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BWW EXCLUSIVE: JILLIAN MICHAELS - Hardcore Trainer Warmly Opens Up on Weight Loss, Motherhood, Accountability, Her Next 'Maximize Your Life' Tour & More!
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By: BWWFitnessWorld Editor-in-Chief,
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Jillian Michaels, bestselling author, Daytime Emmy-nominated television personality, expert trainer of NBC's THE BIGGEST LOSER, entrepreneur, and one of the nation's leading health and wellness experts, has just launched her second National MAXIMIZE YOUR LIFE Tour across 28 U.S. cities and Canada. Perhaps considered one of the most inspiring people on television through her role as trainer, wellness expert, and life coach on her hit TV shows and regular TV appearances, Michaels continues to impact and change the lives of millions of people worldwide.
BWWFitnessWorld caught up with Jillian, who was preparing for her third stop on her latest tour. Contrary to her aggressive, hardcore attitude that she's known for on THE BIGGEST LOSER, Michaels is very humble, generous, and open about her personal life, values, motherhood, weight loss secrets, and the tools of success.
Congratulations! You just launched your second National Tour which includes 28 cities in approximately 2 months, similar to your first tour. You have inspired millions of people worldwide. What do you hope to accomplish by this next tour and can you tell us a little about what people can expect when they come to your show?
We engage in deeper conversation on this tour. It's still the same show, but the goal is to finish touring the rest of America. When I look at the people I've worked with, and I look at myself for that matter and the transformations I've been able to make personally, professionally and physically in my own life, I realize that people can accomplish anything if they determine their goals are worth it, that THEY are worth it, and that they're capable.
That's really what I aim to do during the show is help people cultivate their passion, which quite honestly so many people are living the lives they think they should instead of the lives they want, and they've gotten very out of touch with that. Then I work on the origin of their negative attitude or self-defeating behavior and root that out and transform them into positive attitudes. There's a very how-to aspect of doing that so that we can dramatically enhance self-worth, self-esteem, transform someone's identity or story of who they think they are and then give them the tools so they subsequently feel empowered and capable of achieving the goals they set for themselves.
Many people will be inspired by your show to change their lives. But typically (and unfortunately), people seek quick fixes. How can they keep that motivation alive in their everyday life?
That's the first thing that we talk about when it comes to the how-to of becoming capable. "How do you stay motivated" is always the question I get, and the reality is that it's not something that's going to come outside of you, although something external can catapult a change. The reality is that the lasting and permanent change has to be intrinsic. And the bigger question is, why have you come to me seeking motivation? What is it that you want to be motivated to accomplish? What does it look like in your life in great detail? Don't tell me "house, money and love." Give me DETAILS. What does it look like in your life? What is health? Is it a two-piece bathing suit? Is it bouncing your great-grandchildren on your knee at 90? What is it? And when you really help people cultivate that and connect with their personal lie, then they can tolerate any "how," and the "how" is the war in achieving anything worth having.
You talk about attacking inhibitions and unleashing your potential to pursue dreams and make them realities. What would you say is the #1 impediment that stops women (or men) from reaching their goals?
YES (sighs). Without fail it's ALWAYS a lack of self-worth - Which is why people say, "It's MONEY!" Well, eating less is free (give me a break!). "It's TIME!" Well, I BET you have time to watch your favorite television show. Those are always self-defense mechanisms and excuses to cover up that bigger issue of feeling worth it and feeling capable. And that's ALWAYS what people who struggle in these areas have to contend with.
What was your own personal biggest obstacle that you had to overcome to get to where you are now?
I was very lucky that a a young age, I had a few key people come into my life to tell me that I was worth it and give me the tools so that when I did take those chances and go out on a skinny branch, I was set up to succeed. Even when I failed, I knew how to handle that in the most productive way. So, I guess it would be as of late.
We always struggle with our true worth. We think, "Ok, if I'm able to meet everybody's needs, then I have value." There's no doubt that it's been very hard for me to go back to the basics of just getting my time as opposed to big promises or bailing people out of situations financially. That definitely became a part of my persona over the last 10 years -- "I'm a big shot, I can bail you out of a situation" -- and I learned very recently through a trip to India that it's not about writing a check or bailing somebody out or calling somebody in a higher position. It's about just showing up and just listening and just being there. And that was the hardest thing for me, because doing that job... there's nothing you can do. You don't get to fulfill your ego's needs for the day, you don't get to feel powerful; you feel helpless, and you feel empathy for the other person. That's been an ongoing struggle for me. It was something I thought I had mastered until very recently.
Is there one specific thing you can pinpoint or blame with regard to the growing rate of childhood obesity, increased lack of self-worth, and even the recent (alarming) rate of teen suicide?
(Sighs.) That's a very interesting question and I get asked that in very specific ways. The other day I did an interview for an African-American outlet, and they said that black people suffer the most from diabetes, so there's always something. They think their particular group is struggling the most or there's one particular thing you can point out for each and every individual, but the reality is that EVERYONE struggles.
If I can make one differentiation, I would say we struggle most in America because we have become a perfect storm here, in that we are ALL struggling... Economically we're struggling, and because of that people do what they think they should instead of what they really want, and they find that the only way to reward themselves that's affordable with regard to time and finances, is crap food. And so, there's a lot of things that need changed.
Obviously, we want the economy to be better and we want food policy to be different so that healthier food is more affordable instead of the opposite. But while we can't sit here and point out all the ways that BIG government and BIG religion and BIG business could help us and could save us, at the end of the day, even if ALL those changes were made, it still comes down to personal accountability. We can't sit here and wait for somebody to fix us. So, ultimately, that decision has to come from inside of us and we've got to be motivated to do things differently and find a way despite the things we struggle with.
What do you think of fad or extreme diets like cleanses, grapefruit diets, Paleo, and others, and what is your rule for healthy eating?