What’s Her Secret? Actor, Director and Host Alison Sweeney

By Karen Kwan

Alison Sweeney needs no introduction to any true soap fan. She’s played the role of Sami Brady on the long-running show Days of Our Lives since 1993. Along the way, she’s had two kids, directed episodes on another soap, General Hospital, and has been the host of NBC’s The Biggest Loser for the past eight years. Most recently, she’s signed on as a spokesperson for Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant and we caught up with the blue-eyed beauty in Vancouver to talk about not only the partnership with the brand but also her secrets when it comes to confidence, health and beauty.

What’s your astrological sign?

I’m a Virgo and I have a lot of Virgo tendencies, or at least I excuse my type A personality behaviours on that! I like lists, I like to be organized, I have my routine.

What makes you feel confident?

The Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant collection is a good example of how to be your most radiant and confident. It starts with taking care of yourself. Brushing my teeth with Truly Radiant toothpaste, it allows me to know that I’m doing everything I can to have a healthy, clean, strong white smile and then I can go out and smile and have confidence, and have that be the first impression I make with people. I think that’s a good example of how everything should knit together; whether it’s working out or eating right, it’s about the confidence it gives you and that pat on the back for taking care of yourself. No one else can brush your teeth for you; do it for yourself. There’s a reward and satisfaction that comes from that, doing the work yourself.

You turn 40 next year, how do you feel about this milestone?

Yes, I turn 40 in 2016…well I’m still waiting to turn 39, so I’ve got some time to think about it, haha. I don’t know. The funny part about being on Days all those years and playing a character that had a kid very young and by time I left I had a grandchild on the show, I feel like those weird milestones…I don’t know. Maybe it’ll hit me but the concept doesn’t bother me. I think the things I notice about aging are that I have to really stretch now when I work out, maybe when I was younger I could get away with not doing it and you wouldn’t notice so much, or if I don’t get enough sleep, I really feel it. Things like that I’m more aware of than the number.

Is your life where you thought it’d be at 38?

I don’t know if I had specific goals in relation to age. I certainly have life goals and things I want to achieve. Some kind of came to me as I was making it happen and some were things I wanted to do since I was young. Certainly acting has been something I wanted to do my whole life so being an actor and getting to fulfil that is so rewarding to me. At 38 to be executive prod and making movies that I would want to watch is something that makes me really proud. I don’t know if I had a deadline for achieving it but saying that I’ve done it and I’m doing it is really exciting and rewarding and challenging so I’m very excited about where I am in my life right now.

You’ve been on TV since you were a kid and have been working with makeup artists for years. What beauty secrets have you learned?

I’ve learned so many important things about taking care of myself, not all of which I’ve listened to, I’ll be honest. I think the most important thing I’ve learned is less is more and finding that to enjoy being radiant when I wake up in the morning and take my kids to school isn’t always about taking time to put stuff on my face. That can be fun, too–I love getting dressed up and going to events–but appreciating that it is what it is. I don’t have to feel like it’s an armour or a disguise; it’s just fun playing dress up. The most important thing is to take care of yourself; washing your face and having a good health routine like brushing your teeth. My mother drilled into me since I was young to use sunscreen and what a huge important part of daily routine that is. So just brushing your teeth and putting on sunscreen and eating your vegetables, if nothing else those are the basics you have to do everyday.

Three beauty products you can’t live without?

I use a La Mer moisturizer, Aquaphor lip balm, I keep it simple, it’s the best lip balm, good for everything. And sunscreen, I use a sport one from Coppertone when I work out.

What’s your favourite workout?

I like to mix it up, I do a lot of things. I definitely love running, I take a Spin class sometimes. I do yoga and strength training. I love engaging my mind and body in the workout whether it’s the hikes I do outside, like the hike we did on Squamish, we were practically rock climbing at some points. Just really engaging yourself and on being outdoors and on what you’re doing physically, concentrating on where you go so you’re not falling; all those things are a big part of fitness. Mentally concentrating on what you’re doing is a great piece of advice I got from Bob Harper from Biggest Loser and that there’s nothing wrong with the mindlessness of reading a book or watching a show on the treadmill but it’s really important to also focus on your fitness and give it your attention, not just being mindless all the time. Maybe you need a class to help you do it or if you hate a certain thing, try something else, go do a dance class, find something you like doing. Maybe mixing it up is what you need or I’m super competitive, so maybe play a sport, find someone to play tennis with you. There are just a million different answers to that question and finding the thing that challenges you and that you’ll go back and do again is the most important.

You were once on Celebrity Fear Factor. What would you say is one of your biggest fears?

I definitely have fear of failure.

What’s your mantra for days you’re not feeling so radiant?

Fake it till you make it. Put a smile on your face and you’d be amazed; find something to laugh about or find someone on social media, or follow someone on Twitter who makes you laugh. That automatically changes the endorphins in your body, and gives you something to take you on a different path. And it’s okay that it’s intentional, it doesn’t have to be organic; you don’t always wake up in a good mood, you have to make the choice, I don’t want to spend my day like that. I think that is my mantra.

Who would you love to meet and why?

I would be fascinated to talk to the guy who does Humans of New York, Brandon. His story is fascinating and I follow his stories and I just love what he’s done, I love his vision and the interviews he gets from people. I just think he’s really gifted and it’s such a beautiful thing to follow. I really admire him, so I’d love to meet him.

You’ve been successful with weight loss. Any advice for someone who’s trying to lose weight?

The lesson of The Biggest Loser is that there are no boundaries. You can lose weight and change your life and change your mind anytime, no matter your age and place in your life. There’s really nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it and I think that’s the most important thing. For me getting healthy and losing weight after having my kids and maintaining a healthy lifestyle just comes down to the mindset of wanting it. Deciding I would rather be healthy and feel good about myself than eat that cookie, that’s all it comes down to. It’s important to take personal responsibility of that and turn it into the positive, I want to take care of myself. No one else can want it for you. Arming yourself with information and the right tools and the know-how of how to go about doing it is important, but if you don’t set your mind to wanting it and deciding that it’s what you want to do, it will never happen.

Your role of Sami on Days; you started at such a young age. What did you learn from being on the show?

I learned so many things from my career on Days, a good work ethic, being part of a team, that’s how it felt there, the family of cast and crew and realizing you’re one small cog on the wheel and that you’re doing your part and pulling your own weight. I think there’s a million lessons that have served me so well in my entire life, life lessons that will always be tied together with the show.

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