JILLIAN Michaels' toned midsection has graced the pages of many top magazines. Seeing her now, it's hard to believe that this celebrity trainer - author of four best-selling books and a star of the popular NBC reality TV show "The Biggest Loser" - ever had weight or self-esteem problems.
Believe it or not, though, the 5-foot-3-inch, 114-pound dynamo was once, unhappily, 175 pounds. She gained the weight as a teenager when her parents divorced.
Michaels got herself back on track, and she's been helping others do the same as a fitness and wellness coach for more than two decades.
Along with her TV appearances and books, Michaels spreads her be-your-best message via podcasts, apps, DVDs and a website. She also has a touring stage show that comes to the Academy of Music on Friday.
"Jillian Michaels Maximize Your Life" promises an energetic, motivational 90 minutes of what Michaels calls "the real me, up close and personal, sharing everything I've learned over the years."
Want an even more up-close encounter with the fitness whiz?
"The Biggest Loser" will hold a casting call for Season 15 on May 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Shops at Liberty Place, 1625 Chestnut St. Find out more at thebiggestlosercasting.com.
Among the things you'll need to bring are at least 80 pounds you'd like to lose.
Without much fanfare, Michaels came out last year when her partner, Heidi Rhoades, was pregnant. Now the couple are happily raising two young children - daughter Lukensia, whom they adopted from Haiti, and son Phoenix.
A few weeks ago, Michaels and I chatted about her tour, her life and her new role as a mom. Here are snippets of that interview.
Q: Tell me, where are you from and how old are you?
A: I am 39 and a native of Los Angeles.
Q: You're coming to Philadelphia in May. What will people get out of your "Maximize Your Life" show? Is it strictly a lecture or will the audience be participating in some way?
A: No, it's not just a lecture. It's very interactive, multimedia, high energy, but there's no physical workout. People will be confronted and pulled, to unlock what's holding them back. Unlocking beliefs and confronting the bigger picture.
Q: Who should attend the show?
A: Anyone who feels held back and wants to take it to the next level.
Q: What have been your personal struggles with food, fitness and weight? And what's your personal diet and exercise routine?
A: I've been the overweight kid, had the jobs I hated and the bad relationships. Now I balance my portions, and work out about four times a week for 30 to 45 minutes.
I am lucky to do what I do, and I want to share the tools and information to [achieve] personal transformation.
Q: Your persona on " Biggest Loser" is way over-the-top drill sergeant. Is that more a performance or is it who you really are?
A: It's not a performance, but it is an incomplete portrayal. You don't see 99 percent of what I'm doing. It's a life-or-death intervention, like "Scared Straight." It's about uncovering the inhibiting, getting them to take responsibility.
Q: What percentage of "Biggest Loser" participants maintain their weight loss?
A: About 60 percent.
Q: On a personal note, how have marriage and motherhood changed you?
A: Well, you know, we're not married, but it's really lovely to have kids and be in a loving relationship. Family is work and relationships are work. You have to work at it and work for it. It's all the same tools, really, all the same tools used . . . it's been a long time coming.