Jillian Michaels Has Never Been Happier
Jillian Michaels is smiling serenely as she sits on a deck at the Malibu Pier, one of her favorite spots to recharge. It's a classic California scene, and Michaels, 38, is the quintessential California girl in a white T-shirt, khakis, and flip-flops.
She begins telling me about her morning with her usual barely-take-a-breath delivery ("I was starting to smell, so I had to go get Botox in my armpits because I don't like aluminum in there, and...") until I absentmindedly reach for a pack of artificial sweetener to put in my iced coffee. She abruptly stops and narrows her eyes. "Don't touch that!" she yells, as I jump. "Don't inhale within a foot of it!" She grabs a sugar packet and flaps it. "That's 14 calories! That won't kill you!" She points to my artificial sweetener. "That will kill you."
Yes, the former star of The Biggest Loser is still a drill it comes to maters of health. But in most other respects, this is a brand-new Jillian. It has been a year of professional change for her. Last winter she joined the daytime talk show The Doctors only to leave a few months later. ("It was like a relationship that's perfect on paper," she says, "but you're actually not compatible.")
Now she has scaled back with a lower-key wellness show on YouTube in anticipation of a life-changing event: After two years of nerve-racking ups and downs in her quest to adopt a child, she has finally realized her dream of becoming a mom. She recently brought home her new 2-year-old daughter, Lukensia, from Haiti. To top that off, Michael's partner, Heidi Rhoades, recently gave birth to their son, Phoenix. Michaels, who even before her children's arrival had her Malibu home baby proofed and had "like, 50 parenting and adoption books" piled on her bedside table, is so excited she's about to burst. "I can't wait -- just to be this guide, helping these little people through life," she says. As passionate as ever, but with a new, surprisingly softer side, Michaels shares the details of her journey to motherhood.
What was it about your daughter that first grabbed your heart?
I've been to Haiti on and off since I was 27. I met her a year ago on a trip visiting orphanages for All Blessings International, an organization I work with. I was visiting this one orphanage and the next thing I knew she jumped into my arms. She just grabbed me and clung to me and I immediately felt something. I was like, "Oh my God, this is my daughter." I asked people what was going on with her, and they're like, "She's placed already, she's going to a family in Germany." And I said, "I don't think so, I don't think that's meant to be." They thought I was insane. Then last October I got an e-mail from the woman who ran the orphanage that said: "She's available, you can be her mom if you want." Granted, it's not that easy -- you have to go through the process. But that's what happened, and I do think there's a certain amount of fate involved. Life has a way of working out the way it's meant to.