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Jillian Michaels on Miami, Motherhood, and This Weekend's Sweat USA Fitness Expo

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We all have a little voice in our heads, the one that tells us when we're doing something wrong. It speaks up when we're texting and driving, or avoiding our mom's phone calls, or getting ready to hit on that guy wearing a wedding ring.

But when you're getting ready to cheat on your diet with a giant bag of Cheetos dipped in ranch dressing, that voice has a name and a real-life person: Jillian Michaels.

Michaels, famous for her time on the NBC weight loss hit The Biggest Loser, has turned her time on reality TV into a full-blown fitness empire. With workout DVDs, books, gym equipment and now one of the headliners of Sweat USA, the fitness expo coming to South Beach this weekend, she is officially the titan of training.

If you're looking to take the top off of your own personal midriff muffin, you're in luck. At Sweat USA, Michaels, along with tons of celebrity trainers, will teach classes, speak to fans, and otherwise inspire/scare participants into living healthier. But before she lands in the Magic City, we talked to her about everything from curls to cocktails.

New Times: How do you like Miami? I am not sure we are the epitome of health.

Jillian Michaels: I disagree. I mean, of course the nightlife doesn't help, but everyone is so good looking there. I happen to love it. I hope to move there one day. My company just moved there in the last year and we are considering moving our home there in the next few years. Great weather. A lot of culture.

But we do go out a lot. That can't be great for our bodies, right?

I remember that from my 20s. I could have never lived there at that time. Too much temptation in that part of my life. Miami would have been the end of me. I mean, nightclubs that never close? That can't be good.

What's your advice for Miamians? How can we can keep it together?

I would say balance is key. Take one night a week and make it a great one. Try to eat well and take care of yourself. It's all about balance. It's not about deprivation.

How about cocktails? Vodka and soda is OK?

Clear alcohol with no sugary mixers. Tequila with lime. Vodka, soda, water. Gin martini. Don't add insult to injury with things like soda and juice.

What made you want to get involved with Sweat USA?

We wanted an opportunity to create a fitness event that really was for everybody. If you were a fitness professional, if you wanted to network, if you wanted to expand your education, if you're an athlete looking for a challenge or if you're just looking for a jumpstart, there is something to get you on the right path. You can explore different things and/or see what you like. That was really what our goal was when we created Sweat, and I think we accomplished it. We have the best of the industry all coming together, all the fitness trends. I'm bringing my new program, BodyShred. All that stuff is in one place. We want to make fitness fun.

BodyShred... that sounds terrifying.

The thought behind BodyShred was to create a program that is fun, fast paced and delivers results in 30 minutes. All of the most cutting edge fitness techniques are integrated into one holistic system. Then, I am also connecting other talented trainers to teach the masses and help them get results quickly.

The Biggest Loser turned you from a mere trainer into the leader of an empire. Did you see this coming?

God, no. I had set out when I committed my life to being a trainer that it was something I wanted to create for myself. I didn't know Biggest Loser was going to be the vehicle that was going to allow me to do it. While there are a lot of things about Biggest Loser that I find hard, mainly the fact that it's a game show, I am extremely grateful for the platform it provided me.

When I told someone I was interviewing you, they said, "I love that show! I eat ice cream and just dive in." That's messed up, right?

It is odd, right? At the end of the day, Biggest Loser is about more than weight loss. We all have a vice. We all can cope with stress in a different destructive way. The difference with compulsive eating is that you can see it. Sure, they judge you because you gained 20 pounds, but maybe they are spending money they don't have, cheating on their partner, or drinking too much. The show represents people overcoming their demons. I think it inspires people from all walks of life - weight to lose or not.

What about when contestants gain the weight back - does that upset you?

I wouldn't say it upsets me because it's part of the job. It makes me sad. There are some people who will continue to struggle because we just didn't have enough time with them. But I have to focus on the fact that we are at about at a 60/40 success rate. To me, that's winning, and I focus on the success story. People try multiple times to quit smoking. If I wasn't the first time, it was the fifth. This isn't easy.

I won't lie -- I kind of expected you to be, well, kind of unpleasant. You're actually delightful.

Everyone says that I am mean, but I do what I need to do to run a life or death intervention on a time clock. There a certain benchmarks these people need to mark in a fast pace to turn things around. It requires an intense approach, but the proof is in the pudding. I have yet to have a contestant walk away saying, "I didn't get anything from it. She was too mean!" You think it's a television show, but it's an intervention that happens to be taped. It's not a TV show to me. It's very serious.

Mothers will tell you, "I can't work out -- I just don't have the time." Has having two kids changed your workout routine?

It's better time management. I would like to find someone who has something going on in their life that isn't going on in mine. I have two kids, run a business; I don't have one job, I have 10. If I am not on a book tour, I am on a live speaking tour, I am filming a TV show, I am on radio show, I am creating a workout program, etc. Sure, I don't have time, but I make it. It's not three hours a day six days a week, but it's still significant. I will pop in a DVD for 30 minutes, ask the grandparents to watch the kids, take them on a bike ride, ask my partner to take mommy duties for an hour so I can go on a run. It's hard, but you can do it. Anyone can. If even its 30 minutes four times a day, it's better than nothing. Add in healthy eating, and you're set.

I recentely read an article from an xojane.com writer who interviewed you. She says, and I quote, you went on a "'All fat people hate themselves' tangent."

I never said that. That isn't what I said. Let me put it this way, if I actually said that, it would be on TMZ. It would be a much bigger thing than you mentioning it to me on a phone call. I never said that.

She said, "You seem anti-loving yourself at any size." I said, "Any transformation starts with self-love. But I don't believe people are happy being morbidly obese." I don't think people are going to wake up and feel confident at 75 to 100 pounds overweight. Health is numbers, not a jean size. Your cholesterol, blood pressure, your blood sugar, that is health. You show me someone 100 pounds overweight who is healthy.

Sweat USA takes place Oct. 11-13 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Visit sweatusa.com.

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