The Shady Truth About Jillian Michaels

Jillian Michaels isn't exactly a celeb known for having a calm and friendly demeanor. The personal trainer, who skyrocketed onto the A-list with her work on NBC's The Biggest Loser, quickly became notorious for her aggressive approach to coaching — from her obscenity-ridden screams to pushing people to their literal physical breaking points. "They'd get a sick pleasure out of it," contestant Kai Hibbard claimed to the New York Post, referring to the trainers on the series. "They'd say, 'It's because you're fat. Look at all the fat you have on you.' And that was our fault, so this was our punishment." Simply put, Michaels could easily be considered the Gordon Ramsay of personal training.

Still, long before the rise of Instagram-based "fitspo" influencers, such as Kayla Itsines, the Just Jillian star continued to dominate the fitness scene. Boasting over a whopping 20 workout DVDs, Michaels has, of course, adapted with the times and now has her own workout app. And although she's earned a pretty nasty reputation as a coach on TV, she's garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews about her handy pocket trainer. 

While the Malibu-based trainer eventually left The Biggest Loser (more on that later), that doesn't mean she hasn't stopped with some of her more questionable antics. Let's take a look at the shady truth about Jillian Michaels.

Jillian Michaels may or may not have fat-shamed Lizzo

Jillian Michaels has always been known to speak her mind, and while she sometimes gets away with it relatively easily, the public had a bone to pick with the fitness trainer when she chose to go after one of the music industry's national treasures: Lizzo.

The Biggest Loser alum found herself swimming in controversy following a January 2020 interview with BuzzFeed News' morning show, AM to DM. It all started with an innocent opinion from host Alex Berg, who praised A-listers such as Lizzo and Ashley Graham. "I love that they're putting images out there that we normally don't normally get to see of bodies that we don't get to see being celebrated." Michaels' response? "Why are we celebrating [Lizzo's] body? Why does it matter? ... Why aren't we celebrating her music?" Uh-oh. She went on, "Because it isn't going to be awesome if she gets diabetes. I'm just being honest. Like, I love her music ... my kid loves her music. But there's never a moment where I'm like, 'And I'm so glad that she's overweight!' Like, why do I even care? Why is it my job to care about her weight?"

Of course, almost immediately, critics slammed Michaels for being "fatphobic" while disguising it with concern. The backlash eventually even caused the personal trainer to take to Twitter and issue an apology, along with explaining her original statement further to E! News. Unfortunately for Michaels, it seemed the damage was already done.

She co-hosted what experts considered to be the most 'harmful' TV show

During Jillian Michaels' time as coach of The Biggest Loser (or perhaps reign of terror ... however you may look at it), the personal trainer rocked the boat with her infamously aggressive and loud demeanor. Not to mention, the reality TV weight-loss competition also got its fair share of criticism thanks to Michaels' perceived mentally (and physically) harmful antics.

As a 2016 article in The Guardian noted, "Fitness experts have repeatedly called Michaels' practices on The Biggest Loser into question." The outlet went on to list all of the instances where Michaels appeared to go too far, such as causing someone to dehydrate so severely they urinated blood. "Contestants are absolutely at a greater risk of developing eating disorders as a result of being on the show," eating disorder physician, Dr. Ed Tyson, explained to the publication. "It's a very high risk."

If that's not all, results uncovered during follow-ups with some of the series' alums have been upsetting, as many contestants have simply regained all the weight that they lost. As the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases revealed to The New York Times in 2016, "As the years went by and the numbers on the scale climbed, the contestants' metabolisms did not recover ... It was as if their bodies were intensifying their effort to pull the contestants back to their original weight." Scary.

Jillian Michaels left The Biggest Loser because she felt 'ashamed'

When it came to some of the weight-loss tactics used on The Biggest Loser, it looked as though even Jillian Michaels had a moment of realization. Speaking to the Daily Mail about her third and final departure from the series in 2014, Michaels cited that her reason had to do with butting heads with the show's producers over certain "changes." While the personal trainer didn't specify what exactly that meant, she shared the following: "Over the years we've had many differences in opinion on how I thought things should be and producers thought things should be and I didn't quit." Hmm.

So, what could those differences in opinion be, exactly? One thing is for certain, Michaels was wracked with guilt over the weight loss of some of the show's contestants, such as Rachel Fredrickson. As Michaels told the Daily Mail, she felt "ashamed" to be a part of Fredrickson's whopping 155-pound weight loss: "I thought she lost too much weight without a doubt ... You've got to take responsibility for it ... I felt actually pretty ashamed ... I've come to a point in my career where I have to have control and that's where I'm out."

However, it seems as though the feeling was mutual regarding Michaels' departure. As TBL host, Bob Harper, told Us Weekly in 2020, when asked whether he missed having the loud-mouthed trainer on the show: "I'm good." Ouch.

She has compared overweight people to alcoholics

Although we're currently living in a world where people of all shapes are finally being celebrated in the media, fat-shaming is something that still hasn't entirely been erased by everyone. As Vice puts it, "Using 'health concerns' as cover for fatphobia is something fat people have heard before — and this attitude actually contributes to the anti-fat bias that prevents fat people from receiving proper mental and physical healthcare."

So, how does Jillian Michaels fit into all this? Simply put, she's known to use "health concerns" to get her own message across. One example? When she appeared on The Wendy Williams Show in January 2020 and told the audience that the world shouldn't be celebrating obesity, saying, "There was so much fat-shaming for such a long time that now the pendulum has swung to a place where it's like, 'You are 250 pounds and you're owning it!'" She then offered up the controversial following: "That would be like handing an alcoholic [a drink]. It's like 'You're an alcoholic, this is fantastic! Here's a vodka tonic!"

Naturally, viewers were not happy, such as one Twitter user who accused Michaels of fat-shaming. Other critics were fellow celebs, like The Biggest Loser host Bob Harper, who commented to Us Weekly, "I could never even think where she comes from ... I'm never going to give my opinion to anyone that's not asking for it. It's none of my business."

Jillian Michaels was accused of endorsing shady diet pills

Jillian Michaels definitely has her own mantra of "common sense" fitness that she finds herself repeating either on talk shows or on social media. "Weight loss is a simple science," she began in a video on her YouTube channel, before adding, "In order to lose weight, you've got to eat less, you've got to move more."

Well, if it's that simple, it's somewhat surprising then that Michaels began endorsing diet pills called Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Calorie Control. The fitness guru was actually sued for these so-called fat loss solutions — multiple times. As TMZ reported in 2010, the lawyer who filed the first suit, Melissa Harnett, called the supplement "worthless." The suit also claimed, "Sadly, Michaels has decided to exploit her fame and goodwill by collaborating with Thin Care and Basic Research to promote a weight loss supplement that purportedly will cause weight loss by itself, without any additional effort on the part of the consumer."

By the time the third suit was filed, TMZ dished that there were allegations that the pills contained a "potentially lethal" blend of ingredients. As the goss rag explained, the person who sued The Biggest Loser alum claimed that Michaels "sold her proverbial soul to the devil." So, what did the fitness pro have to say about all this? Per TMZ, Michaels' "people" told the tab that "the product was vetted by experts." Hmm, we'll let you decide.

This Biggest Loser alum has had beef with Andy Cohen

When she's not dodging lawsuits or causing widespread anger with her comments in the media, Jillian Michaels has kept busy feuding with Andy Cohen. As it turns out, the beef between these two has been going on for years, having started when Michaels was Cohen's guest on his Bravo talk show, Watch What Happens Live. Speaking to Us Weekly in 2019, The Biggest Loser alum shed some insight. "I did his show once and it was a really awful experience," she dished, adding that Cohen is "condescending and unprofessional." Yikes.

So, what happened during the doomed interview? Per Michaels, she was "exhausted" after a full press day and had just recovered from the stomach flu. So when Cohen asked her to do a "shotski" (several shots of alcohol attached to a ski), Michaels allegedly came across as dismissive.

The situation definitely seems like it was blown out of proportion, but it's not the only time these two butted heads. In 2018, Michaels decided to trash talk The Real Housewives franchise — of which Andy Cohen is executive producer. Speaking to Life & Style, Michaels said, "I hate that s**t ... It's like [the franchise] was created by someone that hates women!" Cohen's retort? "This is the woman who screamed at people for a living on The Biggest Loser," he told The Hollywood Reporter, adding, "She should stay in her own lane."

That time Jillian Michaels told vegans to eat meat

If there's one thing Jillian Michaels should consider changing, it's perhaps her tendency to share her opinions no matter what — especially since public backlash at times overpowers whatever her message truly is. So, why do Michaels' remarks sometimes leave people seeing red? Well, simply put, her pearls of wisdom sometimes come across as condescending.

One of the worst culprits? An Instagram video she posted about veganism in December 2019, in which The Biggest Loser alum began by gushing, "I am an animal lover, and I also acknowledge that being vegan is one of the best things we can do for the environment." She then dropped the following: "But I cannot tell you that any of the research I have ever done with endocrinologists, or even dermatologists or registered dietitians, would suggest that being completely vegan is healthy." While everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinions, Michaels then suggested what vegans should be doing instead, such as indulging in meat every so often or having eggs from "super happy chickens that are living the life."

Naturally, some of Michaels' fans weren't happy with her advice, which was immediately labeled as ignorant. "Do you really believe in the bull that comes out of your mouth," one user wrote. "Oh Jillian, nooooooo," begged another, adding, "You're killing me here ... From you, of all people, who is usually so well-informed. Please PLEASE do better." Not the best look, Jillian.

Fellow celebs have called Jillian Michaels out

Although Jillian Michaels gets flak from former fans, the fitness coach has had some celebrities call her out for her perceived questionable behavior, too. One specific comment that really sent A-list critics over the top? Michaels' thoughts on the keto diet. "I don't understand. Like, why would anyone think this is a good idea?" the personal trainer revealed in an interview with Women's Health. "You don't eat processed sugar, you don't eat processed grains, and to make a very long story short: avoid the keto diet. Common sense."

Of course, almost immediately, stars bounced back with their own two cents. "Tonight's 'Jackhole of the Day' goes to Jillian Michaels," longtime enemy Andy Cohen quipped on Watch What Happens Live (via Bravo), before adding, "Don't feel bad, keto diet. A lot of people think Jillian Michaels is a bad idea." Yikes! Another celeb who clearly wasn't a fan of Michaels' methods? NBC weather anchor Al Roker. "So @JillianMichaels says #Keto is a bad idea," he mused on Twitter. "This from a woman who promoted on camera bullying, deprivation, manipulation and more weekly in the name of weight loss." Fair enough.

As for Michaels? The fitness expert had her own bone to pick with the haters. "I have an idea... @Andy @alroker how about a civil intelligent debate ... instead of personal attacks and name-calling," she wrote on Twitter. "I'm also a motivator and I know you guys can do this."

Jillian Michaels and that Biggest Loser controversy

As mentioned, Jillian Michaels was known to push people to their limits on The Biggest Loser, but to actually cheat on the show? That's downright shady.

According to Yahoo! Entertainment, during one week of her team's competition in 2013, Michaels apparently decided to break the rules, resulting in penalization for her entire team. "Before you all step on the scale, there is something important that needs to be addressed," host Alison Sweeney told the contestants before that week's weigh-in began. "Last week, Jillian ... gave caffeine supplements to each member of her team without [a] doctor's permission." Although Michaels was given the opportunity to offer up an apology, she ultimately decided against it. "I stand by my opinion: a caffeine supplement is significantly healthier than unlimited amounts of coffee," she said, seemingly sidestepping the actual rule-breaking.

If her apparent inability to apologize when making a mistake wasn't enough, Michaels was also known to silence those who chose to speak out against TBL. In 2010, James S. Fell of the Los Angeles Times wrote a scathing piece on Michaels that received a lot of negative attention for the fitness expert. As Fell revealed on his blog five years later, Michaels allegedly threatened to sue him — causing the Los Angeles Times to change some of its information in the article.

She already thinks her young daughter will struggle with food

While it's definitely reasonable to show concern for your child's well-being, automatically assuming that someone will have issues with something as basic as eating is definitely problematic. However, Jillian Michaels shared some surprising comments about her daughter's relationship with food in an interview with Women's Health in 2020. Speaking about then-nine-year-old Lukensia, Michaels bluntly declared, "I know she is going to struggle with food, I know it. She will literally eat and then say, 'I'm hungry.' I'm like, 'We just ate, what's going on? Are you feeling anxious?'"

While nobody can really know what's going on behind closed doors, perhaps Lukensia's issues with food stem from what she hears the public say about her mom? In an interview with People, Michaels got real about her reason to leave The Biggest Loser. "Millions of people have this warped negative perception of me," she explained, adding that some TV commentators have called her "abusive," while others wondered "about what kind of mom [she] must be."

As it turns out, Michaels' profession has even impacted her personal life with her children. Recalling a moment to People after her caffeine pill scandal on The Biggest Loser, the personal trainer revealed that when she picked Lukensia up from camp, she heard her daughter recall being bullied: "I know who your mom is — she's a cheater. I saw it on TV."

Jillian Michaels has slammed political correctness over diet culture

Ultimately, it looks like one of the most significant issues the public seems to have with Jillian Michaels is her opinion on political correctness in diet culture. Living in a world where body positivity is a message that everyone would like to spread, perhaps Michaels might want to start keeping certain comments to herself.

Speaking to Women's Health in 2020, Michaels was asked if she believes The Biggest Loser will work in our society today. "I think the world has shifted to a place where that format and messaging is considered fat-shaming," she said, adding, "But it isn't, and it's not meant to be. Now, we've gone so far in the opposite direction. I think we're politically correct to the point of endangering people. Yes, we want to be inclusive of everyone and [respect that] everyone comes in all different shapes and sizes ... But obesity in itself is not something that should be glamorized ... we've become so politically correct that no one wants to say it."

After Michaels' interview was released to the public, she was immediately met with criticism. As NBC News reported, Twitter was quick to lash out, with various celebs even chiming in with their two cents, such as Jameela Jamil. "Elitist ignorance from a renowned long time bully of fat people," The Good Place star wrote. "Don't just shame and blame."