Jillian Michaels arrived on the realty tv scene nearly 10 years ago as the sharp-tongued “drill sergeant” with a heart of gold when it came to training her overweight participants on “The Biggest Loser” reality show with fellow coach Bob Harper. Each season she shapes the participants into confident, empowered individuals who eventually take control of their weight problems and all the baggage attached to that issue. Now the author, businesswoman, radio and tv personality and 39-year-old mother of two with partner Heidi Rhoades, is taking her heart and her tenacity on the road, this time aiming to kick-star not only health, but life as well. Her “Maximize Your Life Tour” makes a stop on May 2 at the Bushnell. Juggling the morning routine of getting kids ready, making breakfast and preparing to tackle the workday, Michaels stopped for a few minutes to Spill the Beans With Java.
Q: When the world first met you on “The Biggest Loser,” you were the bad ass, impatient, independent, single woman who seemed to have little patience with anything, especially the whiners who said “I can’t do this.” How has parenthood and a committed personal relationship changed you? Or has it?
A: Patience is an ongoing lesson for me. Bob (Harper) once told me that it was my cocoon and your cocoon is you life’s karma. It is definitely mine. It is an ongoing struggle and now that I have become a mom I am trying to be better at it. I see changes that are incremental. There are times when I need more patience and at other times, I need action. With my kids, patience is so critical. I am trying to slow down. I am trying to be like “this is okay, the world is not going to end if it is not done right now.” I think it is helping me in every area of my life. But on “Biggest Loser,” there is not time for patience because the losers could be going home in a week. I work hard and fast, my foot is on the gas.
Q: As a health expert, what are you seeing when you look out into the audience at each tour stop?
A: I see so many different things in each individual. Everyone comes for a different reason, not necessarily looking to lose weight. Sometimes I see hopelessness, sometimes I see another fitness fan and passion. Sometimes I see a light bulb go off as I am speaking, an epiphany. That is the best part.
Q: Why go on tour, wouldn’t tv be more effective in getting the message out?
A: I can reach more people on tv than I will reach during the tour. But the tour is about my desire to have a personal connection with the audience. Without that, I would be functioning in a vacuum. For me to do what I do, comes from my own personal journey and meaning and passion and what I am going through. Important for me to know it is resonating, that I am being heard, that I am having an impact, that what I am doing is mattering. I love the ability to have direct connection, unfiltered and unedited.
Q: Your trademark yelling, seems like you would have to dial that back a bit in your personal life, especially as a mother, no?
A: I am a natural screamer. I don’t do it deliberately in my personal life. As a trainer, it’s a tool that I use. If you are fixing a chair and need a flathead screwdriver, that’s what you need. That is what screaming is to me. What it does is usually overwhelm someone into success. Or it will short-circuit a behavior pattern. You see that on the show. The media says I am so mean but it doesn’t know what I am dealing with. I have people who are killing themselves. I have to scare them straight. I need to make sure there is an accomplishment they can buy into, a nugget where they can start to build self-esteem.
Q: And the swearing…
A: I am trying to rein in my mouth especially now that the kids are getting older. Heidi gets mad at me. But to me swearing doesn’t mean anything. I don’t get it.
Q: You seem so driven and focused, and you deal with people who often have failed. Have you ever failed?
A: Are you joking? How much time do you have? I fail all the time. And I know, and this is one of the most important tools you need to have, that failure as an entry point for learning and opportunity for growth. It is incredible part of success. You have to fail to succeed.
Q: Will Americans will ever take their health more seriously?
A: Definitely think we will. I think people have no hope and there has to be hope instilled in their hearts. The first step is education because education empowers you and gives you the skills to achieve goals. What is making you eat in the first place, get in touch with why you are being self-destructive. Learn how to build recovery, manage the motions that make you eat to defend yourself. There are people who achieve goals and achieve dreams. They don’t have anything you don’t have. It’s one percent talent, 99 percent inspiration.
Q: What are five things everyone should have in their refrigerator?
A: -Low fat Greek Yogurt
-Whole grain bread
-grab and go things like fruits and veggies
“Jillian Michaels Maximize Your Life Tour” is at the Bushnell on May 2 at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information go to bushnell.org.