When viewers tune into "The Biggest Loser," they know what to expect when it comes to celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels: Lots of yelling, high energy and an enviably sleek physique. What they may not know: That she carefully follows her own rules for weight loss - and that she believes all diets, from Paleo to vegan to low-carb, can work if you use those rules. Jillian dished on the secrets to taking off the pounds and what really succeeds for exercise in a March 17 interview with Broadway World.
In contrast to experts who slam other diets, Jillian keeps it simple: Use a plan that suits your personality while counting calories, but don't be rigid without reason.
If you want to be vegan, then by all means. If you want to be Paleo, then go with that. But it's totally unnecessary to live in such a strict fashion. I don't, and I'm perfectly healthy. I've taken the weight off of thousands and thousands of people, and they're allowed to eat meats, fats, carbs.
What does work, regardless of the name of the plan: Counting calories, Jillian says firmly. And she follows that rule herself.
"The secret to weight loss is counting calories, and with counting calories, you're able to understand HOW to balance. What I tell people is to make 80% of your food the healthier choice and make 20% treat food. And I do that EVERY single day," Jillian emphasizes.
However, she admits that certain other guidelines can help, such as your food choices. She's detailed her recommendations for weight loss in "Slim for Life: My Insider Secrets to Simple, Fast, and Lasting Weight Loss" (click for details).
Jillian also emphasizes the importance of avoiding processed foods, and making your own meals from fresh ingredients, as dished up in her cookbook "The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook" (click for more information).
Does exercise count when it comes to weight loss? Absolutely, says Jillian. She recommends her Body Shred program in particular, and has created a series of best-selling fitness DVDs such as "Jillian Michaels Hard Body" and "Jillian Michaels Extreme Shed & Shred."
For those who think that Jillian is too slim to empathize with the pain of obesity, she actually knows how it feels on a personal level. She suffered in adolescence as a chubby 175-pound teen, she revealed in an interview with the Denver Post recently.
Because of that experience, she says she understands that weight gain involves more than food.
"Very often, we take on and internalize the issues and insecurities of our parents, or other family members, and we make them our own." Jillian reflects.
People aren't morbidly obese because they like Twinkies too much. The weight is rooted in very deep relationships and dynamics that existed in our childhood.
So when she talks about what really works for permanent weight loss, Jillian contends that the mental aspect is just as - if not more - as important as diet and fitness.