Celebrity Health - Jillian Michaels

Images of Jillian Michaels © Don Flood

Liz Parry talks to American personal trainer, businesswoman, author and television personality Jillian Michaels

Q You’re known as TV’s toughest trainer, but how did you first get into health and fitness? Were you naturally sporty or fit as a child?

Jillian: I was actually an overweight kid with zero natural athleticism. I was picked on in school and troubled at home. Then my mom got me into martial arts when I was 12 and it changed my life. It gave me a safe place with supportive individuals that helped me realise my potential and it gave me a passion to help other people do the same.

Q What would you say is your fitness philosophy?

Jillian: When you’re feeling healthy and strong physically it empowers and strengthens you in all facets of life.

Q What is your own personal motivation for keeping fit and healthy?

Jillian: I have so many. Of course I want to be around for my kids and meet their kids. I want to set an example for them and have them be proud I’m their mom. I want to be active with them and not on the sidelines of their lives and never have to worry that they worry about me or my health. I love my job and staying fit is part of my job. It allows me to be living proof that what I tell people delivers results. Like anyone I want to feel better in my own skin, wear a two-piece instead of a one-piece, slide into my favourite pair of skinny jeans, feel comfortable naked. There’s nothing wrong with caring for and about your appearance.

Q Tell us a bit about your own workout routine.

Jillian: Personally, between kids and work, I am pretty busy. So when I hit the gym I need to make every second count. I go to the gym roughly four times a week. I train for about 30 minutes. I use very effective techniques that are more intense, but time efficient: Plyometrics, Calisthenics, HIIT, circuit training, free weights, Peripheral Heart Action and movements that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously because they are more intense and save time.

Q Would you say that it’s just as important to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health?

Jillian: Absolutely! I am in therapy once a week and have been for years to help me constantly evolve and grow through self-exploration. I try to meditate at least five minutes a day. I take my vacations. I spend at least three hours a month doing things I love and am strictly passionate about to help me continue to cultivate passion in my life. I nurture my relationships with close friends and family by working on my vulnerability and communications constantly.

Q Do you follow any specific type of diet?

Jillian: Yes – the common sense diet. Crazy novel I know. I eat every three to four hours and create a 12 to 14-hour fast period overnight (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner).

I balance my calories in with how much I burn a day so I don’t overeat or starve myself. I eat my food as whole as possible and try to avoid overly processed foods and chemicals like fake fats, sweeteners, colours, preservatives etc. I’m an omnivore and eat a balance of all three macronutrients – protein, fat, and carbs (in their most whole and healthy form). I don’t eat a ton of meat, but I eat some and when I do it’s organic – so I eat high quality meat occasionally (like once a week). If I have dairy it’s organic. If I eat red meat it’s organic.

If I am eating thin-skinned fruits and veggies I try to get them organic. A typical day includes breakfast of organic yogurt with berries and a little granola or crushed walnuts or almonds. Lunch might be a turkey sandwich on whole grain toast with a side salad. For a snack I might have a slice of avocado toast or toast with peanut butter and half a banana. For dinner I might have grilled fish tacos and a side of black beans.

Q Do you enjoy healthy eating?

Jillian: Definitely, because I know food can taste good and be good for you. I love sushi, Mexican food, Thai food … I just choose the healthier options like sashimi or sushi instead of fattening rolls, or grilled fish or chicken tacos – maybe fajitas – instead of burritos or quesadillas, veggie shrimp wraps in rice paper instead of pad Thai noodles etc.

Q Do you take any vitamins or supplements?

Jillian: A ton. I’m a supplement junkie. I am always looking for an edge and supplements give me that. Personally all my supplements are from organic whole foods. I take krill oil, a greens powder with adaptogens and antioxidants, a reds powder with superfoods, a mushroom adaptogen powder, multi collagen with MSM glucosamine and chondroitin.

Q What tips can you offer our readers for how to find the motivation to stick to a new fitness routine?

Jillian: The key with motivation is establishing your detailed ‘why’ and then emotionally connecting to it.

If you have that ‘why’ you can tolerate the ‘how’, which is the work associated with achieving the goal. Anything in life worth having is work but work with purpose is passion; work without purpose is punishing. So having a reason or many reasons (kinda like mine I mentioned above) make a huge difference. Saying something like ‘I want to be healthy’ means absolutely nothing unless you describe it. What does health look like to you? How does it manifest in your life? Is it feeling good naked or beating heart disease and diabetes? Improving fertility to have a baby? Setting an example for your kids? It doesn’t matter how superficial or how profound as long as it matters to you. Then the next time you are debating a chicken salad or a pizza, a quick workout or a TV show, remind yourself that it’s worth sacrificing for the healthier choice to achieve the end result.

Q What projects do you have coming up over the next year?

Jillian: My main focus is continuing to build out my app so it’s a one-stop-shop for anyone looking to get healthy. Beyond allowing me to customise your workouts or your nutrition plan we are focused on adding all my old DVD workouts to the app for streaming and meditations as well to help people balance mind and body.

Jillian Michaels is a health and wellness expert and creator of the My Fitness by Jillian Michaels app. Download My Fitness by Jillian Michaels on iPhone or Android and keep up with her at @jillianmichaels

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