Nine strategies to look and feel your best from Jillian Michaels

What happens when the world's most hard-core trainer suddenly becomes a mom of two? She softens up but doesn't wimp out. We sat down with Jillian Michaels for the scoop. Get ready to take your workout — and your life — to the next level fast!

Jillian Michaels Photo by Brian Vander Brug/Contour by Getty Images

Jillian Michaels (Photo by Brian Vander Brug/Contour by Getty Images)

After taking a couple seasons off, Jillian Michaels is back on The Biggest Loser. And if you’re like us, we bet you’ve noticed something different about her: She’s not yelling as loudly at everyone anymore. In fact, she seems to have shed her tough-girl image — and (surprise, surprise) she also seems so much happier, lighter, brighter.

Her life certainly has changed in a big way. These days, when Jillian’s not creating new workouts, writing bestsellers or working on her first North American wellness tour, she’s busy potty training her adopted three-year-old daughter, Lukensia, or changing diapers for her son, Phoenix, whom her partner, Heidi, gave birth to last spring.

Jillian Michaels and daughter Lukensia

Jillian Michaels and daughter Lukensia (Photo by David Livingstone/Getty Images)

What’s her secret to balancing it all? “I take 20 percent for me, the other 80 for my kids and work — and I try to blend those together as often as I can,” she says. Clearly, Jillian doesn’t do “rest.” Case in point: Over the last month, she visited 34 cities on her Maximize Your Life tour. This came on the heels of a new book, Slim for Life, and launching BodyShred — her biggest, baddest, boldest workout — in GoodLife Fitness gyms across Canada.

While it’s obvious motherhood hasn’t slowed her down, she credits it for softening her hard-as-nails approach. “I don’t have time to be in perfect shape, and that’s okay,” she says. Gone are the days of the “keep going unless you puke, faint or die” mentality that made her TV’s most famed (and feared) trainer. “Now I’m all about teaching others how to live the life you want, not the life you think you should have. It means finding your purpose in the world and bringing meaning to it, personally and professionally,” says Jillian. “We have dreams for a reason. They’re our destiny.”

And Jillian is dreaming big. On her tour, she’s geared up to share the science behind good nutrition, boosting metabolism and her cutting-edge fitness techniques. But she’s most excited to share her strategies for helping people connect to their authentic truth. “The tour is all about going with me on a journey of self-exploration to attack inhibitions, bring hope back into our lives and unleash true potential.”

It’s a tall order. But if there’s anything we’ve learned from watching her in action, it’s that with Jillian you get results. Read on for more of her exciting insights!

Jillian Michaels / Photo by Chris Haston/MBC Universal/Getty Images

Jillian Michaels (Photo by Chris Haston/MBC Universal/Getty Images)

Jillian’s proven strategies to look and feel your best

1. Do more of what you love. “Make a list of hobbies, aptitudes and strengths. When you love something, find ways to do it more often. I swear it’s that simple. I began to take inventory of how I felt doing certain tasks. I realized I was happiest when I was empowering people through healthy living.”

2. Create specific, tangible goals. “Change happens when you identify your ‘why.’ It might mean you want to wear a bikini at your 20th wedding anniversary in Hawaii, have sex with the lights on, fit into those skinny jeans or meet your grandchildren’s children one day. Whatever it is, find what you’re fighting for and go for it.”

3. Turn off the TV. “When I was writing Slim for Life, I learned that television can change your genes. Studies from Harvard show TV increases your chances of being overweight because too much sitting can turn on your ‘fat genes.’”

4. Eat every four hours. “Snack once — between lunch and dinner. Your snack should be something substantial, 20 percent of your total daily calories. Eating every four hours stabilizes blood sugar, optimizes insulin production and manages hunger.”

5. Grocery shop with a cart, not a basket. “A recent study in the Journal of Marketing Research says if you shop with a cart instead of a basket, you’re more likely to make healthier choices. Holding a basket can trigger a desire for instant gratification, which can lead to choosing empty-calorie foods.”

6. Get fit with the family. “My partner, Heidi, a certified yoga instructor, and I introduced our kids to physical activity by taking them on bike rides and hikes.”

7. Focus on total body, not trouble spots. “You can’t spot-reduce fat. Not on your belly, thighs or anywhere. To tone up problem areas, you have to reduce overall body fat, which means combining high-intensity training with clean eating.”

8. Resist rest time. “A common mistake I see at the gym is people wasting time between sets. Catch your breath by doing exercises that challenge muscles you haven’t worked yet.”

9. Finish strong. “End your workouts stronger than you started. Know that when you see physical change, it extends into every other facet of your life.”

Four of Jillian’s telling details:

Her fave snacks: Popchips and Unreal chocolate.

Inside her fridge: Almond butter, organic yogurt, organic cheese sticks, veggies, fruit and lean proteins.

How she stays fit on tour: Jillian works out in hotel gyms, brings her road bike to explore and packs healthy snacks.

And that tattoo on her leg (below): It’s an angel with a picture of her grandmother from the ’40s. “She was always my guardian angel when she was alive, and when she passed away I got the tattoo as a tribute.”

Jillian Michaels' tattoo/ Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Jillian Michaels’ tattoo (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

Get seven body-shredding exercises from Jillian Michaels here.