I went to to see Jillian Michaels Maximize your Life talk this weekend at Beacon Theater with a few of my girlfriends and absolutely loved it. I was so inspired I thought I would turn this into a 2 part blog post in an effort to share everything I learned. I know this is long, but bear with me because I think this information is worth sharing and applying in your life. This week I’ve put together 7 tips that will help you learn more about your body, what foods you should be eating, what type of exercise to do, and how to find the motivation to start achieving your goals today.

I have been a big fan of Jillian for years and frequently do her workout DVDs, I have even gone through the exercise program in her book  Making the Cut twice, it got me in the best shape of my life a few years back. Her exercises are perfectly designed to maximize heart rate and really get you in that calorie blasting, fat burning zone. She’s at the top of her field and a total genius at what she does not only because she gets exercise and food balance, but because she gets life balance, and helps people get out of their own way and work through their issues to achieve lasting goals. Jillian is well spoken and her talk was entertaining and inspiring, plus she had the nicest hair I had ever seen, and I was in the balcony so that’s some serious shine quality. :)

After we watched a video of both disturbing and tranquil images fired at us in rapid succession Jillian shared her intention for the jarring intro. Fact is, there is quite the dichotomy out there; we are marketed shiny happy perfection but the opposite exists for most.  People are sick, unhealthy and unhappy. The foods we eat contribute in large part to this, not following our hearts desires contribute to this unhappiness, overeating and stress, not exercising enough and not making ourselves a priority is yet another factor. I definitely see this in my health coaching business and speak to people around the world interested in improving their lives and educating others to do the same. I think as a society we are waking up and seeing more than ever this disillusionment, not just seeing it but wanting to do something about it. Once awake we crave change the way we used to crave a sugar fix, only change is so much more rewarding.

Jillian told us a bit about her story, about what she would be sharing, and about her advice on being in shape, having energy and living your best life. It was self help at its best infused with humor, tough love, relatability and spot on advice, even a few kick ass quotes peppered in by the likes of Nietzsche and Thoreau; Jillian is one smart cookie after all.

Tip One: Whatever your goal, weight loss, weight gain, etc. LOVE and ACCEPT yourself now, APPRECIATE  that you are deserving now, in this body, in this skin. You don’t have to wait to like yourself, your are amazing now and need to start living that way, have more, do more, and be more NOW.  We have a future mind set of when I’m this weight then I can start living, but that just puts off your life, and these moments are precious, you might not get tomorrow, especially if you aren’t prioritizing your health today. So I ask you, what qualities do you like about yourself now?

Jillian talked about why we are stuck and why we aren’t where we want to be yet. For many people it’s a fear of failure that holds them back. If we never try, we can’t fail right? She said something that has become ingrained in my mind, it’s such a perspective shift for me. Failures are opportunities for growth they are not a highlight of inadequacies. I’d heard the first part before but never really thought about why failures hit so hard, I had totally been looking at them as highlights of my shortcomings and imperfections; I was embarrassed by them. Well, that needs to stop. She said many successful CEO’s encourage mistakes as learning tools. Many billionaires have made and lost that money at least once. They didn’t let their mistake keep them down but instead learned from that first mistake to make them stronger the second time around. Why do you think the elderly possess so much wisdom? Life experience, mistakes made, lessons learned, love lost.

Tip 2: Stop the comparisons, just be you. When we compare ourselves to others, what we want to look like, what we are lacking it’s all on us. Differences exist only in the eyes of the human ego, it’s just your perception vs. mine, your preconceptions shape the view. These differences amongst us, they actually mean nothing. If we don’t put importance on them, they lose their impact.

Of course being Jillian she had to talk about diet and exercise, she summed up her magic advice in 4 easy words, then went on to detail what she meant so that we “got our money’s worth”.

Tip 3: Here it is, in Jillian’s own words “EAT LESS, MOVE MORE!!!!!” It’s that simple. She recommends counting calories to figure out how much you need to burn or cut back on to lose the weight you are aiming to lose. I am not a huge advocate of calorie counting, but her recommendation is to just do it for 2 weeks then you will more or less have a sense of how many calories the things you are eating contain and you won’t have to keep looking it up. If you want to use this as a baseline to understand how much you are really consuming vs. what you need, great, but don’t turn into a calorie freak and start rattling off the calorie of a skittle to your friends, just use it as a guide.

Remember calories are just energy and the amount of weight you lose will depend on the amount of energy you burn vs. how much energy you consume. Fat is really just stored energy, what you want to do is get your body to release that stored energy by moving more and eating the right types of food so you release stored fat.  A 1 lb weight loss is the equivalent of 3500 calories burned. And what is your metabolism? It’s your hormone balance.

Your BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate tells you the amount of calories burned while resting. You can find out your BMR online using a free calculator.  Once you determine your BMR you can use it to figure out how much you are eating now compared to how much your should be eating to maintain vs. lose depending on your goals.

My BMR is 1402. That means if I did nothing but sleep all day, that is how many calories my body burns. Now if I want to lose weight without exercising, I can cut my calories, but for a woman I shouldn’t ever go below 1200 calories a day. Let’s say I am eating 1400 calories a day now and decide to cut back by 200 calories a day, that is 1400 a week so it would take me 2.5 weeks to lose 1 lb. You can safely lose 2-3 lbs a week so to step that up, exercise is needed! If you can burn 500 calories a day in exercise, plus cut out 200 from your diet, that’s 700 calories a day equaling 4900 calories a week totaling 1.4 lbs lost a week. To reiterate so you don’t go on some crazy fad diet, women you don’t want to eat less than 1200 calories a day or you will actually mess with your metabolism and won’t be meeting your body’s needs. If you are going on a calorie restricted diet of any sort, you should consult with your doctor or a medical professional beforehand especially if you have any health issues or known risks.

Here is a BMR calculator I found online: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/

My BMR= 1402 kcal

To lose 1 lb I need to burn 3500 kcal

If I burn 500 kcal in exercise daily, that’s:

500 kcal x 7 = 3500

If I cut out 200 calories a day from my food (it’s easy to do that with a few small portion reductions or swap outs)

200 kcal x 7 = 1400 kcal

1400 + 3500 = 4900 kcal

4900 divided by 3500 = 1.4 lbs weight loss per week

The above is assuming I’m currently eating 1400 calories a day (the amount I burn at rest). If I look at my foods and find I’m eating 1800 calories a day, I need to decrease that to get the results I’m looking for. It’s all simple math, nothing fancy. If I don’t want to lose weight and I burn 400 calories per day in exercise but eat 1800 calories a day, I’ll maintain. Make sense? Just make sure you are listening to your body if you are going to do this. Don’t eat past the point of fullness just because you can and don’t restrict to the point of feeling starving, this will only lead to crankiness!  Also, remember that all calories are not created equal, 1200 calories of sugar, refined starch and white carbohydrates will not give you the results you are looking for, while 1200 calories of kale, brown rice, wild salmon, avocado, and fresh fruit sure will!

Tip 4: Find an exercise you enjoy and do it, for at least 30 minutes, 4 or 5 times a week. This could be yoga, kickboxing, crossfit, zumba, whatever floats your boat and will keep you going back for more. What you are aiming for it to keep your heart rate in optimal fat burning zone. For finding your best heart rate for most effective results, the equation is:

220 – (your age) x .85

Here is mine:


193 x .85 =164.05

So my optimal heart rate per minute while exercising is 164 beats per minute. I can check this myself during a workout by putting my finger on my pulse for 6 seconds then multiplying by 10. If it’s too slow I need to step it up, if it’s too fast, chill it out.

Here are some great, quick, high intensity Jillian Michael’s workouts that I just love available for free on Youtube! She does a lot of interval and plyometrics training to get you absolutely shredded and keep the heart rate where it needs to be.

Jillian Michaels 30 day Shred: Level 1

Jillian Michaels Cardio Kickbox workout

Jillian Michaels 6 Week 6-Pack Abs: Level 1

Tip 5: When making food choices and thinking about all of this, your best tool is your common sense. Think about the decisions you are making and if they will help you get to your goal or will just lead you further away.

Tip 6: Quality really does matter when it comes to what you are eating. As I mentioned above, all calories were not created equal. Jillian was very real about the fact that most people just can’t afford to eat organic all the time. She was concerned about the GMO’s in our food supply and where food was coming from and did her best to give examples of what to spend your money on and how important it was to make small, smart investments in your health now so you could live a healthy long life later. She even said that health care costs due to preventable diseases like heart disease were the #1 cause of bankruptcy in this country. That’s huge.

Jillian believes $20 dollars extra a week spent on the right foods, meat and dairy (since they are full of hormones and antibiotics that contribute to our own weight and hormonal issues), would be the best investment you could make into your health both short and long term. We vote with our dollars, where we spend it informs demand and production of that demand. Demand high quality foods whenever possible and they will become more readily available at a lower cost. Now will this extra money spent really pay off? Let’s see, ask yourself do you want to walk your children down the aisle? Be there to hold your grandchildren? Change your perspective, and change your life. Taking control of your health is essential starting today, not starting at some future point once you reach some other future goal. Live now, for today and for tomorrow.

There are certain foods Jillian recommends only buying organic and certain foods that are okay to eat conventionally to save money. These are the Dirty Dozen (foods to avoid unless organic) and the Clean 15  (foods with harder skins that prevent pesticides and other harmful chemicals from getting absorbed into the flesh). I personally have to wonder how can you prevent absorption of these harmful chemicals and pesticides if they are sprayed all over and get in the soil, and water that the food is grown in? Doesn’t it then become a part of the plant in the growing process? But I guess it’s still the best option if you are on a budget.

Here are the lists:

The Dirty Dozen (avoid unless organic)

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Bell Peppers
  4. Cherries
  5. Grapes (imported)
  6. Lettuce
  7. Nectarines
  8. Peaches
  9. Pears
  10. Potatoes
  11. Spinach
  12. Strawberries

The Clean 15 (okay to have conventionally grown, a great place to save your pennies)

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocado
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Corn
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi Fruit
  9. Mango
  10. Onions
  11. Pineapple
  12. Sweet Onions
  13. Sweet Peas
  14. Sweet Potatoes/Yams
  15. Watermelon

You can find this and other resources here: http://www.jillianmichaelslive.com/myl-tools/

Tip 7: Find your motivation! Whatever your goal, whether it’s weight loss, more energy, reduction of symptoms, or anything else, how will you get and STAY motivated? No one else can do it for you. You can read blogs and books all day filled with great information, but you need to get out there and do the work. Lasting motivation can only come from within.

Pick up your journal and ask yourself the following questions, dig deep, you need to connect with your motivations before you begin. Your reason needs to be detailed not general so you have a plan and a clear vision to work towards.

  • Why are you doing it (“it” being your goal; exercise, eating right, finding your passion career, etc)?
  • What does your goal look like in your life? Be specific.
  • How will these things manifest in your life?
  • How do you get there?

Now in an effort to avoid making this the longest blog post ever, I am going to continue this next week with my favorite part of the whole talk. I have more great tips and insights that Jillian shared that really got me thinking and inspired. Digest all this good stuff and get ready for some more next week!

I’d love to hear what motivates you and what your goals are in the comments section below!

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