Jillian Michaels, You Are Our Fitness Idol

Last week, we talked to tough girl Jillian Michaels about her new book, Master Your Metabolism, her fitness regimen, what we can do to lose weight and a little something called The Biggest Loser—maybe you've heard of it. Find out what got Jillian riled up, why she advocates natural foods and products and what she really thinks of Jif (yeah, like the peanut butter). Her confidence and positivity is contagious. Did I mention that we're obsessed with her? Thanks to you guys, we got some great questions. And, she happily answered.

Here is the first part of our candid interview—questions asked by you, answered for you.

Several of you asked this question and the same question caused a slight Biggest Loser scandal this season. Jillian sets the record straight once and for all.

NSD: I have always been told if you work out a lot you can gain muscle that makes the scale show you have gained weight. Is this true? –Melissa

Jillian: No! The reality is that if you are restricting your calories and you’re working your ass off, the likelihood of you putting on a significant amount of muscle is next to none. We have contestants that, over the course of eight months, the most amount of muscle they gain is 11 pounds—that’s like 1.2 pounds a month. And, that’s with me beating the sh*t out of them for hours a day. So, the average person exercising six hours a week will not—the answer is no!

What can be happening is that your muscles bloat up and retain fluid because they’re inflamed. They’re literally injured and rehabilitating and repairing themselves, so they may make your jeans fit tighter. When you see contestants on The Biggest Loser gaining a pound, they’re bloated. They’re holding water because of the intensity of their workouts. This is something that I’ve learned to manage with electrolytes, but the show took electrolytes away because they won’t let them take anything now, not even electrolyte mix. When Kristin went home last week, everyone was wondering why she went home… well, it’s because they took the electrolytes out of the house and she gained a pound! Bottom line: you can bloat up, but it’s not about muscle.

NSD: How do I lose post-pregnancy pounds? –Jessica and LaTisha

This is such an interesting question because there’s no difference! Obviously, talk to your doctor about breastfeeding. There are a couple different theories. One theory is that if you breastfeed, you lose weight. The other is that if you breastfeed beyond a certain point, your body will keep some of the weight on because you’re constantly putting out milk. I’m just going to say that I believe in breastfeeding because of the bond that it creates between mother and child and all of the natural immunity-boosting nutrients that you get in breast milk. Unless you’ve had a Cesarean section, it’s simple—work out and eat less. You don’t need to eat for two when you’re breastfeeding—none of that is true. Eat between 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day and move your body—do it in a way that you enjoy. Hopefully, do it intensely and 4 to 5 hours a week. You take it off the same way that anybody else does. The more often you do it the better. Unless you’ve had a C-section, then you’ve got to be more slow about it.

NSD: I've turned 60 and my weight loss is consistently slow. Do our bodies just respond differently as we get older?  evebak

Jillian: Your hormone balance definitely changes as you get older, but again, it comes down to what you can affect on your own. Let’s look at Madonna or Demi Moore. They’re in their 50s and I’ll venture to say that their bodies are better than mine and I’m more than 15 years younger than both of them. It definitely has to do with how much you’re exercising, how much you’re sleeping, what types of foods you’re eating and the medications you’re taking. If you’ve got 60 years of poisoning your body, then sure [it’s tougher]. Look at Bob, he’s 43! It’s about how you take care of yourself at any age.

NSD: What are the best foods to eat before and after a workout? –Margie

Jillian: Never work out on an empty stomach or you’ll lose muscle mass because your body will convert muscle into glucose. Eat about 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to working out so you have enough blood sugar. You want to be fueled, but you don't want to get cramped because your stomach is full. Get a good combination of complex carbohydrates, healthy fat and protein. Have a handful of raw walnuts and an apple, almond butter on half an Ezekiel English muffin, or low-fat organic yogurt and organic berries.

NSD: Several of our readers have asked about what to do after they have lost a significant amount of weight. What advice do you have for those that are unhappy with how their bodies look post weight loss?

Jillian: It’s a common question I get. These are your choices if you’re skin has not rebounded in a way that you’d like it to. You’re skin is an organ and how much it’s going to have resilience and rebound is based on genetics, age, ethnicity and gender—it’s not anything you can control. There’s not a right or a wrong way to lose weight. It has nothing to do with the speed in which you lose weight. Ultimately, you’ve got what you’ve got. It would be different if you were putting on shea butter while the skin was stretching, but there’s nothing you can do after the fact. The damage is done when the skin is stretching.

Your other option is a body tuck. It’s extremely expensive. It’s extremely painful. And, it leaves a huge amount of scarring. But, a lot of The Biggest Loser contestants do it. If that’s something you want to pursue, then I completely understand it. I’m also a person that happens to love scars. For me, they represent experience, surviving something. Yeah, alright, you might not be perfect. Your skin might be a little loose. You might have stretch marks—It’s a bummer and I get that it sucks. But the reality of it is, you’re significantly healthier and you look significantly better. Use that to always remind you of what you’ve done and how far you’ve come. It’s also about the pair of eyes that you’re seeing through. Do you choose to see it as disgusting or do you choose to see it as a source of inspiration and representation of your strength? It’s a matter of attitude. There are only two options: change your attitude or get a body tuck. One is expensive and painful and one is not—it's your choice.

NSD: I'm a fifth grader and I weigh more than 200 pounds. I was wondering if you ever thought about having a kid’s Biggest Loser. There are plenty of overweight kids in America that need help. I've tried to lose weight but it hasn't worked. I need more motivation and everyone that has tried to help me (trainers, parents, coaches) has failed. I need you and Bob. Please help me with any information you might have. –Emily

Unfortunately, because of labor laws, we cannot do a child’s version of the show. It’s very complicated in regard to legalities. They have done versions of it on Noggin, but it’s really difficult to get around.

My best advice to Emily is that I’ll ask her to make it a little more simple. I would love for her to find an activity that’s she’s interested in. Whether it’s martial arts—and, that’s what it was for me—gymnastics, or dance, find something that you're intrigued by and participate in it. Find anything that’s going to be a good outlet, physically and emotionally, where you can build a support group. Fitness for kids should be fun. When you start making it about them getting on a treadmill or criticizing them, they interpret it as just that, conditional love. And, it tends to make them rebel and go in the opposite direction. I wish there was a way I could get her on the show. She’s capable of changing anything. I was 175 pounds in sixth grade, so if I could do it, she can do it.

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