You Asked, Jillian Michaels Answered
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You Asked, Jillian Michaels Answered

From growing up overweight to guilty pleasures to her Napoleon complex, The Biggest Loser team trainer candidly answers your questions.

Are men intimidated by your physique?
No...I'm actually only 5'2". They kind of laugh at me when they see how tiny I am though at times they can find my Napoleon complex a little overwhelming.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
WINE AND CHOCOLATE...ahh heaven.

What motivates you to work out every day?
In the old days I would have said vanity, but now in my 30s it's about quality of life. I want to live longer in a healthier, happier way. Plus, ultimately my meaning in life comes from empowering others. I can't be any source of inspiration or role model if I don't suck it up and practice what I preach.

Have you been fit your whole life or was there a turning point when you made a commitment to take control of your health?
No, I was actually an overweight child. It was through my practice of martial arts from ages 14 through 21 that I lost the weight and developed a passion for fitness as a means to rebuild people's lives.

Is it safe to lose 5-10 pounds a week as some of The Biggest Loser contestants do?
Anyone watching the show can see that the contestants come out of the process healthier than Bob and I. They run marathons. They get off all their medications for diabetes, blood pressure, etc. Provided rapid weight loss is done with proper nutrition through exercise, it is perfectly safe. The real question you need to ask yourself is whether or not it's realistic. That is a different story entirely.

Do you think tackling the underlying emotional side to overeating is a key factor in successful weight loss? How do you handle this with the contestants?
I believe WHOLE-HEARTEDLY that serious issues with weight are psychologically motivated. I work with my contestants to understand what is underlying their issues with weight and self loathing and then I use fitness to rebuild their self-image and self-confidence. I also provide them the behavioral tools to help them use their emotions as positive motivation instead of as a source for self-defeat.

What do you think of diet programs such as Jenny Craig? How can this type of program best be utilized in weight loss? Do you think it's better to use such programs? Or to learn to lose weight on your own?
I am not against these types of food-delivery programs. In fact, I am currently developing one of my own that will be launched in fall. I believe that both methods can work for people. The home delivery makes it convenient and can actually teach people what portions should look like, etc. I think it really depends on the quality of the company you are using. Is the food fresh? Is it calorie controlled? Is it natural or loaded with preservatives?

What are key things to keep in mind when looking for a personal trainer and/or gym? Do you handle clients outside of The Biggest Loser now?
Sadly, I have no time for outside clients. I wish that I did. I dedicate my time to reaching the masses these days. Books, Web sites, DVDs, radio, prime time, etc. I get that one-on-one interaction that I need via The Biggest Loser so I am always close to my roots.

As for finding the right trainer...INTERVIEW. Try trainers out. Ask to see credentials. Ask for client referrals. Do they listen to you? Are they patient with you? Why did they get into fitness? Are they passing time in between careers or is this line of work their passion? Do you enjoy spending time with them? Do they motivate you? These are all important things to look for. As for the right gym...make sure they can accommodate you on the hours you can work out. Make sure you try the facility out before you sign a contract. Do you like the patrons? Do you like the employees? Is it clean? Is it convenient for you? Do they offer free classes that you can utilize? Are there any hidden fees?


Originally published on, March 2008.