“Losing it” with Jillian Michaels

Did you watch it? If you missed it, you missed a great show. Celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels travels to Wilmington, Mass., where she meets a father who underwent an unsuccessful gastric bypass surgery and a mother who is scheduled to undergo the procedure before their daughter’s wedding.

The show starts with some pretty amazing sound bites. Here are a few:

  • “I am afraid of exercise”
  • “2/3 of American adults are overweight”
  • “Obesity costs us over $150 billion a year”
  • “You are at risk for a heart attack, you are at risk for a stroke. Change your ways or dig your grave with a spoon and fork.”
  • “I don’t want to be fat anymore.
  • “My goal is to be a better dad to you.”

…and my favorite, from Jillian herself, “Why are you going to choose failure when success is an option?”

They meet with Dr. Katja Van Gerle and she delivers the damage. Jim, the father, weighed in at 296 pounds and is over 40% body fat. His “healthy” weight is said to be 170. Agnes, the mom, weighed in at 261 pounds and is carrying a body fat of over 56%. She heard those numbers and through tears claims, “I was obsessed with food.” They have two children, Michael and Michelle. Michael weighed in at 239 and Michelle was 260 pounds before she had gastric bypass surgery.

This family needed help. Jillian answered the call. She calls the house and tells them they have 20 minutes to get to the gym. Jillian wastes no time at all! At the gym, she starts with some jumping jacks (to assess their cardio and movement ability) then quickly move into pushups. Agnes quits 10 minutes into the workout. Jimbo, the father, quits shortly after. Jillian leaves the gym. But she knew she would be followed.

She waited.

Agnes came back out and tried to reason with Jillian. Really? Has Agnes ever seen the Biggest Loser? You don’t “reason” with Jillian Michales. The workout continued without another blowup. Then, the cameras turned on to see what was for dinner. According to Jillian, there were over 6000 calories in the chicken being prepared, and not only were there ZERO vegetables in the meal, but there were zero vegetables in the house! Processed mash potatoes and fried chicken. No wonder they are unhealthy! The next day, JIllian to Michelle (the daughter who does the cooking) to the store. Click here for the list of groceries Jillian recommends.

Then, the drama begins. Jillian uncovers some deep rooted problems within the family. Agnes talks about her son who died after a month and a day 22 years ago. She has never been able to talk about it to Jimbo. Michelle spends the day trying on wedding dresses and is given a compliment at the dinner table. She dismisses it by putting herself down and Jillian calls her out on her crap right there at the table. I love that about Jillian.

Jillian uses fitness as a tool to get through to people. Since Michelle does the cooking, she is the enabler. She wants to make her mom, and especially her dad, happy. Jillian teaches Michelle to stand up for herself. She says, “When someone in your family is sled destructing, you have to say something! Like, “I refuse to watch you kill yourself.””

Many times in life, a tragedy comes along and people don’t have the tools to be able to handle it. A family doesn’t know how to be there for each other in a constructive way. Jillian shows them that it is okay to talk about things. It is okay to be vulnerable and trust each other.

Lastly, Jillian realizes Agnes needs a voice. She needs confidence.

Jillian shows Agnes how to get her husband to move. Then, out of no where, Agnes finds her voice and starts yelling, “I need you in my life. I can not live without you. Come on. We are a team.” She later tells the camera “now I know I have to rock the boat. Jillian showed me that Jimbo will love me no matter what. I didn’t believe that before.”

Then she takes what Jillian taught her and is going to use that to talk to her husband about something she has never been able to talk to him about- the death of their son.

In the living room the next day, Agnes busts out the pictures of James Michael junior, and Jimbo busts into tears. Jimbo proceeds to open up and agrees to finally, after 22 years, to Jimmy junior a head stone. He also vows to cultivate an environment where the family can speak openly about something without being ridiculed.

The Dinner Table
Maybe my favorite part of the show was the dinner table. Everyone is talking about how beautiful Michelle looked when she tried on wedding dresses that day, and she ruins the moment by commenting about how her arms are saggy. Jillian RIPS into her about taking a comment and destroying it by corroding it with negativity. Have you ever beat up a compliment? I can tell you from a guys point of view, we hate it. Do it enough times and the compliments will stop.

I’ll leave you with a few more quotes from Jillian:
Why are you going to choose failure when success is an option?
You have already been to the bottom, why not go to the top?
That’s the thing with gasteroid bypass. Eventhough the inside changed, the head didn’t. You changed a symptom of your core problem, when the core problem is only getting bigger. You have to make a choice.

The family set some goals for Jillian to see in 6 weeks. Spoiler alert! All the goals were achieved.
Michelle wants to learn to love herself so she can love others and lose 20 pounds.
Michael wants to lose 25 pounds, he lost 27.
Agnes wants to lose weight and feel worthy of feelings and love from her family. She looked amazing in her dress.
Jimbo wanted to focus on himself, and lose 50 pounds by the wedding day. And to be a better dad to Michael. And to be a better husband to his wife. He lost 49 pounds. He looked amazing.

See guys? It’s not just about fitness for me. Seeing people get fit is only a small part of why I love my job. The bigger part is about using fitness to rebuild a world so the life is a life worth living!

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As a Leadership Coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL, James Leath teaches athletes from the professional ranks all the way down to elementary school about character and leadership of self, team, coaches and critics. His widely read blog at jamesleath.com is a top resource that educates athletes, coaches, and parents in sport psychology and personal development. James is currently finishing a graduate degree in Performance Psychology.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Remember, there are many ways to motivate athletes to perform well.

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