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INTERVIEW: Jillian Michaels says you owe THIS to the world

A native of the storied coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina, Julie Sprankles has been a lover of words her entire life. As a Southerner, she certainly has what her mama calls “the gift of gab.” When she’s not writing, Julie can be...

Being the best you

The Biggest Loser’s tough-love trainer Jillian Michaels hits the road this week for her critically acclaimed Maximize Your Life motivational tour, but first the wellness guru sat down with SheKnows to talk about the endeavor and to explore hot health topics like fat-shaming and prioritizing yourself.

Jillian Michaels may have started off as the tough-as-nails fitness foil to coach Bob Harper's softer approach on The Biggest Loser, but it's become clear over time that Michaels has a serious soft side, too. Whether she's breaking through an emotional barrier with one of her own contestants or cheering on one of Harper's or Dolvett Quince's, Michaels has a special knack for connecting with people.

And that's exactly what she plans to do through the Maximize Your Life tour — connect on some level with each person in the audience and stir something inside of them.

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"I do address the diet stuff, I do address some fitness stuff," Michaels told us, "but at the end of the day, it's quite simple: You eat less, you move more. So if it is that simple, why do we all struggle with it? And that's really where we dig in deep and build a better life."

And building a better life, Michaels stresses, isn't just about losing weight. "It's about building a healthier and happier life, not necessarily a healthier body," she explained.

In addition to addressing diet and fitness concerns during the tour, Michaels helps women realize their own self-worth and come up with an action plan. This can be especially hard for women, she says, because we tend to prioritize ourselves last.

"My mom had always said, 'Listen, sweetie, there's no secret to life,'" Michaels shared. "There are many paths to one truth, but if I did come up with one truth — one thing to tell people that will help them in any aspect of their life — it's balance."

"I would say, quite simply, on the days you can't get to the gym, eat better," she offered. "When you're having treat foods, make it 20 percent of your calorie allowance every day, so it's a piece of pizza, a piece of cake… not both. One or the other."

Finding balance also means letting ourselves off the hook a little bit. We've been hardwired to believe that everything is all good or all bad, "and it's hard for us to find that middle ground, but the reality is that's where life is built — on the middle ground," Michaels said.

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Her advice? Don't fall for the hype of fads.

"So here's common sense: Eat three meals and a snack," said Michaels. "Everything three to four hours (apart). It's breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner." No fasting. No cleanses. No cutting out food carbs or proteins or fats.

"The reality is you eat less food, you move your body more often, use common sense when making your food choices — that's how you lose weight," Michaels asserted.

As for fitness, Michaels has partnered with Curves in the hopes that she can help make fitting in workouts more feasible for women. To this effect, she basically rebuilt Curves' signature circuit. "So all the things that are great about Curves still exist," Michaels explained, "but now I've taken the most cutting-edge techniques in fitness, and in 30 minutes, you're going to get results a heck of a lot quicker."

But why do we, as women, have such issues with self-image and weight to start with?

Unlike men, Michaels notes, women don't have a pack mentality. "We pick each other apart, we gossip about one another, we're not supportive of each other," she lamented, "and I think it leaves us feeling extremely self-conscious."

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Sadly, it's a cycle that is passed down from generation to generation, but it's a cycle Michaels believes we have the power to break.

"The more, I think, we start to support one another, the more, I think, it's going to help us feel more comfortable with our bodies, no matter what the shape and size," she said. "And it's got to start, I think, with moms to their daughters, and hopefully kids to their friends, and it kind of trickles down."

Michaels will spend a lot of time during her Maximize Your Life tour working to help women rebuild their self-esteem and redefine their self-image — issues that she says stem from this cycle of negativity pervading the culture of women and are often "historical," or created early in life.

By working with women to identify the roots of these issues, Michaels shows them how to find forgiveness and put the issues back where they belong, then take the steps to come to the realization that they are worthy of love — a feat admittedly made more difficult by the media's perpetuation of the "aspirational image" of what women should look like.

But, Michaels is quick to point out, we're all imperfect. "You need to appreciate that there's nobody out there who's perfect. It's the human condition to be imperfect." The sooner people realize this, the sooner issues like fat- or thin-shaming (which Michaels calls "terrible!") will fade away as well.

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Ultimately, Michaels asserts, the most important thing a woman can do is find time to focus on herself.

"You have one obligation to the world, and that's to be the best you. The reality is everyone else is taken. You as an individual person were brought here to create a unique contribution to the world, and that means be you. Be the best you!"

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