Jillian Michaels Talks Fitness, Motherhood, Sexuality, Marriage, and Big Government

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Author, fitness guru, and television star Jillian Michaels makes her way to Miami this weekend for her “Maximize Your Life” tour that kicked off April 4. She visits Miami on Saturday, April 20 at the Knight Center.

In advance of her visit to Miami, Michaels discussed with SFGN being a mother, her sexuality and if she has any upcoming plans to marry her life partner Heidi Rhoades.

Can you tell me about the Maximize Your Life tour?

It’s an interactive multimedia experience. Of course I’ll be covering the science of nutrition, optimizing metabolism, and fitness. And transforming physique. Really though most of the show is about its core – literally about maximizing your life. A journey of self exploration, as to where and why in your life you hold yourself back, and then learning how to attack those inhibitions and gaining those skills and tools to unleash your potential so that your goals and dreams can be achieved.

There are three words that are at the core of your message: Imagine, believe and achieve. Can you explain them?

So many people are out of alignment with their true calling, what their passion is in life, take these jobs that we hate and we put one foot in front of the other responsibly, or what society tells us to do, or what we think we should do, but we’re miserable doing it.

So the first part is about taking a look at where you have fallen out of alignment, what you’re doing in your life makes you unhappy, and feel unfulfilled, and connecting again with your passion and your truth and the things that make you genuinely happy.

The second part of the equation is learning how to redefine your self image and enhance your self worth, you believe in your ability to achieve those goals and dreams and it really is about rooting self destructive patterns finding their origin and then subsequently turning those things around.

The third part is about action because obviously if you don’t bring action to an intention nothing is going to change or happen, but if you bring misinformation to your actions then that’s when you see things like bankruptcy and health issues and the list goes on and on. So it’s about giving people the proper information skill set and tools so that they can bring those actions to their intentions so their chances for success are significantly greater.

Obviously you’re a fitness guru. But I just noticed that you didn’t focus on food and fitness in your previous answers. Instead you focused on a state of mind.

Absolutely because when you look at people that are unhealthy it always goes hand in hand with being unhappy. Ninety-five percent of the people that lose a large amount of weight put it back on. And the Biggest Loser runs at a 60 percent success rate, which is considerable and unheard of, but it’s not very hard to teach you how to be healthy. I bet everybody already knows. Don’t eat so much and eat better quality foods and move your ass as often as you can, as intensely as possible. Conversation over. We really don’t need to say much more about this. So the question you need to ask is if the information literally to lose weight or be healthy is that simple and it is: “how come so many are unhealthy and unhappy and that’s what you got to look deeper?”

What’s one thing you would tell anybody trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

Gosh I would tell them that they’re absolutely capable and absolutely deserving. We are all equally deserving. We’re all equally deserving and equally capable, and that is the truth, however they have to put in the work, and they have to educate themselves on the task at hand in order to be successful.

The first thing is to find their why. Having anything or achieving anything is going to require some sacrifice. But if you have that why, and the work is worth it, then anything is possible. So really work on that imagine part, and establishing your goal, and your vision, and your why. Then educate yourself on the necessary actions that need to be taken so that you will increase your chances of success over failure.

JM-Headshot--DF-Obviously obesity rates are out of control in America. What’s the biggest contributor or biggest obstacle to living healthy?

I think the people are functioning in a nearly comatose way to get through their day. I think that they don’t really have perspective, they’re strapped for cash and they’re stressed out. They’re pulled in a million different directions and they’re thinking ok I need cheap options because, financially, you know we’re hurting, and it’s convenient. When in reality there’s nothing cheap about heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and the list goes on.

To have the perspective you have to be significantly conscience that a lot of people switch off because of their stress level and then they think that food has become a coping mechanism for so many because again its convenient its cheap its accessible it becomes the treat that they look forward to, the thing that they do for themselves, and its about teaching them how to nurture and affirm themselves in ways that are positive versus self destructive.

It’s so cheap to eat really unhealthy. It’s so inexpensive. Any thoughts?

A big part is because our government and big food has structured our tax subsidies so that you got billions of tax dollars going to support genetically modified corn and soy, which is what crappy food predominately consists of. So with that said, yes it’s cheap and in comparison to healthy meat and healthy vegetables and healthy grains its night and day, but again you can’t really expect for someone to come along to save you. Big business isn’t going to change. Big government isn’t going to change. And that’s why if we have the proper information and know where to prioritize our food dollars. How to do your shopping in a cost effective fashion, you can make a difference on your own. Exercising doesn’t have to cost you money. You can make this difference even though the odds might be stacked against you. People do everyday and so can you.

At what moment did you decide you want to help other people and change lives? Or was there one moment?

You know I fell into fitness trainings when I was 17 because I had graduated high school early and I was training for my black belt.  People would come up to me at the gym and ask me if I was a fitness trainer. I needed to make money at the time and I was like how much does this gig pay so I kind of fell into it and then when I got a little bit older I took a desk job in my 20s for about 3 years and couldn’t have been more miserable. Later I fell back into training and worked as a physical therapy aid at a sports medicine facility and then graduate those patients into fitness training clients.

When I was 27 or 28 I got a call from a client who was in tears telling me that she felt her hip bone for the first time in 8 years, and I realized in that moment that I was happy that this was my “calling” and I’d always loved doing it and always had been good at it and that was sort of my aha moment, like “wake up idiot.” But I guess you just think well this can’t be a real job, you know this isn’t real work, I got to find a career and that’s the huge misconception.

Where does your no holds barred fitness style come from?

You know its not always like that, but it is in particular on the Biggest Loser simply because the Biggest Loser is an intervention, so it’s an extremely different animal for that reason. The tour is more about information and inspiration. With that said, I do feel that sympathy is a form of compliance, its like saying “oh you poor thing, you are so weak, you are so fragile, just take the stairs, just try to make one small change,” and you know something you’re basically telling people that they’re incapable and they’re weak. I think empathy is important. I get that it is hard. Absolutely. I completely understand. But I know that they can do it, and I push people to realize what they are truly capable of.

Speaking of Biggest Loser. Why did you return?

To be totally honest with you we had completely different producers on board that happen to be friends of mine that I trusted one hundred percent with the direction of the show. We tackled childhood obesity, which is something very important to me and very close to my heart. And it went down to one season a year, which is far more manageable for me because beforehand we were shooting 11 months out of the year and there was no time for a family, and no time for any other aspect of my business. So now I shoot 4 to 5 months out of the year. I can bring my kids to set. I’ve got 7 to 8 months to do things like this tour, like books, and on and on. It has just been really great in the restructuring of the schedule and honchos.

Will you be back for next season?

Yea I’ll be back for 15.

We saw the first openly gay out and proud gay contestant, Jackson Carter, this year.

The sad thing is we’ve had many gay contestants, so that’s saying a lot.

You had some children last year. How’s motherhood?We had a little boy and a little girl it’s been great. There’s nothing that’s going to bring more meaning in your life than kids. It adds a depth and a richness to your life that nothing else can possibly even compare to, but you know I’m not going to pretend like its easy, its challenging, its confrontational, its exhausting, but again something worth having is going to come with sacrifice. And it’s worth having.Your sexuality has always been very low key. There have been hints over the years. But no one’s made a big deal about it until you had your children. Was that just a decision on your part? Or just the way it happened.

You know it was just never part of the conversation, but I did say several years ago I’ve been with women and I’ve loved women. But it was just kind of like no one really cared to be honest. I was very forthright about it, but it just wasn’t a thing and then the kids came along all of a sudden it was like just oh my God, and it was really odd what the media picks up on and what makes them pay attention to things.

That was kind of like your “coming out.”

I was always out. I was never really in. I have dated men, but I chose Heidi as my life partner, or however the heck we want to call it. She has always been private so it wasn’t like she wanted to make a big statement. But there are pictures of us at the farmer’s market holding hands. It just wasn’t a thing, until the kids came along, and then everybody was like “oh.” Which is fine as well, I don’t it doesn’t matter to me one way or another.

To me it’s like I am who I am – we are all people. I don’t really define myself with a label, but you know we’re a family that has a black daughter and a Latin son and we’re two moms so to me I really try to look at people as people without putting us in subcultures. I think that might be it as well, I never identified as an ethnicity or a sexual orientation, regardless.Do have any plans for marriage?I’ve got to be honest with you I mean don’t know what kind of fantasy world anybody in America is living in because gay marriage is still illegal as far as I’m concerned. I’m not going to sit here and pretend it isn’t. It’s something that I actually take very seriously and while I respect many couples going out and having a party and saying they’re married in California – they are not. Marriage is equatable to rights, very significant rights, and I don’t pretend to be something that I am not. If and when the day comes that same sax couples are legally allowed to marry, then I am sure Heidi and I would engage in that dialogue.Anything else you’d like to add?

I would just say that if you’re somebody who’s feeling stuck in any facet of your life or unfulfilled and feel there’s more out there for you to do, be and have. Come to the show and let me help you turn it around.

For more information on tickets and other dates visit www.jillianmichaels.com or www.ticketmaster.com. Jason Parsley


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