Jillian Michaels explains that getting older is not an excuse for neglecting fitness


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I’m paraphrasing Jillian Michaels in the title because her quote is long and wouldn’t fit in our format, but that’s the gist of what she said. Michaels, 42, covers February’s Redbook issue, probably because she’s an incredibly popular fitness trainer and people are looking for motivation in the new year. I’ve mentioned before that she’s not my favorite trainer, I’ve tried to do her free BeFit workouts on YouTube (they’re legal and released with the trainers’ cooperation) and they’re punishing. She’s not one of my go-to instructors, I prefer to work out with Jessica Smith, Denise Austin and Popsugar Fitness. (I’m including some of my favorite YouTube workouts at the end of this post if you’re interested!) I do like what Michaels says about getting older not being a decent excuse not to work out and care for your body. I’m 43 and love exercise, it’s one of my favorite things and I wish I could get more converts without sounding like an a-hole, so in that way I’m grateful she’s visible and talking about this issue. Here’s some of what she told Redbook:

Why she’s so committed to working out and being healthy:
I’m a 42-year-old. I still like skinny jeans. I still prefer a two-piece instead of a one-piece, but now I have two young kids. So for me, I want to be skiing down the mountain alongside my kids instead of waiting at the bottom for them. I want to see their children graduate from college. I want to meet my grandchildren’s children. These are my whys.

On finding balance as a working parent:
Maria Shriver once said something like, “You can do it all, but not at the same time.” I say, “You can do it all, but just a little bit more s–itty.” And that’s got to be okay!

On aging and why she’s in better shape now than she was in her 20s:
I care more, and when you care more you train harder and eat better. People believe that aging is this slow descent into decrepitude. That’s not true. When people say, “Oh, I’m 40 now, and this is happening to me and that’s happening to me,” it’s the cumulative effect of years of neglect, which—by the way—can still be turned around.

Why she thinks there’s too much pressure on women to get back to their pre-pregnancy bodies:
I was just talking to someone who was breast-feeding and already on a diet. I was like, “Dude, you’ve got to chill. If you start dropping more than two pounds a week, you’re going to compromise your milk supply.” The reality is that you can bounce back better than ever, but time frames vary for everyone. Everybody and every pregnancy is different. If it takes you a year, who cares?

[From Redbook]

Jillian is promoting her new post-partum fitness book, Yeah Baby, and most of what she says is sensible. I particularly like her thoughts on losing weight gradually after having a baby. I also want to add something that Denise Austin advocates, that you can work out at home and that workouts are cumulative over the day. You don’t have to carve out an entire hour all at once. Also, do what is fun for you, working out doesn’t have to mean driving to the gym and kicking your own butt. I love to dance and so I do all the Just Dance video games along with Zumba. Sometimes I do easier workouts when I want a break or just for fun. Working out should be something you look forward to.

Here are some of my favorites from YouTube. Thanks for indulging me at the end of the year!
Easy: Denise Austin Cardio Fat Burn Workout: 19 minutes
Easy: Denise Austin Cardio Calorie Burn Dance Workout (moves are easy and workout is fun): 32 minutes
Easy: Jessica smith, Zumba style (Easy to moderate and fun with hit music): 30 minutes
Moderate: Jessica smith, Fat Burn bootcamp (one of my go-to favorites): 25 minutes
Moderate: Body Project, intermediate cardio workout (fun kickboxing style workout with intervals): 32 minutes
Moderate: Tracey Mallett FuseDance Cardio Melt Workout (feels deceptively easy until it hits you): 32 minutes
Medium-Hard: Dance Cardio Bootcamp from Jenna Dewan Tatum’s trainer (moves are easy, workout is hard but has breaks): 20 minutes
Medium-Hard: Body by Simone cardio dance (uses weights, has intervals, the planks at the end are insane): 39 minutes

Jillian Michaels

Photos credit: Jeff Lipsky for Redbook and Getty Images

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34 Responses to “Jillian Michaels explains that getting older is not an excuse for neglecting fitness”

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  1. Georgia says:

    Μy sister enjoys her workouts. I haven’t tried them only because I use fitness blender for years. I have bought all of their workout programmes which are affordable and appreciate that they are not promoting any kind of supplements.
    I also enjoy yoga with Adliene and cycling.
    It is important to find the type of exercise you like and stick with it. My friend recognises the effects of weight training but hates it. She sticks to yoga.
    Happy new year to everybody.

  2. EEV says:

    I like her. She seems reasonable, and I totally agree with everything she says regarding fitness as you age, and post-partum weight loss. Observing the difference between my (fit) parents and my (unfit) parents in-law is astounding. My sister-in-law’s parents are in their 80′s and they still go dancing every week – LIFEGOALS.

    • Hannah says:

      I believe there’s a slow change of culture these days with “older” celebrities looking their best. For example, J. Lo’s body today loos way better than in her 20s and you see people over 40 like Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, all exercising and looking good.

  3. Wellsie says:

    I love Jillian and am at the end of 30 day shred and the results are amahzing! I don’t do it every single day and don’t follow the meal plan, but it’s still pretty incredible how much 20 mins 3-4 times a week can make changes.

  4. Esmom says:

    I think everything she said is reasonable. Also at the risk of sounding like an a-hole, I’m in my late 40s and am close to the best shape I’ve ever been in, partially because I’ve always maintained a decent level of fitness and party because the older I get, the more I really want to work out strenuously. It helps my mental health just as much as my physical health, no joke. I’ve always enjoyed running and did Pilates for 10 years but in the last few years I have really stepped up the strength training, which I think is the biggest key to being all-around fit as you get older.

    I rarely work out at home but very occasionally follow workouts I stumbled into online by Holly Rilinger at Healthination. Short but sweet and you can repeat them to make a longer circuit.

    • Mel says:

      You don’t sound like an a-hole! I related to that part of her interview as well. I’m 33 and I wouldn’t trade my body for the one I had at 18. Even before. Formerly overweight, her workouts have helped me and today I am a Blogilates / PIIT 28 follower. I hurt my knee and haven’t worked out in two weeks now and I feel miserable!! I can’t wait to get back to it!

    • Lisa says:

      I’m almost 30 and I’m in better shape than I was 10 years ago! I put on about 5 lbs that show a little more because I’m short, but if my high school self could see me now, she’d be like, who is she? ;)

      Working out as you get older is so important, not just for physical health, but mentally. I love it.

  5. Maika says:

    Love Jillian, especially her podcast, she’s funny, smart, reasonable and veeery different from her Biggest Loser persona.

  6. manda says:

    I will be 40 in two weeks, and have been working out fairly regularly (2 to 4 times per week) for the last two and a half years after a sedentary lifestyle for years. I wasn’t even athletic in high school, but I did ride my bike a lot. I always walked a decent amount, but yeah, never “in shape”. I actually started working out BECAUSE I am getting older. Seems weird that people would not work out for that reason. I know it’s good for my heart and for my bones, and frankly, once you get really old if you stop moving then you’re done. I’ve seen it happen too many times. I would love it if my body shape got better, but that may just be a dream! I do it because it’s good for me, but gosh I wish I enjoyed it. Absolutely hate it! Thank goodness I have a workout buddy. You are lucky that you like it! I’d quit in a heartbeat if I didn’t know how bad of a decision that would be!

    • Esmom says:

      You are right about how if you stop moving you’re done. My grandmother was very sedentary in her last decades and ended up with terrible health issues. She said her biggest regret was not staying active as she got older.

      As for not liking working out, keep it up and you might just find one day that you’re actually enjoying it! It took years but it happened to me. I think part of the enjoyment for me now comes from gratitude that I can still run and move and am healthy. That and knowing I’m doing something good for myself even as the rest of my day is crammed with doing things for other people, lol.

    • Luca76 says:

      Yes I turned 40 2 days ago and in the last year I’ve cleaned out my diet and gotten in the best shape of my life. I’m motivated by vanity and fear of aging. I also work in a field where I see a lot of older people and I want to be one of the people who ages with strength and stamina.

    • Lacia Can says:

      It’s good to focus on the long term. I’m like you in that I don’t necessarily love the actual workout. It’s corny, but I focus on that saying, “You’ll never regret working out but you will regret skipping it.” It’s so true! One thing I’ve noticed since I started running regularly (3 years) is that I’m rarely sick. Everyone in the house will have a cold but I won’t catch it. That is also a motivator for me. I agree with Esmom that you might start to like exercise, or at least stop hating it. I started with just running; it was the only thing I could tolerate. But then I gradually added more strength training because I’d become addicted to the results of exercise!

  7. Adele Dazeem says:

    She seems to have chilled out with age. Good for her!

  8. Roma says:

    CB, thanks for the workout links! I kickbox twice a week and do cardio a few times more, but I’ve been looking for workout videos to add in. Looking forward to trying these out.

  9. Layla says:

    I absolutely love daily burn! It’s always something new it’s the only thing I’ve ever stuck to, every single day for over a year and I’m in the best shape of my life

  10. Becks says:

    I’m also 42 and still like skinny jeans as well, haha. I work out 5 days a week and it’s the best for stress management and overall well being.
    I run and do cardio barre, which give great results….but I’m always looking for new workouts to throw into the repertoire.
    Thanks for posting that list CB, I’ll be trying them..
    I’ve taken some Body by Simone classes here in LA, and it kicks your butt. They’re excellent!

  11. K.T says:

    I’ve liked the Jillian Michaels free workouts – I’ll trial many different work outs all the time. Keep moving and experimenting is my own philosophy, plus having the most fun with your own lifestyle. Doing the bikini body Kaela thing now, we’ll see! As long as I’m working out (gotta admit most workouts are very similar to me) – at least I’ll feel more in shape and eat less junky type food so it works in general. For myself, I really I adore dancing, hiking & swimming the best but strength training seems faster & a bit more result orientated. But it’s all good!

  12. Gr8k8 says:

    I’m a Beachbody fan. Love me some Beachbody OnDemand. I’m 30, and about 4 months postpartum from my first child. Aside from my sad, stretched out core (I’m really struggling to get those muscles back!) I feel and look great. I’ve been exercising 5-7 days a week since I put on 20 pounds in college. It’s harder now that I have a baby to find the time, but I love exercising. Can’t wait to continue to exercise as I get older. :)

  13. Harryg says:

    For some reason I can’t stands the word “fitness.” It makes me think of the smell of rubbery gym, and that shiny stretchy material that some gym clothes are made of (nylon? spandex?), it makes my skin crawl.

  14. Darkladi says:

    I’m 47 and I Crossfit. I am in the greatest shape of my life & I co-sign everything Jillian said. I also slow clap to you ladies in the comments above.

  15. Boodiba says:

    I like super intense workouts, and luckily there are many great ones on YouTube (as I’m now quite poor). Fit Body by Julia is my favorite channel but they’re routines I only do 2-3x a week as they’re so intense.

  16. Katherine says:

    Just exercised with the first one – the trainer is quite nice, so friendly – thanks for getting my bum off the couch :-)

  17. GMonkey says:

    I like her and think that her workouts are decent.

    Cathe Friedrich is my absolute favorite, though!

  18. Rico Shew says:

    I went back to the gym about three years ago and feel all the better for it. The real turning point for me was when I did an eight week group challenge under the supervision of personal trainers. They don’t let you slip into a comfort zone and cruise, they push you all the way and in doing so showed me that I was capable of much more than i realized. They also taught me a bunch of new exercises that i now incorporate in my training. Diet is also important because you can’t out train a bad diet.

  19. Cannibell says:

    Thanks for posting your workouts! She’s right – there’s a lot to keeping the exercise routine up. The difference between those who do and those who don’t is particularly dramatic as people get older. My mother (in her 80s) never exercised and is in pretty grim shape. One of her friends, who was a gym teacher, is still taking steps two at a time.

  20. Ariel says:

    41 here, and absolutely in the best shape of my life. For me, it was the combo of emergency abdominal surgery that scared the shit out of me (was in the hospital for a week, had to relearn walking, bla bla) and divorce grief that made me finally realize that you only get one life, you only get one body, and every day that it’s not dead is a day you get to celebrate it being alive by MOVING IT. Such a weird shift for me, but now working out feels like a celebration (Not! Dead! Today!) whereas before it was always a dreaded obligation.

    We’re all gonna die… Might as well enjoy your body as much as you can before the wheels fall off!

    Thanks for the workout links… Love!

  21. misery chick says:

    I’ll be 57 in a couple of weeks, morbidly obese, Type 2 Diabetic and have never exercised. Over the last year or so have really cleaned up my diet and have been off caffeine over four months.
    Soooo…is it too late to start getting fit? Any tips? Thanks 🙌