Jillian Michaels has had polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) for over 30 years, but she’s not letting it hold her back.
PCOS — an imbalance of reproductive hormones, causing painful ovarian cysts, irregular menstruation, acne, weight gain, and other symptoms — affects one out of every 10 women of childbearing age.
Figuring out PCOS
World-renowned personal trainer, businesswoman, author, and television personality Jillian Michaels — health and wellness expert and creator of The Fitness App by Jillian Michaels — who’s now 48, was diagnosed as a teen.
“All I can remember is a pain so crazy that my mom took me to the hospital in the middle of the night,” she says. “They thought it was my appendix and then they found cul-de-sac fluid which is fluid from a burst cyst. They could tell right away what was going on. It became a journey of trying to figure it out over time from there.”
Her doctor prescribed birth control pills to help rebalance her hormones and manage her PCOS. However, Michaels didn’t stay on the pills for long. She didn’t like the side effects like bloating, weight gain, and acne.
A few years later, she had another episode of bad cramping and ended up at the hospital.
“I was like, ‘alright, you know, I can’t live like this. I can’t be going to the hospital randomly every couple of years,’” she says, explaining the moment when she began dedicating herself to trying to figure out her PCOS.
A gynecologist told her the condition was linked to insulin resistance, so Michaels started to eliminate processed grains and refined sugar from her diet. That worked for a while, but then around age 30, Michaels started to get heavy periods and blotchy skin known as melasma.
“I saw an endocrinologist and I really began to understand hormones, endocrinology, biochemistry, and how to impact it,” says Michaels, who went on to write “Mastering your Metabolism” with a board-certified endocrinologist.
Make time for wellness
These days, Michaels, who’s engaged and has two children, is focused on healthy eating and staying active to manage her PCOS. She hasn’t had a significant PCOS issue in nearly 20 years.
The celebrity trainer now has her own fitness platform, The Fitness App, a customized program featuring recipes, nutrition tips, and workouts that are built for the user’s needs and feedback.
She says the app is streamlined for a one-stop approach to healthy living, so instead of having multiple apps to manage different areas of health — such as a running app, a recipes app and a calories app — users can manage everything in one place.
“We wanted to create one platform with everything people need to be successful at any health and fitness goal they have. That means fitness, nutrition, sleep support, meditation, mindfulness, community and coaching, and tracking,” she says. “But in addition, to make them show up for it, it has to be customized.”
For example, app users can choose their dietary preferences — such as plant-based, gluten-free, or omnivore — and they can ban foods they don’t like or that they’re allergic to, like peanuts or shellfish.
She advises women to make their health a priority by taking a holistic approach including diet, exercise, sleep, and stress management.
“If you don’t make time for your wellness, you’re going to be forced to make time for your illness,” she says.
Still, Michaels cautions that you don’t have to get overwhelmed or think making better choices is a massive overhaul. “Small changes over time make a big difference.”