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Video: Be a better mom with ‘The Mommy Diet’

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    >>> this morning on take it off today, the mommy diet. alison sweeney has witnessed some amazing transformations and it's given her access to hollywood's best trainers and nutritionists. now she's put those personal experiences into her new book the mommy diet. a month by month plan for a healthy body and mind before, during and after pregnancy. alli, good morning. when you were pregnant, you found a lot of books on how to take care of your baby, but none about how to take care of you.

    >> exactly. and what we experienced on "the biggest loser" is that people who care so much about others and are busy taking care of others forget that they need to take care of their own health and fitness . you can be a better mom, you can be the best mom you can be if you start with your own fitness and your own health.

    >> it's called the mommy diet, but it's not just about exercise and dieting at all.

    >> no, no, there are fun fashion tips there,'s definitely makeup and hair and romance advice because i think a well rounded mom is one who can guide her children and her whole family. i don't think it's just for new moms, if your kid is 20, and you have that unwanted weight, you can get healthy and realize that you want your daughter to take that time for herself.

    >> what have you learned about yourself in writing this book?

    >> that's a big question. the biggest thing i learned about myself is that i need that community of experts around me and how much i have learned being a part of the biggest loser and just how much information there is out there, if you take advantage of that advice and those tips you can really make a whole life choice for yourself. i had my trainer that actually jillian recommended to me whom i really rely on and my makeup artist who's known me since i was 16 years old at "stdays of our lives." my nutritionist who knows a lot about how to eat right. i have some recipes. my father-in-law's oatmeal pancake recipe is in there. i did ask for permission. i think that what we deal with in this country, obesity is -- the numbers are staggering and they grow every day and the cdc says a third of adult americans are obese and it's really scary to look at those numbers and take charge of our lives and not sit around and let fast foods beat us. my diet is about living the rest of my life. i'm a working mom. i have two jobs and two kids. and i cook dinner for my kids. you can do it. it can be accomplished if you take the time.

    >> talking about taking care of your weight being a lifelong goal for everybody, and the season premier of the biggest loser is tonight. the olympic wrestler, how did he end up in the shape he started on the show?

    >> he felt like as an athlete he had control of his weight and he would let 20 pounds go and say i can handle that, 40 pounds, 60 pounds, oh, i could lose that if i wanted to. and the next thing you know, 100-plus pounds later he realized he was in complete denial and his family bugged him to do something about it and he needed that intercession from his family to realize he needed help. he couldn't do it alone and he found it at "the biggest lose jer er," what's amazing is to see the pride that comes back to him. when he started the biggest loser, he lost --

    >> after a certain amount of weight, maybe they feel there is no hope, no reason to lose.

    >> absolutely. you give up. you think there's nothing i can do. and that's why the biggest loser continues to be successful is because we prove that it doesn't matter how far gone you are, you can come back from that. we had one girl who was told by the biggest loser doctors that she was too unhealthy to be on the show. so she lost 100 pounds by herself and then made it on the show. talk about the pride and the ability she has. it's an amazing cast tonight and i can't wait for people to meet them.

    >> congratulations on the book. it's called the mommy diet. always a pleasure to have you

TODAY books
updated 1/4/2011 9:45:06 AM ET 2011-01-04T14:45:06

In addition to hosting the weight-loss reality show “The Biggest Loser” and starring on the soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” Alison Sweeney is a mom who has struggled personally and publicly with her weight. In the introduction to her new book, “The Mommy Diet,” she explains how you can get a great body, post-baby, without selling your soul or resorting to buying tapeworms on the Internet.

For more from Alison Sweeney and a discussion of her tips, check out TODAY Moms.

Having a baby is a life-changing experience like no other. I’ll never forget the night my first baby — my son, Ben, who is now five — was born, and the moment when the nurse brought him to my room, handed him to me, and left me alone with him. As she walked away and closed the door, all I could think was, Where are you going, lady? Who’s going to make sure I don’t harm this innocent child? I am not qualified to be in charge here! A baby completely rocks your world. Mostly in a wonderful, amazing way.

Let’s be honest, though. Being pregnant and taking care of your beautiful little baby also mean some serious changes to your body, your sleep schedule, and your ability to take care of yourself. That’s normal, of course. Don’t feel like you’re alone in this, or like you’re the only mom who can’t figure it all out and get it together right away. Everyone goes through this stage, and that’s what this book is all about: You can still look and feel great! I’m not going to tell you it’s supereasy to eat perfectly, or that you’ll get your body back in two weeks, or that you’ll find countless opportunities for exercise and pampering every day. And no, you’re not always going to look like a perfect catalog mom, strolling casually down Rodeo Drive with a beautifully dressed, napping child in a fancy stroller.

The brutal truth is that your hair and makeup won’t be flawless, your socks sometimes won’t match, it takes many months to get in shape, and you’ll often be wondering when and where you can get another snack. (Especially if you’re breastfeeding ... you’ll be thinking about snacks a lot!) Now I’ll give you the good news: You can eat healthfully, be physically fit, look great, and find time to take care of you while at the same time learning to be a terrific new mom. Once  you enter the incredible world of motherhood, your priorities shift, as well they should. But you can’t leave you out of the equation. This is not at all selfish! Believe me, you and your family will be so much happier if you give yourself the attention you deserve and find ways to look and feel fabulous. I want to help you do that.

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If this is your first pregnancy (congratulations!), you’re going to be reading a lot of books and getting tons of advice along the way. I read anything and everything I could get my hands on during my first pregnancy. And I got plenty of great advice — but I also got advice from many of the overly excited, usually well-meaning people who feel compelled to preach to every pregnant woman they see that she must do this and must never do that. You’ll hear people issue proclamations about everything from whether you can have a cup of coffee in the morning to the pros and cons of immunizations. I’m sure you’ve already run into this type. Well, that’s not how I roll.

And that’s not the kind of advice I give. Consider this book a safe space: I am not here to issue mandates or make you feel guilty or scared or confused. I definitely have opinions about all the main maternity issues, but I managed to survive two  pregnancies mostly by going with my gut. I encourage you to do the same thing. So what is The Mommy Diet? It’s not just a weight-loss book, though it is packed with information about how to eat right and get in shape. It’s about a “diet” of nutrition, fitness, and self-care that women can follow in order to look and feel fantastic — before and during pregnancy, and after giving birth. The focus of The Mommy Diet is getting you physically and mentally healthy and keeping you that way. It’s not about making you instantly skinny — sorry, that’s just not possible or healthy — though it will help you slim down for sure, in a positive, attainable way. With targeted advice and proven strategies for every stage along the way, The Mommy Diet will guide you through the three trimesters of pregnancy, the early postpregnancy recovery period, and the first nine months of being a mommy. Just as gestation takes nine months, it might take another nine months to feel “normal” (or better!) again — though you’ll be feeling really, really good much sooner than that if you follow the wellness plan outlined in these pages. The Mommy Diet will help you to be fit and healthy during pregnancy, lose weight sensibly after the baby comes, and look and feel great with tips for fashion, beauty, and self-care throughout the process.

There’s also a chapter for moms who are more than nine months postpartum and think they’ve held on to their baby weight for too long — this more intense “kick-start” program  can help any mom get herself into shape and start feeling better. And once you’ve attained your goals and just want to stay healthy, fit, and happy as the journey of motherhood continues, there’s a chapter about that, too.

The tips in The Mommy Diet are realistic, affordable, and doable for any mom. It’s an easy — and inexpensive — “diet” to follow. Because even though we’d all love to have endless time and money to devote to looking and feeling great, very few real moms and moms-to-be do.

I certainly know what it’s like to be busy. I’m a working mom with two kids (Ben, five, and Megan, one) and two jobs (I’m the host of the NBC show The Biggest Loser and I play Sami Brady on Days of our Lives). I get what you’re going through! When it comes to parenting, I am in the trenches — dealing with middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes and spit-ups, just trying to get a little sleep. And like most moms, soon after my kids were born I did start wondering ... When will I get my figure back? How do I get my figure back? When do I have time to get my figure back? Will I ever have a chance to get a manicure again? And what the hell did this baby do to my stomach muscles? Unfortunately, I didn’t have a magic button I could press to get back into shape magically fast. (I wish!)

Video: Be a better mom with ‘The Mommy Diet’ (on this page)

Even though I am just another working mom in many ways, I’m lucky to have access to Hollywood’s best trainers and nutritionists (there are perks to starring in a hit weight-loss reality show!), as well as hair and makeup artists, stylists, and other experts who have given me tons of great advice, tips, and tricks for getting and staying in shape and taking care of myself. I’ve also learned so much from being part of The Biggest Loser. I’ve totally reevaluated my approach to diet and nutrition — in fact, I ate so much better during my second pregnancy (and got my body back much faster than I did with my first pregnancy) thanks in part to the knowledge I’ve gained from the experts on the show. So I want to share all that—plus helpful hints from my own experiences, and other real moms’ experiences—with you. After all, we moms need to stick together and help one another out. Moms should never have to go it alone.

The Mommy Diet is organized in five sections: before pregnancy, during pregnancy, the nine months after pregnancy, a kick-start program for anytime, and a maintenance program for all moms. The pregnancy section is divided into three chapters (for the first, second, and third trimesters), and the post-pregnancy section has month-by-month chapters, because things change quite a bit during that time. In each chapter, I cover fitness and food, with specific plans for working out and eating, as well as general tips. I  also cover fashion (because you want to look good throughout this process, and you can!), self-care (all the little things you can do to pamper yourself, plus take care of your skin, hair, and nails — which isn’t frivolous but truly necessary if you want to maintain a positive outlook), and romance (another key to feeling great while you’re pregnant and as a new mom).

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You can read the whole thing at once and then go back to the different sections as needed, or just take a few minutes to read whichever section applies to you at the moment. When you’re a new mom, you often have only a minute or two at a time to read, so just flip to the chapter for whatever phase you’re in and get tips to help you right now. And you can always check in at alisonsweeney.com for more recipes, more exercise ideas (some moves are better explained in video than print!), and an online community of moms who are also following The Mommy Diet. It’s a good place to go for up-to-the- minute food and fitness news, feedback to your personal questions, connections with moms in your area, and great support whenever you need it.

Before you begin, though, you need to understand the bottom line when it comes to taking good care of yourself: You have to want to do this, and you have to acknowledge that you’re the only one who can do it. You’re the one who will have to get to the gym or a yoga class, or get out for a walk or a run. You’re the one who will have to buy the healthier groceries—and eat them (not junk!), too. You’re the one who will have to make sure you’re getting you time. No one can do it for you. I remember being on set at Days of our Lives a year after Ben was born. At that time I was not feeling confident about my figure — and the “I just had a baby” excuse was starting to wear thin. I was in a scene with a gorgeous, fit actress, and as she left the studio, I saw all the cast and crew members watching her walk away. She was a head-turner, for sure. I said out loud what all the women watching her were probably thinking: “I would do anything to have that body.” And then, after a beat, realizing that everyone  had heard me, I joked, “... except eat right and work out.” It got the whole crew laughing, and then we went back to work. I thought about that incident a lot that night. It was a really big awakening for me. I realized that I can look like that, if I’m willing to do what it takes to get there. And so can you. You can go after what you want. It’s not about secret Hollywood grapefruit diets, buying tapeworms on the Internet, or selling your soul to the devil. It simply comes down to making the decision to fight for what you want. Whatever motivates you, whether it’s fitting into those size twenty-seven jeans again (or for the first time), or being able to chase your child around the playground without getting exhausted, you have to decide what your goals are and find the will to go for them. With the help of this book, you have all the tools you need to get there.

Copyright © 2011 by Alison J. Sweeney. Published by  Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed with permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

Photos: 'Biggest Loser 10': Before and after

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  1. Patrick House

    Starting weight: 400 lbs.
    Finale weight: 219 lbs.
    Lost 181 lbs., 45.25 percent
    The 28-year-old sales rep from Vicksburg, Miss., won "The Biggest Loser" and took home the $250,000 prize.

    This season’s “Biggest Loser” and winner of the $250,000 grand prize, Patrick, joined the show after hitting his personal rock bottom. He lost his job, he was forced to borrow money from family members just to make ends meet and he felt certain he would die young. Patrick has since transformed his life by losing an impressive 181 pounds and has put all of those worries behind him. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Alfredo 'Frado' Dinten

    Starting weight: 367 lbs.
    Finale weight: 205 lbs.
    Lost 162 lbs., 44.14 percent

    The 48-year-old futures commodity trader from Staten Island, NY, took second place.

    As the senior member of season 10’s only alliance, which consisted of himself, Patrick and Brendan, Frado was instrumental in keeping Patrick in the game, as well as ensuring his own second-place finish. The former Marine said he thought of “The Biggest Loser” as his “next boot camp” and saw some of the same rewards that his one brought about. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Ada Wong

    Starting weight: 258 lbs.
    Finale weight: 159 lbs.
    Lost 99 lbs., 38.37 percent

    The 28-year-old project coordinator from Santa Clara, Calif., came in third place.

    For Ada, gaining self confidence was just as important as losing weight. She accomplished both goals while on the ranch, and healed old familial wounds once she went back home. Ada went from final four to final three thanks to America’s vote, and while she didn’t take the top honor, she walk away in third place with her “Ada the Terminator” reputation intact. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Mark Pinhasovich

    Starting weight: 421 lbs.
    Finale weight: 208 lbs.
    Lost 213 lbs., 50.59 percent

    The 31-year-old bartender from New Jersey was season 10's at-home winner.

    Mark not only bested his fellow eliminated competitors and claimed the $100,000 prize, but his total weight loss percentage even put him far ahead of grand prize winner Patrick. The 31-year-old bartender didn’t have an easy road to the at-home win. On finale night, Mark revealed that he ran into troubles when he first left “The Biggest Loser” ranch, but he credited several members of the show’s alumni with getting him back on track. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Rick DeRoque

    Starting weight: 350 lbs.
    Finale weight: 185 lbs.
    Lost 165 lbs., 47.14 percent

    Despite undergoing gastric bypass surgery years earlier, Rick continued to struggle with his weight before arriving on the ranch. Since then, he’s dropped close to half of his body weight, and in the “pay it forward” spirit, he’s also started a foundation to make sure others in his home state of Arkansas have the resources they need to get in shape. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Adam Hurtado

    Starting weight: 402 lbs.
    Finale weight: 220 lbs.
    Lost 182 lbs., 45.27 percent

    Before joining “The Biggest Loser,” Adam lost his mother due a heart attack brought on by complications from diabetes and obesity. He believes she’s since acted as his angel and helped him achieve his weight-loss goal. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Jesse Atkins

    Starting weight: 369 lbs.
    Finale weight: 203 lbs.
    Lost 166 lbs., 44.99 percent

    Jesse called his starting weight a “fog that hangs over everything.” Not anymore. After eight weeks on the “The Biggest Loser” ranch, much of the fog lifted. He reached his remaining goal at home. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Aaron Thompkins

    Starting weight: 468 lbs.
    Finale weight: 296 lbs.
    Lost 172 lbs., 36.75 percent

    Aaron decided to lose weight and improve his overall health both for himself and his 3-year-old son, London. The graphic designer joined the competition with the highest starting weight of the season, but he never let that fact hold him back. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Lisa Mosely

    Starting weight: 288 lbs.
    Finale weight: 191 lbs.
    Lost 97 lbs., 33.68 percent

    When Lisa’s young daughter was hospitalized after she stopped eating and drinking because she didn’t want to turn out like her mom, Lisa knew it was time to change her life. “I think that I’m the best person for her to look up to now instead of the worst,” the sales rep said. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Anna Wright

    Starting weight: 330 lbs.
    Finale weight: 221 lbs.
    Lost 109 lbs., 33.03 percent

    Anna lost her 3-year-old son to cancer and stopped taking care of herself following his death. For the sake of herself and her surviving son, she competed for a spot on the ranch, and although her stay was short, she made the most of it. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Brendan Donovan

    Starting weight: 362 lbs.
    Finale weight: 245 lbs.
    Lost 117 lbs., 32.32 percent

    Brendan was the only member of his three-man alliance not to make it to the grand prize competition. While the Boston native and special education teacher didn’t go as far as he hoped he would in the game, he went far enough to reach his goal. “Ultimately, I became the person I wanted to be and a better role model for my students,” he said. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Jessica Delfs

    Starting weight: 282 lbs.
    Finale weight: 190 lbs.
    Lost 92 lbs., 32.62 percent

    When a lap band surgery failed to solve Jessica’s battle with obesity, she searched for a new way to change her life. She found the tools she needed on “The Biggest Loser” with the help of trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Elizabeth Ruiz

    Starting weight: 244 lbs.
    Finale weight: 173 lbs.
    Lost 71 lbs., 29.10 percent

    Elizabeth made it to the final four, but America’s vote left her one step away from the grand prize competition. The result didn’t disappoint the medical assistant, as she freely admitted she was still hadn’t reached her goal weight. “I erased finale night as a deadline,” she explained. “I have a goal and it wasn’t finale, and I’m going to get there.” (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Burgandy Keel

    Starting weight: 231 lbs.
    Finale weight: 167 lbs.
    Lost 64 lbs., 27.71 percent

    Mother of five Burgandy hoped to lose weight following a lap band procedure in 2008. Once she realized that surgery wasn’t the right answer for her, she turned to “The Biggest Loser” to help her find a way to keep the pounds off. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Tina Elliott

    Starting weight: 263 lbs.
    Finale weight: 191 lbs.
    Lost 72 lbs., 27.38 percent

    Although she fell of the treadmill on her very first day in the gym, Tina soon found her footing. The retired homemaker not only took charge of her own health on the ranch, but she’s since served as an inspiration to her daughter, who’s lost 150 pounds by working out alongside of her. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Sophia Franklin

    Starting weight: 272 lbs.
    Finale weight: 207 lbs.
    Lost 65 lbs., 23.90 percent

    High-school counselor and cheer squad coach Sophia struggled with her weight for years but found herself losing the battle after the death of her brother. She joined “The Biggest Loser” to find her inner-athletic again and become a better role model for her students. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Allie Ishcomer

    Starting weight: 322 lbs.
    Finale weight: 248 lbs.
    Lost 74 lbs., 22.98 percent

    Allie lived with obesity most of her life, and even underwent a failed gastric bypass surgery at the age of 14. The now 22-year-old student had the unfortunate distinction of being the first player eliminated from “The Biggest Loser” this season. (Chris Haston / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
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