For Jillian Michaels, 2011 just might be her biggest year ever. The professional fitness trainer, who shot to fame on "The Biggest Loser" using her tough-love techniques to help obese reality-show contestants shed hundreds of pounds, recently exited the series and announced she'll be moving to daytime TV as a co-host of the medical talk show "The Doctors" and a contributor on "Dr. Phil," a couple of new jobs she says will finally give her the chance to get her message of "You Can" out to the public, along with advice on how anyone can reach a seemingly impossible goal. "You can change anything you want to," insists Michaels. "You are capable of anything that you choose to accomplish and here is how you do it -- that message is really an important one for me."
Her latest book, Unlimited: How To Build an Exceptional Life, became another bestseller this spring, but she'sgot an even bigger achievement on the horizon. If all goes according to plan, the 37-year-old may become a first-time mom pretty soon. Jillian spoke with omg! about all of her latest endeavors, and shared her number-one tip forgetting fit. It's surprisingly simpler than you might think ...
Your previous books centered around fitness and nutrition, but Unlimited is a more general self-help book.Why write a book like this? "This was the book I always wanted to write. This has been at the core of why I utilized fitness -- to help people change their self image, always using health as an entry point to live their happiest, healthiest life. So for as long as I can remember, even with regard to my own transformation, as a teenager going from fat kid to fit kid, it's always been about the bigger picture."
How did you end up so overweight as a child? "I think genetically I was predisposed to being overweight because my father was always heavy, but at the same time I think I've proven that genetics are not static, they're dynamic, and that we can dramatically affect the expression of our genetics by ... how we eat, how we take care of ourselves. Another part of it was having learned that behavior from my dad that food was comfort, food was stable. It was the way that we bonded. We just didn't relate to each other very well and when we were alone together it was, 'Oh, let's make buttered popcorn. Oh, let's make homemade icecream.'"
Since you were a kid, the obesity epidemic has only gotten worse. How do you stop the cycle? "This is something that we need to be fighting on a myriad of fronts. Those of us who have the ability need to use our voice on a federal level because our federal policies are setting us up to fail. All of our tax subsidies are going to crops like genetically modified corn, genetically modified soy -- these foods are not healthy fruits and vegetables. They're going to make Twinkies and Cheetos, and all kinds of processed crap that makes us fat and makes us sick. If we had the ability to switch those subsidy dollars to organic fruits and vegetables, I guarantee you'd see a different world because all of the sudden healthy food would be more affordable. It's very difficult to blame people for not living a lifestyle that is financially out of their reach."
And what can parents do on a day-to-day basis at home? "Get outside and play with our kids. If you don't have the money to get them into a soccer class or gymnastics lessons or dance lessons, get outside and hike with them, go biking, play catch with them. Parents can also be outspoken, write their representatives, demand change in the schools,demand change on the federal level. And they can make healthier choices when they go to the supermarket. They can buy healthy food in bulk, they can buy it frozen, they can clip coupons. It's a combination approach."
You're in the middle of trying to adopt a child from the Congo. How did you decide on Africa? "I'm a bigbeliever in serendipity and kind of allowing divine intervention to play a partin the outcome of your life, so I wanted to adopt and I contacted a social worker that a friend of mine had worked with who does international programs and she said we're doing this pilot program in the Congo and because you are who you are, if you were brave enough to kind of pioneer this and take this chance on it falling apart, it could be really helpful. I'm outspoken enough,I'm able to go over there, and I'm able to take on a pilot program. When she mentioned that to me, I thought, 'You know something? Maybe this is fate....what's meant to be will be.'"
How's it going? "It's a long process, unfortunately. My dossier is in, which is basically all the paper work and ... it really becomes a waiting game. So myself and my social workers have decided to spend six months pursuing this program and they're going to see if they can actually bring children home from the Congo. And if they can't, then I'll maybe pursue [other means] --could be local, could be Haiti. Basically, I'm looking into other programs assort of a Plan B in the event that they close this program and it is not successful. But I'm really hoping that it does work out. There's a lot of need in the Congo and I love Africa and I want to make Africa a part of mylife."
When it comes to motherhood, what do you think you'll take to easiest? "I think that what I'll be good at is taking responsibility if I make mistakes with my kid, which I think is big, by the way. I think it's something most parents have a really hard time with. I think I'll be really good at building their confidence and making sure that they have healthy ego strength and strong self-esteem."
What will be the biggest challenge for you? "I think that I will be bad at patience. [Laughs] But that is a bigger lesson for my life overall. I think that that is going to be something that is going to require work. If they don't eat their vegetables, patience! What are you gonna do? You're on your kid's timeframe! I think that's going to be a real struggle for me -- patience."
You've announced you won't be returning to "The Biggest Loser" next season. How difficult was that decision for you? "I hate to say it, it really wasn't. While I'm so unbelievably grateful for that platform, there comes a time when you need to continue to grow. And I've loved 'Biggest Loser,' I've loved my relationship with Bob [Harper], which is not going anywhere, but what I want to do in the future really requires, in my opinion, a daytime platform. I want to be able to have conversations with America where they're not just being motivated, but they're also being informed. And while I've loved 'Biggest Loser,' it is a gameshow, and it's very difficult to impart information that people can utilize in that forum."
You'll now be appearing on "The Doctors" and "Dr. Phil" What are the messages you want to get out via these new gigs? "The reason that they brought me on 'The Doctors' is so I can talk about prevention and empowerment. So the doctors are there and they're going to give you real practical medical advice.I'm going to give you real practical prevention advice when it comes to diet and exercise, but at the same time we're also there to be a source of supportfor the audience, to provide them with resources and motivation and encouragement to take this information and utilize it to make any change or transformation or betterment of their lives in any way they see fit."
What about "Dr. Phil"? "What I'll be doing is really going into the field and doing more life coaching stuff. For example, he'll want me to go and work with a couple who's having marital problems and give the husband a makeover,like, 'This is how you talk to your wife, this is how you're going to romance her.' It's everything from serious stuff to stuff that's light and fun, but always under the pretense of helping people connect with their true potential."
What did you take away from your time at "The Biggest Loser"? "From a scientific perspective, Idefinitely gained knowledge and insight into the resilience of the human body that ... no one had thought possible before because no one had really done it before. I remember when I went into NBC and they said, 'Do you think you can get 100 pounds off of someone in six months.' I was like, 'Sure!' But we had no frickin idea. Now Bob and I can take 100 pounds off of somebody in seven weeks.But who knew! For me on a personal level, I really was boggled at how much emotional and psychological strength the contestants were able to exhibit in those extreme circumstances."
OK, there are so many of us who want to lose weight. If you had to pass along your one big tip, what would it be? "You have got to educate yourself. The mistake that people make is they're very quick to jump on the bandwagon of the latest fast fix. People go about these things without proper information. The truth of the matter is that weight loss is really nothing other than addition and subtraction. And if you know how many calories you're eating and how many calories are in your food and how many calories you're burning a day, you can lose weight. Period. End of story."
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