Jillian Michaels doles out ‘Unlimited’ fitness advice


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As Jillian Michaels hopped onto the stage at the Festival of Books on Saturday afternoon, a woman in the crowd gasped to her friend about Michaels’ shockingly petite and lean figure.

“Hey I heard that small comment,” Michaels shot back playfully. “I’ll have you know I have a towering personality.”


It is that personality that has propelled Michaels to fame as one of the personal trainers whipping contestants into shape on “The Biggest Loser.” She has spent seven years (11 seasons) on the weight- loss TV show and announced last year that the current season would be her last.

Michaels recalled her experience on ‘Loser’ frequently during her talk with L.A. TImes staff writer Rene Lynch, saying that leaving fellow trainer Bob Harper was difficult. But she’s ready to start a family and maybe do something more (possibly a daytime talk show), she said.

The exit from ‘Loser’ coincides with the release of her book, “Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional Life.’ She said the book describes the ‘method behind the madness’ and aims to give readers skills with which to achieve individual goals. During the session, Michaels took several questions from the audience, most of which were seeking personal advice. Topics ran the gamut: post-baby fitness, menopause, organic eating and speeding up weight loss.

At times Michaels struggled to find answers to more complicated issues involving diet and exercise. At one point, she even brought her mom, Los Angeles psychotherapist Jo Ann McKarus, on stage to tackle the question of how to mentor people without becoming overwhelmed by their burdens.

When asked by one fan about how quickly he should be shedding pounds, Michaels steered her answer toward a greater, but still relevant issue: using food as an emotional crutch. She stressed the importance of having a support system and tactics in place to stay consistent while dieting in a healthy and realistic way.

“We all have coping mechanisms. It’s just that those of us who utilize food get to wear it and everybody gets to see our issues,” she said.


Michaels has talked publicly about her own struggle with weight as a child and finding fitness through martial arts.

Some of the tough-love attitude Michaels shows on TV came out during the half-hour discussion. When a woman asked about what it means to have succeeded in every area of life but failed in weight loss, Michaels started to answer and then let out a sigh.

‘It’s affording you something, honey,’ she said.

--Caitlin Schneider