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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

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  • 'Biggest Loser' host Alison Sweeney shares her diet secrets

    If Alison Sweeney seems genuinely sympathetic as she cheers on the contestants of “The Biggest Loser” dieting and exercising their way to a leaner, healthier body—it’s because she’s been there.

    The 5’4″ “Biggest Loser” host and “Days of our Lives” star has struggled with her weight since she was a teen—wearing a size 12 at her heaviest.

    “I’ve been on Days since I was 16, and being surrounded by such thin, gorgeous actresses made me so insecure and self-conscious,” says Sweeney, who now hovers around a size 2-4, in the new issue of Self Magazine. “I’m more educated about my body and how it all works now, so I’m more in control. This is the best I’ve ever felt physically and emotionally.”

    Twelve years ago, Sweeney gave up on fad diets and followed the tried and true method to losing weight. She changed her diet and started to exercise. As a result, the 34-year-old mother lost 30 lbs. “As soon as I made it about being healthy and shifted my focus away from the scale, the weight started to come off,” says Sweeney, who—unlike the contestants on “Biggest Loser”—still doesn’t use a scale. “I keep track of my body by how my jeans fit—and how I feel.”

    Five years of hosting “The Biggest Loser” has motivated the author and blogger to keep the weight off. “I’m on camera 50 weeks a year, so I have to be proud of how I look all the time,” says Sweeney. “I maintain by going to Spin four or five days a week. I love that I can get a solid butt-kicking in 40 minutes. I also strength train two or three times a week. And I do yoga, which I now enjoy so much, when I can. I look forward to it.”

    BFF and “Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels helped Sweeney refine her diet. “On my first day of ‘Loser,’ I ended up in the lunch line in front of Jillian and was like, ‘I have to pick stuff before she does?’ At that moment I realized how uneducated I was. I asked her for advice, and she rocked my world. I wasn’t eating the right kinds of calories. I didn’t know about healthy carbs such as brown rice and lentils. Now I eat small meals throughout the day: oatmeal with cinnamon to start, fruit and yogurt as a snack, and vegetables or with chicken or tuna, and a healthy carb, like a yam, for lunch. I avoid carbs at dinner and usually have a salad—I love lettuce. I’m a rabbit!”

    Sweeney also finds support in her quest to stay lean and healthy from some famous friends. “A couple of years ago, Ali Landry, Denise Richards, Lisa Rinna, Tori Spelling, Brooke Burke, Candace Cameron Bure, Nancy O’Dell and I started a supper club,” explains Sweeney. “We have such a dynamic camaraderie from experiencing so many of the same things in Hollywood. We’re not threatened by each other; we support each other and tell each other, ‘You look beautiful!’ You can choose to be allies and take care of each other.”

    More From Self

    Read more from Alison Sweeney’s Self interview

    Gwyneth Paltrow’s Arm and Abs Workout

    Self’s Bikini Body Workout

    20 Superfoods for Weight Loss

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