Q&A Jillian Michaels of 'The Biggest Loser' brings her 'Maximize Your Life' tour to North Charleston

Jillian Michaels

Trainer Jillian Michaels from TV's "The Biggest Loser" is touring the country with her motivational talk, "Maximize Your Life," and will bring it to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Saturday.

She took some time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about health, wellness and her current tour.

Q: The data on obesity rates is starting to show some signs of improvement, particularly in the really young, but do you think we, as a nation, are starting to turn the ship around on the problem?

A: I think this is an issue that needs to be fought on a myriad of fronts, all the way from big government to big food, federal policy to state policy and, most importantly, personally. I am glad to witness a victory of any kind on the health/obesity front, but still appreciate how much work we have left to do here.

Q: In the U.S., what are we doing right and what are we doing wrong in regards to obesity?

A: As individuals, we need to take responsibility. Ultimately, even when all odds are against us with regard to food policy, we can still choose to eat less and more. It's a matter of perspective and priority.

As a nation that has food policy, we are doing much wrong. We are rewarding big food and big agriculture for poisoning our people and our planet with billions of subsidy tax dollars.

I could literally talk for hours on this topic, but to cover the very basic fundamentals, I'd like to see our tax dollars go to small farms that grow fruits and vegetables sustainably and raise organic livestock as opposed to factory farms and genetically modified heavily sprayed corn and soy to create poisonous processed foods.

I'd like to see a mandate that government organizations buy at least 10 percent of their foods locally, or within 100 miles, from hospitals to schools to military bases. I'd like to see grants for cities that bring in farmers markets and so on.

Q: What can people expect to get out of coming to your "Maximize Your Life" show?

A: Expect epiphanies as to why you may feel stuck or unfulfilled in various aspects of your life. Count on feeling informed and empowered to harness your potential, push through fear, and turn these things around in order to achieve your life goals.

Q: I saw that you competed in the Malibu Triathlon last year and was the top celebrity finisher. Was that your first triathlon or are you an avid triathlete?

A: No. I hate endurance sports. It was my first tri. I'm glad I did it, but I should definitely practice that swim should I ever attempt it again.

Q: Rather than weight loss, do you ever suggest people choose an event to train for - a triathlon, marathon or other contest - to achieve fitness goals?

A: I believe that inspiration is unique to each individual and they should turn to any behavior or incentive that motivates them. Many like to train for a specific event be it a tri or a wedding. I think goal-oriented training can be very helpful to many and I highly recommend it.

Q: CrossFit continues to be a strong force in fitness in the United States. What do you think of the regimens and the culture?

A: I don't like to knock anything that people are passionate about. I do feel the trend of "extreme fitness," be it crazy adventure races or crazy cross fit workouts, are unnecessary and often causes extreme injuries.

With regard to CrossFit, I would simply say make sure you have a very educated instructor that has been doing it for at least five years.

In addition, I find CrossFit to consist of the same 20 or so exercises. In order to train more holistically, I suggest other fitness modalities, from yoga to kick boxing, to round out your training, thereby conditioning the muscles in different ways and from varied angles of push and pull.

Q: Likewise, personal training has taken off in the past decade. Do you have any general recommendations on what to look for in a trainer and how long you need to use one?

A: Look for a certified instructor that is also insured. Look for someone who has at least five years experience. Ask for referrals. Meet with several trainers and pick the one you see yourself bonding with. Be sure to hire a personal trainer whose passion is this job, not someone killing time on their way to a different career.

Q: Who were some of the fitness gurus in your life and what drove you to be fit?

A: I actually don't see myself as a fitness guru, which I think is what set me apart a bit. I have become very good at fitness, but only because it's a tool I utilize to redefine self-image quickly and empower people in all facets of their lives. It's one tool of many I use to help people build their best life, not just their best body. So people who have inspired me in my life aren't necessarily from a fitness background. I appreciate strong individuals who bucked the status quo to help people with less opportunity do more, be more and have more.

Q: There's a lot of talk about the Paleo diet. And there's was a good study on the Mediterranean diet. Do you think there is a diet that makes sense?

A: Diet is very simple: Count calories and avoid chemicals. If someone wants to be Paleo or vegan, then God bless, but it's very strict, hard to maintain and unnecessary.

I have studied both diets and both are not ideal for optimal health, but again, if done properly and thoroughly, both can be healthy. Vegans need to be very wise about supplementation and food combining. Paleos need to be mindful of going organic with all their meat. Non-organic meat is incredibly unhealthy. In addition, too much meat is hard on the body. I recommend a balance of organic proteins, lots of plants and whole grains.

Q: In regard to maintaining a healthy weight, there's always debate on how much importance is placed on exercise and how much on eating a healthy diet. How much do you place on each?

A: Think of it as 50/50. Both are equally important as a means to lose weight and maintain optimal health.

Reach David Quick at 937-5516.

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