Jillian Michaels: A child's health should be a family affair
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/28/2012
Jillian Michaels will be returning as a trainer for The Biggest Loser's fourteenth season, which will feature 15 adult contestants and three teen participants and is set to premiere with a two-night event on Sunday, January 6 at 9PM ET/PT and Monday, January 7 at 8PM ET/PT.
Jillian will be joining host Alison Sweeney and returning trainers Bob Harper, whom she has worked alongside on every The Biggest Loser season she has participated in, and Dolvett Quince, who joined the show two seasons ago following her most recent departure.
In addition to the 15 fourteenth-season adult contestants, The Biggest Loser will also be attempting to tackle childhood obesity by featuring a group of teenagers 13-17 years of age for the first time in the show's history. Childhood obesity expert and pediatrician Dr. Joanna Dolgoff will assist the kids in getting healthy and achieving their personal goals.
During a recent conference call with reporters, Jillian talked about the upcoming season of The Biggest Loser and answered some health and exercise questions.
Below is the initial portion of Jillian's call. Check back with Reality TV World next week for more.
Could you talk a little bit about the new format with the kids?
Jillian Michaels: Of course, okay. Well the show hasn't changed, but the role of the kids on it, they are not contestants. We're calling them participants. So each team or each trainer has one child that they're assigned to, and the kid is a member of the team but they don't weigh in. They don't get eliminated.
We work with them at home and they make routine visits to The Biggest Loser ranch. It's more about setting goals for them like, "I want to be a part of the softball team, I want to be on the cheerleading team, I want to take part in [unintelligible] dancing," and helping them live a healthier lifestyle, teaching them how to make the foods they eat healthier, how to incorporate foods that are less healthy in a healthier way in moderation with balance.
It's all about building their self-esteem and educating them and subsequently giving them the support they need with their families -- trying to get the parents onboard, trying to get the parents the information so they can also be a part of a healthy lifestyle. It's not just about the child and singling them out. It's about making their entire family healthy so they have the support they need at home as well.
What are your personal views on childhood obesity and why it is such a huge epidemic?
Jillian Michaels: Well honestly, this is an issue that needs to be fought on a myriad of fronts. We can look at everything from our local government, our state government, our federal government, funding of PE, cheap food, big business, and we can blame all of those things.
But unfortunately, it's also more complex. It has to do with family dynamic as well and parents' lack of information. And it could be things like parents that love their kids with food, parents that are overweight themselves and associate food with love -- that's a reward. It's very complicated unfortunately.
We are attempting to combat it personally within the family dynamic by providing awareness towards education. Dealing with this on a federal level or a state level is extremely complex. I've been trying to do that my entire career and have made very little movement.
As I think you see in other experts in my area like Jamie Oliver, [they also do] not make much progress. So while I think that it's easier obviously to buy the cheap fast food, if we can motivate and educate families then it doesn't matter if they're not being supported by the government or by big business. They will have the ability to choose more wisely, to eat healthy in a more formal way and to move more with their kids.
I wanted to ask you, what do you think is the biggest diet mistake that everyone makes?
Jillian Michaels: Okay, the first and foremost diet mistake, which is the universal rule of weight loss -- mind you, I'm not talking about health but weight loss -- in my opinion, it's calories. They don't understand that you do [unintelligible] creates a calorie deficit. You've got to eat less than your body is burning in a day because fat is stored energy.
So if you're taking in more energy than your burning in a day, you're going to store that energy as fat. And once you can educate people on all this, [like] "There's much energy is in this particular food, here are better food choices, here is how you incorporate these higher calorie less-healthy foods."
Dr. Dolgoff actually has a great system she's created of red light, orange light, green light foods. And I can let her speak to that personally, but she teaches the family, "Okay these red light foods, we get to incorporate these twice a week. And these orange foods, here's how often you incorporate that -- green foods, all the time." But for the general public, you must understand calories in, calories out.
What advice would you give to parents about how to teach their kids self-acceptance on one hand but then also encourage them to be as healthy as they can be? Because I do think some parents really struggle with how to talk to their kids about weight and body image.
Jillian Michaels: The reality is, you are your kid's primary role model. So if you're sitting there picking yourself apart and talking about how fat you look in these jeans or you're always on a diet or you're speaking poorly of other women in front of your girl or your boy for that matter -- because we're starting to see body issues more and more in boys -- they pick it up.
Then they start to seek value [of themselves] and feel self-conscious and think, "Oh if we're judging this person for that, well I have that." [Unintelligible] does that make me less fat? So first and foremost [for the] insecure, don't pick yourself apart and don't pick other individuals apart based on their health or their weight.
Second, health should be a family affair. So you need to get outside and play with your kids. You need to take better care of your health and yourself, because they're going to follow your lead. It isn't about, "Oh this, you know, [Bingo] is fat," or, "This kid in the family is a problem." -- "Oh you sure you want to eat that honey?" Oh, you know, "We can't keep that in the house because little Bobby is overweight."
All a kid's going to hear is you love them conditionally. You need to love your child unconditionally. And then you need to be a part, or the entire family needs to be a part, of their healthier lifestyle that you then establish. You buy healthier foods, they come in the house.
Do you have any specific advice, especially this time of year, for women who are over 40 -- who are just so sick of gaining and losing the same ten pounds every year and nothing seems to change?
Jillian Michaels: Yes, absolutely. We addressed this a little bit in that you cannot get involved in fad diets. I think that's why people are yo-yoing. They try, you know, "Oh I'm going to do the 17-day thing. Oh no, no, no. Now I'm doing the cookie diet." And the reality is, you've got to eat better. You've get to eat in a balanced way where then you're creating that energy equation of eating less, moving more.
And it's honestly, it really is that simple. When you eat quality foods, you're naturally going to maximize your metabolism and your biochemistry and everything is going to get better -- your health, your immunity, your aging process is going to slow as much as possible, and your weight is going to naturally balance itself out in a healthy way.
So the simple answer to you in a nutshell is, it's common sense. Eat good food, eat in moderation, exercise as often as possible, find something you love that you can do more of whether it's a Zumba class, a class, a spin class, or fly wheel. You like to run, run. And that is the answer. There is no sort of secret answer that we're all holding out, you know? Does that make sense?
During the holidays, do you ever let it go? I mean, will you eat stuff like pumpkin pie, and also, what's your advice on how to control it at the holidays?
Jillian Michaels: For me in general, I like to practice an 80/20 rule. So 20% percent of the calories in my day I allow myself to have the glass of wine, you know, a piece of pumpkin pie or a smaller piece of pumpkin pie. When it comes to the holiday season, I like to tell people it isn't about, "This is the season where I binge and every Christmas party I drink like crazy and eat like crazy."
Pick two key days and say, "All right, on Christmas or on New Year's, I'm going to indulge and allow myself to, you know, go a little bit crazy." With that said, the rest of the time, you should stay on your regimen. You should continue to exercise. If you're traveling, bring exercise DVDs with you, get a guest pass at a local gym.
When you're making choices or going to parties, bring a healthier dish with you. Choose the healthier options that are there. It isn't that hard. And, you know, make it white meat, not dark meats. Make a green bean casserole -- I'm sorry instead of a green bean casserole, green beans with a little olive oil, a little lemon and some slivered almonds.
The idea here is 80/20 rule, most of the time, pretty much the entire holiday season 20% percent of your daily calories can be unhealthy, 80% percent have to be healthy -- and then pick two days and indulge on those days.
Above is the initial portion of Jillian's call. Check back with Reality TV World next week for more.