Maximize Your Life: Jillian Michaels

photo 2(Note: pardon the stream of consciousness tonight .. mind is reeling!)

Tonight I had the opportunity to see the firecracker that is Jillian Michaels LIVE here in good old Kalamazoo, one stop on her Maximize Your Life tour.

To be honest I had no clue what to expect. Most people know Jillian as the motivating trainer that barks at her team members on The Biggest Loser, or warns us not to “phone it in” during her fitness DVDs.

But behind the drill sergeant facade is an absolutely adorable, lovable, funny as hell — and, yes, fit and beautiful — woman.

Someone I’d totally want to be friends with … provided she wouldn’t kick my ass to Texas!


As the stage dimmed, a video depicting two totally different truths/realities showed: first, a world of chaos, drugs, violence, obesity, illness, discontent … you name it. The second: serenity, health, wellness, peace, happiness.

Clearly the second reality was intended to spark motivation/inspiration …

Dressed in cuffed black capri jeggings, booties and a super-cute top, Jillian — teensy (but super-fit; you could see her guns!) in person vs. her larger than life persona —  literally ran onto the stage in such a burst of energy that it took a minute for us to realize, “Hey, she’s here!” That blur, was her!

After slapping hands with everyone in the front row, she thanked us for coming out, saying how “effing freezing!” it is here in Kalamazoo. The audience laughed. “What, this isn’t cold!? I didn’t even leave my damn hotel room all day!” (No, Jillian, today was 32–this is a heat wave!)

She gave a nod to our local craft brew scene — lord hopes she got to try some Bell’s Oberon while here in the ‘Zoo — and then got down to business, kicking things off by saying how those videos depict dueling realities we each face every day; realities which are driven by the choices we make. One reality is hell on earth; the other is paradise.

Choice was a tremendous part of her presentation. (More on this later).

The show was divided into the 3S’s: Science (food), Sweat (fitness), Self (self-improvement). The first two were great but nothing I didn’t already know:

-Eat less, move more.

-Eat more of this (nutritious, clean food) and less of that (processed crap).

-Eat 80% clean, 20% other — every day. “We’re not bears; we don’t hibernate!” (i.e., don’t starve and then binge).

-Functional fitness

-Body weight exercises

-30 minutes, 5 days a week

This was all no-brainer stuff, a food and fitness 101.

The meat and potatoes part of the show (as she called it, and I’d agree) was the “Self” portion.

Anyone who knows Jillian knows she doesn’t believe in victimization and she didn’t mince words. Basically she believes we are where we are because of the choices we make. It’s a harsh reality — and yes, absolutely environmental/socio-economic factors come into play … but, on the whole, we DO have the power to make choices … and make change.

If we’re overweight, why don’t we work to lose weight? If we’re stuck in a bad relationship, why do we stay? If we hate our job, why not look elsewhere? The answer is usually FEAR. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of rejection … and sometimes, fear of success. It holds us back from maximizing our lives.

The decision to make change is what matters most, and the “why” is what separates those who want to make a change and those who will. For a compelling enough reason, for a strong “why” … we’ll do it.

Saying “I want to lose weight to be healthy” isn’t enough of a ‘why.’ Instead, “I want to lose weight to prevent illness. To walk my daughter down the aisle.” And yes, even something as “vain” as “I want to fit into my skinny jeans.” It’s not vain if it keeps you going.

As Jillian says: “Work without a ‘why’ is punishment. Work with a ‘why’ is passion.” Of all the things she said during the 2.5-hour show (an hour longer than it was billed for!) this stuck the most — because it can be applied to anything.

In addition, she talked about consciousness/awareness … being present in the moment. She recommended taking a moment each hour for two weeks to comment on what you’re doing in that moment, and how it makes you feel to find your passion … and maybe what isn’t jiving. Write it down. And then act on it. If you find you are enjoying cooking — focus on that: do more of it! If you hate yoga, stop forcing yourself to like it. Try kick boxing, Zumba, whatever. As she says, “work without a ‘why’ is punishment.” Our lives are finite; no need to be miserable through any of it. Also, she reinforced that this desire to be fulfilled and happy isn’t selfish — but an act of self-love. I love that. As a mom, especially, it’s hard to put your own needs first: to put your own oxygen mask on first. But sometimes it’s necessary. And it makes you a better mom when you’re happy with yourself.

The Q&As were awesome. One woman asked about a blogger who eats 51 bananas in a day and asked Jillian if that was healthy because they’re bananas. She was like whoa no … trust yourself, just because someone is spewing info, do YOU think 51 bananas is healthy?! Nugget: trust your gut.

And then there was this one woman who had gotten her degree at 40 and lost 70 pounds — huge accomplishments!–yet her husband has yet to notice (or acknowledge) her transformation. Jillian congratulated the woman and told her to keep on keeping on for herself … that he is behaving this way but “it’s not really about you, it’s about HIM. His lack of reaction to her weight loss is about him, his own issues.  Nugget: Do it for YOU. Don’t let anyone bring you down.

She also got a question by a woman who lost 60 pounds, gained 30 back and is now maintaining a (successful!) 30-pound loss. She’s healthy and fit, per her doctor. She asked Jillian why she can’t lose it again and, after sharing her diet and fitness regimen, Jillian basically told her she is looking for vanity weight at this point (maybe she lost it before but it probably wasn’t her body’s “happy weight.”) Bottom line is she ISN’T overweight and should stop freaking over the vanity weight. For men, that includes up to 20pounds and for women up to 15. And SO MANY of us dealing with weight issues are in that “vanity weight” category. We’d love to lose it but aren’t necessarily taking the necessary steps to make it happen because, ultimately, we’re still healthy and fit.  Nugget: Don’t let vanity weight kill you.

I could go on and on but it’s past midnight and I’m zonked. All in all, it was an awesome show. In between F-bombs and audience participation, she weaved stories of her own life and experiences, making her not only relate-able, but someone you’d want to befriend. It was truly awesome. Thanks for such a great night, Jillian! I think we all left feeling motivated, inspired and — above all — willing and confident that we can make some positive changes in our lives.



3 thoughts on “Maximize Your Life: Jillian Michaels

  1. great recap! (finally got a chance to read). glad i have an amazing blogger friend i can come to for the info re-presented in a fantastic way (with additional, wonderful commentary). find the ‘why’ …

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