite Things I’ve Learned from Alison Sweeney:

  1. There’s no such thing as luck. Some people may think that Ali has experienced a lot of luck in her career. But I have learned from her that there’s really no such thing as “luck”—it’s really about when opportunity and preparation meet. She focused early on what she wanted out of life and began preparing for it. Then when the door of opportunity opened, she was ready! I love that about her. And it’s a valuable lesson for all of us. You have to be prepared to receive all the things you dream of for yourself.
  2. You have got to love what you do! If you do you will excel! She says she was born with the acting bug and it shows. The reason she has been a successful actress and host for so long is because she’s excellent at it! Find what you love to do and do it!
  3. There’s no substitute for sincerity. When my husband Mike showed up on the set of The Biggest Loser a few years back he was a little star-struck to be meeting this Hollywood personality he’d seen on TV for years. We (the contestants) were in the middle of a photo shoot for Prevention magazine and I saw Ali walk up to Mike, wrap her arm around his, call him by name and ask about our son Noah by name. Wow! Talk about first impressions.
  4. It’s not always as easy as it looks. In other words don’t assume because someone looks like being in shape is effortless that it is. Ali is a gorgeous soap star. But she’ll be the first to tell you that her weight is always something that she’s worked on. I remember when the cast of The Biggest Loser went to Jamaica together. My team woke up extra early to sneak into the gym and get a jumpstart on working out to beat out the competition. When we walked in—Alison Sweeney was already in there working out. She always looks healthy and fabulous but it doesn’t come without hard work.
  5. Balance is possible without sacrificing excellence. I don’t know many (if any) other moms that work two jobs like she does. And I went to both of her jobs in one day once. She work(ed) on the set of Days of Our Lives for hours and then sometimes in the same day had to be out until 4:00 in the morning monitoring a Biggest Loser challenge. And yet because of her strong work ethic and integrity she maintains excellence in all she does.

“To whom much is given, much is required.” That scripture comes from Luke 12:48 but I think it really applies to Ali. She’s been given so many incredible opportunities but she makes a conscientious choice to make the most of each of them. I want to live life in the same way!

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So although the Biggest Loser won’t be the same without Alison Sweeney, I do love her and can wait to see the exciting things that are coming up for her next!

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Grab your oxygen mask first!

Oxygen MaskI learned so many things through my “Biggest Loser” experience.  And Jillian Michaels made a profound impact on my life.  One of the most powerful truths she instilled in me (and all of us who were trained by her) was that “self” is not a bad word.  Sometimes in the society we live in, we are made to feel like it is.

I’m thinking particularly in my role as a mom, it is essential (most of the time) to put my kids before myself.   But I heard a great analogy today that reinforced the opinion that you don’t have to be self-ISH to make yourself a healthy priority.  And I think there’s a big difference.

Think about when you are ready for take off on an airplane.  The flight attendant says, “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.”

Wow, how true is that!  In other words, if we are not getting enough “oxygen” for ourselves how can we possibly be healthy and high-functioning for others?

What is your oxygen?  Maybe it’s quiet time alone to gather your thoughts as each day begins.  Or maybe it’s going for a run to get the endorphins in your brain pumping.  It could be taking the time to plan healthy menus, or reading a really great book, or soaking in a hot tub.  Or maybe it’s something as simple as sitting out on the porch at the end of the day and reflecting, or praying, or just listening.

Whatever the oxygen is in your life…I encourage you to “grab your oxygen mask first” – and by taking care of yourself, you will be so much better prepared to help those whom you love the most!


Q & A with Julie: What do you do with all the loose skin?

“What do you do with all the loose skin after you lose a significant amount of weight?”

That may be THE question that I get the most. And my husband hates what he calls my “self-depricating” answer…but it’s true: for me, I didn’t do anything with it. It’s still there. And truthfully, my behind looks a little bit like a Shar Pei puppy. But that’s ok…because I never aspired to be a swimsuit model. SharPei

For me, my “Biggest Loser” experience was about getting healthy. (Which I did.) It was never about achieving physical perfection. (Which I didn’t.)

Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not in any way opposed to skin removal surgery. Some people opt for that and it’s a great choice for them. Some people have so much hanging skin after a huge weight loss that it is a physical impairment to their quality of life. I have had friends who opted for skin removal surgery or a tummy tuck or an arm or leg lift because they worked so hard to lose the weight and even after the weight was gone, when they looked in the mirror all they saw was “the skin.”

For them, surgery was the perfect choice.

Skin does have a certain amount of elasticity too. And so for me, some of my skin firmed up due to exercise. The doctors on the Show advised us to wait about a year to let our bodies settle into a normal body weight and let our skin get adjusted before electing to do surgery of any kind. I didn’t undergo any surgery because, even though I see the imperfections in my body, I view my loose skin as a “battle scar.” It’s a reminder of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.


Which Wolf Wins?

As school starts back and other activities continue to heat up I find prioritizing and focusing especially essential. You can probably relate. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have a busy life nowadays.

Priorities. Where my heart is. That’s what’s on my mind as I write today.

That topic reminds me of a story that a friend emailed me a while back that contained such wisdom. She didn’t know the origin of the story, and yet it’s apparently been around for years. Here’s my best paraphrase:

A wise Cherokee Indian was talking to his grandson. He described the battle that goes on inside of people and he compared it to two wolves. He said one wolf possesses the characteristics of anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, inferiority and ego.

The other wolf possesses the characteristics of joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, generosity, compassion, truth and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “In this battle, which wolf wins?”

To which his grandfather simply replied, “The one you feed.”

A simple story, but so powerful.

We may not be able to control our circumstances, but we can control our priorities. We can choose which desires of our heart to pursue and we can control “which wolf to feed.”

Whether it’s a personal struggle with your weight, or self-esteem or it’s a battle you have with another person—decide today which wolf you’ll feed. Decide what you want your priorities to be and what the true desire of your heart is.

I just heard a saying that I had never heard before but I absolutely love: “You will never possess what you do not pursue. Pursuit is the proof of your desire.”