Some of you might recognise Jillian Michaels from The Biggest Loser, some of you might be using her health and fitness app. All you need to know is that she’s used her issues as a kid to fuel her as an adult, and she’s here to help as many people as possible.
How did you first get into fitness?
I fell into fitness as a kid when my mom got me into martial arts. I was kind of a trouble kid, overweight, and bullied often. Fortunately, my mom had the foresight to get me into a sport with a supportive community of people that provided an outlet for me. Gradually I lost the weight and became healthier, but more importantly I learned that when we feel strong physically it transcends into all facets of our lives.
Is it also making things possible that weren’t when you first began working in the industry?
Absolutely. All the aforementioned wouldn’t be possible – unless you were paying for an actual personal trainer and a nutritionist, which is very costly. Plus, it helps people track what they eat, how active they are, the quality of their sleep, calories burned… we never had the ability to gauge this a decade ago unless we went to special clinics.
How do you stay fit yourself?
Being a trainer, I understand the importance of diversity in my regimen in order to avoid plateaus in not just weight, but athletic performance and health. Mixing up your regimen also helps prevent overuse injuries from repetitive stress as well as prevent boredom. So, for me, I adhere to the key fitness philosophies of dividing my muscle groups by function and training in splits – push days and pull days. I make sure to get adequate recovery, so I train each muscle group twice a week with two days of rest before I hit those muscles again (splits make this possible).
What’s your favourite form of exercise?
I utilise the most effective fitness techniques from HIIT, plyometrics, free weight training, calisthenics etc. But I also know how to incorporate activities like yoga, mixed martial arts, swimming, and spinning into my fitness regimen because I enjoy them and they train different modalities – yoga is great for mobility as is MMA, swimming and spinning are good for endurance, and my more traditional training is great for strength, speed, (power), calorie burning etc.
I see that there are meal plans on your app, how big a role does nutrition play in your own fitness?
What you eat plays a huge role in every aspect of your health from immunity and anti-aging to weight management. The bottom line is that weight management is simple energy equation. If you want to lose weight you have to eat less calories than you are burning in a day. If you want to maintain weight you eat as much as you burn in a day. And if you eat more than you burn in a day you will gain weight. Period. It’s simple science. And then of course the quality of your food can help you or hurt you when it comes to everything from preventing disease to wrinkles and grey hair. Ultimately, the two simple rules are to match the amount of food you are eating to your fitness goal – each meal plan helps you determine that by the way. And avoid chemicals in your food. From there, it’s simply a matter of preference. If you re gluten free because of allergies, vegan because you love animals, omnivore etc. it’s all fine as long as you adhere to the two golden rules of quantity and quality.
“ The way to do that is to eat food
in its most whole and natural form
and go organic whenever possible.”
Are people becoming far more savvy when it comes to re-fuelling?
I hate to say this, but no. Sadly, there is SO much misinformation out there with regard to “diet” and nutrition that as a society we continue to trade one fad for another year after year. From HCG diet, to juice cleanses, to keto… it’s all ridiculous and potentially dangerous. As I’ve said, make sure not to overeat. Make sure not to under-eat. Don’t eat things that aren’t food – fake fats, colours, flavours, sweeteners, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics etc. The way to do that is to eat food in its most whole and natural form and go organic whenever possible – especially with thin skinned fruits and vegetables, meat, and dairy.
You’re walking 100 miles this month – how do you prepare for a challenge like that?
To be honest it really doesn’t take that much. I know it sounds very overwhelming, but it’s only 3.4 miles a day and I think you’ll soon realise that you probably do at least two miles of it without even realizing it – just going about your daily routine. That said, becoming mindful of your daily activity is a great way to push yourself to get just a bit more in each day, which will make a big difference over time.
Are you nervous or excited at the start of an extreme challenge like that?
For me personally it’s just a time commitment and making that time to raise awareness for the UNHCR’s work (the United Nations Refugee Agency) and making time to move more is well worth it.
What the craziest challenge you’ve ever undertaken?
I’d have to say my blackbelt. That was quiet a physical task that took place over two days, but it is absolutely one of the accomplishments I am most proud of!
BOXOUT ON THE APP
Fitness trainer in your pocket
Jillian Michaels’ My Fitness app includes seven-minute workouts alongside unlimited access to personalised health, fitness, and diet plans, calorie counter, weight loss programs, and an Advanced Meal Planner System (AMP).
“I think technology provides the user with greater access, affordability, and the information to make empowered choices that will yield greater results,” says Jillian.
“As a trainer, the app allows me to literally customise someone’s fitness and nutrition regimen down to the tiniest detail. You tell me what you like when it comes to food and fitness, your current fitness level, fitness goals, timeframe for workouts, cooking meals, goal achievement, any injuries or allergies etc, and from there I can create a totally personalised plan. If you want a weight-loss programme, yoga, kickboxing, weight lifting, prenatal, 5km etc. it’s all there for you in my app. And, if you’re vegan, paleo, gluten free, omnivore, pescatarian – cooking for 1 or cooking for 10 – I can customise all recipes and meal plans for your needs. Essentially, it allows me to be your personal trainer and nutritionist.”