Why Jillian Michaels Has America's Healthiest Body


Jack GuyFrom Health magazine
When California-raised Jillian was 12, she weighed 175 pounds. After engaging in martial arts and working her way into a career as a personal trainer, the 5-foot-2 3/4-inch star got her weight down to around 117 with just 13% body fat.

She also started her own organic garden, greened up her house, and switched to clean foods. For her, the goal is a healthy body and mind. “Fitness for me is a tool that I use to build a life,” Jillian says. “Its never about a crunch for me. I couldnt care less.”

And, as she resumes her role on The Biggest Loser, now in its eighth season, she has plenty more to celebrate: a new Wii game, Jillian Michaels Fitness Ultimatum 2010; two spring 2010 follow-up books to her best-selling Master Your MetabolismThe Master Calorie Counter and The Master Cookbook; and an expansion of her QuickStart Rapid Weight Loss System supplements line at GNC.

With the same addictive intensity she uses to motivate her clients, Jillian tells Health what she thinks we all should change in our diets, why shes not a fan of “walking,” and which celebrity she wishes she could take under her wing.

Q: How do you feel about being named Americas Healthiest Body?

A: Im totally flattered. But I just think, God, if people had any idea of the stuff that goes on behind closed doors: the struggles in the middle of the night in front of the refrigerator, the weeks on end I cant get my ass to the gym! But, in reality, theres a part of me where it makes perfect sense.

Next Page: So, what's your definition of a healthy body? [ pagebreak ]

Q: So, whats your definition of a healthy body?

A: A disease-free body. I have a very close friend who just turned 40. She was always the hot girl with the beautiful body. She smoked and she drank, but she looked good … right up until she got diagnosed with breast cancer.

When youre skinny, youre not necessarily a healthy person. And when youre obese, youre not disease-free; youre struggling with fatty liver disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea, acid reflux, and the list goes on.

Q: If you could get people to do one thing differently every day for their health, what would it be?

A: Go organic. That would be the one thing—its not even exercise. Our food is corn derivatives, food derivatives, and chemicals. It is making us fat and sick.

Q: In terms of our fitness efforts, where do we go wrong?

A: We sell ourselves short when it comes to capability and potential. We read on the treadmill. We walk. People will be like, “Ive been walking.” And Im like, “Really? Really?” [Laughs.] “OK, you walked to the car, and then to the door at the mall, and then you took the stairs, too? Come on, man.”

If I can take a 66-year-old man and train him six hours a day, six days a week, you can do more than just take the stairs! People have no concept of what the human body is really designed to do. They have no concept of their strength! And they function in a zone that is well below what their potential really is.

Next Page: Is there anyone in particular that you wish you could take under your wing and train? [ pagebreak ]

Q: Is there anyone in particular that you wish you could take under your wing and train?

A: I would love to train [President Barack] Obama, just because hes awesome and the leader of the Free World. Id feel really good keeping him healthy and strong.

But if theres someone I think is utterly misguided, it would be Oprah Winfrey. She says she had a thyroid problem and ate soy, and Im like, How? Where is Dr. Oz? Shes just so misinformed, it is shocking to me on a daily basis. Soy is terrible for you [if you have thyroid issues].

Q: Is there an area of your life where you are undisciplined?

A: The only thing I would tell you is fitness.

Q: What?!

A: Yeah, its exercise. Im like, “Ugh,” because I know that with diet and sleep and lifestyle, I can control my weight. I get tired, man, I get so tired!

And if I dont work with a trainer, Im like, “OK, I ran my 30 minutes, Im going home.” People often ask me, “Why do you work with a trainer?” And I say, “Because hes a monster. He pushes me in ways I wouldnt push myself.”

Q: When and where do you feel happiest?

A: Im probably happiest when I watch somebody have that “Aha” moment. So much [of my work] has become about business. Gone are the days when I could go to my little gym, train my clients, and get the phone call that they lost 10 pounds and got to a smaller jeans size, which made me happy for the rest of the day.

And so when people have that awakening and I can be a part of the transformation, that is probably when Im happiest, because that is when I think, “Oh, theres a reason that Im alive.”