Alison sweeney wedding pictures

Christmas is right around the corner and no one seems more excited for the holidays than Alison Sweeney! But, the actress isn’t just gearing up for family festivities — she’s also starring in her first-ever Hallmark Christmas movie, Christmas at Holly Lodge, and we can’t wait to see the new flick!

“I’m so thrilled about this movie! It was so fun to develop because from day one we knew we had some great characters to fall in love with and fun entertaining Christmas fun. I think the cast is fantastic and we embraced the idea of holiday magic,” Alison exclusively told Closer Weekly in a new interview.

(Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs)

In the film — which premieres on Hallmark Channel on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 8/7c — Alison portrays Sophie Bennett, a woman who begins a new holiday tradition by spending every Christmas at the Evergreen Inn and Ski Lodge, which she inherited from her parents. “I love the role of Sophie. I think she’s a fun character, in fact, she sort of reminds me of Sami… If Sami were in a Hallmark Channel movie, this would be her,” Alison told us. “It struck a chord with me from the beginning, this idea that the Holly Lodge brings people together who don’t have family to be with during the holidays. They make their own Christmas traditions which is such a lovely idea and I was excited to bring it to life.”

“This is my first Christmas movie with Hallmark Channel. So many fans talk about how Hallmark movies are a huge part of their Christmas traditions and I felt responsible to honor that importance in making this movie,” she added.

Just like her Christmas at Holly Lodge character, Alison and her husband, David Sanov, have a few special holiday rituals they share with their two children, son Benjamin, 12, and daughter Megan, 8. “We have lots of family traditions. Opening the presents on Christmas morning, the stockings… we bake cookies for Santa and leave carrots for the reindeer on Christmas Eve,” Alison gushed to Closer.

So, now that Alison has added a Hallmark Christmas movie to her impressive resume, can we expect to see her on the popular network again soon? “Of course! I have some exciting plans for a new mystery story for next year. I loved doing the Murder She Baked series, so I’m looking forward to returning to the mystery channel with a new character,” Alison exclusively told us. We can’t wait to see Alison’s next project!

If there were a reality show on which sets of best friends fiercely competed, Alison “Ali” Sweeney and Carrie Simons would be a pretty tough team to topple. The two met in 1996, on the lot of NBC Studios in Burbank, CA: Sweeney was already a fixture on the popular daytime soap Days of Our Lives, while Simons was an intern at the network. They ended up clicking over something silly (neither of them liked nuts in brownies), and the rest, as they say, is history — their history. “After that, we would meet here for lunch every day at 12:30 P.M.,” recalls Sweeney as she sips coffee across from her BFF — now her publicist — in that very same studio commissary.

A lot has changed since that first encounter. Along with playing her role on Days, Sweeney, 37, hosts NBC’s The Biggest Loser and is a married mother of two — Ben, 9, and Megan, 5. Simons, 38, who was the maid of honor at Sweeney’s 2000 wedding to California Highway Patrol Officer Dave Sanov, now runs her own publicity company, and last year she married lawyer John-Garrett Kemper, becoming a stepmom to 9-year-old Hudson. Recently, the two took a break from their busy lives to talk about their 18-year friendship. Sitting in the commissary, Simons fans out a dozen pre-digital photos that document its evolution, and the pals huddle close. Over the next few hours, they exchange knowing looks, wipe away tears, and reflect on their enduring bond. “We used to joke that we were going to take over the world,” says Simons. Right on cue, Sweeney shoots her friend a playful look and chides, “Used to?”

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING: So, this fabulous friendship began in a funny way…
CARRIE: We met at NBC. A mutual friend who worked on Days of Our Lives wanted all of us to get together for lunch. Ali and I actually bonded when the waiter took our dessert order.
ALI: I asked, “Are there nuts in those brownies?” Carrie gave me a look and said, “You don’t like nuts, either?” We’ve been best friends ever since.

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GH: Obviously, you had more in common than an aversion to nuts.
ALI: Even though I was 20 when we met, I wasn’t the kind of girl who went clubbing. I was a bit removed from the Hollywood scene, and Carrie was like that, too.
CARRIE: It may not sound all that glamorous, but we liked to hang out, order in Indian food, and watch a movie. Sometimes we would get dressed up to go swing dancing at Disneyland.

GH: What are your girlfriend rituals now?
ALI: Every year, we have dinner with a group of friends the week before Christmas; it’s a chance for us to celebrate. Oh, and we’ve always gone to Vegas once a year, but now we do it as couples.
CARRIE: Vegas is where we go shopping together. We hide the bags before we get home, because we go crazy. We also love playing craps. If Ali’s husband, Dave — who is the “cooler” of the group — approaches the table where we’re playing, we give him a look like, Don’t get anywhere near us!

Courtesy of Alison Sweeney and Carrie Simons

GH: Dave must be a big part of this friendship, since he’s been there since the early days.
ALI: He is! Dave came into our relationship knowing that Carrie was part of the package. He looked at it like this: “I want to be friends with your friends.”
CARRIE: Dave deserves so much credit. He has never made me feel like a third wheel. I spent anniversaries and some New Year’s Eves with them when I was single.

GH: Now Carrie’s husband, JG, is in the picture.
ALI: And I’m super-psyched. Carrie used to date guys who weren’t good enough for her, and that bugged me. I acted like a mother bear. Finally, she found the right guy.
CARRIE: When JG met Ali, he brought along his best friend because he was nervous! He knew this relationship came first.
ALI: From the first story she told me about him, I could tell that he fed into her self-confidence. So I was prepared to like him.

GH: How does trust play into your friendship?
ALI: There is a willingness to be vulnerable with each other. If one of us doesn’t feel good about herself, we talk about it. Carrie has body issues; so do I. If she tries on a dress and starts talking negatively, I’ll say, “Stop. You look great.” She does the same for me.

GH: But will you also tell each other if a dress looks unflattering?
ALI: Yes, but it’s never disrespectful. We might say, “That’s not your best look.” As an actor, you can be surrounded by people who always say yes. Carrie will never just tell me what I want to hear.
CARRIE: If we’re at a photo shoot and she’s standing there in a bikini with 20 people staring at her, she’ll look over and I’ll nod my head. She knows I’m not going to hang her out to dry. There is no facade.

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GH: How do you stay in touch day to day?
ALI: We sort of have one ongoing text-message — our conversation almost never ends. I’ll just jump in and be like, “Can you believe this happened?” I love getting Carrie’s feedback. I can tell her a story and know that she’ll take my side.
CARRIE: Sometimes when I’m on the East Coast, Ali will call me on her way home, and it’s like 10:00 at night. My husband knows I’m going to have that conversation.

GH: How about a tough time when you two really leaned on each other?
CARRIE: Well, my mom’s been battling breast cancer for over a decade, but two years ago it metastasized to her brain. And no matter what’s going on, Ali will text me and say, “How’s Mom today?”…she’s my rock.
ALI: I’m totally going to cry right now.
CARRIE: You made me cry at my wedding.

GH: How did Ali do that?
CARRIE: Her speech. It was the purest of best-friend moments, and it really hit me. I mean, we’ve been together through it all — from births to marriages to deaths.
ALI: Carrie was in the delivery room when I went into labor with my daughter, Megan. The doctor said I wouldn’t deliver until four in the morning, so I told my husband, “Go get something to eat,” but she stayed. Carrie is someone who would never want to be in a delivery room at, you know, Go Time. Sure, we’re super-close, but let’s face it, childbirth can be kind of gross. But she held my hand until Dave came back. She did not waver.

GH: Sometimes it’s just about lending a hand.
ALI: Now when I go onstage at the finale for The Biggest Loser, I’m not as nervous as I used to be. But Carrie knows I still need to squeeze her hand before I walk out on set.
CARRIE: Only the squeeze is a little lighter now.

RELATED: Alison Sweeney on How She Stays Healthy, Happy, and Motivated

Biggest Loser runner-up loses husband to suicide

But in November she lost the love of her life when her husband, Robert, committed suicide.
More photos of courageous Alison Braun
She said this week she was slowly coming to terms with the loss of her husband, whose death followed a lifelong struggle with depression.
Mr Braun had a new job as a mining operations manager and Ms Braun spoke to him earlier in the evening when he had missed his flight to the mine site.
Hours later, sitting alone in a hotel room in Sydney, her mother phoned with the news that Mr Braun had taken his life.
Ms Braun is mother to Jaydon, nearly 18, Bethany, 10, and Isabella, 6, and began the year having to sell the family home _ yet she remains thoughtful and positive.
Following her success on The Biggest Loser, where she lost 55.2kg, she is in demand as a motivational speaker and she is a spokeswoman for The Biggest Loser Club, which produces shakes, soups, meal replacements and snack bars.
She travels east regularly for work commitments and catches up with her Loser family _ the 15 contestants who between them weighed in at 4051.5kg at the beginning of the show and three months later had lost a combined 1153.9kg.
Ms Braun has kept her weight off, but it has not been easy. “It was a big struggle for me and there have been many ups and downs – 2008 was both the best and the worst year of my life,” she said.
“I was worried that after my husband died that I would turn to food in my grief.
“All of us in the house were emotional eaters and when my husband died it was the hardest thing I had to deal with.”
The Biggest Loser starts tonight on Ten at 6.30. Lifeline 131114; beyondblue1300224636

‘The Biggest Loser’s’ Alison Sweeney talks about shedding the baby weight and staying in shape

Each week on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” host Alison Sweeney puts contestants through grueling physical challenges, issues beguiling calorie-rich temptations and then weighs them on a scale to determine whether their punishing gym sessions are paying off.

So when she gave birth to her second child, she felt the pressure — from herself — to quickly bounce back and shed the roughly 26 pounds she gained. But that was one temptation she refused to give in to.

“The last thing a mother needs is more pressure,” Sweeney said. “Your body has been through so much. I want to tell every new mother out there: Give yourself a break! There will be plenty of time to get back into shape.”

Her new book, “The Mommy Diet: A Month-by-Month Plan for a Healthy Body and Mind Before, During and After Pregnancy,” urges women to get into shape before they get pregnant because it will be so much easier to shed the baby weight. Despite its title, it’s a call to sanity for any woman — pregnant or not — struggling to get off the dieting roller coaster.

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“It’s not about making you instantly skinny — sorry, that’s just not possible or healthy,” she writes of her approach.

That might be disappointing to those who want to put up monster weight-loss numbers like the contestants on the show. But Sweeney says those contestants are in a life-or-death battle with obesity and win only with hours-long gym workouts. New moms barely have time to shower and run a comb through their hair. They need to find manageable, realistic ways to make eating right and exercise a natural part of their day.

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The lessons in the book are derived from her own experiences with childbirth, including the mistakes she made after the birth of her first child, Ben. She had an unfocused approach to shedding the roughly 35 pounds she gained, which left her frustrated. That changed when she made losing the weight a priority. She did things differently with the birth of her second child, Megan. She went into the pregnancy in great shape, continued gently exercising throughout and found that it was much easier to continue with a modified regimen after the birth.

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“The Biggest Loser” audiences saw it all pay off when it seemingly appeared that one week Sweeney was pregnant and — poof! — the next week she was back to her slim, svelte self. “That is not what happened,” Sweeney said, explaining that much of that had to do with forgiving camera angles and savvy clothing choices. It took her months to lose the weight at a steady, even pace of about 2 or so pounds a week.

And when there were inevitable plateaus, she didn’t beat herself up. She embraced a philosophy that is often touted by Bob Harper, one of the “Biggest Loser” trainers: She trusted the process.”I didn’t wake up every day expecting to be back to my old self. I just said, ‘What can I do today to move a little bit more? How can I give my body food that really nourishes me?’ And I had faith that the rest would work itself out.”

Sweeney slid into the booth at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood recently to discuss the new book. Here are some highlights of our conversation:

This approach to fitness and health seems like the exact opposite approach of “The Biggest Loser.”

No one should be standing over a new mother screaming at them to do more push-ups. New mothers have enough to worry about. But there are some common denominators. You have to watch what you eat. You have to exercise. Not just because you want to lose weight, but because you want to be healthy for your kids.

So what are your fitness goals? How many days a week do you work out?

I don’t hold myself to those kinds of goals. Because if I did, I would fail every week, and then I’d feel awful. My schedule to just too unpredictable. So instead I say I work out every day that I can. I always have a workout bag in my car. And I don’t let myself have excuses. I try to plan time to work out each day, but if I end up with an unexpected pocket of time, I take it and work out right then and there. And if the day is just insane, and I realize that working out will just add more stress to the day, then I skip it.

During an ideal week, what does your workout schedule look like?

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I try to do cardio several days a week, and weights. I do spin classes whenever I can, but they’re so much fun I don’t consider that working out.

You struggled for years with weight and an eating disorder. How have those struggles informed your new book?

I was so regimented for so many years with my eating. If I was sticking to my diet, I was good; if I wasn’t, I was a failure. But it was that approach that was setting me up for failure. I really had to change my mind-set. And I had to get to the place where eating right and exercising was about my health, not the way I looked. If the scale says you’re a certain weight but you are sick and unhealthy, what good is that?

You must be around food constantly on set. How do you deal with that?

Oh, I go and check it all out. If people bake something, or bring something in, I’m the first one over there to look at it and smell it. And if I really, really, really want it, I’ll take a small bite. But I have to make sure those calories are worth it, and then I have to be accountable for it.

Do you count calories?

I’m pretty good with knowing the calories in things. I tell people to keep a food journal for a month and count every calorie. After that, you’ll pretty much know calorie counts for everything, you’ll be in the ballpark. And then you can decide: If I eat that, is it worth it? When you do that, it actually becomes easier to decide what you want to eat.

Do you feel pressure to look a certain way because you’re on TV?

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Yes and no. I feel pressure, but not in a bad way. I allow my job to keep me on my A-game. You see how hard the contestants on “The Biggest Loser” work to get their lives back. I feel an obligation — and a privilege — to honor that by also piggybacking on that effort. I’m putting these people on the scale, I should be working out and following on my commitments too.

The media seems to go into overdrive to focus on weight these days, especially pregnant celebrities and when they get their pre-baby bodies back. Did you feel that?

I don’t blame those celebrities who want to lose the weight in three weeks. I actually feel sorry for them. There are certainly people whose job it is to get the body back into shape. Their body is their career. I just couldn’t go down that path. If you look at me naked, you can tell I had a baby. But instead of doing that, I focus on muscle tone and how much better I am at my workouts: “It used to take me four minutes to get up this hill; now I can do it in three minutes.”

OK, I have to ask: How tall are you and how much do you weigh?

I’m about 5’5″ and I really don’t weigh myself all that much. I know when I’m on track with my weight because my jeans fit.

Does anyone in your family struggle with weight?

OK, now you are trying to bust me. My Boston Terrier weighed 22 pounds, and should really weigh 20 pounds. Two pounds doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a big deal when you only weigh 20 pounds. When the vet told me, I took it personally. I was like “What do you mean my dog is fat? How can my dog be fat! I’m the host of ‘The Biggest Loser?’ ” But then I got over that, and I realized this was a teaching moment for the kids. I was able to say, “OK, here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to make this fun.” And we made it a family thing to go for more walks, and be really careful about not overfeeding, and my son had fun with it.

Let’s talk about what you feed the kids. Are they allowed treats? Do they ask for fast food?

They don’t ask for fast food because they know what the answer is. We do not eat fast food. Period. They’re allowed one treat a day, and we try to make it healthy, like homemade ice pops. And then we have lots of conversations about managing that treat. “If you eat the treat now, then you won’t have the treat later.” In our house, treats are just that — treats that you have on special occasions. And follow the same rule. The best thing your kids have going for them is you as a role model.

RELATED: This ‘Biggest Loser’ did it all by himself

Biggest Loser mum shares amazing bikini selfie

The Biggest Loser star Alison Braun is living proof that you can shed weight and keep it off.

Seven years after appearing on the show, the 42-year-old mum-of-three has shared an amazing bikini selfie of herself while on holiday in Bali with her kids.

“Yes I know a shameless selfie … why? Because never did I think I would ever take a pic of me in a bikini in Bali,” Alison wrote on Facebook.

“I never wanted to come to Bali because at 122kg I never felt like I fitted in. I still can’t believe just how much life I missed out on.”

Alison lost 55.2kg while competing on season three of The Biggest Loser Australia in 2008. The WA mum revealed earlier this year that she’d since lost another nine kilograms.

Her secret? No shortcuts unfortunately. It’s all about a strict diet and exercise regime.

“When I wake up at 4.50am, my routine is turn off alarm, take pre-trainer , have shower put on gym clothes … this is my clockwork routine everyday,” she posted on Facebook earlier this year.

Posted by Alison Braun on Sunday, October 11, 2015

Posted by Alison Braun on Saturday, October 10, 2015

Alison admits keeping the weight off hasn’t always been easy.

She tragically lost her partner of 14 years soon after appearing on The Biggest Loser, following a long battle with depression. She went on to become an ambassador for the HelpMe campaign for Lifeline Western Australia, working to help break down the stigma of mental illness, depression and suicide.

Posted by Alison Braun on Sunday, October 11, 2015

Currently enjoying a gorgeous holiday with her family, the Perth mother-of-three also shared a throwback photo on Facebook of a weigh-in on The Biggest Loser Australia, where she tipped the scales at 121.7kg.

“It was a big struggle for me and there have been many ups and downs – 2008 was both the best and the worst year of my life,” she told Perth Now.

“I was worried that after my husband died that I would turn to food in my grief. All of us in the house were emotional eaters and when my husband died it was the hardest thing I had to deal with.”

It’s wonderful to see Alison and her family so happy again.