Don't tell Jillian Michaels you can't get really fit because you're over 30. Or 40. Or 50. Here, the top trainer and life guru reveals the one question that'll get you to your goal—plus the single best workout to keep you feeling great for life.
Q: Do you see yourself as more of a life coach than a fitness trainer?
A: For years, I always thought it was hilarious that I was this fitness guru, because fitness was just a tool I utilized to help people improve their confidence. For me, it's never been about fitness. It's always been about helping to empower people.
Q: What is the connection between physical fitness and self-confidence?
A: I've always believed fitness is an entry point to help you build that happier, healthier life. When your health is strong, you're capable of taking risks. You'll feel more confident to ask for the promotion. You'll have more energy to be a better mom. You'll feel more deserving of love.
Q: What inspires you to take care of your own body?
A: That comes from me. You can look for external sources of motivation and that can catalyze a change, but it won't sustain one. It has to be from an internal desire. You have to ask, "Why do I want this?" I want to be around for a family, and to feel good about my body. I want to set an example. My number-one piece of advice is: Look inside and find out what your "why" is. I don't care whose butt you've posted on the screen of your treadmill.
When you're physically fit, you're more confident and empowered.
—Jillian Michaels, celebrity trainer
Q: Did you ever post a butt on the treadmill?
A: I always thought Madonna was awesome, and I still do. I remember Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, and just thinking, Really? That scene opens up and she's just banging out pull-ups, and I remember thinking, That's awesome.
Q: What other tips do you have for staying motivated?
A: When it comes to your "why," write it down and put it everywhere—in your car, on your phone. Remind yourself constantly why you're doing what you're doing. Then remove any sort of temptation. Build a support system, whether it's a workout buddy or a mom from day care, so you have that person to call when you have a moment of weakness.
Q: Can anyone get motivated? Are there impossible cases?
A: Lazy doesn't exist. Lazy is a symptom of something else. The person who can't get up off their butt is just a person who's depressed. It's usually a pervasive lack of self-worth, or a feeling of helplessness. That's why fitness is so important. You have the ability to show somebody what she's capable of very quickly.
Q: As we get older, is time working against us?
Q: What else will keep our bodies young?
A: God, sleep! I really do prioritize my sleep—I get seven to eight hours a night. Sleep, have sex (it's really good for your health), and eat organic whenever you possibly can.
Q: Do you ever watch yourself on TV?
A: I find television to be a bit like a meat grinder. It's like, you have a cow, you put it through a meat grinder, and out comes a hot dog. It's almost unrecognizable. On Loser, I was a cartoon character. And I actually feel like The Doctors made a real effort to tone me down.
Q: So who is the real Jillian?
A: I'm part Bridget Jones, part Larry David. I'm shy; I'm prude.
Q: You are?
I am so prude. We didn't talk about that when I grew up. But on my podcast you see the sense of humor, the vulnerability, the passion. We talk about weight loss, bullying—because I was bullied.
Q: When were you bullied?
A: It didn't get really bad until I was in junior high. I was an overweight kid, and I went through a period where, oh my God, they were making cow sounds at me when I walked down the hallway and just humiliating me. Kids can be mean. My mom pulled me out of one school and put me in another, but when you wear that stigma, you start to believe it. When you wear that energy, other kids smell it like blood in the water.
Q: You've spoken about your struggle to adopt a child. Is there any news?
A: Oh, God, nothing has been this hard in my entire life. It's very complicated and it's very time-consuming and I'm committed to the process, but two years later, no update. Theoretically, I've been matched with a child. Now I'm just trying to get her home.
Q: How do you decompress?
A: Yoga. I've been doing a lot of it. It takes me out of my own mind; I have to be present and think about my form. I find it very calming and grounding; it makes me happy. Know what I mean, buddy?
Q: What do you think is the best way to get to a healthy weight?
A: It's all about eating better foods. Whenever possible, avoid processed foods and foods containing high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, nitrites and nitrates, and artificial sweeteners.