Alison Sweeney has built a successful career out of guiding others on the path to good healt, as the host of NBC’s hit reality series “The Biggest Loser” and the author of last year’s weight loss and wellness book “The Mommy Diet.”
However, it turns out that there was one important member of the family Sweeney had nutritionally neglected.
Her Boston Terrier, Winky.
“We rescued Winky a couple of years ago, she’s a big part of our family, but last year the vet shared with me in a really stern voice that we had allowed Winky to become a couple of pounds overweight and that’s a big deal on a 20-pound dog,” Sweeney told FOX411’s Pop Tarts. “I was shocked and really upset… just like people it affects how they feel about their body and their energy levels.”
According the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s 2009 Pet Obesity Study, an estimated 35 million dogs and 54 million cats in the US are overweight or obese. And Sweeney is right; a couple of pounds can cause mammoth health concerns. Apparently two extra pounds on a small size dog like a Chihuahua is the equivalent of nearly 60 pounds on an average woman, and two surplus pounds on a small size cat such a Siamese equates to almost 25 pounds on an average woman.
“A lot of people in America totally overlook their pets, they share their table food when demonstrating their love, but it is important for people not to look at it that way,” Sweeney continued. “Keeping your pet healthy is a very big responsibility as a pet owner.”
So how did she tackle the problem and help Winky pop the pounds? Hill’s Science Diet Weight Loss System, which sounds somewhat like NutriSystem, but for cats and canines.
“The weight-loss system was perfect solution, it is all pre-measured and is very straight forward so we could help Winky get fit,” Sweeney explained. “My 6-year-old son Ben was also big part of it; together we took her for walks and really noticed a difference in just one month.”
Sweeney, 34, is now back on the small screen cheering on a fresh slate of obese Americans on the quest to lose weight and avoid elimination in the 11th season of “The Biggest Loser,” but next time around it will be sans fan-favorite trainer, Jillian Michaels.
A few weeks ago Michaels announced via Twitter that she would not be returning to the show to instead focus on personal pursuits such as starting her own family.
“I have no idea how it is going to unfold without her,” Sweeney said. “Jillian was definitely a big part of it so we’ll just have to see."
The soap star/reality TV host also addressed criticism that contestants on the “The Biggest Loser” often leave the show and gain back all the weight they’ve worked so hard to lose, and sometimes more.
“There is no magic solution that you’ll never have to worry about your weight again. Every meal I eat I count my calories and think about averaging them out for the whole day. It’s a way of life,” she said simply. “We arm them (the contestants) with the tools and information, we give them the kick start on the weight loss but maintaining it for the rest of your life is something you have to commit to. There is only so much you can do in helping them. We are still involved with every single contestant, they are still considered part of the family, but in the end you have to do it yourself, and no one can do it for you.”
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay