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Tough Cookie: Jillian Michaels

Photo by Andrew Southam

Jillian Michaels, The Biggest Loser trainer once famous for her puke-faint-or-die mentality now relishes the simple things, like motherhood—and brownies.

For Jillian Michaels, the toughlove trainer of The Biggest Loser fame, last May was a life-changer. Her partner Heidi Rhoades gave birth to their son, Phoenix, and within a week, the couple brought adopted daughter, Lu, home from Haiti.

One year of motherhood has given the fitness guru a radical appreciation for keeping things simple. Her new streamlined approach is at the heart of the recently published Slim for Life: My Insider Secrets to Simple, Fast, and Lasting Weight Loss.

“I think in the past, things [I recommended] might have been too complicated and overwhelming,” says Michaels. “My new book is less about science and more about simple instructions.”

A new perspective is one of many changes that came in the wake of Michaels’ motherhood. The famous trainer left The Biggest Loser in 2011 to focus on raising her family with Rhoades. But eventually, her desire to help kids lead healthier, happier lives led her back to the show for its 14th season, which included three overweight teens in its cast.

Michaels says the opportunity to work with young people resonated in more ways than one. Her own struggles with her weight as a kid immediately helped her to empathize with the contestants.

“Kids used to make horse and cow sounds at me in the hallways or draw pigs on my locker. Not fun times,” she says. “I understand what these kids are going through—at school, with their friends—because I went through that, too. While I understand it’s hard, I also know it’s possible to get  t. And I also know how empowering it can be.”

Plus, Michaels says, “As a mother to two young children of my own now, [childhood obesity] hits home more than ever. I am determined to make a difference.”

The star famous for a no-holds-barred approach to coaching says that motherhood has changed “every single thing about my life: my priorities, the way I spend my time, everything.”

What hasn’t changed is her desire to stay healthy, which she says is “more powerful now than it ever was before.”

“I love my kids more than I can put into words, and it has been such an amazing experience to watch them grow and discover the world around them,” Michaels explains. “I don’t want to miss a minute of their lives, and I know now more than ever how important it is that I take care of myself so I can watch them grow for years and years to come.” ■