Why Jillian Michaels Is “The Biggest Loser”

Celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels rocketed to worldwide fame, boosted by her tough-love, results-driven workout program on the popular TV show, “The Biggest Loser”.  She has parlayed this success into best-selling books, DVDs and infomercials and has helped countless men and women achieve significant weight loss and fitness gains.

As a fellow personal trainer, I don’t care much for Jillian’s particular style, but I did respect her straightforward approach and her scientifically-backed exercise and weight loss strategies.  She has the ability to positively influence a great number of people, but she lost my respect and shot herself in the foot in an interview showcased in the May issue of Women’s Health magazine.

During the interview, Ms. Michaels reveals that she hopes to someday become a mother through adoption.  A commendable undertaking, perhaps, but she adds that she does not want to get pregnant because “I can’t handle doing that to my body.”  Her rationale?  She was overweight as a teen and turned to food for comfort.  Apparently, America’s favorite drill sergeant can’t practice what she preaches.

Through her statements in this article, Jillian Michaels not only highlights the fact that she is vain and self-absorbed, but she also alienates the vast majority of her potential clients and customers.  As a woman and a mother, why would I buy her books and videos if she advertises that pregnancy “ruins” a woman’s body beyond repair?  I might as well resign myself to the couch and a bucket of ice cream.

More importantly, Ms. Michaels devalues the role of motherhood in our society.  She sends the dangerous message that a ripped body is more important than a woman’s most precious gift — the ability to give life.  This way of thinking leads to such atrocities as the hiring of surrogate mothers and “test tube” babies.  Our society can only continue to spiral downward if women can’t be bothered to sacrifice personal comfort and vanity for the sake of their own flesh and blood.

I predict that Jillian Michaels will ultimately be “The Biggest Loser” as the empire she has built slowly collapses.  She has shaken the very foundation of her training plan by advertising that it won’t even work for its creator in the event of pregnancy.  As someone who advocates that discipline and hard work can overcome the greatest fitness challenges, she has completely lost her credibility.  I have faith that most of her following will turn away in disgust and seek out other sources for fitness and health guidance.

The fact is that you can be healthy, fit and beautiful after giving birth.  The emptiness of self-obsession will never compare to the joyful self-sacrifice of motherhood.

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  • Cooky642

    Back in the Stone Age, when I was a girl, my mother used to say that, “Pretty is as pretty does”. My considered opinion was that mother didn’t have 2 brain cells to rub together. Jillian Michaels is another “nail in the coffin” of my childish opinion.

  • Claire

    I too was appalled by her statement. Particularly when she tried to hide her vanity by saying that she wanted to adopt to “rescue” a child. As an adoptive mother, I can tell you that an attitude like that does no child a favor.

  • Kathryn

    The irony is that by not getting pregnant (and carrying to term) she could be risking her body. Failure to have a baby is a risk factor in breast cancer. As is failure to engage in long term nursing.

    Assuming she marries (and/or has a long term male partner), she’s likely to take contraceptive drugs, which mimic pregnancy to some extent (vision changes, weight gain), but don’t give any of the health benefits. Worse, they increase one’s chance of breast cancer.

    There are plenty of celebrity women out there who looked very good before child birth and looked very good afterwards. For myself, I’ve noticed that my “good points” remained good after 3 children, and my “bad points” remained bad after. I can’t see where pregnancy or nursing changed anything.

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  • bambushka

    “Pretty is as pretty does” is one of my bylines also, especially with teenage girls. You show what’s in your heart with what comes out of your mouth; and your actions show your true beauty. Giving new life does change your body; it becomes less self-centered, and more like our Blessed Mother. As far as rescuing a baby, that sounds like she is going to the pound to obtain a pup.

  • suz slu

    Peggy, this is a great article…is there any way to write this as an “open letter’ or a letter to the editor so that Ms. Michaels would actually read it?? SEriously, I think it would be an awesome witness to her to at least be warned; you’ve said what she needs to hear succinctly and lovingly,,,ie, speak the truth in love! Think about it!

  • jmtfh

    0000PS!!! And I mean OOOOPPPPSSSS BIG TIME!

    I too thought your article was spot on, Peggy, until I got to the last paragraph, “The fact is that you can be healthy, fit and beautiful after giving birth.”

    WWWWHHHAAATTT??? Please don’t tell me that you, too, have bought into the lie that pregnant women aren’t beautiful! A woman CAN be healthy, fit and beautiful DURING all nine months of her pregnancy! Women, don’t think you can only be attractive again once you have had that baby!

    I was fit and healthy during all of my pregnancies and when I was pregnant is when I felt the most beautiful! I think that pregnant women do really have a “pregnant glow” about them—it is God’s design for a mother after all, isn’t it?

    Take a look at many of the great works of art–they depict BEAUTIFUL, PREGNANT WOMEN and/or BREASTFEEDING WOMEN (and women with curves were often the ones chosen as the favored beautiful subject!)

    It is only this self-absorbed, post modern world that is obsessed with being ultra-thin and avoiding pregnancy. My point of view is we should all strive to stay fit no matter our vocation or state in life, as our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. If a woman is fit and healthy, it will be easier to become pregnant, have a healthy birthing process and a healthier baby. And let’s not forget breastfeeding! This gets a woman back in shape quicker than anything else!

    Follow God’s designs for your body as women and you will be rewarded with beauty whether or not Vogue would categorize you as a top model!

  • You’re absolutely right! Pregnant women are indeed beautiful, and you can certainly be fit and healthy before, during and after pregnancy.

  • Claire

    Jillian Michaels is so superficial that I’m sure she would never see a woman with a “baby bump” as beautiful. I really feel that her attitude is anti-life.

  • SMG 62

    I read her book, “Mastering Your Metabolism” and even though this book is all about how the foods, medications and hormones we ingest can have an enormous negative impact on our health, she treats the pill like it’s a third rail. There is only the tiniest mention of it as one of the things that can have an impact on your health, and even when she is discussing the chemicals in our water she does not emphasize the increasing amounts of estrogen in our water supply. It struck me as one of those books that says it wants to help improve your health, but will not go THAT politically incorrect to do it.

  • Just to clarify, the book “Mastering Your Metabolism” is written by Jillian Michaels.

  • robbiej

    Yes, Peggy! One can have children AND be beautiful as well. My wife, Jenny and I have been blessed with 5 children, all by natural means (of course!) and I still consider her as beautiful as the day I married her. Maybe even more so. Btw, Jen is a fitness instructor (part-time) and has been since 1984. I don’t know where Ms Michaels got her ideas from but I can’t help but feel sorry for her. I guess it’s all part of the fallacy that we need to look good in order to be loved. God Bless!

  • lauramae

    Yes, Jillian Michaels is viewing motherhood and how it can change the apperance of her body through fear of losing what she has gained. As vehemently as she derides poor nutritional decisions and lack of activity, one could see her progress toward perfectionism with her body and eating habits and finding security in this. The possibility of losing that control over how her body may change has obviously gripped her with so much fear that she can’t envision herself letting that happen. What is needed is a dependence on our Father. This issue is deeper than vanity. It is an issue which shows lack of faith in our God and letting go of our delusional feelings of control. Prayer is needed for this woman and the culture of beauty at all costs that permeates our society. All of us who are mothers or simply women fight this battle personally with ourselves and our daughters. We can be an example of faith and putting nurtition, exercise, and health before the desire of a “perfect” body.
    This comment of hers exposed her vulnerability and perception of being judged by her peers and all the average women she has helped along with her her own fears. Hopefully, the opinions of loving and understanding women and mothers will make themselves known to her as this is what she needs to hear.

  • terrygeorge

    i like the show and we watch it regularly. i’ve often noticed how the trainers often tell people it is time to focus on themselves. it could be unselfish like getting out of co dependent relationships, but it seems selfish and worldly the way they say it. focusing on one’s children is not what made anyone overweight…