Nicole Sullivan on Career, Family and Healthy Livingby Laura Stanley
Nicole Sullivan has made us laugh as the dog walking Holly on "The King of Queens." We loved her, too, in "$#*! My Dad Says."
Now the comedienne is starring in her own show on Nick at Nite, "Wendell & Vinnie." Combined with her successful efforts to find a healthier lifestyle with Jenny Craig, Nicole seems to have found her groove.
We got to ask her some questions about her fabulousness, and she’s definitely as nice as she seems on TV (…except that one time she played a Disney villain for Kim Possible; she’s a LOT nicer than that).
Her new show, Wendell & Vinnie is about a man-child gaining custody of his 10 going on 35 year-old nephew after the boy’s parents die in an accident. Nicole plays Vinnie’s sister, who is upset that her nephew wasn’t left to her in the will. Sure, she loves the kid, but she is a little nuts.
On her character, Wilma, Nicole says, "It’s fun playing the sort of crazy gal.”
And as for whether or not she drew on her own life experiences to play the character, she comments,”Any experience playing the crazy gal? Hmmmm... Let me think. I sure do! Just ask any of my ex-boyfriends. Seriously though, this part is pretty different than me. I'm a pretty happy and satisfied lady with two fabulous kids and a great husband. Don't get me wrong: mama still loses her $!&* every now and then... but we mostly have a lot of laughs.”
Part of her life’s success was creating a healthier lifestyle for her and her family. Acknowledging that diets are hard and that with so many things on our plates, it’s hard for moms to find time to re-establish eating and exercising habits. What does she recommend? Well, for Nicole, Jenny Craig was the easiest way to get back on track. Since she was 12 years-old, Nicole was “dieting.” But it wasn’t really the best lifestyle for her.
“For me, the greatest moment was watching ‘The Biggest Loser’ one night and thinking ‘Gosh...if I had someone to help me like that, I'd lose weight too!’” she told us. “I realized I was not able to lose weight on my own at that point, so I called Jenny. It was the greatest call of my life. My consultant Becky took me step by step through everything, every week.”
After she made that call, the weight started coming off. Within 16 weeks, the actress had lost 35 pounds without a lot of challenge or that feeling of loneliness that comes with some diets. The best part was that, because Jenny was so easy for her, she had time to take care of the kids, her husband, and all their pets. She says, “For a mom, THAT is what I needed and wanted. Something that made my life EASIER and something that made me thin. I lost 35 pounds in 16 weeks! I was blown away every week when I lost weight. I couldn't believe I could lose weight while eating delicious food all day.”
Staying healthy is a challenge these days because healthier choices cost a lot more than snack cakes and processed foods. For most women, after setting off on the road to a healthy lifestyle, the challenge is to maintain that lifestyle. For Nicole, the best way to keep up her new form was to focus on being happy.
"For me, I focus on staying in a good mood. When I'm heavy, I feel badly about myself. I feel like I don't look good, I feel like I have no energy, but mostly I feel like I'm letting my kids down by building a body that won't be around as long for them. So how do I stay in a good mood? I keep my weight within range of my goal. I exercise 3-4 times a week and I eat veggies, veggies, and more veggies.”
Easier said than done, right? But Nicole knows this isn’t the easiest thing in the world. “PLEASE keep in mind, this was not how I was my whole life. I hadn't run 20 yards since high school and I hadn't cooked a vegetable in the past 15 years. It's a whole new world after doing Jenny and I'm here to promise you, it's not torture! Ha! It's actually a delicious, fun way to live.”
Being a mom means also being a role model. We wanted to know what she does to make sure she is setting a good example for her kids and teaching them healthy habits. “At our house there is a veggie served with every meal. They may complain, they may not eat a lot of it, but I want them to know that vegetables are not a once a week event. Veggies are too important to help them grow big, strong, and smart.”
Something else they do in their house is eat real food instead of drinking juices. “I'd much rather them enjoy a real peach, than drink fruit juice.”
Exercising as a family is very important to Nicole as well. “As far as "exercise" goes, we love to bounce on the trampoline that I got my husband for father’s day. Ok, truth is, I don't love it; it makes me dizzy, but my husband and kids love it, and it really gets them sweating. Also, my oldest son (5 ½) loves to run in the "kids fun runs" when I race in my 10k races or half marathons. He likes to collect the medals and pretend they're pirates gold, which I think makes him a very bad financial strategist, but my husband says I need to give it time.”
Nicole loves her family more than anything, but as with anything, raising kids isn’t always easy. We asked her what she wishes she had known about kids before starting her own family. She told us that her kids are honest to a fault.
“When I was running in a half marathon early this year, I jogged by my boys towards the end of the race, quite exhausted, and frankly wanting to cry a little, and my son leaned out and shouted to me, ‘Do you know there's NO WAY you're going to win?’ In my head I was like, ‘No kidding, jerko.’”
What is one thing she would tell new parents about starting a family?
“I'd hate to stop at just one piece of advice. 1) Learn to live with less sleep. Complaining about it doesn't help. 2) Train yourself from the get go to not munch on the kids snacks. Always have an option for yourself to eat. 3) Try to make online photo books of every year of their lives. We're a bit behind, but I'm trying desperately to catch up by the end of the year.”
Want more? Vinnie & Wendell’s pilot has been picked up for 20 episodes, and you can watch it on Nick at Nite.