Jillian Michaels Balancing Workouts and Motherhood Is a Struggle

03/12/2013 at 11:00 AM ET

Jillian Michaels Fitness Cover
Justin Stephens for Fitness

Parenthood may not have softened Jillian Michaels professionally, but it certainly has changed the tough trainer’s tactical approach to her own workout routine.

“I used to say, ‘If you’re going to exercise, then you do it, and you do it 100 percent,'” The Biggest Loser coach tells Fitness in their April issue. “Now if I’ve got to answer emails while I work out on the StairMaster, well, then that’s what it is.”

And for all those ready to call her out on her new outlook? No need — Michaels is more than willing to eat her words. “People can rub my nose in it, because it is so hard — so hard — to take care of yourself when you’re a parent,” she says.

The mom-of-two‘s sudden change of heart comes from her never-ending quest to balance two kids, daughter Lukensia, 3, and son Phoenix, 10 months.

“I get up at 7 a.m. — after being up all night with the baby — and run around trying to get both kids diaper-changed, dressed and fed. Finally I’ll shower, and before I know it, I’ve got 50 emails to answer, and I need to leave for work,” Michaels, 39, explains.

“At the end of the day, I come home, and I’m like, ‘Okay, let me bathe you, change you, feed you, read you books, put you to bed — wait, how am I supposed to do all this? Son of a b—-, this is hard!'”

And with her daughter insisting on doing everything on her own — “Lu do, Lu do,” the hands-on mom mimics — motherhood is stretching Michaels in ways she never knew possible.

“It means you have to sit there for 20 minutes while she tries to put on a shirt. It kills me because I’ve got to go to work,” she explains. “[My partner] Heidi [Rhoades] gets mad at me: ‘How else is she going to learn how to put on her shirt?’ or ‘Don’t rush her, you’re rushing her!'”

Despite developing key coping skills, Michaels jokes her lack of patience will likely come up later in life.

“It makes me crazy, so I’ll just sit on the floor of the closet checking emails while Lu tries to figure out how to put on her shirt,” she says. “It’s brutal, but I’m really trying. I guarantee it’s going to be their number one issue in therapy.”

But it’s not all work and no play for the family. “Lu knows that Sunday is her treat day, so she can eat ice cream or French fries or something,” Michaels explains.

And, in an effort to not “deprive her the rest of the week,” the fitness trainer has been perfecting her healthy culinary skills.

“I’ll make whole-wheat pizza with mozzarella, onions and butternut squash, and to her that’s pizza,” Michaels explains. “I am a genius … I am so proud of myself because I have fooled her into eating healthy, and let me tell you, that kid is smart!”

And to balance out Sunday’s sweets, Michaels makes it a priority to keep her kids on the move with plenty of play time.

“Lu loves horses, so I take her to the stables, and she loves dancing, so I put music on and she dances around the house,” the on-the-go mom shares. “We run on the beach with the dogs and take her out to ride her tricycle. We just have a healthy lifestyle — we play!”

As for Phoenix, Michaels is already envisioning a future filled with fun fitness opportunities for mother and son.

“I have visions of our doing Brazilian jujitsu and capoeira together. Or maybe he’ll want to take ballet, and that’s okay, too,” she says. “Either way, I’m going to expose them both to a bunch of different activities, and whatever they love, they love.”

At the end of the day — through her struggles and successes — Michaels makes one thing clear: she’s not complaining about the life she chose.

“Every day I tell myself how blessed I am … I can’t b—- about it, because this is what I wanted,” she says. “I just thought I’d be able to manage it better. My new motto: As long as I’m winning more than I’m losing, I’m still winning!”

— Anya Leon

FILED UNDER: News , Parenting

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Showing 62 comments

Kelsey on

I think she is wonderful and its great that she’s willing to admit it isn’t easy. Balancing it all is close to impossible but I hate articles like this. Really? You dont get to just sit, relax, put the phone away and enjoy your kids? Whats the point then? There are little for only so long.

October on

I love that she’s willing to eat her words. 🙂

Stacey on

What their going to need therapy for is living with two moms.

And can’t take care of two kids…………..give me a break. Two kids is a walk in the park.

Shaksndn on

Stacey, your ignorance is apparent through your idiotic remarks and your poor grammar.

mouse on

Stacey, the only reason her kids might ever need therapy is because of people like you discriminating against them. And it’s “they’re”, which means “they are”. Not “their”. “You’re ignorant!

Anonymous on

LMFAOO everyone hates you Stacey xD

Lis on

Stacey I totally agree with you. Good for you for not bring afraid to speak out against this. This lifestyle is wrong and my heart aches for those kids.

Laura on

Stacey- I’m a psychologist and there is no evidence to support that a child of two moms is any more likely to need therapy. I have had child patients in two mom families (as well as every other family arrangement) and the two mom parents have been among the most supportive and loving parents I have worked with in 20 years.

Anonymous on

Stacey- Jillian’s situation is a bit different from most, though. Instead of having one kid, learning the parenting ropes and then having another kid, she went from zero kids to two kids virtually over night!

She had to learn how to parent a baby and a toddler all at once, so for her two kids probably IS a bit challenging!

Anyway, I love the article! I wonder what parenting tasks Heidi does, though? Jillian makes it sound like she does it all.

Patsy on

On Jillian’s podcasts she talks about how Heidi does most everything for the kids and speaks glowingly about her. She talks a lot about how Heidi makes the food for the kids: grows it in their garden and then processes it in such a manner that both of the kids can/will eat it.

She has also indicated that when she is home she does all she can with the kids in order to give Heidi the break she needs since she is with them all day while she works – and when she’s out of town and doesn’t take the family with her, it’s Heidi.

I’ve heard Jillian talk about her family on talk shows and her podcasts, she shares funny stories, genuine stories… you can hear in her voice and see in her eyes / face how much she loves them all. I am happy for her!

Anonymous on

Stacey, shove it.

Deb on

WOW the whole article she complains then ends with “I’m not complaining because I do have a blessed life!” I travelled all over the world with two daughters as a single mom and joke “Yall never became a Nancy Grace story so I’m VERY proud!” Jill, NONE of us regular moms will EVER get mag spread to tell our story so BE QUIET you are BLESSED!!!! OK my daughter was in Seventeen joking about my 007 style parenting but that doesn’t count hahahahahahahahaha

Jenn on

Sounds like a mom!

itznia on

She is soooo annoying and on such a high horse – can’t stand her.

Kim on

Stacey, your ignorance is showing! It’s not about two moms, or two dads, or even one mom and one dad…it’s about love. You give your kids love and acceptance, and they will turn out just fine. I have two kids and it’s no walk in the park…not if you are doing it the right way! Grow up!

Melissa on

I love her but I am very glad she finally gets it as a mom!

Karen on

I think most people give parenting and life advice when they are in no position to really understand what it’s like to be a parent. And all those people eat their words when THEY become a parent. All those “I will never let my kid (fill-in-the-blank)” go right out the window. Being a working parent is hard. It’s OK to not love every minute of it. Sometimes it’s wonderful, sometimes it’s tedious, sometimes you hate it.

I had to laugh about the 20-minute shirt thing. I SO remember the “I do! I do!” stage!

6453 on

I am a single parent of just one child. A child that is old enough to bathe himself, dress himself, and grap a pack of pop tarts if we are running late. I work over 40 hours a week, keep a house up, make breakfast, make dinner, the usual mom things… and I also attend college classes as well.

It disheartens me to see someone on here “blasting” another’s parenting skills… It’s TOUGH in any situation. Face it moms… None of us are perfect so lets not try to pretend that we are better than this mom. She is doing all she can do to keep balanced, just like we do.

Liz on

Awe Stacey, you are one of those mean moms. You know, one who has to one up every other mom and put other moms down. What a sad life you lead.

Elaine on

Love the honesty! I wish more people were honest about how difficult it can be. Some feel they are weak by admitting that they struggle to do everything. Just means that you’re a real person.

Ann Bresnan on

I love Jillian and The Biggest Loser. My concern is that a 3 year old shouldn’t still be in diapers!

nacho mamma on

Stacey – perhaps if you could use proper grammar people might take you seriously – until then you will remain ignorant.

Anna on

Why do people constantly remark on peoples grammar skills? Who cares! Is this English class? Are most of us using cell phones with auto correct? Yes. So shut the hell up and get off your high horse and focus on the comment instead of being a hypocritical bitch (like you have never made a grammar error before).

Tiffany on

Anna, I can only speak for myself, but I feel like your question deserves an answer: I get hung up on someone’s grammar, spelling, and punctuation when they’re putting others down. I feel like, if you’re going to bash others, you’re suggesting that you’re perfect. Someone who can’t write correctly, or won’t be bothered to double-check what’s written, obviously isn’t perfect. I’d like to see people focus more on their OWN flaws.

Shep on

Wow Stacey, not only is your grammar atrocious, but you’re clearly close-minded and ignorant as well. Maybe you are the one that needs therapy!

Jasmine on

hahaha…finally she understands how hard it is!! But really she doesn’t 100%….as she didn’t get pregnant herself.

Barbara on

That is cruel thing to say Jasmine! Especially as she didn’t “get herself pregnant” because she has health problems that prevented her from being able to conceive.

Who are you to imply she is any less of a parent because she didn’t care them physically? No, she may not know what it’s like to be pregnant but you’ll clearly never know the pain and heartbreak of NOT being able to carry your own child and the joy and gratitude of being able to have a child at all to love!

Yesenia on

This was a really great article and very inspiring. Her honesty and bluntness can be pretty refreshing.

Kerry on

Love Jillian! Her honesty is refreshing. It is hard to find time to do anything for yourself when you are a mom, much less exercise.

Stacey – two loving moms sounds awesome to me… what makes you think your kids won’t need therapy witnessing your close-minded views?? Two kids is certainly no walk in the park. I have raised two grown children and I now have a 3 year old, just the one is work..but I love every minute of it.

Anonymous on

Ann, her little girl was just adopted a few months ago. Who knows what kind of situation the child came from? You can’t force a child to potty train. They are probably working with her, but it is more important for that child to feel safe and secure before they work on potty training. You really shouldn’t judge!

deb on

I like Jillian..good for her and her partner, I am sure they are wonderful parents and its great for her to admit its a juggling act..Not disrespecting anybody here but i am sure although they are probably very hands on, i’d guess, by what she says, I am sure with millions of dollars they have PLENTY of help in the way of nannies/housekeepers etc etc..I don’t blame her but lets not go overboard that she has to do “it all” because she most likely does not.

Kim on

Poor Stacy is being slaughtered!! Everyone has a right to their opinion even if we don’t agree.

Susan on

Wah. No sympathy. She even said herself that she chose this. So yeah, Jillian, you do deserve to have your nose rubbed in it for a while.

mommyof2 on

Put the phone away.

teresa on

I agree completely with Stacey. Those kids will be messes up having lesbos for parents. I loved jillian until I found out she was gay. What a disappointment. Bravo for messing this world up even more.

Tiffany on

What a perfect example of humanity you are teresa. 😛

PS: Much like Stacey, you should learn to compose a comment before you ride your high horse too far.

boohoobytch on

I’m not a mom so I can’t comment but I love her 30 day shred DVD’s and they work so kudos to her for getting me in shape (and keeping me there)…

Jasmine, I’m not sure what your point is – she’s a mom b/c she takes care of 2 babies that are HERS…she just didn’t get fat and have her privates rip apart…IF I wanted a kid, I certainly wouldn’t want to carry it, that’s just me though and I don’t think it’s your business how her kids got here

fessie on

Why do people call it ignorance when their opinion differs of what is popular at the moment. How about thinking that your opinion is ignorant thinking that having two moms or two dads or 1 dad or 1 mom doesn’t affect the children regardless when it’s not the way G-d ordained it to be it’s messed up.

Tiffany on

Ignorance is lack of knowledge, fessie. Speaking ignorantly is talking about something authoritatively, when you have no knowledge to back it up. If you’ve done no research into the subject, you might think that a child raised by two parents of the same sex will be “messed up.” Research suggests otherwise, however. I consider it remarkably close-minded to assume they’d be harmed in some way. Decades of studies show that these children are as well-adjusted as anyone. Open-minded thoughts are not a new “trend,” that people are discovering, any more than civil rights were in the 60’s.

lola on

@Jazmine Just because she never gave birth to her kids doesn’t mean that she doesn’t get it 100%. Giving birth is such a miniscule thing. And yes, I have birthed my own child.

Amanda on

I love her!!

NYC on

A “treat day” for a three year old. Give me a break. Modeling good behavior is important but imposing these ridged hunger rules is ludicrous to me.

Jen on

So much hate over nothing. “Enjoy them while they are young” What parents of young kids don’t feel stressed or like rushing them at some point? That’s such crap advice.

And everyone complaining about how they have to do it and so Jillian should shut up about it. Um you aren’t a famous personality who people are apparently interested in hearing. I’m sure if People called you up and offered you a couple grand to talk about your struggles you’d happily do it.

I applaud anyone who is willing to discuss real struggles because if one parent is thinking it, it’s likely another parent somewhere is thinking it.

Elena on

Why make a story about a working mom balancing work, children and a home? People do it daily and have been for a long time.

Cheryl on

Because she is a celebrity and this is a celebrity website, Elena.

gilda on

Welcome to motherhood, Jillian. That, in itself, is a full-time job. Everything else is icing. So balancing your career and being a Mom is going to be 2x as demanding. Maybe time to re-prioritize what matters. Your career is only a career… your children will only be young once. Good luck.

momoftwo on

I love that she is willing to eat her words and recognizes how hard it really is.

I just have to wonder why @ 10 months are they still getting up with the baby?

Jacqueline on

A couple things.

1. I adore Jillian Michaels! I think it’s great to see her adjusting to life as a mother and it’s so sweet to see her enjoying her life with her partner and her children. Beautiful.

2. Stop with the “two mothers will send her children to therapy” nonsense. You don’t have to agree with it and you don’t have to do it, but it’s not your place or your right to put down those who do.

Those children have two parents who love them and take care of them. If you can’t see past that then don’t even bother commenting.

3. It’s nice that she realizes how hard it is to take care of yourself while being a mother, but it should still be pointed out, that it’s not impossible. Taking care of yourself puts you in the best position to take care of your children. Which she obviously also realizes.

4. I love that she is already teaching her children healthy eating habits and that “treats” are exactly that…a treat. NOT a neccissity. My 3 kids have a “treat” day and the rest of the week they eat very clean. They participate in several sports so it’s important to keep them healthy. And they actually prefer eating healthy foods. My 5 year old very aptly said “My body just doesn’t feel as good when I eat ‘bad’ food as when I eat good food.” and

5. Elena…come on. They write articles like this bc she is a celebrity and people are interested in her life. We know people do it all the time, people who like her want to know how SHE does it.

The same comment could be said to you “Why bother commenting when so many other people have already?” – If you think there’s no point in the article, don’t read it. And certainly don’t comment.

jessica on

Parenthood is the ultimate reality check!!!! It is not easy and its nice to see people admit that. Sounds like she’s figuring it all out just like all moms do.

Kegs on

Hmmmm — a 3 year old still in diapers!! Now that’s a problem!

Anonymous on

I have 2 young girls under the age of 3 and it is a tough job, but I wouldn’t change anything! Add onto parenting working full-time and I have no time left for myself after getting a few hours of (interrupted) sleep each night. So I know the struggle of trying to fit in a work-out. For me once or twice a month is an accomplishment! At least Jillian doesn’t have baby weight to lose!

Lena on

Wow – interesting comments on here.

Some kids at 10 months don’t sleep through the night yet. Some kids are not potty trained at 3 years old. Two parents, one parent either way…a loving parent or parents is what children need.

Don’t throw stones because she has an extremely busy career and checks her email while her child takes a while to complete a task.

Thank you Jillian for being honest and human about your experiences as a mother. Hopefully those who are judging you so harshly won’t be so judgmental with their own kids.

Cindy on

I would rather have two moms than two dysfunctional parents who smoke and drink any day of the week.

They seem to be two loving parents who wash, feed, and pay attention to their kids. I think it’s great.

Having a mom and dad is no indication that the person will not need therapy later in life.

Boke7 on

I love Jillian. So cool and fun. Congrats to her and her partner, Heidi, on their beautiful children and their success.

mnm on

My thoughts? Well duh! Her holier than thou attitude has always sucked. You can tell she has NO IDEA what other ppl’s lives are like! Apathy is not her strong suit. Add into her new “reality” a WHOLE lot less money (and all the stress that goes with it); plus little things like a body that has gone through carrying multiple kids… and I might actually think she has an idea of how hard regular mom’s have to work to stay in shape! (and yes I am fit and trim)

Kathy on

I totally agree with mnm!! Sorry, but she still has NO idea what REALity is. like she doesnt have any help (nannies, etc). And money issues can kill even the best relationship. So cry me a river about hiw HARD poor bitchy Jillian’s life is. Like someone pointed out – she complains through the whole article and then says, ‘I’m not complaining.’ Ugh!!

Sydney on

I really don’t understand why other parents are so quick to judge other parents. No one is the perfect parent, depsite what they may think. Everyone has their own way of doing things, so who is to say one persons way is the right way? Just because it worked for you doesn’t mean that it works for everyone.

I also don’t understand why it matters to others who people love. It is not affecting anyone other than those directly involved in the relationship. Despite what “God” may say, not everyone is religious, and not everyone cares. There are plenty of children with hetero parents that need therapy too. People need to get off their high horse and let others make their own decisions. THAT it what is wrong with the world.

Diapers or no diapers, treat day or not, Jillian is doing what works for her and her family and I applaud her for it. The rest of you that don’t like her, or don’t like that she is “complaining”, don’t read the article!

Claire on

I absolutely love Jillian and am so happy for her and Heidi. My only question is why are you “up all night” with a 10 month old? Unless he’s sick or there are other extenuating circumstances, he should be sleeping through the night. One of the best pieces of “sleep” advice I ever got was, “If your healthy, full-term six month old isn’t sleeping through the night, it’s not their fault, it’s yours.”

Now, if they have chosen a parenting style where they respond every time he so much as whimpers, that’s their business. I just don’t understand people (though Jillian wasn’t doing this) who complain that they “have to” be up several times a night with a child who is healthy and past the infant stage. All three of mine slept eight hours a night by three months. And no, I wasn’t just lucky and no I didn’t just “get good sleepers.” They had to be taught and it was hard and we all suffered for a few nights. But by three months, we were ALL getting a good night’s sleep.

Michelle on

I was raised by 2 women and I have to say it was better than being raised by a mother and father who fought all the time. My dad left my mom, and my mom met a man and he didn’t want us. So, my sister, brother and myself were put into State’s Custody back in the early 80’s. My sister and I were left together and my brother was placed in a different home.

I never saw my 2 moms raised their voice to each other in front of us, just to me and my sister when we did something wrong. My mom passed away in 1994 and I still keep in touch with my other mom. They taught me the values in life and to be a strong woman and never depend on someone else when you can do it yourself. I am raising 2 kids by myself and I have done quite well. I’ve been working in the Oilfield for 16 years.

Nothing is ever easy, you just have to have the strength and motivation to move on. Ignore all the hate comments about 2 women or 2 men. As, long as you provide for your children it shouldn’t matter who raises them. The children couldn’t be in better hands.That’s whats wrong with our society, there quick to judge and not know all the facts. Good for you Jillian and Heidi.

nicole on

I love jillian and her workouts, but im so tired of her talking about babies, it was too much I had to unfollow her on twitter.

Jen DC on

@ Kim: It’s not that Stacey has an “opinion,” it is that she’s giving a false diagnosis of psychological damage based on the sex of one’s parents. It is PROVEN that children of same sex parents are no worse off in most of the metrics we, as a society, consider important.

I love Jillian for many, many reasons, in particular because her bluntness, while potentially off-putting, reminds me of myself. For those of us with this particular worldview – that you are the most significant agent of change in your life – it’s hard to remember that everyone doesn’t take it on the chin and rise like we do. Most of the time, it DOES take being in a situation over which we have no control to PROVE to us that hey, “X *is* more difficult than I thought!”

I’m going through that right now with yoga practice. I’ve kicked boxed, played competitive soccer, been a competitive swimmer, I run and I bike so I thought yoga would be a piece of cake and mocked my “yogi” friends. And then I started an Ashtanga class and I can’t raise my arms over my head. I kicked my azz and I’ve been happily apologizing to my buds.

All that being said, kudos for her for admitting that she’s got a big mouth and she didn’t know what she was talking about!

And OH MAN, does the “I do! I do!” stage take patience. It’s amazing my eyeballs didn’t get stuck mid-roll sometimes with the kids I’ve nanny’d over the years. I would usually leave the room because even if the little ones didn’t feel it, *I* could feel my tension ratcheting up! (That said, I’m amazingly patient with OTHER THINGS, like making messes, wanting to stay outside too long, having a sweaty sick baby plastered to my chest for naptime instead of in the crib, etc.)

@ NYC: Way to mischaracterize the “treat day.” I’ve never understood giving candy and stuff to kids on a daily basis. When I got candy, it was genuinely exciting and fun, and it was a cheap way to get my cooperation. I never felt deprived – I was never “hungry,” I just didn’t have candy regularly.

Lisa on

I don’t think Jillian is really complaining, she is just explaining how her days go. That it can be frustrating and she is admitting it is hard. As moms we can’t say that we never were frustrated.

I think it is good she is teaching her children good eating habits now. Children don’t need all those sweets.

No one is perfect. No one is a perfect parent. We should not judge others. We all have our own way of doing things. Being a parent is a hard job and we all do the best we can.

I’m happy for Jillian and hope she has many happy yrs. to come.