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Jillian Michaels loses perfection for parenthood

Jillian Michaels was once a perfectionist in everything she did, but becoming a mom has taught her how to let go and hope for the best.

Jillian Michaels

As the tough-as-nails trainer on The Biggest Loser, Jillian Michaels was more drill sergeant than maternal figure. Now that she’s actually a mom (and coming back to the show that made her a household name after a two-year hiatus) Michaels has learned to let go of perfection and embrace “good enough.”

“I used to say, ‘If you’re going to exercise, then you do it, and you do it 100 percent.’ Now if I’ve got to answer e-mails while I work out on the StairMaster, well, then that’s what it is,” Michaels reveals in the April issue of Fitness magazine. “People can rub my nose in it, because it is so hard — so hard  — to take care of yourself when you’re a parent.”

“Every day I tell myself how blessed I am. I have a great life,” says Jillian of being a mom. “I can’t bitch about it, because this is what I wanted. I just thought I’d be able to manage it better. “My new motto: ‘As long as I’m winning more than I’m losing, I’m still winning!'”

Michaels and her partner Heidi Rhoades have a 2-year-old daughter Lukensia, adopted from Haiti, and welcomed a baby boy, Phoenix, last spring. Now her world has turned completely upside down and she has a taste of the kind of schedule her clients and Biggest Loser contestants have to contend with while adjusting to a healthy lifestyle.

“I get up at 7 a.m.  — after being up all night with the baby  —and run around trying to get both kids diaper-changed, dressed and fed. Finally I’ll shower, and before I know it, I’ve got 50 emails to answer, and I need to leave for work,” she explains. “At the end of the day, I come home, and I’m like, OK, let me bathe you, change you, feed you, read you books, put you to bed — wait, how am I supposed to do all this? Son of a bitch, this is hard!”

That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have time to instill healthy habits in her kids — quite the opposite. “It’s about finding things your kids love to do,” she said. “Lu loves horses, so I take her to the stables, and she loves dancing, so I put music on and she dances around the house. We run on the beach with the dogs and take her out to ride her tricycle. We just have a healthy lifestyle — we play! The baby is too young, but I have visions of our doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Capoeira together. Or maybe he’ll want to take ballet, and that’s OK, too. Either way, I’m going to expose them both to a bunch of different activities, and whatever they love, they love.”

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“Lu knows that Sunday is her treat day, so she can eat ice cream or french fries or something. I don’t deprive her the rest of the week, I just stick to healthier options like sweet potato fries or graham crackers. I’ll make whole-wheat pizza with mozzarella, onions and butternut squash, and to her that’s pizza. I am a genius, a [bleeping] genius. I am so proud of myself because I have fooled her into eating healthy, and let me tell you, that kid is smart!”

As every parent knows, there are only so many hours in the day, and at some point something has to be sacrificed. For Michaels, it’s perfection that had to go.

“In the past I’d carefully read and look through everything before approving it,” she said. “Now I’ll say, “Sure, looks great!” without paying close attention, because I don’t have time or I’m too tired. One of these days I’m going to see a video of myself with a booger hanging out of my nose. You cut those corners and sometimes you pay, but something’s gotta give.”

Read the complete interview with Jillian Michaels in the April 2013 issue of Fitness, available on newsstands now. Bonus: The fitness guru is doing a Facebook chat with fans to answer reader questions on March 15 at 3:30 EDT! Check out the Fitness magazine Facebook page for details.

Image courtesy Andres Otero/

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