Jillian Michaels Is 'Losing It'

The tough-love trainer gives us the scoop on her new show, 'Losing It with Jillian'

In your new series, Losing It with Jillian, how is your training going to be different the way you train The Biggest Loser contestants?
The training remains the same, but what you will see on this show is sort of a 360-view of me -- why I do what I do, the method behind some of my more aggressive techniques. You'll also see more of the empathetic moments, the laughter, the tears, the hugs. You don't get to see a lot of that on The Biggest Loser and that’s a shame, but that’s not what The Biggest Loser is about. This show is much more about a life makeover and me moving in with these familes and it's as much about my journey as it is about theirs. I'm hoping people can identify with it and relate to it and can take away tools to change their own lives.

Do you think it was more challenging to help families in this show than to coach Biggest Loser families because you only have one week?
Without a doubt. You know I am given one week to do what takes me months on The Biggest Loser. I don’t have a gigantic gym in the back yard. I don’t have an unlimited amount of money to buy them organic perfect groceries. I’m not dealing with a perfect environment where I can remove temptation and they hav elal day long to work out. I have to implement solutions that are available and accessible to them within their own hometown. Within the confines of their schedule, within the confines of their budget, I’ve also been dealing with family dynamic beyond just the individual issues. You have an entire family unit that has issues going on. It’s challenging.

iVillage: Did you have them work out at their home? We do a lot of different stuff on the show that’s unique to the family. Some it's at their house, some, it’s at their local community outdoors. We teach them to use their park since it’s free, some of them have their own gyms, local classes they can take that they enjoy. Getting the kids involved in sports activities at their school that are free. We really run the gamut of implementing solutions on the show from fitness to diet. But again, don't be expecting a weight-loss show, because that’s not what it’s about.

What kind of strategy did you use to help the family sustain the changes they made in one week?
I went in and tried to create an immediate wake-up call, rock bottom moment where the family has that moment of 'I have to change, no matter what it takes'. When you have someone in that head space acknowledging the problem, that’s 50 percent of the battle. Then you can identify solutions and when you give them those solutions, all you have to do from there is build up their confidence enough so they feel capable of using those tools to create change and you know, so far, I’ve checked back in on three families and we’ve had success. I can’t tell you how all of them are going to do, I’ll know that over the next couple of months and America’s going to be discovering it with me, so keep your fingers crossed.

What was it like living with these families? How many hours a day did you spend working out and helping them learn about nutrition and what did you do on your downtime?
It’s awkward in the beginning because you’re sleeping in someone’s house and it’s the middle of the night and you’re hungry or if you have to pee or something 'Do I get up? Are they going to think I’m snooping through their things?' 'I need to use the phone or should I log on their internet.' It’s just bizarre, but after a couple of days you kind of fall into a rhythm and you go through the daily routine with some of the parents, you go to their work; with some of the kids, you go to their school. And you’re cooking, you’re taking them to the supermarket, there’s a lot of intervention and confronting demons and excising those issues in the gym and outside of the gym.

Did you get any strange looks when you went to the supermarket with you?
We were pleasantly surprised at how welcoming each community was and how supportive the communities were of supporting their families. From a cultural perspective, I definitely stepped on a couple of landmines.

Can you tell us about those?
There’s one episode where I go to a Native American reservation and I was ignorant unfortunately and just didn’t understand how much their food was a part of their culture. They had this stuff called fry bread, which quite honestly is pure poison, and they were having this welcoming party for me with fry bread and I threw out the fry bread and created quite a rift. People were really upset. The tribe elders were upset. A kid came up to me and threw a plate of food in my face. It was a rough couple of months, I’m not going to lie to you. but I’m hoping that we turned it around.

What did you take away from your experience?
Oh God, a lot. It was as much of a journey for me as it was for the families. When you’re living with people and you’re in their environment and you’re experiencing the things they’re experiencing, it’s like re-living everything you’ve ever been through. The divorce of my own parents, being a latchkey kid, the loss of loved ones, all of those things come up within the context of the show and you find yourself reliving all of those things and it’s painful. There are a lot of tears shed, but again, this show ends up in triumph and in coming through those tragedies to that triumphant place and space, so it's all worth it. It was very cathartic for me. I was out of my comfort zone and very uncomfortable. But when you’re out of that comfort zone is when you really have an opportunity to grow and expand and become better, so I’m hoping that I’ve become a little bit better.

Losing It with Jillian debuts tonight at 10/9 p.m. Central on NBC.

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