On her stop at the General Motors Centre in Oshawa this past Sunday, May 19, to present her “Maximize Your Life” Tour, Jillian Michaels appeared tiny but very comfortable in front of the audience, simply dressed in jeans, a yellow top and flip flops. But those of you who have watched this personal trainer and nutrition expert for 11 seasons in the very successful TV show The Biggest Loser, will know that this pint-sized woman’s personality is larger than life. She toured across North America to try to bring her message to thousands of adoring fans, who got inspiration, health and nutrition tips but more importantly she showed everyone who came to see her the right path to a better, healthier self.
The “Maximize Your Life” Tour began at Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall at the beginning of April, stopping at the General Motors Centre in Oshawa before closing at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on May 21st. The presentation was very intimate, just her and a giant screen (which made her look even tinier) behind her. She spoke to her captivated audience for over two hours, and they hung on every word Michaels said, hoping to get the magic potion to achieving the life transformations that so many contestants have achieved on The Biggest Loser. “Each and everyone of us is special,” said Michaels. “Why not you? You want to know the secret of my success? I’ve become a very rich woman saying this over and over and over again: ‘Eat less and move more.’ And I’ve been laughing all the way to the bank saying this,” she said, breaking the ice by making the audience laugh from the get-go.
From there she went over so many different facts regarding nutrition and health, some of them actually really shocking, but she did so in a very funny and engaging manner. The mean, badass, expletive-throwing Jillian people have come to know and love from the show came to the forefront frequently, but because her audience knows her so well from having watched her for so long, they know that she may seem downright cruel at times, but she means well. Plus she’s very funny. She emphasized the need to do calorie-counting (and she has a formula based on gender, age, height and body weight to calculate the maximum number of calories one should consume per day), because she says that even though the task might seem tedious, most people usually stick to the same routine day in and day out, and having something different on rare occasions, so it’s actually not that difficult to count calories on routine meals. She also urged the audience to read food labels, some of them quite misleading like the ones that have 56 different names for sugar so they can get away with adding insane amounts of it to products without being liable for it. Some companies have found a loophole: use a minuscule serving size and say there’s zero calories in the product, misleading the public into thinking that eating the whole thing is healthy. She urged everyone to “turn up your bullcrap meter. And if you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it.”
Michaels also encouraged members of the audience to try to sleep well and manage stress better; factors, she says, that are deeply detrimental to our overall health. Poor quality of foods you eat can rob you, she says, of years and quality of life. Although she didn’t list all the products that she endorses, she advised audience members to visit her website to check out the “Clean 15” and the “Dirty Dozen” products she has on there. Some of the products on the Dirty Dozen were quite surprising. She promotes eating fruits and vegetables that have a thick skin and a rind (melon, pineapple, bananas, avocado, oranges, grapefruit), but discouraged people from eating those with a thin skin (tomatoes, green peppers, apples and peaches, amongst others– shocking!) because she says they absorb more chemicals, which is really toxic for our bodies. Michaels is also a big supporter of eating beef (“This bitch is going to need a hamburger from time to time!”) because they have vitamins and minerals the human body needs, but she encourages people to eat organic, as opposed to genetically modified beef, which contains many things that are damaging to our health.
And of course, she encouraged people to move and exercise, but she’s not a big proponent of spending your life at the gym– which, by the way, she says she hates, doesn’t have time for and can only do half an hour three or four times a week. The secret, she says, is to exercise in such a way that it targets all the muscles in your body, and she pointed out to some circuit training (available on her website) to do this. “If you want to lose your ass, you need to move your ass. Fast.”
Besides giving the audience a lot of information, facts and tips that will lead to better health, Michaels shared with the audience a video piece where she told her story of personal and body image struggles as a teenager (at some point she was 170 lbs) and the road to becoming what and who she is today, identifying in this part of her talk negative aspects in our lives that may hold us back: adult obligations and responsibilities, shame, fear, regret. She encouraged the audience to build up on that and use those negative experiences to grow. It was a very inspiring, intimate and personal evening where she shared with everyone not just her own journey to becoming “America’s Health and Wellness Guru”, but also health, nutrition and exercise tips that anyone can follow to achieve their goals. Hopefully all those in attendance will take her message of empowerment (“Imagine, believe, achieve.”) and one step at a time begin the journey back to health– and without having to sacrifice having a succulent hamburger every once in a while!