Really Jillian?

This post talks about weight loss and unrealistic weights and how bat-crap crazy I think Jillian Michaels is.  It is intended as a commentary on how out of control the diet industry has become.  However, if this kind of talk is triggering for you, then you may want to check out some of my other posts instead.  Happy Friday!

I got a pop-up window for the Jillian Michael’s Weight Loss Plan.  It was one of those deals where you enter your current height and weight and your goal height and weight, click continue, answer some questions, and then get sold stuff.

Of course the ad activated my eye-roll reflex but  as I went to close it I suddenly wondered – what would happen if I gave answers that indicated that I might be at risk for, or suffering from, an eating disorder?  My general impression of  Jillian Michaels is that she is an ego-maniac who will do anything for a buck and doesn’t particularly care about anyone’s health.  This seemed like an opportunity to see how responsible she is in her practice.  And so I began my research.

I typed that I am 5’7, weigh120 pounds, and that my goal weight is 90 pounds. BMI is a crap measurement but just in case you’re curious, that would give me a BMI of 14.1 – very underweight.  For perspective, a BMI of 17.5 is considered an “informal indicator” of anorexia nervosa. I also told it that I liked every kind of exercise and had every kind of food issue.

Below is the page that came back.  It says that my “reasonable weight is 121-153lbs”.  Note that the current weight I gave it is LOWER than the lowest reasonable weight.  But it lists my goal weight as 90 pounds, no problem, and then gives me the beginnings of my weight loss program.  Later on she makes sure to tell me that because of different body types there is a 10 pound leeway in both directions (remember that my goals was still 21 pounds less than that). and that “No, not everyone has big bones”. Thanks Jillian!

Then she goes on to tell me her triple threat plan to getting me to my very likely unhealthy, unrealistic goal weight.

Researcher that I am, I became curious as to how far I could take it.  It turns out that 5’7 and 90 pounds is the lowest it would let me enter.  Otherwise I would get a red message that said “enter a realistic goal weight”. Further research showed that 90 pounds is the bottom limit for every height that I checked – whether you’re 4’10, 5’7 or somewhere in between, it seems Jillian is pretty ok with you weighing 90lbs.

My favorite phrase in her ad is: “I’m going to help you lose weight so you look and feel healthier!”  Notice that she doesn’t say that I will actually BE healthier, just that I’ll look and feel this way. I’m guessing that’s because she preaches caloric deficit dieting which we know has a scientifically abysmal success rate. She does take the time to give me misleading information about the correlations between upper body fat and heart attacks.  Good use of time and typing there Jillian.

Even with her cute customized graphics and hilarious puns (apparently I’m an apple but I can “pare down…” he he he)  I’m going to have to say that I find this to be really irresponsible.  I think that anyone who works for people’s health should make it their priority to consider both mental and physical health, and to be certain to assist the client in fostering a healthy relationship with food and their body.  Measured by that ruler, Jillian falls far short.  Not to mention the lawsuits she’s involved in because of her diet pills, and the verbal and physical abuse she heaps on contestants of the Biggest Loser.  Why people allow themselves to be treated so poorly by this woman I will never understand, but as always I’m happy for people to choose whatever life experience they want.  I just suggest that you think twice about following someone who, a preponderance of the evidence suggests, cares this little about what she is putting out into the world or what effect it might have on people.

Want to see for yourself?  Some screenshots for you viewing displeasure.  Again, this could be very triggering – if you think it might bother you feel free to skip it.

 

Published in: on December 10, 2010 at 1:30 pm  Comments (14)  

14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This is why I despise Biggest Loser and Jillian Michaels. Among other things. I understand that it’s a machine and can’t see you or whatever, but this kind of information should have been accounted for in their setup. It would NOT be hard to include the algorithms to pick out ED and unhealthy goals. People will make money off anything.

    • I agree, this solution is easily solvable – I think she just wants to do the bare minimum to look responsible while selling as many things as she can.

  2. Thanks for this post. I’m on the same wagon as you are with respect to Jillian in general, but this highlights brand new lows (I think there’s a pun in there).

    It makes me totally angry when people say ‘health’ and they absolutely do not mean anything close to that – they mean weight. Period. It’s disgusting.

    • This really did drive my disappointment and disgust with her to previously unknown levels.

  3. You said: ‘It turns out that 5’7 and 90 pounds is the lowest it would let me enter. Otherwise I would get a red message that said “enter a realistic goal weight”.’

    Wow. I wonder how they decided on the lower limit being 90 lbs? I don’t think that I’ve ever known a 90 lb adult of any stature in my entire life. I’m open to the idea that there are healthy adults who only weigh 90 lbs, I just have SERIOUS DOUBTS that they could possibly be 5’7″!

    • I’m a college-aged adult and weigh about 90 lbs, but I’m only 5′. Just thought I’d put that out there so you could say you know one now. ;)

      Having said that, even I paused at a limit that low (and at that height – yikes!). I don’t meet many adults that are my size, so it’s usually not even on the spectrum of healthy in my mind. I just tend to consider myself an outlier.

      What bothers me are the ads that are directed at female users on Facebook. I’ve seen everything from single-food diets to intermittent fasting programs. The fasting one is what really got me, though. It’s bad enough that they advertise these things to normal people, but then there’s also the possibility that it will reach someone like me, who is already “underweight” and could be at risk for an eating disorder? Just disgusting.

      • I agree that the way that they are pulling in viewers is upsetting. For a while Yahoo was running an ad with an outline of a woman who looked almost exactly like me that said “Repulsed by Your Weight?” It’s just gross to me that people are so interested on capitalizing on obesity terror that they don’t appear to care who they harm on the way. This is not a war, so collateral damage is unnecessary.

  4. Ok, this has me a bit curious, and maybe in my sleep addled brain I didn’t catch it, but is it possible when you put your “goal” in that you can actually make one of your “goals” a higher or lower height? I mean, hell, if we’re going to try to change the size and shape of our bodies, why not go all the way and go for “super-model” height as well? I’m also a bit curious as to what Jillian’s recommendation for getting taller or shorter would be. Taller? Get on the rack! Shorter? Eh, just lob your legs off below the knee somewhere, or heck since you’ve already lost your ever-lovin’ mind hack your head off, it’s apparently not doing you much good anyway.

    Sorry, ever since I started working on accepting myself a few years ago, stuff like this really, as my brother would say, gets my goat and other barnyard animals. And to quote my brother’s friend, “But Regan, thinking is hard, and the kool-aid is so tasty!” Heh, yeah, I get a lot of sarcastic stuff from him, the snark runs high in our family.

    You are right though, others certainly have the choice of living their lives how they want, (with some exceptions like serious law breaking, that just doesn’t sit right with me) and how they want to be treated, I’m just not sure I understand anymore why someone would choose to allow themselves to be depreciated simply because of how they look. That’s actually one of the reasons I love the internet so much, you have the chance to really get to know someone for who they are, instead of judgments on what they look like. Oh, and HOLY RUN ON SENTENCE BATMAN! At least, I think the first one of this particular paragraph was. I never was good with that sort of stuff. :-)

    Keep up the good work Regan. Thank you again for being a voice of reason.

    • That’s hilarious. I often joke that my BMI just says that I’m not tall enough. Since it’s scientifically as likely that I’ll grow 2 feet as lose 150pounds, it seems perfectly reasonable to me.

      I will definitely be stealing “thinking is hard, and the Kool-Aid is so tasty!

      • BMI is crap!! And what if I wanted to GAIN weight? I wonder what sort of program it would suggest then?

  5. I loathe her, and anything to do with the franchise,in general. Did you read on HuffPo,she is leaving the show ?It she wants to take time off to have a kid, raise a family, somehow, given the fact she doesn’t want to gain a lb or a stretch mark to have a baby,this could get quite interesting in a pathetic way.
    Can you imagine what a kid like that in her household if they have a predisposition to adipose that she finds unattractive, what life will be like for that kid?
    Just please keep doing, what you have been doing, like I said Ragen. I wish you were around when I was younger and so tortured about being a heavy kid. And let that carry on until I had a gastric bypass, complications and now have so little quality of life. I am no longer eating disordered, I am physically though and mentally disordered the rest of my life. I am the poster child of why it’s important to honor yourself and your body your whole entire life and not buy into crap that you aren’t good enough because you aren’t attractive and/or you take up too much space.
    My highest bmi was 40, lowest 22, it’s 28.5, I am not normally a #’s person, but with a bmi of 40, I could ride a bike, keep a job, drive a car and raise kids. Outside of walking with fainting episodes I have no guarantee of anything else. This is why I am a size acceptance advocate and fat activist and everyone should be one, it’s a people issue, pure and simple and we do more damage then good then treating adipose as a moral issue or because people are trained from the time they are young to find it offensive looking.
    Sorry so wordy…I just believe really passionately in what you do and have an emormous amount of respect for you,and hopefully now you know why..

    • I had heard that she is planning to adopt. I wish that based on her history of abusing people for money they would not consider her for parenthood but I don’t think I’ll get my way with that. Thank you for all of your support and kind words, please don’t worry about being too wordy – I think that your story is so important, I’m really glad you share it here.

  6. Well my anorexic grandmother was 5’6″ & her weight fluctuated between 88 – 92 lbs… She lived on black coffee & the occasional cornbread muffin + a fried sausage patty. Talk about unhealthy!

    But don’t get me started about Jillian Michaels; I loathe the very sight of her…Batshit crazy is the very least of it!

  7. Urgh, urgh, urgh! I despise Jillian Michaels, the Marquis de Sade’s illegitimate however many times great granddaughter. I’d sooner have Elizabeth Bathory as my hematologist than to let that dominatrix as my personal trainer!


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