On the Phone with Jillian Michaels. (+ a giveaway!)

Oh, it's no big deal. I was just having a casual phone call a few weeks ago with Jillian Michaels about her new book - Yeah, Baby! - released by Rodale on Nov. 15, which is all about the modern mama's guide to managing pregnancy, having a healthy baby and the elusive subject of "bouncing back". (By the way, head over to my instagram for a chance to win a copy of the book!)

Yes, you read me right, that Jillian Michaels. The celebrity fitness trainer, author, television star, and hardcore coach that scared me all those years ago when I did her 30-Day Shred DVDs with my bff Natalie in my living room.

I am still floored and oh so honored that I got the invitation to join the call, along with 6 other bloggers, to chat with Jillian about her motivation behind writing this book and also ask her some health and pregnancy-related questions.

Why She Wrote the Book.
Now you might be thinking what I was thinking when I first received this invite - "how can she possibly talk about pregnancy if she's never actually been pregnant??" And to be honest, I think that was how most of the bloggers on the call went into the conversation. So she broke the ice by first explaining that her paradigm on the subject is based entirely on her wife Heidi's experience being pregnant with their son Phoenix.

Along with a team of 3 doctors, an endocrinologist, a pediatrician and a registered dietician/pregnancy specialist, Jillian penned this book to share about her personal experience - ushering Heidi through the pregnancy, and her professional experience - training moms who want to "bounce back" after having a baby. She also shared that she didn't write this book to make oodles of money - "I could have just written another diet book for a million dollar advance" - but that it was written out of an excitement to share the significant information she had learned along the way. "I was stunned and aghast, on a daily basis, at A) the amount of misinformation, B) the amount of dated information and C), the tremendous influence that Big Food and Big Pharma have on mainstream pregnancy information mainly because they do the majority of advertising in magazines and on TV."

I had about ten questions prepared to ask her, but was only able to ask her 1 on the call because she answered everyone's questions in such depth.

Oh, and I also want to mention that she was suuuuuper warm and funny and not at all scary like on her TV show. It was a little shocking how down-to-earth she was, laughing with each of us and talking so energetically about the horrors of GMO food and the idiotic advice they dole out at the doctor's office - "why do they stress staying away from soft cheeses when a more real and present danger is the toxic chemicals in your makeup, your water, and your hygiene products?" She just seemed so real. Like a funny, albeit intense, girlfriend that you want to go to for advice because you know she will give it to you straight, even though it's not always the hard truth you want to hear. Below I've outlined some highlights of the call and some of her personal insights that really struck a chord with me, being 9+ months pregnant and dreaming of the day that I will wear size small underwear again. If ever?

My Top 6 Takeaways From Jillian's Perspective on Health and Baby:

1. The attitude of "I am woman, hear me roar" is a really bad and dangerous thing.
The notion of "it takes a village" is a very real thing when you become a mother, and Jillian suggests that you shouldn't be afraid to ask your mom, sister, in-laws and friends for help. "Women shouldn't be these rugged individualists, saying 'I am woman, hear me roar', because ultimately, you need to be okay with asking for help. You need help!"

2. Adopt the 12-Hour Rule.
Being a parent is hard work - you need to take time for yourself. "I have found that 12 hours is the magic number for me," says Jillian. "I take roughly 12 hours each week for myself - to go to the dentist, get a couple of workouts in, meet a friend for coffee, get a manicure, and those hours keep me sane."  She suggests hiring a babysitter, having your mom watch the kids, and doing whatever it takes to get those 12 hours for yourself. When I asked her about how to implement this rule with a newborn, she sort of laughed and said, "Well, with a newborn you might only get 8 hours a week. But make sure you get those 8!"

3. Set the example for your family.
Especially when it comes to a healthy lifestyle - your kids need to see you making healthy choices. "My kids see me teaching a spin class at the local gym, doing push ups that I share on my Facebook page or sharing a health tip on Instagram - and they want to do those things too." Jillian says that it's not about what you say, it's about what you do. "You have to make fitness aspirational, something that has a long-term end result that they're passionate about."

4. Tell your kids the truth.
Jillian explained how she handles Halloween at her house, "We did the Switch Witch on Halloween night. We let them eat some of the candy they got trick-or-treating, and we told them 'now the Switch Witch will come' and she buys all the candy for a present. We still give them treats, we just remove the chemicals and give them healthier options, like Justin's Organic Peanut Butter Cups or Green & Black's White Chocolate Organic Graham Crackers. And I explain to them about the traditional candy, "this stuff is bad, this is why it's bad, and here's what it's going to do to your health over time." And it sounds crazy, but they get it." Her whole point is that when your kids really hear you, and see your actions giving credibility to your words, you can have a really powerful impact.

5. Don't rush your "bounce back". But make goals.
Bouncing back after having a baby is an elusive and coveted goal of most moms. However, Jillian recommends a gradual, slow return to exercise and having "very realistic expectations" about that return. "Reconditioning your pelvic floor, reconnecting with your core muscles, helping heal up - give it time for that process." She highlights that the recovery from a c-section or diastasis especially need time to heal. "Don't go on a crash diet, but monitor what you're consuming and how much you're consuming. Identify a regimen, like - I want to take a postnatal yoga class - and commit to it. Then once you've got the eating and the fitness in a good routine for a few months, really do your best to prioritize your sleep." These might seem like laughable goals all at once, but little by little, you will have a better mood, energy and metabolism.

6. Find a balance - and realize it's not going to be perfect.
Figuring out how to schedule your workouts can be tough, but not impossible. "You just have to give up the notion that life will ever be what it once was." She shared how she goes about scheduling her workouts in the midst of juggling career and parenthood, "I started to piece together a workout schedule that wasn't perfect, but it's the best possible outcome for the season that we are in. For example, my mom will watch the kids on Saturday so we can go to this yoga class we love - that's one workout. I will have my assistant carve out another morning once my kids are at school - that's two. Can I fit in a crappy lunchtime workout in the middle of the day? That's three. Can I get one in when they're running around the house like savages? That's four. It's not ideal, and it won't be as perfect as it used to be, but it will still be a whole lot better than nothing, and it will work. Paired with relatively common sense eating, it will be enough."

She shared even more than I can capture here in one simple blog post. She is passionate about this subject and it really shines through in her energy and language, because she could rattle off statistics and examples without pause. What I love most about the book is the month-by-month workout routines, accompanying meal plan and recipes that are specially designed with the baby in mind for each stage of pregnancy. As the baby develops and as the pregnant body changes, the workouts are modified and the eating is tailored to the specific growth needs of the baby. I was actually really bummed to receive this book at the end of my pregnancy - I could have really used this resource 6 months ago!

Tell me - do any of the things she shared strike a chord with you? What is one takeaway that you could actually utilize in your own pregnancy and/or health journey? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

And now for a giveaway! I wanted to give you all a chance to win a copy of the book, and you can do so by visiting my instagram (@oykristen) and following the prompts in today's post. Best of luck to all of you! 

Many thanks to Rodale and Big Honcho Media for sending me the book and connecting me with the opportunity to chat with Jillian!