On parenthood, fitness favorites & how "The Biggest Loser" disappointed her

Photo courtesy of Jillian Michaels

Personaltrainer and wellness expert Jillian Michaels is visiting Columbus's Palace Theatre March 20 as part of her motivational tour, "Maximize Your Life."

Michaels, made famous on reality TV series The Biggest Loser, will hit the stage at 8 p.m. for a two-hour interactive show on redefining self-image, enhancing confidence and blasting through obstacles. Tickets cost $25 to $150 at Ticketmaster.com. We talked with her about parenthood, fitness favorites, how the show disappointed her and more. Here are highlights.

-Kristy Eckert, @kristyeckert

Let's start with the basics: What sparked your passion for fitness?

I don't actually have a passion for fitness. I couldn't care less about fitness. Fitness for me is just one tool that I utilize to help people build a better life. And I began to appreciate very young that when you feel strong physically, you are subsequently powerful and strong in other aspects of your life.

Within one week in 2012, your partner gave birth to your son, Phoenix, and the two of you adopted a daughter, Lukensia. How did becoming a mom change you?

Gosh, it changes every aspect of your life without a doubt. Jack Nicholson said this best in that movie As Good as It Gets, and I actually can say it's in my experience with parenthood: It makes you want to be better person-a better you, a better person to the rest of the world. It definitely gives you a different perspective on life in general. It's an amazing experience. It's tough to put into words except to say it adds new layers of meaning and dimension to one's reality.

How did it change your workout routine?

It changed it dramatically in the beginning. It took me a while to truly find the balance. And while I don't get the opportunity to go to a 90-min yoga class very often, I still find the time to get four workouts in in a week, even if they're only 30 minutes. And the key is, trade off with your partner. Ask aunts and uncles or grandparents to watch them for a while. Get out and play and be active with your kids. Go hiking with them. Walk the dog with them. Go for bike rides with them. Take active vacations. There are ways to do it when you strike a balance.

Ah, finding balance-the endless quest.

If somebody was to ask me what's the secret of life, it's finding balance. And while it does oscillate on a day-to-day basis, finding the time for your health and happiness is critical.

What's the most common excuse you hear about why someone can't get healthy?

I would say money and time. Which it doesn't cost money to eat less food, and if you found the time to watch your favorite television show, I guarantee you can find the time to work out.

What's your favorite workout?

I've always liked martial arts. I love doing MMA and kickboxing-I think that's really fun.

Go-to healthy snack?

I go back and forth on that. Right now, I've been eating this stuff called KRAVE jerky. It's like this gourmet jerky with no nitrites or preservatives or artificial ingredients.

If you're splurging on a meal, what do you eat?

French fries or chocolate of any kind. Ice cream.

What do you do to wind down?

Play with my kids. I find that with your kids, you can't really be elsewhere. They demand your full attention, and it allows you to really get out of the nonsense and the chaos and the craziness of everyday life.

Your perfect Saturday: What is it?

Taking my kids to their horses-we are a big equestrian family. Going to the farmers market, having lunch.

Let's talk Biggest Loser. If you were choosing one of your co-trainers from the show to train you, who would you pick?

Of course I would choose Bob, because Bob and I are extremely close.

The Biggest Loser has taken some heat after contestant Rachel Frederickson dropped from 260 pounds to 105. Your expression when she emerged at the finale show was Tweeted 'round the world. Take us to that moment: What are you thinking?

I'm thinking many different things. I was furious on many different levels, because no one told me. Bob and I had no idea-none. I was upset because I felt that the show had failed her on many different levels, and I was stunned. I was completely and totally stunned.

How did the show fail her?

Look, here's the reality: Each contestant has a trainer, and we talk to our contestants all the time. So contrary to popular belief, we are talking to them when they go home. I knew exactly (where my contestants were). But even if you're not talking to your contestants, the medical staff is talking to your contestants every week. So there's a system of checks and balances there that subsequently went wrong. I don't know how it went wrong or why it went wrong, but I want some answers. I have some meetings this week to get answers. She was too thin.

OK, on to the the motivational tour. Are your kids touring with you?

Oh yes. Absolutely.

What will that be like?

It'll be interesting, because my son's a little bit older now and extremely mobile. It's kind of fun. I actually get to spend more time with them on tour than in my everyday life, because they go to school and I'm working during the day.

Go-to workout on the road?

That's a challenging one. I try to find a Flywheel studio and get a spin class in. A jog is easy. Body weight training exercises-push-ups, lunges, squats, sit-ups.

So what can people expect at the show?

It is a conversation with the audience. I'm not talking at people. We live the lives that we think we should, but not always the life that we think we want. So (in the show) we establish our goals-our goals that are worth it and our goals that we're emotionally connected to. (And then we come up with) action steps, the game plan and the tools.

How is it interactive?

I ask the audience questions. I poll them. I ask them to do exercises… not physical exercises, but emotional exercises, psychological exercises.

What do you hope people walk away with?

Of course I want them to feel inspired. But I want them to feel armed. I think that knowledge is power, and when you have the skill set and the tools in your hands, you feel a lot more powerful.