Once an overweight teen, she is now a celebrity fitness icon, trainer, author — and lesbian mom. It’s been almost a year since Michaels and her partner, Heidi Rhoades, became mothers to two in the same week: daughter Lukensia, adopted from Haiti after a long process, and son Phoenix, born to Rhoades the same week Lu came home.
GA Voice caught up with Michaels as she prepares to bring her tour — and her family, who is traveling with her — to Atlanta’s Fox Theatre on April 21.
Your tour is called “Maximize Your Life.” Is this just about fitness, or how do those goals translate into other issues?
Not at all. While you will learn about optimizing your metabolism through food and fitness, at its core the show is about connecting with your passion, living in your truth, attacking inhibitions and unleashing your potential.
What should Atlanta audiences expect from the tour?
An energetic, interactive, multi-media experience that will educate and motivate people to take their lives to the next level.
Will we get to hear any stories/gossip/tips from “Biggest Loser”?
“Biggest Loser” has its first openly gay candidate this season (Jackson Carter, age 21, who placed third in the season finale that aired March 18). What has that been like, and have you experienced discrimination in your career since coming out?
Sadly, yes, I have. I had a few partnerships in business end after I came out. I lost the January cover of a specific magazine. With that said, I do think the tide is turning because overall I have never been more successful. I think slowly, with time it is becoming more acceptable and mainstream.
As for Jackson, he was and is an inspiration and the fact that America voted him into the finals over the all American football player is really saying something.
Lesbians tend to have higher rates of obesity than the general population. Why do you think this is, and what can be done about it?
I honestly haven’t thought about that and didn’t know that statistic. Although my partner and I are part of the LGBT community, my daughter is black, and my son is Latin, I have never really looked at statistics within subcultures.
I look at the human race. WE are getting fatter, unhealthier and unhappier. On the whole, I believe it’s a matter of giving people simple information and tools they can implement to turn the tide even when big business and big government are working against us.
How do you work with people about fitness without damaging self-esteem with those who may already feel self-conscious about their weight?
I push them into realizing how strong and capable they actually are. That’s why I am so tough on them on “Biggest Loser.” I need them to see very quickly that they have been living a lie. They are NOT “weak, lazy, incapable,” etc.
You and your partner have two small kids. What was it like becoming mothers to two at the same time, and how do you fit motherhood into your career and staying fit?
It’s hectic for sure, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m a big believer that when you put your intentions, energy and action in the world, what comes back to you is divine and meant to be. As for the balance… I try to take 20 percent of my time for myself (the gym, date night, doctors appointments, etc.) and then the other 80 percent is for work and my kids.
I am lucky that the kids are young so I am able to bring them with me everywhere I go. If I am on set, they are with me. If I am on tour, they are with me.
What has it been like to travel with your whole family? Two babies and a bird seem like they would make for some interesting road stories!
To be honest, I thought it would be a nightmare, but it’s actually been amazing. I get to see more of them than I do when we are at home. My daughter is having an absolute blast.
Is it harder to eat healthily and keep active with a family on the road? What are some of your tips?
Actually, no. My focus on the tour is the tour so I am not being pulled in as many directions as I am when I am home. That said, I go for runs. Hit local gyms in whichever city I find myself. Workout at hotels when we do stopovers. Shop and keep food on the bus so I have healthy stuff on hand.
What is your guilty pleasure when it comes to food? How do you indulge without jeopardizing overall fitness?
I love sweets. So much so I actually invested in a brand called Unreal, which has none of the junk like trans fats, artificial colors or flavors, high fructose corn syrup, etc., and half the sugar. I indulge, but in better for you options like that or EBOOST, or Popchips, etc. And then I just work them into my calorie allowance for the day.
To photo: Jillian Michaels visits Atlanta this month for her ‘Maximize Your Life’ tour, which has her on the road with her partner and two young children. (Photo by Don Flood)