When I got the opportunity to interview Jillian Michaels for a POPSUGAR story, I was over the moon. Not only did I have the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with one of the biggest legends in fitness, but I would FINALLY get to tell the woman who had such a huge impact on my life how much she had changed the course of my career.
Coming from someone with the title of "fitness editor," the statement that Jillian Michaels changed my life probably doesn't come as a surprise. She's a fitness icon, I work in fitness, of course she had some kind of influence over my life! But it's not in the way you'd think.
I didn't grow up with fitness, and exercise wasn't a part of my life until my early 20s. I had never seen the inside of a gym, had never watched The Biggest Loser, and had no idea what an IT band or a burpee was. Of course, I had heard of Jillian Michaels, but I didn't know what she was all about until I started getting into fitness a few short years ago.
Last Summer, I was in a job that I hated, and I was miserable. I knew I wanted to leave, but I had no sort of plan, no direction . . . I knew I loved writing but couldn't figure out how I could make that my full-time gig and still make ends meet. I was also just starting to fall in love with fitness, going to yoga daily and gearing up for my third half-marathon.
However, I was making decent money, and my parents insisted that I stay in a "safe job" . . . under no circumstances could I leave there without a solid plan in place. I have a lot of respect for my parents, so I swallowed my pride, and I stuck it out. And my mental and emotional health tanked.
I kept turning to fitness as my outlet for stress, and in my spare time, I tried to nurture my creativity with my personal blog. The combo of writing, working out, and writing about working out was what kept me sane, but I still was really, truly unhappy.
That's when Jillian came in: my mom was headed to a business seminar, with Jillian Michaels as the keynote speaker. My mom is a huge Jillian fan, and she was really excited to hear her secrets to running a successful business. The woman is a global empire, after all!
Jillian gave an unexpected speech — she described being in her early 20s, stuck in a miserable job that totally destroyed her emotional well-being (sound familiar?). Jillian's parents had told her she needed a "real job" and warned against leaving the safety of her current position, despite the fact that Jillian wanted to pursue her passion of fitness (hmmm, even more familiar). But when she did leave that job, she went on to see massive success, and her global brand was launched (perhaps that part will be familiar too?).
She ended her keynote with the statement, "You have the least success when you play it safe." What a powerful notion, right? Well, it was powerful enough to resonate with my stubborn mom, who immediately called me and said, "Quit your job. I support whatever choice you make next, and I'm here to help."
I have chills thinking about that conversation. I was so grateful to a person who I'd never met — someone who saw great success after enduring hardship, who could reassure people on the other side . . . people who were afraid to take a risk. I took that risk, quit my "safe" job, and committed myself to writing and honing my craft.
A few quick months later, I saw a spot open up here at POPSUGAR, and it was like the stars aligned. Writing and fitness! Are you kidding?! It was a dream. I got the job (and freaked out), packed my car, drove up to San Francisco, and began a new, exciting chapter of life. It's the happiest I've felt in years, and every day is a new adventure. I have Jillian to thank for that pivotal moment that helped set everything in motion.
Needless to say, I got a little choked up when I talked to Jillian (but I held it together, because, you know, I'm a professional and stuff). Before we jumped into our interview — to dive into her favorite workouts and fitness tips, of course! — I had to tell her the story of how she changed my life and how she helped get me here to POPSUGAR Fitness. Her warm, grateful response was so humbling, and it made the rest of our interview feel like a conversation between two friends.
We laughed (a lot!), we chatted, and before I knew it, our time was up. I had tons of amazing fitness tips to share with all you readers, which was exciting in itself, but I was even more blown away by her kindness and overcome with gratitude for the moment I had to thank the woman who changed my life.