Fitness expert Jillian Michaels is best known as a trainer on the NBC weight-loss reality show "Biggest Loser." Her passion for exercise stems in part, from a personal history that saw her lose 55 pounds during her teen years.
"I was 175 pounds, which is about 55 pounds heavier than I am now," she said recently during a telephone interview. "I got into martial arts. I was 13 years old and found a martial arts instructor who was a huge catalyst for change. He educated me and provided a supportive and challenging environment. I changed my life, not just physically, but psychologically as well. It's where I get my passion for doing this type of work for other people."
We caught up with Michaels recently, while she was driving on U.S. 101 from the "Biggest Loser" set to dinner with friends in Los Angeles. She shared her thoughts on exercise for the weight challenged.
*Getting started: "People can change anything or accomplish anything if the goal is worth it and if they feel capable. Identify your motivation, post it every where around your house and educate yourself the best you can. Study people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish. Interview them, because the more knowledge you have, the better able you are to create a framework and system to reach that goal."
*Working out in public: "You have to take that step. Stretch your emotional fabric and go to the gym. Quality people will admire you for taking steps to change your life. Don't take on other people's drama or insecurities. Go with a friend so you don't feel alone at first and you have a little crutch."
*Bottom-line motivator: "You have to identify why you want a change, why it is worth it to you. Eating broccoli and running on a treadmill is not exactly the most pleasureable thing in the world, but wearing skinny jeans or seeing your belt size go down a few notches may be. Or feeling good in a bathing suit, or seeing your grandchildren graduate from high school. Those things are worth it."
*Weighing in: "Once a week -- same time, same day, same scale. It's a compass. It lets you know when you're off-course. You must use a scale, period. If you want to lose weight, it's essential."
*Rate of weight loss for larger people: "For every 25 pounds of body weight you'll burn an extra 50 calories for the same intensity of exercise. If two people -- weighing 125 pounds and 100 pounds -- exercise at the same speed and same incline on the treadmill, the person who weighs more will burn an extra 50 calories in the hour because it requires that much more energy to fuel the body."
*Most important tool in weight loss: "Calorie counting. Calories in versus calories out. You need to know how many you're eating and how many you're burning. A pound is 3,500 calories. You need to burn a pound to lose a pound."
*Emotional eating: "Mindless eating is what sabotages them. They don't learn from their mistakes. Their self-worth is diminished. It's an old cliche: 'It's not what you're eating. It's what is eating you.' "
Michaels has two new DVDs: "Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism" and "No More Trouble Zones." (Lions Gate Films/$14.98). Both 45-minute workouts employ circuit training with high-intensity cardio intervals. "I call it peripheral heart action," Michaels explained, a technique that sends blood back and forth between your upper and lower body at a rapid pace to elevate heart rate. You are boosting your metabolism long after you exercise because of the resistance training."