My On-and-Off Relationship with a Fitness Goddess: A Tribute to Jillian Michaels

Unless you’re a Biggest Loser fan, you may not recognize her face or her name. My friend Sarah introduced me to Jillian Michaels my senior year of college. I’ll never forget: it was February and my roommates and I all had some serious winter bods. In typical undergrad fashion we refused to give up daily PBR pounder 6-packs and hated going to the packed gym, so we decided to workout in front of the television. My friend Sarah pushed a DVD into the player (does this make me old?) and the 30 Day Shred menu popped up. Armed with water bottles for weights, and liveried in yoga pants we went in, and we went in hard.

I didn’t know it then, but this was the first date of a beautifully flawed relationship. Jillian and I were about to spend months together daily, and then months without contact, only to meet again another day.

I respect Jillian because of the way I felt after that first workout: like I had been run over by a bus. At the time, unless you count walking a couple of miles to a party or taking the occasional flight of stairs to class as exercise, I hadn’t worked out in years. After this workout, I kid you not, I couldn’t even walk down the stairs without yelping in pain. Although it was hard to bear, I knew it meant whatever I did the day before was effective, and I was hooked.

Jillian and I had a relatively short first run. I did level two of 30 Day Shred three times a week for about two and a half weeks. I definitely saw some serious results, but I wasn’t serious about losing weight or getting stronger. I looked good (enough) in a bathing suit, so I stopped putting effort in and lived on.

I graduated college and got an internship where I found myself sitting for eight hours a day for the first time in my life. I was buying lunch at the cool restaurants surrounding my workplace, and I was living with my parents who gave me unlimited access to a ton of
food. It was late August when I noticed my pants were difficult to zip up. I started to be more conscious of the food I was eating and the volume of booze I was consuming, but I didn’t lose what I had put on.

You could say I went crawling back to Jillian that summer. This time, I was sneaking down to my parent’s basement to workout with her streaming from YouTube on my laptop. Jill and I went strong five days a week for three weeks on 30-day shred level one. We even progressed to level two every other day for a couple of weeks, and the results were undeniable. I got a compliment on my body while wearing a onesie at a Halloween party from a girl who didn’t like me!

Suddenly, out of lack of fitness knowledge, I was convincing myself I could maintain my figure with diet alone moving forward. I broke up with Jillian again.

A few months went by and I started to spill over my skinny jeans ever so slightly. I lost the tone on my belly, and my thighs softened. If you didn’t know me you probably would not have noticed, but I noticed and tried to ignore it.

I got called to Washington D.C. for work. It was a project that would take three months, and I would get to live in a swanky short-term lease apartment building. Living in the Lansburg was my first experience living in a place with a gym. I took advantage of the spot and ran for two miles as fast as I could every day after work on the treadmill. I followed up that routine for five minutes pushing myself as hard as I could on the rowing machine.

I got pretty cut during those three months, but eventually my project came to an end. Although I was lucky enough to get promoted to a full-time position in Washington, I couldn’t afford the Lansburg and ended up at a place with a far less equipped in-building gym.

Armed now with a google Chromecast and an iPhone, I called up Jill again. This time, I started integrating both 30-day Shred levels one and two as well as her 6 Week 6 Pack Abs workout. We lasted months together that summer. I was feeling cut, strong, and sexy, and I felt like I owed it all to her.

Like all our other runs, this too came to an end.

Jillian empowered me. She taught me that working out didn’t mean I had to spend hours at the gym. She showed me classic exercises that were effective, simple, and required no or very little equipment. She encouraged me when I didn’t want to get another squat shoulder press in. She congratulated me for the work I put in with her on my abs with her.

While Jill and I haven’t met in more than a year, I can attribute much of my fitness successes to her simple and easily manageable workouts available to stream at any time for free. Today I incorporate many of the exercises I learned from her in my at-home routines; sometimes when I’m in a professional class (ready to give up) I think of her voice telling me to stay with her. I persist.


If you want to begin a fitness journey, but
you’re hesitant to spend lots of money on a gym membership you don’t feel like you would even know how to use, I highly recommend you look up Jillian Michaels. She’s strong, she’s sassy, and whenever you’re ready she’s there to kick your seat into gear.

Have you ever had an on-again-off-again relationship with a workout, coach, gym, or routine? Tell me about it in a comment below. 


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