It's no secret -- well, to anyone who follows me on Twitter -- that I'm obsessed with The Biggest Loser. I cry every week. Usually into a tub of Ben & Jerry's. I don't blog about the show because I'm such an emotional mess when it's done, I wouldn't know what to say. Each and every person who goes on there vowing to change (and save) their lives is an inspiration, and each and every week I look at them and say, if they can lose eighty or ninety or one hundred and fifty pounds, surely I should be able to drop twenty!
And sometimes I try -- sometimes I wake up early, drink only a glass of orange juice, and take a walk around the park with Madison. Or head downstairs to use the recumbent bike. Or turn on my Wii Fit. Admittedly I haven't done either of those last two in months, but when I do them, I usually get into a good rhythm for about three weeks. I can start to see little changes, and I'm feeling better -- maybe psychosomatically, but it still counts! Then I hit my wall. I wake up one morning and don't feel like working out, so I "take the day off." Or I feel so proud of the progress I'm making, I decide to reward myself with a cupcake, until that one turns into a daily meal. And just as easily, my "one day at a time" mentality backslides into my usual unhealthy behavior.
Recently I had a chance to chat with Jillian Michaels, trainer extraordinaire from The Biggest Loser and host of a new wellness reality show called Losing It with Jillian, in which she moves in with families in order to teach them how to really change their lives -- permanently. She weighed in on everything from the tears that I will undoubtedly shed with this new program, to how she motivates varying family members -- from those who have given up on themselves to the littlest children, to what to do when you hit that wall and have no more motivation.
On if there will be tears shed on this new show:
- "Oh my God, I don't think that I have cried so much in my entire life! I mean, every week I am hysterical crying. It's just -- it's horrible, and it definitely is very strange...it's definitely a roller coaster ride, and it brings up so many different things for me of being a latch key kid, going through [my parents'] divorce, losing loved ones, and it just wrecks you. It just wrecks you but in the most beautiful way because you're also a huge part of their healing process."
On the different time table of Losing it With Jillian versus The Biggest Loser:
- "[The families] are working full-time jobs, sometimes over the forty hours a week: some of our parents are working sixty hours a week to make ends meet. You know, we're going into homes with two kids, three kids, young kids, teenagers. People are juggling real crazy lives. And, by the way, we're working within their budgets...You know, I have an episode where I'm in the farm -- literally in the middle of nowhere. There's not a Whole Foods around the corner, even if that was economically viable for this family, which it isn't. So it's about sort of creating solutions based on all of those factors and the resources that they have available to them."
On dealing with those who might be resistant to change:
- "I had a flat-out intervention with one of them. Our doctor sits down and she's like, 'Dude, you're a walking time bomb. You are the most unhealthy out of anyone I've seen. You are full-blown diabetic.' I mean, she goes through the list with him, and he looks at her in the eye and goes 'Tell me something I don't know.'...So by day four, I had a full blown intervention. I had all of his friends, I had his mother, I had his wife there. I had the kids leave, and they all basically sat down with him, and they're like 'We love you; you're going to die.'"
On the added challenge of living with the families:
- "My show runner, who travels with me, [said] I became sort of like the families when I moved in...She's like 'You are so strange the way you kind of meld into the family and are like a sponge. You sort of take on their dynamic and their personalities.' I become very empathetic with the families. I really had to process that. I think part of it's so that I can understand them and kind of get in their heads and try to help them implement solutions that will work for them as, you know, a unique family entity and as individuals."
On different methods depending on how much someone has to lose to get healthy:
- "It all sort of comes down to finding their reasons for wanting to change. So, whether it's twenty or forty or sixty pounds, whether [everyone in the family] all has the same amount of weight to lose, their reasons will always be different. I use the same techniques to help them identify the reasons and then I teach them that with every decision they're about to make in their day, ask themselves how their choice is going to get them closer to their ultimate goals or the whys of their desired transformation."
On finding motivation after hitting the proverbial wall:
- "Setbacks [can be] entry points for learning, as opposed to a validation of failure. It's all about attitude. When you constantly teach them how to adjust their attitude and to change the way they see the world and to make things opportunities instead of sentences...And instead, it's like 'Okay, what happened and how can I change it and how can I become better?' It helps them push through and transcend. So people are pretty much, you know, they're on that sort of three steps forward, one step back, and they're progressing. So far we haven't had any real trouble with anybody not being able to do it."