Jillian Michaels Takes On a Native American Reservation

The boot camp trainer stirs up controversy and offends tribe members when attempts to change their unhealthy habits

Jillian was at it again, this time with the Plunkett-Marquez family in Camp Verde, Ariz.  It was a sharp contrast from the warm side of Jillian that we saw last episode, as she was the normal in-your-face drill sergeant that we know and love.  The episode centers on Grandma Delores, her two daughters Cora-lei and Delight, 21, and Cora-lei’s husband Brian and son Brandon, 15.  The three-generation spanning family is part of the Yavapai-Apache reservation, a tribe plagued with diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity.  Grandma Delores is a diabetic who’s had two heart attacks and a stroke and her family was following her steps.  Cora-Lei is one of the community leaders and hopes that with her transformation, she can inspire her tribe back to their hunter-gatherer roots.  She said Jillian came in like a little whirlwind, that their creator sent them an angel.  (More like drill sergeant, really.)

Jillian was welcomed to the community with a "traditional" meal of fried bread, processed cheese and fried beans.  Jillian was shocked pointing out that 90 percent of the tribe is obese and later called the tribe a mass suicide.  Cora-Lei’s family and Jillian discuss the history of fried bread, defending it as a treasured part of their heritage.  Jillian was quick to point out that when their people were hunters and gatherers, that they didn’t use enriched bleached flour or processed cheese and that as much as it’s treasured, it’s killing them.  Jillian was worried about offending the tribe because she felt ignorant about their culture. Call it foreshadowing, because Jillian did end up causing a stir when she dramatically threw away all of the "traditional" fried bread that the tribe loved at her welcoming dinner. She ended up covered in fried bread when told a little boy that he could throw it at her so long as he didn’t eat it.  Though Jillian was trying to make a point of how unhealthy the bread is, the elders of the tribe were very upset with her wastefulness. 

Jillian tried to organize a diabetes meeting with a doctor from L.A. and of the 2,000 people on the reservation, very few attended the meeting.  Jillian questioned if they really wanted to change and couldn’t understand why everyone was so apathetic. Delight explained that she wants to change so badly, but she needs to be shown because their way of life was all she knew.  Later we find out that because she caused such a buzz with the fried bread incident that many people were siding with Jillian saying that fried bread isn’t who they are. 

The Plunkett-Marquez’s, particularly Cora-Lei, understood that they had to lead by example.  Jillian tried again to organize a tribal effort by reinstating a walking program that had failed in the past.  The turnout was huge and it seemed like a new beginning for the Yavapai-Apaches.

In six weeks, Delores, who was only able to walk very slowly when Jillian arrived, lowered her glucose and cholesterol and lost 18 pounds.  Brandon, a once pre-diabetic, lost 52 pounds and decreased his blood sugar by 30 percent.  Delight lost 30 pounds and it seemed her spirits were also lighter.  Cora-lei lost 33 pounds, six dress sizes and looked fantastic.  To inspire the community to get healthier, the family, funded by Jillian’s donation, started a five-week-program for the tribe.  Lesson learned this week?  Your future is whatever you make it. 

What did you think of last night’s episode? Chime in below.

Love this? Read these:
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-Is Jillian a trainer or psychologist?
-Jillian Michaels, our fitness icon

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