Jillian Michaels' New Life
Jillian Michaels barely has time to order an egg salad sandwich before the deli clerk begins telling her about his recent weight loss. "That's incredible — good for you!" she says, as though rooting for one of her contestants on The Biggest Loser. Most of us wouldn't want our jobs to follow us wherever we go, but not Jillian. "This is what I was born to do," she says.
It's hard to disagree, considering how she's helped inspire and shape up millions of people. But life has changed for the tough-as-nails trainer. Returning to the show after a two-year hiatus, Jillian, 39, is now a mother of two, having adopted a 2-year-old daughter, Lukensia, from Haiti and welcomed a baby boy, Phoenix, with her partner, Heidi Rhoades, last spring. Suddenly her no-nonsense approach to fitness isn't quite so black-and-white.
"I used to say, 'If you're going to exercise, then you do it, and you do it 100 percent.' Now if I've got to answer e-mails while I work out on the StairMaster, well, then that's what it is," Jillian says. "People can rub my nose in it, because it is so hard — so hard — to take care of yourself when you're a parent."
Adjusting her expectations in order to balance work and family has been a challenge for the self-professed control freak, but she's not about to complain. "Every day I tell myself how blessed I am. I can't bitch about it, because this is what I wanted. I just thought I'd be able to manage it better," Jillian says, laughing. "My new motto: 'As long as I'm winning more than I'm losing, I'm still winning!'"
Read on to learn Jillian's revamped rules for staying fit and healthy, and check out her new Bodyshred workout to blast fat and trim and tone.
Fit exercise into your day whenever you can.
Man, it's tough. In my previous life, I could enjoy a long workout, go see a movie, order in. Right now I'm juggling two sick kids and trying to squeeze in a quick run or shower before one of them starts puking again. It's definitely best for me to work exercise into other things I'm doing that day. I try to bike to work or take a long walk-jog on the beach with the kids.
Know this: Every decision counts.
I want other moms to know that if you pick the antipasto when everyone's ordering in from the sub shop, it matters. If you can do only 20 minutes on your treadmill at home while you check your e-mail at the same time, it matters. I used to rip people apart for that, but you just get it in where you can, and that's all you can do.
Parenting will kick your butt.
I get up at 7 a.m. — after being up all night with the baby — and run around trying to get both kids diaper-changed, dressed, and fed. Finally I'll shower, and before I know it, I've got 50 e-mails to answer, and I need to leave for work. At the end of the day, I come home, and I'm like, OK, let me bathe you, change you, feed you, read you books, put you to bed — wait, how am I supposed to do all this? Son of a bitch, this is hard!
More Fitness Lessons from Jillian
Yes, my kids eat sweets.
Lu knows that Sunday is her treat day, so she can eat ice cream or french fries or something. I don't deprive her the rest of the week, I just stick to healthier options like sweet potato fries or graham crackers. I'll make whole-wheat pizza with mozzarella, onions, and butternut squash, and to her that's pizza. I am a genius, a [bleeping] genius. I am so proud of myself because I have fooled her into eating healthy, and let me tell you, that kid is smart!
Be active without being all preachy about it.
It's about finding things your kids love to do. Lu loves horses, so I take her to the stables, and she loves dancing, so I put music on and she dances around the house. We run on the beach with the dogs and take her out to ride her tricycle. We just have a healthy lifestyle — we play! The baby is too young, but I have visions of our doing Brazilian jujitsu and capoeira together. Or maybe he'll want to take ballet, and that's OK, too. Either way, I'm going to expose them both to a bunch of different activities, and whatever they love, they love.
Take a time-out.
Everything right now is "Lu do, Lu do." She wants to do everything herself, but it means you have to sit there for 20 minutes while she tries to put on a shirt. It kills me because I've got to go to work. Heidi gets mad at me: "How else is she going to learn how to put on her shirt?" or "Don't rush her — you're rushing her!" Ugh, it makes me crazy, so I'll just sit on the floor of the closet checking e-mails while Lu tries to figure out how to put on her shirt. It's brutal, but I'm really trying. I guarantee it's going to be their number one issue in therapy.
You can't control it all.
Usually everything on my to-do list still gets done, just not as perfectly as I wanted it to. In the past I'd carefully read and look through everything before approving it. Now I'll say, "Sure, looks great!" without paying close attention, because I don't have time or I'm too tired. One of these days I'm going to see a video of myself with a booger hanging out of my nose. You cut those corners and sometimes you pay, but something's gotta give.
Jillian's Favorite Things
"I feel most confident in my old Sid Vicious vintage concert muscle T-shirt from like 1970 and a 1930s vintage motorcycle jacket. I love vintage, it's my favorite thing ever."
What you might not expect to find in my fridge
We always have a great bottle of Champagne, Ace of Spades, in case there's something to celebrate. In the freezer there are eight different kinds of ice cream for Heidi. I hate her guts because she's one of those people who can't gain weight.
My gotta-have-it tech gadget
I'm addicted to the BodyMedia armband. It's not cheap; it's like 150 bucks, but it's worth it. It tells you exactly how many calories you're burning all day long and can track everything from the steps you take to your temperature and sleep efficiency. It's pretty awesome.
The secret weapon in my gym bag
Spearmint oil. You put it on your wrist, and when you sniff, it helps improve performance. I'm superstitious, and I buy into it.
My go-to snack
Depends on the day I'm having. If I'm in a good mood and everything is going great, I'll eat vanilla Oikos organic Greek yogurt and berries. If I'm in a [bleep] mood, Popchips.
Even tough trainers get hurt
I keep a pack of frozen peas on hand for when I injure myself, which is often now that I'm 39.
Three Easy Ways to Lose Weight
I swear by these strategies from my new book, Slim for Life. Trust me, they work.
1. Wreak havoc
Next time you're full but can't stop picking at your plate, wreck it. Don't put it in the garbage; we've all had that Miranda moment from Sex and the City where we'll still eat it out of the trash. Pour salt on it or put your drink on it, just ruin it. People have issues with wrecking food because it feels wrong, but let's get real: It's not going to children starving in Africa, it's going to the trash. It's not worth cellulite, muffin top, cancer, or heart disease.
2. Amp it up
Drinking an espresso or 200 milligrams of caffeine 45 minutes before you exercise is a known performance enhancer. You will work out harder, you will work out longer, and it helps your body to mobilize fat stores. People love to demonize me for suggesting this, but caffeine has proven health benefits and will dramatically increase your burn. You want to lose weight? This is it.
3. Get out of your chair
Simply standing up burns one and a half times more calories than sitting. If you think about how that adds up over the course of a week, a month, a year, it's a big deal. And there's no excuse not to do it. So whether you're waiting at the doctor's office or making a phone call at work, stand up!
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, April 2013.