Ever wonder what goes on behind-the-scenes in Hollywood, where celebs strut their stuff and their publicists work tirelessly to make sure they look good? If so, then we recommend picking up The Star Attraction by Alison Sweeney. Available now, the first fiction novel from the host of The Biggest Loser takes us into the world of Sophie Atwater, one of the best publicists in Los Angeles. She loves her boyfriend, Jacob, her job and the thrill of working with the stars. But when hottie actor Billy Fox (think Ryan Gosling-level here, ladies) becomes a client, Sophie’s life quickly spirals out of control as sparks fly and she starts to fall for a client for the first time.
We breezed through this story in a few days, making it a great choice for devouring while lounging poolside or at the beach. Just don’t forget the sunscreen because you might get sucked into the story and lose all track of time. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
And if you want to know what compelled Sweeney to pen her first piece of fiction, we’ve got you covered there, too. We sat down with the actress and author to find out whether the scenes she created come from experience, and if we can expect a sequel sometime soon.
What made you want to dive into fiction writing?
I love to read. I gobble books up left, right and sideways. But I also love telling stories. And being apart of Days of Our Lives for 20 years has given me a million stories to tell. I’m so grateful for that. But you know, sometimes it doesn’t go the way I would want it to go as a fan. I wanted to write something that had the ending that I wanted it to have. It was so fun to get sucked into this girl’s life and tell her story.
You’ve said you read all of the time. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Well, my favorite author alive today is Jodi Picoult.
Yes, it was amazing! I did this book club on Twitter and Facebook and we read it right when it came out. It was amazing. She’s so inspiring and I just love her controversial topics. She’s amazing.
OK, back to your book. Sophie seems like she’s at a very different point in her life than where you are. Did you relate to her at all, or did you pull from your own experiences when creating her character?
Oh yeah, there’s a lot of her that’s in me, and vice versa. I think that her story is so interesting to me because she is growing and learning and finding herself, and that’s such a great thing for people to see and relate to. And the steamy, fun, romantic stuff – all the red carpet gossip – it’s all stuff I’ve seen in Hollywood, been a part of or witnessed, so it was fun to pull the curtain back a little bit.
Don’t be fooled by Brett Hoebel’s new 20-Minute Body workout. It may be quick, but this high-intensity routine is no joke. As the Fit or Flop judge and Biggest Loser’s Season 11 trainer recently tweeted, “We can not become what we want to be by remaining what we are.” Brett’s routine reflects just that, challenging every muscle group with the Brazilian art form of Capoeira. The fluid technique, rooted by movements invented by African slaves to mask self-defense training, shreds and sculpts for a long, lean look.
We recently got a taste of the speedy (but efficient) cardio-kickboxing session with Brett and trust us when we say our buns have never hurt so good after all of the executed squats, lunges, dance and martial art moves! The best part? All you need is a 4’-by-4’ space and your own bodyweight.
To get the blood pumping, Brett started off by leading us through a cardio series full of crosses, jabs, upper cuts, sidekicks and a bit of fancy footwork. Just when we thought we knew what was coming next, Brett asked the burning (literally!) question, “What time is it?” Throwing our hands in the air, we echoed enthusiastically in unison, “Bootytime!” before getting low for 60-second rounds of pulsing squats. Our glutes thanked us later…
A circuit with four sets of minute-long explosive isometrics came next, featuring low runner’s lunge-squat combos, crossover walking planks, jump squats and abs. Brett upped the difficulty each round, adding a “shake ‘n bake” shimmy/kick to the ab roll-ups and a mountain climber variation to the planks. Wobbly legs didn’t hold us back from giving Brett our all. His own beading sweat and encouragement helped us finish strong!
Brett’s new routine is expected for release soon with a soft launch of classes offered through March at 24 Hour Fitness locations in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami. Until then, be sure to check out his other programs, RevAbs and reVamp, for a revolutionary total body tone.
More from FITNESS:
- Staffers Spill: What We Learned From CrossFit
- Fit or Flop: Behind-the-Scenes of Finding the Next Fitness Star!
- Jackie Warner Shares Resolution Success Secrets
Usually I give you all a sneak peek into the trainers’ lives who create our popular Express workouts, however, this man really needs no introduction. But so many things are happening for our favorite TV and all-time trainer, Bob Harper, that I had to fill you in on some of his latest projects!
Bob’s first book, The Skinny Rules, was released this month (it’s already a New York Times bestseller!), he’s got a line of supplements called Smart Success on the market, and his new interactive website, BobHarper.com powered by Watch It Now Entertainment, is a totally cool online fitness club that anyone can be a part of. The website is the closest you’ll get to working out with Bob himself, without taking a trip to the ranch. You’ll also get daily videos of Bob leading workouts, giving cooking demos and providing you with motivational tips so you’re inspired to stay on track. Plus, the thinking is done for you—get new workouts to try everyday, three circuit exercises to incorporate into your routine each week and a group fitness class to join to get your social fix from. Of course, you’ll find a place to track your weight-loss progress, food journal and workouts as well as chat with other members (and other Bob-fanatics too). It’s only $9.95 a month, and compared to other weight-loss clubs, this one is truly a deal. And let’s be serious, part of the reason we couch-potato it up every Tuesday night is to see Bob make others sweat on national TV, so why not indulge every single day?
Check out my one-on-one with our beloved renaissance man, Bob Harper and see what he had to say about our 20th anniversary issue!
I love that Ben Ward, husband to Olivia Ward season 11 winner of The Biggest Loser, was part of the reason you were inspired you to write your book, The Skinny Rules. He said he followed you on Twitter and from that guidance he was able to lose 100 pounds before Olivia came home. That’s amazing! [Check out Bob's article "Eat What I Tweet!" HERE.] Do you have one rule that you make sure you never break to stay in shape?
I wanted to give people what I have been doing with my contestants on The Biggest Loser for a long time and that is a set of rules that they could live by that was going to give them the results that they wanted. I think the number one rule that you make sure you never break is to NOT DRINK YOUR CALORIES. All those sugary sodas, coffee drinks, and smoothies add up to a lot of calories and sugar. I would rather eat all my calories.
Written by Kate Branciforte, editorial intern
It’s Valentine’s Day and we all know what that means—a day filled with flowers, cards and showing others just how much you care for them. But remember, you need to show yourself a little love too! February is American Heart Month, and the American Heart Association has released a one-of-a-kind Heart Health Forever Stamp to remind you how to be heart-healthy.
In addition to a new design, the stamps also come with heart-health prevention tips. Each sheet includes suggestions for how to eat well, manage stress, fit in exercise and successfully deal with health screenings.
“Prevention is the key to eliminating heart attacks and strokes,” U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, M.D said at a recent press event. “We are giving Americans information and tools to make healthier choices to prevent tobacco use, access healthy food and find enjoyable ways to get regular exercise.”
There are 50 million of the 45-cent stamps available nationwide for sale in sheets of 20. Purchases can be made at most post offices, or at usps.com/shop.
And don’t forget to tune into weight-loss reality show The Biggest Loser tonight: Benjamin and Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe have teamed up with the popular show to help spread the word about these heart-helpful stamps. A new “Watch it. Write it. Win it,” 11-week sweepstakes launches during the show and amazing prizes are up for grabs: an all-expense paid trip to the Biggest Loser Ranch, four weeks of Biggest Loser-prepared meals delivered straight to your door, or two tickets (plus airfare!) to the show’s season 13 finale. All viewers have to do is send letters of encouragement to their favorite The Biggest Loser contestant(s). The more you send, the better the odds of winning—as long as they arrive separately and addressed to one contestant at a time, one letter guarantees one entry and there is no submission limit. Time to put your writing skills to the test!
For more information about the sweepstakes, visit usps.com/biggestloser.
More from FITNESS:
- Drink To Your Health: The Heart-Healthy Benefits of Wine
- How to Eat for a Healthy Heart
- Minka Kelly Shares Her Heart Healthy Fitness and Diet Tips
Don’t you ever wish you could take a peek in the pantry or gym of the fitness and diet pros you see on TV to see if they really practice what they preach? We do too! That’s why we asked Jillian Michaels, celebrity personal trainer, author, motivational expert and soon-to-be mom(!), to share her top snack picks that keep her energy high on even the busiest of days.
“These snacks are quick, easy and they all taste good. Plus they’re preservative-free, contain no trans fats, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners,” Michaels says.
- Hummus and veggie sticks.“This is an incredibly healthy snack that’s filling and tasty,” she says. The protein from the chickpeas in the hummus and the fiber from the veggies will keep you satisfied.
- One hard-boiled egg and one piece of fruit. This combo offers an ideal proportion of healthy fat, protein and carbohydrates.
- Barbecue or sweet potato popchips. “A serving of popchips is packed with flavor and a great savory, salty crunch,” Michaels raves, and the 100-calorie bags are handy for on-the-go eating.
- Ciao Bella sorbet. Perfect “for when your sweet tooth kicks in,” she says, and it’s all-natural.
- 22 Days Protein Bars. “These bars taste amazing! Mocha Mantra is my favorite flavor,” Michaels explains. She loves that they use hemp protein, “which is great for you.”
More from FITNESS:
Guest post by Lara McGlashan, freelance writer
Though it was 45 degrees outside, the atmosphere inside the home of Chef Devin Alexander was warm and inviting, as more than 40 guests gathered over a healthy meal on the top floor of her southern California home. But these weren’t just any guests: these were Biggest Loser veterans!
With cast members in attendance from seasons 2 through 11, the camaraderie at Devin’s was palpable as she hosted the pre-finale dinner for season 12. Raucous laughter, insider stories and endless ribbing charged the evening with festive fun, as Devin served up a delicious meal featuring Jenny-O turkey, plenty of salad and greens, and some of her delectable brownie bites.
As they ate the delicious food and sipped Zevia soft drinks (and perhaps a glass of wine here and there—but who’s telling?) the group bonded over war stories and successes. Though many were meeting for the first time, somehow their collective journeys had already made them family.
FITNESS snagged a few choice sound bites from the festivities:
- Austin from season 11 has a serious girlfriend and a steady job working for a radio station in the Los Angeles area. His pick for the winner of season 12? Antone. “Because he’s young and funny, like me!”
- Seth and Pete from season 2 looked incredible, have kept off all their weight and are living healthy lifestyles. “Next time FITNESS needs a cover model, you know who to call,” joked Seth, making a muscle.
- Don and Dan Evans, the twin brothers from season 11, looked fit and trim, and joked and finished each others’ sentences as they enjoyed their meal. Rat bastards? We think not.
- Tara from season 7 related that she completed her Ironman in Hawaii and is gearing up to do another one in Lake Placid in the spring. Her pick for the winner: John.
- Jerry and Estella Hayes from season 7 came early and stayed late and looked every bit the fit couple that they were and still are! “We used to be the oldest success stories from Biggest Loser—until this season!” laughed Jerry.
As dinner wound down, Frado from season 10 put his booming baritone to use to corral everyone together to take a group photo. “He just has to hear himself talk, doesn’t he?” laughed Hannah Ward who was there with her sister Olivia, the winner of season 11 (Hannah was runner up). The powerhouse pair revealed that they have recently signed with an agency.
“We were getting all kinds of offers and we had no idea what to do with them!” said Hannah. “We needed someone to field them for us.”
“Yeah, they’re always too busy to see me,” joked Austin. “They text me when they fly into town, only to tell me they have a meeting and can’t have lunch, then fly out again. They’re so LA!”
As the evening wound down, everyone hugged and exchanged digits, Facebook addresses and emails. Tonight they will sit in the audience and watch as season 12 comes to a close, remembering what it was like when they were up there and welcoming a whole new generation into their family.
For the latest scoop from the sisters who appeared on the FITNESS September 2011 cover, click below.
She has two kids, two jobs, one lofty fitness goal and a crazy holiday schedule ahead…how does Alison Sweeney do it? The host of The Biggest Loser and star of Days of Our Lives, who is currently training for the L.A. Marathon in March has a few tricks to keep her life organized, manageable and healthy all at the same time. We recently spoke with Sweeney to snag some secrets and learn more about her relationship with Bob, Jillian, and this season’s two new trainers, Dolvett Quince and Anna Kournikova.
How do you stay fit during the holidays?
It’s really important to find a workout that you can do with no excuses. [See below for Sweeney's at-home exercise routine!] And I keep track of my nutrition. With so many treats around, it’s really easy to just pop brownies without thinking about it! You may not even be hungry. I also eat before going to parties so I’m less tempted when I get there and am satisfied with a smaller amount of the treats.
Do you and your family have any seasonal traditions?
We shop for gifts and pick out a tree together. When I was young, my parents always took me skiing in the winter, which was really festive since I grew up in L.A. It was so fun and exhausting—you’re basically burning calories all day long! Now, when I’m skiing with my family, I take a picture at the top of the mountain and email it to my dad. I thank him daily for instilling this love of activity at an early age.
So you mentioned that you shop and travel—as a busy working mom of two, how do you stay connected and keep track of your to-buy lists and events this month?
There are so many distractions during the holidays, so I try to use technology to keep my family together. I use my Windows phone, which syncs with my computer, to keep track of my calendar and get photos texted to me. It’s really family-oriented and you don’t need a manual to understand it!
To learn about Sweeney’s 2012 resolutions and get the scoop about the future of The Biggest Loser, keep reading.
This week’s fit links from around the web:
- Savvy shoppers follow these tricks to eat well on a budget. — Iowa Girl Eats
- A weighty topic: Parents are more comfortable discussing drugs, sex and alcohol than their child’s waist size. — WebMD
- New trainer Anna Kournikova is blogging about each episode of Biggest Loser season 12! — Ladies’ Lounge
- Stock up on these seasonal eats that fight fat. — iVillage
- Maybe your brain cells are just to hot to handle…The fascinating reason why you might be yawning. — Huffington Post
- Hit the kitchen with your kids! Sesame Street is launching a cookbook. — Bites on TODAY
When I interviewed Olivia and Hannah for September’s cover story (the issue hits newsstands today), I had no idea how inspirational these girls truly were! They had enough advice to fill our entire magazine. Here’s just a few things I learned from my favorite purple team:
Taking care of yourself is taking care of others.
Olivia: “I like to micromanage everything and everyone and I think that stems from being the oldest of four kids. I’ve always liked taking care of everyone else and making sure my life and everyone else’s was going smoothly and as organized as can be. After years and years of being in the driver’s seat, I had forgotten about taking care of myself. It was too exhausting at the end of the day. Eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, was the one thing that I used to treat myself. Like if I wanted ice cream, well I’m going to have ice cream because that’s what I want. In my mind, it didn’t matter because it didn’t affect anyone else, so I could be out of control and go off plan. But in reality, I wasn’t being the best sister, wife or friend I could be because I couldn’t get this under control.”
Believe that you CAN do.
Olivia: “I used to like being perfect and when I couldn’t be, and couldn’t fix something immediately, I’d get frustrated very easily. I think my past diets didn’t work for me because I’d always start and think of how far I have to go and get easily overwhelmed, so I’d quit before I’d even begun. I wasn’t allowing myself to change my thinking and believe in myself. This time around I realized it’s all about the small goals. I learned then the power of setting small, manageable goals and making one smart choice at a time. Now if I’m having doubts or wanting to quit a tough workout, I think ‘just go five minutes.’ Like when things get tough during a Spin class, I’ll tell myself ‘just get through this song and you’ll be okay’ and I am. Believing that you can do something will make you actually do it.”
There is no quick-fix to a healthy body.
Hannah: “I always wanted a quick fix for what I had done to my body for so many years, but I was looking at the end result instead of paying attention to the right now and what can be done today. I’ve learned weight-loss isn’t a program, because those come to an end, it’s a lifestyle that you have to choose to live little by little everyday.”
Want to know more about what it’s like after leaving the show? Here’s what the girls have to say in our Q&A: Read more
Last week, I was lucky enough to join in a group training session with star trainer Brett Hoebel, who helped contestants on last season’s Biggest Loser ranch drop hundreds of pounds. And let me tell you, he knows how to make a person sweat!
The team from C9 by Champion, Target’s super-chic and affordable fitness wear line, organized the event and let a team of editors try Hoebel’s capoeira and kickbox fusion class. (Check out the cute tank I sported in class at left —can you believe it’s less than $15?)
At the end of the heart-pumping workout that included plenty of squats, jumping jacks, punches and kicks, Hoebel led us through a quick circuit that he promised would help shed pounds if you stick with it. The entire routine was effective, but I had a “light bulb moment” during the lunge section.
Lunges are normally one of my favorite exercises because they challenge the large muscle groups (in other words, they burn plenty of calories and increase your heart rate!) while strengthening your lower body. So I was pumped when Brett taught the class a few tricks to kick my go-to move up a bit. Try them today:
- Level 1. Perform a traditional lunge: Step forward with one leg into a lunge position, keeping your front knee behind your toes, and bring foot back to start. Switch legs and repeat.
- Level 2. Space it out: Complete the same lunge motion, but do it while stepping over the width of a yoga mat (drop the front heel just past the front edge of the mat while keeping the back toe behind the back edge) and lightly tap your back knee on the mat at the bottom of the lunge. Try to step completely over the mat—doing so will ensure that you’re taking a large enough step. Bring foot back to start, switch legs and repeat.
- Level 3. Lunge over an imaginary hill: Continue lunging over the yoga mat, but this time, imagine that you’re stepping over a small (approximately six inch) hill in the middle of the mat. This will force you to lift your foot up before gently lowering it down in front of the mat—increasing the leg burning powers. Tap your back knee, like in level two, and bring foot back to start. Switch legs and repeat.
Make any of these variations harder: Hold one dumbbell in each hand.
Do the level that suits you for 30 seconds, take a 30 second break, and repeat three more times.
More from FITNESS: Looking for a fun do-anywhere workout? This routine’s for you: 8 Energy-Boosting, Muscle-Toning Moves.