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Continued: Jillian Michaels dishes on motherhood, intensity and the 'too thin' controversy on 'Biggest Loser'

  • Article by: AIMEE BLANCHETTE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 29, 2014 - 3:24 PM

Q: Cost is often cited as a barrier to being healthy. Is this a valid excuse?

A: Health-related diseases are the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in our country. So while you might think you’re saving money in the moment, the reality is it’s costing you a fortune down the road when you become obese and sick. It’s a shift in perspective. I tell people if they can find me 20 more dollars a week, we can make this work and here’s how. I teach them what products to buy — they don’t all have to be organic. And then I talk to them about meat and dairy. This is where that $20 needs to go.

Q: But yoga classes are expensive, too, especially those yoga pants!

A: We all know that exercise doesn’t have to cost you anything. There’s a website I just got involved with. … It’s $6 a month and it’s called It’s like the future Netflix or Hulu of fitness, so to speak. There’s just no excuse. Even if you don’t have $6 a month, get outside. Hike, bike, walk. Exercise isn’t expensive. It’s really a matter of being motivated to do the work.

Q: Some people would argue that you have an intense approach. Has motherhood changed that?

A: Everyone asks me that and I find it interesting, because you would never ask a police officer if they changed the way they did their job because they had kids. You would never say to a heart surgeon, ‘Hey, are you doing that surgery a little bit differently?’ I think the implication is, this [woman] is crazy.

You see five minutes of me getting in someone’s face, which is honestly maybe 3 percent of the time. I don’t do that superfluously. When I get in someone’s face, I have very specific reasons for it. “The Biggest Loser” is a life-or-death intervention on a ticking clock. If these guys go home without having hit certain benchmarks … the chances of them maintaining their momentum are nil. Whether you like it or not, it really isn’t between me and you. It’s between me and the person I’m helping.

Q: You have two children with your partner, Heidi Rhoades. How do you get them to eat and enjoy healthy foods?

A: You can hide spinach in their brownies and whatever, but at the end of the day I have found it to be totally unnecessary. I just had a very candid conversation with my 3-year-old. I find something she aspires to, whether it’s Katy Perry or Beyoncé or Elsa from “Frozen.” I say, ‘For Elsa to use her super powers, she’s got to eat some spinach and some kale and some broccoli, but not all the time. You know how Katy Perry roars like that? Well, she eats kale.’ By showing your kids that this is going to help them be what they want to be or do what they want to do, it becomes enjoyable for them. It’s not about depriving them.

Q: “The Biggest Loser” contestant Rachel Frederickson shocked viewers with her dramatic 155-pound weight loss. Do you think she took it too far?

A: Of course I do. It’s been a huge source of frustration for me. We got slammed with it in front of millions of people during a live finale. And then everyone comes to [trainer] Bob [Harper] and I, and they’re like, ‘What happened?’ We didn’t work with her, we don’t know, no one told us, we weren’t the doctor overseeing her training program, we weren’t the trainer who put her on the training program, and I’m not the producer who OK’d the whole thing. I was shocked and I was really concerned and I had no idea, and of course I thought she was too thin.

Q: Will you be back for another season of “The Biggest Loser”?

A: I don’t know. We’re talking right now and there’s a lot that’s up in the air, to be honest with you. I don’t know if I will be coming back.


Aimee Blanchette • 612-673-1715

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