*Image courtesy of jillianmichaelspics.blogspot.com
When I think about fitness, one of the first people who pops into my head is Jillian Michaels. Rising to fame as the strength coach on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, Michaels developed a reputation as a tough, no-nonsense type of person who wasn’t afraid to tell the contestants the truth about themselves (no matter how harsh). On the show, Michaels exuded such confidence, which she should have considering she was (and still is!) extremely in shape and successful. However, Michaels’ life wasn’t always so easy and she definitely had to work through some struggles to get to where she is today.
As a child, Michaels was plagued with constant psychological issues. Every night Michaels would have severe night terrors and would constantly wake up in a panic. According to biography.com, Michaels stated “I was a really disturbed kid. You know how kids have night terrors? Mine were really bad. I thought sharks were coming out of the drain in the bathtub. I couldn’t sleep at night, every night, waiting for aliens to come. I’m not kidding you: I. Was. Traumatized.”
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At the age of 5, Michaels’ mother started her in therapy to help her with her issues. According to Michaels, the therapy was a big help and the night terrors started to diminish. In fact, Michaels still goes to therapy to this day because she believes it gives her the confidence to do what she loves!
However, night terrors weren’t the only issues Michaels faced in her childhood. She also suffered from emotional issues, including low self-esteem, which was made worse by the fact that her parents divorced when she was 12. To cope with her emotions, Michaels took comfort in food, which caused her to gain weight. By eighth grade, Michaels was 5’2’’ and 175 lbs. This did not bode well with middle school bullies (they’re the worst!), as they teased Michaels constantly.
“Once,” Michaels recalls on biography.com, “I was sitting at lunch and got surrounded by a bunch of kids who let me have it about how ugly I was—my unibrow, the size of my nose, the fat rolling over my jeans. It was pure hell. My mom had to pull me out and put me in another school.”
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Because of the constant bullying, Michaels wanted to take steps to redefine herself. She enrolled herself in martial arts classes which while being good exercise, also taught her to respect herself. By the age of 14, Michaels had regained control of her weight and had pushed away the bullies. Her life was starting to look up.
When Michaels was 17, her relationship with her mother became very strained, causing her mother to eventually kick Michaels out of the house. Now on her own, Michaels decided to attend California State University, while also bartending to support herself. Michaels finally got her big break in 2004, when she was cast in The Biggest Loser as a personal trainer. Although she developed the reputation as “the mean one” on the show, Michaels insists that it is all for motivation.
“I really don’t have a mean bone in my body!” said Michaels on biography.com. “Do you know how easy it would be to tell people what they want to hear? It would be heaven! But, unfortunately, it doesn’t get the job done.”
Michaels success continued to grow, because in 2010 Michaels launched her own reality show on NBC entitled Losing It With Jillian (check out a clip here). Michaels also has published numerous bestselling books, has her own video work-out series, and even her own clothing line of work-out attire (purchase here). I would say her life is looking pretty good right now, and Michaels has definitely earned it all. However, she doesn’t want to stop there.
“I would like to win a Nobel Prize,” Michaels stated on biography.com. “In a perfect world I’d like to get to that place where I walk away from everything. And then I can be pure Bill Gates. Cure smallpox. I want to turn around and be like, ‘I cured smallpox. How about those apples?’ You know what I mean? Or, like, ‘I reversed global warming. How ’bout that?'”
If anyone could change the world, it would be Michaels. With all the adversity she’s overcome, I’m confident Michaels could do just about anything.
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