Jillian Michaels Reveals the Simplest Way to Lose Weight and the One Exercise Everyone Should Stop Doing

Jillian Michaels is known for getting results. But despite her tough approach on TV, America’s most famous trainer is also surprisingly realistic when it comes to the challenges normal women face. We grabbed a few minutes with Michaels to get her answers to some of the most frequently asked fitness questions.

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NewBeauty: What’s the biggest mistakes you see people make when they try to lose weight?

Jillian Michaels: They follow fad diets and don’t adhere to the simple science of weight loss because it isn’t easy. Weight loss is a matter of eating less and using common sense with your food choices. That’s all there is to it. You don’t need to fast periodically or cut out food groups.

NB: Should you be losing weight differently depending on age?

JM: No. Weight loss is weight loss. And what weight loss requires is the exact same no matter what your age. Eat less, move more, don’t eat junk food.

When it comes to fitness, age has nothing to do with it. If you are in great shape as you age you will be fit and fine. I know 40 and 50 years olds that take care of themselves who are in better shape than most 20 year olds. The key with aging well is maintaining your health. 

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NB: Your best tip for fighting cravings?

JM: Give in to them 20 percent of the time. Practice the 80/20 rule and allow 20 percent of your daily calories to come from treat foods. 

NB: You post a lot of funny quotes on your social media — is there mantra or an inspirational quote that you love or default to?

JM: Honestly, for me it’s always about the pep talk. Whenever I am overwhelmed or intimidated I just tell myself “You got this. You’ve been through worse. You’ve suffered through more. You’ve overcome greater obstacles.  Focus on the task at hand and power through it."

NB: What’s one exercise people should stop wasting their time doing?

JM: The elliptical. Ugh. 

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NB: What’s the best thing you can do after you overeat/cheat?

JM: Simple. Hit the gym the next day and get back on the wagon. And no matter what… don’t beat yourself up. People are not perfect. It’s about progress not perfection. I love to tell people, if you get a flat tire you don’t get out of the car and slash the other three tires. You patch the tire and get back on the road. 

NB: You're a trainer for a new streaming workout series called FitFusion. What's your best's tip for people who are trying to work out at home?

JM: The key with at home workouts is making sure you have access to material you like and material that matches your level of fitness. That’s what’s so cool about FiFfusion.  It’s a one-stop shop for beginners as well as advanced athletes.  The other thing is that we feature only your favorite trainers—the personalities you love who motivate you and have incredible expertise. Whether you are doing yoga with Tara Stiles, Pilates with Cassie Ho, or bootcamp with myself and Zuzka Light, we have it all from the so you get results and never get bored. 

NB: What’s the most common question you get asked and what’s your answer?

JM: People want to know how I stay motivated. The answer is about identifying your “why.”  In life, anything worth having comes at a cost. There is always work and sacrifice involved. That’s why I always say “Work with purpose is passion, work without purpose is punishment.”  Think of all the ways working out and eating right will benefit you in the long term and let that drive you. Whether it’s wearing skinny jeans, living to be 100, keeping up with your young kids, or having sex with the lights on—there is no reason too profound or too superficial as long as it’s important to you and worth the work associated with the goal.

NB: What beauty products are you loving right now? 

JM: I love Jane Iredale stuffall natural, clean and organic. I also use Zuii Organics which is 100% pure. I believe strongly that what you put on your body has as much of an effect on your system as what you put in it. So going clean and green with beauty and hygiene products is critical. My beauty expert @prettybitchesbychloe regularly lists great products that fit the bill. 

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  • April
    Posted on

    I think if the elliptical helps you get your heart healthy cardio burn and burn some extra calories and it works for your physical needs then keep it up! But when it comes to what it offers versus other cardio machines like the treadmill and rower it doesn't offer as much bang for your buck so to speak. I don't think the recumbent bike offers as much either but for someone with bad feet or knees it probably gives you your needed cardio without the pressure.

  • Rachel
    Posted on

    I, like the previous posters, would like to know why Jillian dislikes the elliptical so much. To totally dismiss it and say "Ugg" with no explanation seems odd for a fitness expert. I've had 3 major foot surgeries in the past 2 years (mid-foot fusion and 2 large toe joint replacements) and rely on the elliptical to burn calories as it is low impact on my injured foot. It does get my heart rate up and burns calories, so I hope that I'm not totally wasting my time!

  • Jan-Marie
    Posted on

    Agree with above post. My husband and I are in our 60's and 70's and rely one the elliptical to help us keep fit and injury free. Great work out -- like anything else you do, you get out what you put into it.

  • A
    Posted on

    Why does she feel the elliptical is a waste of time? A little more info would be helpful here.

  • Carrie
    Posted on

    Completely disagree with the elliptical being a waste of time. As someone with hip & back issues, my physical therapist, chiropractor, and two orthopedists all recommend the elliptical. It's the fastest way I can get into my target heart zone within minutes, just as fast as running or biking, with much less impact on those joints.

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