Jillian Michaels: 'Losing It with Jillian' more behind scenes than 'Loser'
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/20/2010
Jillian Michaels feels her new Losing It with Jillian reality series is different from The Biggest Loser in a variety of ways.
"In this show, you will see how physical health and emotional health are really symptoms of deeper problems. We deal with the why, which we do on TheBiggest Loser as well, but you don't see as much of it," Michaels told reporters during a recent media conference call.
"I tend to think of this show as the behind the scenes of The Biggest Loser, all the stuff that America isn't getting to see -- why they got unhealthy and all the tools we implement for them to use at home and so forth."
Losing it with Jillian will premiere Tuesday, June 1 at 10PM ET/PT and follow The Biggest Loser trainer as she temporarily moves in with families and attempts to get them living healthier lifestyles.
Michaels said the fact that the show is filmed away from The Biggest Loser campus is one of the biggest differences.
"When they come to The Biggest Loser they're on my turf and I make the rules and you're in my house now," she explained. "There's no attention to what happens in their home or no kind of respect in being in their environment."
Since they're not on her turf and are instead on their own, Michaels said the families do not lose nearly as much weight as The Biggest Loser contestants.
"We're seeing great numbers but nothing like The Biggest Loser numbers. We're going into people's homes. So that means they're working full time jobs, sometimes over the 40 hours a week. Some of our parents are working 60 hours a week to make ends meet," she explained.
"We're going into homes with two kids, three kids, young kids, teenagers. People are juggling real crazy lives. We're working within their budgets. So we're working with their timeframe and with their economic restrictions and with their environmental restrictions."
Michaels said she was surprised at how Losing It with Jillian's format had to change after meeting with the first family.
"I found that moving in with these families, they already knew the information. We underestimate how intelligent we are as a society and all these families, they were ashamed to show me what was in the fridge, ashamed to make the foods they normally eat," she said.
"That's when we realized that the show wasn't about calories and crunches, that it was more about what the breakdown is and how come people aren't living their dreams and pursuing their destinies and living their best lives."
Michaels said after filming the pilot "the show changed and it became a life makeover."
"That was what was so surprising to me, going in thinking, 'Okay we're going to clean out the cabinets and then we're going to go to the office and clean out the work kitchen,'" she said. "It's not about that at all - not at all."
Another big difference for Michaels is the fact that she's working with young children. While she had classes for children when she owned a sports medicine facility in Beverly Hills, Michaels said her direct contact with them has never been as close as it is on Losing It with Jillian.
"It's pretty intense. I've utilized a lot of the experts on the show to kind of try to understand where it's safe to go and how to support them," she told Reality TV World during the conference call.
"Quite honestly, it has been kind of tough because you don't want to step on parents' toes and a lot of these kids that I've been sort of living with have been bullied in school."
In addition to having to "defer" to "a lot of our experts," Michaels said she also spoke with parents on a regular basis.
"I'm sitting there having a conversation with a 7-year-old about the food, and every sort of conversation I had I would say to the mom, 'I want to talk to her about this. Are you okay with me talking to her about this?' You run it through the parents," she explained to Reality TV World.
"I'd rather not go far enough than go too far. I've been real, real, real careful about it. So, and a little bit walking on eggshells and it's something that I'm learning to juggle."
While Michaels said she used "no scare tactics" on the children, she did run into some adults who were resistant -- which she said was "really hard."
"It's through confrontation and intervention of family friends and loved ones that I've been utilizing that tool to kind of break through to people that are shut down and resistant," she told reporters.
"We have kind of series of events that will occur whether it's our doctor laying it on the line, me going through that first workout where they're like, 'Holy crap I can barely walk or workout for five minutes,' the kids begging and when that stuff doesn't work, I went to something extreme and we tried this intervention and it worked pretty well so I'm hoping it sticks."
Michaels does receive help along the way from celebrity chef Curtis Stone, The Biggest Loser doctor Dr. Robert Huizenga, nutritionist Dr. Cheryl Forberg, and Dr. Kodzi VonHurley -- who provides "full medicals, full physicals."
"Obviously there's a team surrounding Jillian, but I think what we realized as we shot these shows, it's really about the voyage Jillian goes on," executive producer Mark Koops told reporters.
"By going to them it's a very different experience for her from The Biggest Loser. She's really having to attack the why in their local environment which is much harder."
Michaels agreed with Koops and added it was emotionally difficult for her on a level different from The Biggest Loser.
"I don't think that I have cried so much in my entire life," said Michaels, who added she often takes on each family's "personalities."
"I become very empathic with the families. I had to really process that. I think part of it's so that I can understand them and get in their heads and try to help them implement solutions that will work for them as a unique family entity and uniquely as individuals."