Q&A with The Biggest Loser Trainers
Q: If you are all or nothing person, what do you do to change your thinking?
Jillian Michaels: You have to get real with yourself and acknowledge that life is not black or white, but shades of gray. As far as the pendulum swings in one direction, it swings equally as far in the other. The key to success in life and health is balance. A healthy lifestyle that is built to last sits firmly on the middle ground.
Bob Harper: You have to remember that life has its ebbs and flows, and you must learn to roll with the punches sometimes. I find that the best way to live a well-rounded life is to learn to relinquish control because you can find true clarity in the free fall of life.
JM: Set yourself up for success and pick places with healthy options on the menu. Practice some behavioral techniques like asking the waiter not to bring bread so you won't be tempted. Pour salt on your food when you are finished eating so you don't keep picking long after you have felt full. Willpower is a fleeting moment of bravado. Act on that moment, and save yourself the struggle of being tempted.
BH: Get your salad dressing on the side! Also, have them box up half of your entrée and take it home with you, so you are basically getting two meals for the price of one.
JM: Only you can be your source of effective motivation. This is something that ultimately must come from within in order to be lasting. Write down all of the reasons that you are looking to be motivated, and every time you feel your momentum fading, go back to that list and remind yourself that nothing will taste as good as all the things on your list will feel.
BH: When it comes to getting started today, you can start by making a healthier food choice today at lunch, or get up 30 minutes early tomorrow and go on a walk before you jump in the shower and get ready for work. You also should know that reading information like the one you are reading is getting you on track, so TAKE CHARGE of your life!
JM: I had a contestant whose sister died in her early 50s due to obesity-related causes. She was rapidly following in her sister's footsteps and deep in denial about the situation. I had to confront [her] about the harsh reality of what had happened to her sister and what was going to happen to her if she did not change her ways.
BH: The toughest thing that I have had to tell anyone is that there is no finish line here. This is a true lifestyle change, and what that means is you have to keep this up for your lifetime; but remember a healthy life feels better than anything will taste.
JM: Last-chance workouts may not always make a big difference on the scale, but I use them as a tool to help the contestants feel empowered going into their weigh-in. They feel resolved and strong in the knowledge that they have pushed themselves to the limit and regardless of the number on the scale they didn't hold back.
BH: We definitely have a couple of last-chance workouts, but you can push yourself very hard, closer to a set goal, and the number on the scale will definitely change.
JM: Sadly...yes. The simple fact of the matter is that I can't change anyone. I can want it for them with all my heart, show up every day and give it 100 percent, teach them all my knowledge and give them all my love, but if they don't want it for themselves, then it's all for naught. Ultimately, they are the ones who must make the tough choices and put in the long hours, so unless they are committed, it's a pointless endeavor. You can't help people who won't help themselves.
BH: I always say that as soon as someone is ready, I can help them move a mountain and guide them to a healthier life, but until they are ready, all I can do is wait.
JM: Dry roasted almonds. Organic, low-fat Greek yogurt. Veggies and hummus. Baked organic blue corn chips and fresh salsa.
BH: Some of my favorite healthy snacks would definitely be fruit—any and all kinds of fruit. I keep a wide variety in my fridge because I like it to be cold. I also like adding a tablespoon of peanut butter to my apple for a little protein.
JM: Running because—although I hate it—it's most effective at making my butt smaller.
BH: I love to run, so it would be that. It is a great cardiovascular exercise and is a great calorie burner.
JM: No time or no money. Then I say, "I bet you found the time to watch Deal or No Deal or the money to buy your gossip rags. Shut the hell up, make the time and reprioritize your finances."
BH: The biggest excuse is, "I don't have enough time." My response is this: Everyone is busy and has very hectic schedules, but I'm sure with a little reprioritizing you can find 30 to 45 minutes for yourself in a 24-hour period.
JM: I honestly don't think there is a right answer here. This all depends on your likes and dislikes, whether or not you have any injuries, etc. Also, I am a firm believer in variety. I don't like anyone to get stuck in a routine. It's bad for the body and bad for the mind. If I was forced to choose, I would say body resistance moves for strength training—squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, pull-ups, etc. This is because it helps prevent injury and allows the body to be more functional, as well as fit. As for cardio, try the step mill because it's just plain brutal! Get out of your comfort zone. Nothing changes until you do.
BH: I always tell people to get acquainted with two pieces of equipment in the gym at a time so you are not overwhelmed. Start with the treadmill for a good cardio workout, and then go for the free weights. They are a great way to get acquainted with the muscles in your body. One set of hand weights can target all of your muscle groups.
JM: It was my own journey with health and wellness that has given me my passion for helping people build a life utilizing fitness. I was an overweight kid with zero self-esteem, and my mother had the foresight to get me into martial arts as a teen in an attempt to help me turn things around. This was transformative for me emotionally and psychologically, as well as physically, and for that reason, I believe that when a person is strong physically, it transcends into all facets of their lives.
BH: I believe that I am doing exactly what God put me here to do. When you find what your true passion is in life, then there will be nothing that stops you and that is what personal training is for me. To help people get back on track and to be a messenger in this quest for helping someone live a healthy, spiritual and happy life.
JM: CHOCOLATE! No on the cheat day. You can have a high-calorie day, but not a cheat day. I don't even like the word "cheat." It makes a person feel dirty. Forget that. Take a day out of your week and raise your calories up to 2,000. This way you can have some high-calorie foods but with boundaries so you don't wreck all your progress in one day. Additionally, you won't feel like you blew it and then beat yourself up.
BH: I think that one "high-calorie day" is absolutely acceptable. I prefer those words as opposed to "cheat day." It is a much more productive way of putting it. I am a big fan of dark chocolate, so that would be my weakness.
JM: Alcohol is tricky. It is definitely enemy number one to a diet. It's full of empty calories, and it lowers your willpower. How many times have you find yourself at a late-night diner ordering a tuna melt and fries? I mean come on! Who does that sober? With that said, a good strategy is to allow yourself four drinks a week. Make them lower-calorie options like a glass of wine or a clear alcohol with a low-calorie mixer. Tequila on the rocks with a lime. Vodka soda. Martini...you get the idea.
BH: Alcohol lowers your resolve, so I always tell people to be very careful when it comes to drinking. Limiting yourself to one glass of wine or a light beer is fine, but only once or twice a week.
JM: I believe you should take two days a week off from training. Your body needs rest and recovery time in order to grow and change. Your workouts are interpreted by your body as stress, and without adequate downtime, you can create injuries and end up breaking your body down instead of toning it up.
BH: Taking one day off to rest your body is the best way to live a healthy life. Your body needs time to recover and recoup, and then after that day off, you will have the strength to push yourself to new limits.
JM: Jettison the all-or-nothing mentality. Build a life on a middle ground. Allow yourself your favorite foods within your calorie allowance. Keep your life list handy, and whenever you are feeling discouraged, go back and remind yourself of all the things you want out of life. Then, ask if your behaviors are getting you any closer to those goals.
BH: Until you awaken the spirit in you to decide that you are worth it enough to make a change today, you won't feel that willpower that is required to get yourself back on track and start a whole new way of living. But when you do turn on that light, you will have enough willpower to start and keep going.
JM: Self-exploration is critical. I highly recommend getting into therapy. It has helped me tremendously to improve every aspect of my life. There are low-fee clinics available as well if you are strapped for cash. Other options could be OA [Overeaters Anonymous] meetings, support groups, online communities, journaling, self-help books—anything that gets you thinking and introspective.
BH: The first thing to do is find out what your relationship is with food and, more importantly, what your relationship is with yourself. That is where the real work begins. Watching what triggers you and "sets you off." You have to be able to acknowledge the behavior as opposed to avoiding it and pretending that it doesn't exist. When you are able to make that acknowledgment, that is when you are able to dilute the power that has been there, in this case the power of the food.
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