I recently finished Jillian Michaels’ latest book, Unlimited: How to Build an Exceptional Life.
This book could also be titled “Unlimited: The Book I Didn’t Know I Needed to Read.”
To be honest, I wasn’t really looking for tips on How to Build an Exceptional Life, so while I knew she had a new book out, I hadn’t given much thought to reading it. But then I listened to her talk about Unlimited in a podcast from May and my curiosity was officially piqued. I snagged a copy from the library and after reading just the first page, I didn’t want to put it down.
Unlimited is different from Jillian’s previous books in that it has very little to do with diet and exercise specifically and very much to do with building the life you want and deserve, whatever that life might look like for you.
I thought this book was excellent for so many reasons, and here’s a list of my top ten reasons why:
1. It was unexpectedly motivational and incredibly inspiring.
For all the reasons I love Jillian’s podcasts, I loved Unlimited for all the same. She’s just GOOD. The premise of the book is how to live the life of your dreams, and by the second page she has you totally convinced that you absolutely CAN and SHOULD go after the things you want out of life. No goal is too big, no dream is too impossible.
She makes no illusion that you can’t get the life you want without working hard for it, but that’s exactly what the book is about; a how-to guide for getting whatever it is that you could ever possibly imagine for yourself.
2. It’s broken down into three parts.
This book is compartmentalized into sections: Imagine, Believe, Achieve – and this layout worked well.
In the Imagine section she helps you figure out how to determine what it is you want for your life. She encourages you to be specific with your goals and how to create your vision.
In the Believe section she teaches you how to believe in yourself, how to get to the root of self-destructive behavior and thought processes, how to move through fear and get out of your own way.
In the Achieve section she tells you exactly what you need to do to start taking action. You have to educate yourself, practice, work on your communication skills, get organized, keep your emotions in check and so much more.
3. She tells you exactly what to do and how to do it.
The woman does not mess around or beat around the bush. In every section she’s got very specific ideas and suggestions to try with full explanations as to why her ideas work.
4. Filled with lots of real life examples.
I love real life success stories and find them incredibly inspiring. Unlimited is filled with her own personal examples of success and failure, as well as real life success stories from Oprah, Tiger Woods and Suze Orman to name a few. She also gives plenty of examples from the people she’s worked with and helped on The Biggest Loser and shows you how anyone can overcome incredible odds when they want it and are willing to work for it.
5. Some of the things she wrote made my mouth hang open from shock and revelation.
Jillian is definitely a psychology buff, which is probably part of the reason I like her so much. I love to know why we do the things that we do and what fuels our actions and thoughts – and there is plenty of this in her book, especially in the Believe section.
For instance, she touches on the fact that we as humans are quick to see things in people that we don’t like to see in ourselves – and then we attack or blame them for it. She uses neediness as her example, and explains that if you don’t like to feel needy, you don’t like to see it in other people because it triggers your own insecurities of seeing neediness in yourself.
6. She makes you dig deep.
With the above example and many others, she makes you take a look into your past to figure out exactly where these insecurities are coming from. Events from your childhood, adolescence, past relationships – and then once you’ve identified the source of these issues, she gives you the tools to figure out how to work past them.
Basically, she’s like your personal therapist in hard cover.
She helps you figure out how to forgive the people from your past who have hurt you or have affected your behavior and the way you think today. She then goes on to explain that these people were coming from a place of insecurity as well and had issues of their own that had very little/if anything to do with you.
7. She writes like she talks.
I wouldn’t call this book an eloquently written literary masterpiece, but it was very easy to imagine what it would be like to sit down with Jillian and have a conversation with her or be one of her contestants on The Biggest Loser. Her writing style is actually quite readable, and also makes some of the at-times heavy material feel a bit more light-hearted and easier to think about. She’s no-nonsense but also has a great sense of humor, so it was easy to keep reading.
8. The whole book is comforting and she makes you feel very safe.
Jillian makes no secret of the fact that she’s been in therapy since she was 5. She’s very good at making you feel “normal” when you realize you’re still dealing with the rejection of your 9th grade boyfriend who left you with lasting body and self-image issues from serious teasing in front of your peers after he broke your heart. (Jerk. Or should I say, jerky behavior that I now understand came from issues of his own!)
EVERYONE has issues that they’re dealing with. We’re all crazy here, come on in and make yourself at home.
9. Lots of new ideas.
I love a good idea, and this book had lots of them – many of which I’m working on putting into practice already. While I’m not the biggest slob on the block, tidiness is something that has never come naturally to me. Being neat and orderly is something I continue to work on with varying degrees of success on any given day of the week. Her suggestions on organization and time management were helpful and I’ve added some of them to my personal tool box.
10. The parenting twist.
She has me fully convinced that it’s important to work through these things I hadn’t previously seen in myself before reading Unlimited, for my own success in going after the things I want – but more importantly, for my kids. This book helped me see how so much of what we all personally face today comes from our childhood. She doesn’t specifically address the role our issues play in parenting, but I was able to see an added benefit to dealing with my issues – for my own success, but equally, if not more important – to keep from screwing up my own kids too much.
This book also helped me think more about how I’m going to equip these girls we’re raising to be healthy, thriving women with the tools they need to deal with and understand people and events down the road. How to have the confidence and faith that they really can achieve absolutely anything they want.
I would recommend this book to Jillian fans or Jillian newbies alike. While I didn’t need everything she wrote about and had to offer, there is always plenty of room for self-improvement around here and Unlimited definitely delivers.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering “is this all there is?” at the various stages of your life, I recommend taking a look at Unlimited. Jillian makes it very clear that NO, this is not all there is. Go after your dreams – and her book tells you exactly how to do it.