'The Biggest Loser' trainer Jillian Michaels: I'm not trying to win a popularity contest or be liked
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 01/06/2013
The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels is returning for the show'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 also answered some questions pertaining to health and exercise.
Below is the concluding portion of Jillian's call. Click here to read the first half.
What made you want to return to The Biggest Loser? Was it something a producer said to you to convince you?
Jillian Michaels: Honestly, I mean, they're obviously -- the fans like having the band back together again. And I respect that, and it's exciting that we're taking on childhood obesity.
But the truth of the matter is that what really did push this over the edge for me was the addition of [executive producer Lisa Hennessy]. Having her at the helm, her vision, her energy has really changed the show in so many amazing ways.
And it's a pleasure to come to work. It's, you know, she listens to my ideas. She doesn't always incorporate them, but sometimes she does, and she creates just a very fair environment that is thoughtful and caring. So to be truthful, she is a huge reason of why I decided to come back.
I was just wondering if you were aware of like the petitions and the articles and stuff that seem to be based from people who have never watched the show, saying that you're fat chaining and starving children.
Jillian Michaels: Oh wow.
So how are you going to change that perception?
Jillian Michaels: Well of course. With that said, you know, I'm no stranger to -- it's the people who like to project hatred. So you're not going to change that. You know, if they don't like me, if they don't like the show, then they don't like it no matter what we do.
With that said, a more neutral open-minded person without an unconscious agenda, because I guarantee you those are probably people that have felt that way as children and are now projecting their feelings of, "I was chained, I was starved, I was ostracized" on to the show. That's not at all it and it won't be reality of what's going on.
When people watch the show, they're going to see that we care about the kids, we're supporting the kids. The kids are inspirations themselves and they will subsequently learn to appreciate and respect what we're trying to do.
And another argument that I had -- because we argued every single side of this before we took it on -- and looked at was, "Okay, you know, where do we need to be really safe and careful and what are the possible pitfalls here?"
And one of the things that was said to me is that, "What if we don't take this on? Doesn't that make us irresponsible for not addressing it? Aren't we required to address it with his huge platform?"
And it's more a matter of how we're taking on that challenge. Because I think, in truth, we sort of are obligated to do something about it. And I for one, having been overweight and having had two children and being the one on the show with the biggest target on her back, I'm extremely proud in the way that we've managed it, gone about it and in the progress that these kids have made personally and physically.
I wanted to ask, what was your initial impression of The Biggest Loser contestant Thomas "TC" Pool and did that change during his time on your team?
Jillian Michaels: Oh okay. You know, oh gosh this is tough because I can't give away what's happened. Okay, I think that TC is a very loving, very sweet man, very much locked into a victim mentality.
In the beginning, he very much had created a story of being the weak one, being the failure, being the letdown, being, you know, pathetic, lazy -- that whole story that often these contestants can tell themselves and subsequently buy into and re-create through repetition compulsions over the course of their lives.
What I can tell you is that in the time I spent with him, I did begin to see an awareness, an awakening, a tapping into of his capability and potential. But to say more unfortunately would give away points of the show that I don't believe I'm actually able to share at this time.
I just wanted to ask about your approach to motivation, because I suspect that some people might see it as a little bit bullying. And I wondered, do you find that that ever backfires on you, that approach?
Jillian Michaels: Gosh it really depends. I truly only use an intense and aggressive approach when I've exhausted all other options. In addition, in looking at the show, you have to understand you have people that are killing themselves. This is a life or death intervention.
They are essentially in rehab for a life threatening food addiction and they go home. So we have a ticking clock. They may have a week. They may have two. And I will do whatever I can to attempt to change their mind or get through to them or have a light bulb "ah ha" moment.
It's not as though we have three years and they can be in therapy. And unfortunately, The Biggest Loser is not that environment. So if you cannot reach them when they are there, chances are, they may never be reached.
So, you know, again I'm no stranger to criticism. People don't like me, they don't like me. I'm not here to be liked. I'm not trying to win a popularity contest. I'm trying to help people save their own lives. And I think myself and the show have done a pretty good job of that up until this point.
Your tone with the kids on the show this season is much gentler and not nearly as extreme. How do you sort of come to that approach with the kids and did you decide to do something different than what you would do with the adult contestants?
Jillian Michaels: You can't be serious? You are joking with that question right? I mean, it's like you're like asking me if I was a cop interrogating somebody, do I go home and interrogate my children?
Like of course we're going to handle this in a completely different way. First of all, they're children. They are not 100% percent responsible for their circumstance or their ability to get better. An adult is going to go home. Kids are not going to go home.
Kids are far more fragile and vulnerable. And the reality is that with the kids, we need to build constantly. There is no break. It's all builds. So of course we're going to be handling the kids in a 180 degree different way than the adults. And with that said, I mean, I obviously was an overweight kid and I have two kids. So the question almost seems absurd of you to ask.
Above is the concluding portion of Jillian's call with reporters. Click here to read the first half.