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Jillian Michaels: How to maximise your life

November 5th 2014 / Emma Gunavardhana

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Emma Gunavardhana caught up with Jillian Michaels to get a few life lessons and find out what to expect from her UK tour

Who isn’t looking to ‘do life better’? But with so much information about what diet, which fitness plan, the right work ethic and the best way to parent, it’s easy to get caught in the maelstrom of information and feel in a directionless and confused spin. This is where Jillian Michaels comes in. She’s not just someone with the gift of the gab who makes self-help and self-improvement sound good; she’s been there, done it and every day she lives it.

Her Maximise Your Life tour is coming to UK shores for the first time in January after a hugely successful run in the States where Michaels found fame as one of the trainers on The Biggest Loser. This isn’t just a woman who points out the simplicity of the ‘eat less, move more’ principle, she’ll jump on your treadmill and won’t let you get off until you’ve found your inner Usain Bolt. In her own words, ‘Failure is recoverable and a necessity of success as it’s integral to learning. Doing nothing is the only true failure.’ But this isn’t an ordinary drill sergeant approach; Michaels may be known for raising her voice, but she empathises in a way that allows her to initiate real change. She’ll stay with you on your journey, but will never shy away from giving you the gift of truth.

We asked Jillian those all-important questions of what to do when you’ve hit a plateau, how to get out of a rut and how to get what you really want out of life…

If someone feels they are banging their head against a brick wall and getting no results from diet and exercise, what advice would you give them?

In a matter of seconds I can help someone understand the simple science of weight loss and facilitate immediate success for them. If they have the information, but aren’t motivated to use it… this is what we delve into in the live show.

What is the process for maximising your life?

I help people connect with their passions and cultivate them. I teach them how to move through fear and then give them the knowledge and action so when they do get vulnerable and take the necessary risks in life they are set up to succeed. Over time these small successes gradually redefine someone’s self image.

What’s the one thing a person could do today, right now, to ensure they are on track for reaching their fitness goals?

When it comes to fitness, results are easily facilitated if you do the following: hit the gym four to six times a week for 30-60 minutes. When you train, workout at 85% of your maximum heart rate and don’t eat more calories than you burn in a day.

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What’s the one thing a person could stop doing today, right now, which is otherwise going to prevent them from hitting their goals?

Jettison the belief you are a victim. This fundamentally disempowers us and tells us we are hopeless to change our current circumstances because we feel life happens to us as opposed to us happening to life. While it’s true there are times in our lives where we have been out of control and bad things happen that were unavoidable and unfair, how we choose to manage these things and respond to them is what makes all the difference in the long run.

Have you noticed the language of fitness change, especially among women, since you started in the industry?

I have been doing this since I was 17 years old and a lot has definitely changed. That said, while progress is a wonderful thing, effective fitness is pretty simple. Move your body. Do it from as many angles of push and pull as possible. Do it at 85% of your maximum heart rate, be consistent… I love all the nuanced science of fitness, but I find it intimidates people who are not trainers, so simple is better.

How have you managed plateaus when you’ve hit them and how do you get beyond them mentally?

I don’t hit them because I know how to train myself and others around them. The key to avoiding plateaus is variety and progression. If you feel that you are doing this and the weight isn’t coming off, it’s often stress from hard training. In these instances, take a few days off. Eat a couple of hundred extra calories for several days and then return to your regime. They weight should continue to fall off after this.

You have made your passion your career - what advice would you give to people who want to do the same?

We all have dreams for a reason - those dream are our destiny. Your passion is what you are put here to cultivate and share with the rest of the world. If you think that’s silly or irresponsible I am here to tell you it’s the only way to have true success and be emotionally fulfilled as well as financially stable. Many people follow their dreams and make a great living; I was a kid who did lunges to fit into skinny jeans, Coco Chanel was an orphaned seamstress who loved fashion… In life the more security you seek, the less you have, but when you do what you love and allow yourself to be vulnerable the sky's the limit.

If someone is scared to make a change in their life, for fear of leaving ‘the known’ what would you say to them?

This is something we work on specifically during the show. I teach them how to rationalise their fear; how to play out varying scenarios and form a game plan. I shift their perspective on failure so they understand it as an opportunity for learning as opposed to a validation of incompetence. Here is the greatest tip on this: ask yourself what happens if you do nothing… You will find the answer will always be the worst case scenario. With neglect comes decay - not nothing. So success is our motivation.

One person described the tour experience as ‘she makes you want to be a better version of you’ - when did you realise you could tap into people in that way?

I think that I have a unique ability to mobilise people and help them unleash their potential because I personally have been doing this work in my own life for many years now. It’s the personal connection with my audience that shows them I have been where they are and I have managed to transform my failures and losses in life into wisdom, empathy, depth and strength. And ultimately, if I can do it, anyone can with the proper knowledge and support.

What can people expect from the Maximise Your Life tour when it reaches the UK in January?

I take my audience on a journey of self-exploration and give them epiphanies on why and how they hold themselves back and then give them the tools on how to turn their negative attitudes, habits and behaviours into life affirming strategies so they achieve any goal they set for themselves. Expect an evening of information and inspiration.

Tickets for the tour are available here.

Jilian Micheals, The Ultimate Box Set, £24.99, is available here

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