Michaels' muscle motivation comes from within
Trainer pushes others to do their best, no matter how difficult
It's simple math, according to famously in-your-face personal trainer Jillian Michaels, star of the TV reality show "The Biggest Loser."
In order to lose weight, you have to use more calories than you consume. Create a 500-calorie deficit every day, and in a week you'll zap 3,500 calories — a pound.
Her best advice to do that? Get outside. Walk. Use a heart rate monitor. Join a support group.
"It's all about small goals," Michaels said during a stop in Austin recently, where she led a screaming, cheering crowd at the Texas School for the Deaf in an exercise session during a wellness event hosted by H-E-B.
Michaels, 37, debuted on "The Biggest Loser" in 2004 and quickly became known as a whip-cracking trainer, pushing many of her obese clients to tears in episode after episode. But the tough-love strategy seemed to work, and over the years her charges have dropped enough weight to sink the Titanic.
Now a whole cottage industry has sprouted around her, with exercise DVDs, books, clothing, exercise equipment and a website.
In person, the petite trainer, who wore black exercise pants, a gray T-shirt, blue sneakers and a pair of dark, wire-rimmed sunglasses for her Austin appearance, seems much more compassionate than she does on "The Biggest Loser."
"I don't think of it as mean. I'm demanding," she said of her on-the-air persona. "I want people to live up to their potential. I get that it's hard, that it's painful. I demand the max."
The max entails finding out why someone has gained so much extra weight. "When it comes to the morbidly obese, it's always a symptom of underlying issues that haven't been resolved," she said. "It's a matter of helping people become aware of that."
Last summer, Michaels launched her own spin-off reality show, "Losing it With Jillian," but the show was yanked after one season. Michaels also has been the subject of several lawsuits related to a line of nutritional supplements.
In December, she announced that the current season of "The Biggest Loser," which wraps up tonight, would be her last. "I'm happy. I'm so grateful for the platform, but I'm ready to spread my wings," she said.
This month, she signed a multiyear deal to join "The Doctors," a CBS daytime series focused on making health and wellness information easy to understand. She'll also serve as a special correspondent on "Dr. Phil." She's eager to make the switch to daytime television, where, she says, she can still entertain and uplift, but has a better platform to inform.
"I just love seeing everyday people overcome all the obstacles put in front of us, seeing them rise up against all odds and reclaim an aspect of their life," she said.
Michaels knows how it feels to be overweight. She was fat growing up, but when her mother signed her up for a martial arts class at 13, something sparked inside her. Now she wants to help others make lifelong changes.
As far as her own fitness routine, Michaels says she gets bored easily, so she changes up her workouts. Mixed martial arts, kettle bells, power yoga and capoeira are all part of the rotation. She especially loves working out with other trainers, so she can exchange ideas with them.
In Austin, people crowded around Michaels after she bounded off the stage at the end of her workout session. Some waved copies of her book, hoping for an autograph. Others jostled in, angling for a photo.
As far as we could tell, Michaels didn't make a single person cry during her visit.