At just a smidgen over 5 feet tall, Jillian weighed almost 60 pounds more at 12 years of age than her weight today. Her transformation, both physical and mental, into becoming one of the most respected body-shape influencers in the world, has been dramatic and has forged a career for herself as well as inspiring the fitness sensibilities of millions of others.
Jillian, 45, as of the middle of February, has over seven million fans across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
She has indeed made a leap from loathing teenager, someone who suffered bouts of insomnia and slipped into depression. She encountered bullying, was teased about her weight and lacked confidence.
“Overcoming the obstacles for a lot of people means you never have to go back,” she says. “I did that, and now it’s impossible for me to be that person again, and that’s what I want to show to other people. You vanquish that persona almost straight away – it’s incredibly liberating, but in my case too, I really believe it saved my life.”

STRIPLV: How did you become a fitness guru?
MICHAELS: Well, I was overweight as a kid for a host of reasons, and my mom got me into martial arts. It took several years, but eventually, it stuck, and it really grabbed me that fitness was transcendent, and when you’re strong physically, you become strong in every facet of your life. So, I started losing weight when I was 15 – I was probably about 170lbs at my heaviest, and I am only 5ft 2in tall. Then, a lot of things happened. I got in shape, and by the time that I was 17 years old, I was in the gym training for my black belt test. People would see me, and I was doing all kinds of crazy moves and exercises, and at that point, I was studying Bruce Lee and Navy SEALS. I thought all of that stuff was super cool and I was doing inverted sit-ups with ankle boots on bars. So, people would say to me: “You’re a trainer. How much do you charge?” I thought I could make more than $5 an hour, that was going to be cool. That’s how much I was making at the time, delivering pizza. My mom paid for my first little certification, and although it was a long winding road, it has brought me to where I am now, all these years later.
STRIPLV: What is important about fitness to you?
MICHAELS: We talk about loving yourself more and believing in your capabilities, and that is a very politically correct thing to say. But the question that people have is: How do I get there? One of the great things about fitness is that it helps you experience a reality where you are successful, and you are strong and it gradually builds a belief in your capabilities and your feeling of improved self-worth. To me, that’s really what fitness is about. However, I find that with some women who are successful is that they are hard on themselves even though they want to drive themselves forward. One of the analogies that I like to use for that is: Imagine that you are using a type of fuel, for example, crude or fossil fuels, and they erode your environment all of the time. However, if you could use solar energy, you could go a lot faster for a longer than otherwise. That’s what that positive energy is. There are a lot of women all over the world who are rugged individualists who kind of beat themselves up and push themselves harder and farther. If they could be a little bit more forgiving to themselves and give themselves a little more permission, they would have a lot more.
STRIPLV: Do you think that entrepreneurs are born or made? Is there something that we can learn?
MICHAELS: I think that to a certain extent it is a product of nature and nurture. I don’t mean that to sound like a cop-out, but intrinsically it depends on your ability to tolerate risk, and that can be cultivated, without a doubt. But if it’s not within you, if there’s not that little nugget or kernel, then you are just putting a fish out of  water, which is mostly for everyone. However, there is nothing wrong with that. 
STRIPLV: You will know what being comfortable with being uncomfortable means, as an entrepreneur, don’t you?
MICHAELS: Yeah, of course. I don’t even know today if I am comfortable with it. There are moments when I think: What have I done? Should I just have taken a paycheck? I have those moments more often than not. But at the end of the day, when it works, when the arrow hits the target, that’s when you can say that it’s right, this is why I do this, this is what I love.
STRIPLV: Do you ever wake up and want to stop everything as if you can now say that you have made your point?
MICHAELS: Well, I would say that there is room for foods that are not perfect as long as you have them in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Work these things in properly and sensible and what you will soon find is that you have balance. Balance is sustainable. If you don’t have that balance, then that’s when it starts to become a problem. This is a reason that so many people abandon their resolutions because they have set themselves up to fail right from the beginning.
You don’t need to cut out this or cut out that or count your macros or cut out all carbs. You have a calorie allowance and avoid the foods that are clearly not in that allowance, eat as often as you can, small you can, small and often and follow what I call the 80/20 Rule. I can eat 2,000 calories on the days that I am working out because I am in maintenance mode. So, I don’t need to burn more calories than I am consuming in a day. If I have 2,000 calories to play with, then I am going to take 500 of them and have a pizza and wine for dinner. I will have a slice of pizza with a salad and a glass of wine, and that is how I find that balance. 20-30% of my calories are going to be those things. You really don’t need the chemicals, the fake fat, the fake sugar, the artificial color. Those things are what I would love people to avoid because they are simply not food. I like people to think of their food on the scale of 1-10. Everything that is 1-5 you can have that, you’re cleared for take-off. A 10 food, naming no brands whatsoever, people already know what they are. Your drive thru’s and fast foods, and trans-fats and things like that. They are the things that are going to contribute to obesity and disease. That is because they interfere with your biochemistry, and your biochemistry is your immunity and your metabolism. Those foods we want to always try and avoid. The no. 1 foods are the wild salmon, the organic blueberries and those things that help fight and fend off disease. If people can live in that zone, I promise them that they have found the key to sustainability. If they can, also find a workout program they don’t hate. I mean, I could sit here and give them a million techniques that would be the most effective. But if I was to mention all of those things and their eyes roll back into their head, then it’s not going to work.
STRIPLV: What are your thoughts on women improving their glutes and whether the modern-day ‘big booty’ is possible without surgical implants.
MICHAELS: You can definitely firm up, but in order to physically “build your booty” you can’t tell your body where to put the fat. So, if you’re like “I’m gonna eat more calories,” your body is going to store fat where your biochemistry predisposes genetically. So, men are more testosterone dominant, and that’s why they tend to put on weight in their bellies. But women, we can keep it lower body, upper body. You can’t tell your body where to store fat. If you do squats, etcetera, for a woman to put on that kind of size on her ass, for want of a better term, it’s physiologically impossible, eating a massive number of calories. We don’t have the androgenic hormones to build muscle size like that. That’s all happening in the doctor’s office. You can tell in someone’s paparazzi photos. Go back through them, and the evidence is all there for you. I love Nicki Minaj, but if you Google the before and after photos, you can see the proof.