Yesterday, at the beautiful new Chatelaine kitchen, I had the chance to interview one of my biggest health and fitness inspirations of all time, Jillian Michaels, 39. Look at us (left)! I am totally beaming — aaaand probably could have used a good hair brush.
Jillian and I had a great chat about diet, fitness and her family. She and her partner, Heidi Rhoades, have two kids together — Lukensia, 2.5, and Phoenix, 1. I tried to ask as many questions as I could, but Jillian had a lot to say, and the clock was ticking, so I got all I could for us. Enjoy!
Since this is for Today’s Parent Magazine… how have you adjusted to motherhood?
I feel like I’m finally in a bit of a rhythm now. I find one [child] to be a breeze; I can handle one of them alone like nothing. But when I have two with me, I’m like, ‘Oh my God!” You turn around for two seconds and the baby’s pulling bowl of oatmeal down on his head, and the toddler’s shaving the dog, and it’s chaos! I now realize I’m tired a lot because I’m a mom, and you don’t get to take care of yourself as well as you used to. But there are moments when your kid will do or say something, and you’re like, “Screw it, this worth it, this is the best thing ever.” But it’s hard, and I’m not going to pretend there aren’t days when I miss my old life. I miss my relationship. Some days, she’s manning the baby, and I’m manning the toddler. We don’t get the time together anymore or have the same conversations. We work on it, but it’s hard. It’s great and it’s hard and it’s a process and it gets easier, and then there’s something else that throws you.
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And I bet your workouts have changed….
Oh, what a joke! I mean, I used to go to spin class, yoga for 90 minutes, boxing lessons…. Now, I try to do a 30-minute video in my hotel room with my daughter on my back, riding me like I’m a horse — “Mama, up, down, go! Goood boy!” And I’m thinking, “You crazy little human!” Yeah, it’s a joke. I’m a shell of my old self. But I balance it. So, it’s not what it used to be, but I move my ass at least four times a week for thirty minutes, and I watch what I eat. And I’m pulling it off. Not perfectly! But, I’m crazy-glued together and doing OK so far.
Is that all we need, then: four days a week for thirty minutes?
Absolutely! If you’re training the right way — if you’re working out intensely, if you’re focusing that time, if you’re giving it everything you’ve got, and you’re watching what you’re eating. But you can’t work out for thirty minutes and eat a piece of pizza. You have to balance it. You’ve got to know how much you’re eating and how much you’re burning, and find that balancing act.
What about the belly? So many of us want to lose our post-baby belly fat!
A lot of women have the misconception that baby weight is different than any other kind of weight. It’s not. It involves the same things you need to do to lose weight. There is a trick, though, in regard to the whole pregnancy. Heidi was at her pre-baby weight a month after Phoenix was born, and she didn’t even try. It was the way she managed the pregnancy — that’s the secret. If you really want to know how to lose the baby weight, try not to gain it! I might write a book about that one day. If you gained weight during your pregnancy, though, that’s OK, too. You just have to lose the weight just like any other weight: You work out and eat better. There’s no such thing as spot reduction; it can’t be done.
How do we stay motivated?
Figure out what really makes you happy, I mean, what really makes you happy [like, your kids, etc.]. Next, put a vision board on your desktop, leave your sneakers by your front door so you’re reminded to work out, and put aspirational photos on your refrigerator. Do things your passionate about, and find people who are like-minded, who will lift you up.
How do you encourage your kids to eat healthy without imparting a kind of diet mentality?
I’ve found that part to be a breeze. I can sit here and honestly gloat about it. We order family style, and we don’t get them anything specific. Phoenix just started eating [solids]. And Lukensia always looks at our food, and says, “What’s that? Ooo, what’s that?” She always wants what we’re eating. So I tell her it’s my salad and ask if she wants a bite. Then she says, “My salad, Mama!” And she starts eating it. So I don’t order her anything, and she just eats what we’re having. We also incorporate the kids in everything. So, we go to the Farmer’s Market, and she gets to pay, and she gets to pick things that she’s interested in. We also have a little garden in the backyard, and she grows stuff with Heidi. So she has all these positive associations with the food already. She doesn’t know any different. She doesn’t know what McDonalds is. She eats burgers; but we go to a healthier place.
Do your kids ever eat treats?
Sure, she gets a cupcake, but it’s a little one. And, I’ll say to her, “OK, if you eat this, this and this, we can have a treat tonight.” I explain that we can’t just eat treats because it’s not good for us. We can eat a little bit of it, as long as we make sure we have some of this and some of that. So, I say, “You want some chicken and then the brownie? Or, no brownie.” And she’ll choose to eat the chicken.
Is the brownie a reward, then?
No, it’s a part of her eating. She doesn’t get this if she doesn’t eat that. They go together. And she gets it.
What about family exercise?
I limit her screen time. She gets her iPad for an hour a day…. And you have to play with them and encourage them to do what they love. Lukensia loves horses and swimming, and dancing to Beyonce. And the baby never stops moving now that he can walk.
One of my favourite take-aways of the day was when Jillian told the bunch of us, later on at the Chatelaine event, that she loathes working out, but she does it to better her life — to feel her best, balance hormones, look good in jeans, etc.. For her, then, it’s all about the motivation.
I don’t know about you, but I’m motivated now! And, I’ll be even more motivated when I go to her Toronto show, “Maximize Your Life,” next Tuesday at the Sony Centre in Toronto — Jillian was kind enough to give me two tix to her show because I’m such a mega superfan. Woohoo! So more on that, soon.
Jillian’s tour also has dates coming up in Hamilton and Oshawa. See ticketmaster.ca for full details. And, look out for Chatelaine Magazine’s new 10-Minute Fitness app, which was announced yesterday, as well. It’s gonna be awwwwe-some! Jillian is also featured in the June issue of Chatelaine — on stands now!
Huge thank you to Chatelaine Magazine for inviting us into their gorj kitchen to chat with Jillian!