Most people might assume the hardest thing about Jillian Michaels is her six-pack, but she’s had to pull out even more strength in parenting.
The famous fitness trainer sat down with PEOPLE’s Celeb Parents Get Real for a chat about some of the more difficult aspects she and fiancée Heidi Rhoades have faced as mothers to son Phoenix, 6 next month, and daughter Lukensia, 8.
“One evening, when my daughter was maybe 6, she said to me that she thought gay people were gross, or gay was gross. And I freaked out,” Michaels, 44, recalls.
“When people talk about parenting being hard, I don’t find that it’s ‘all the sleepless nights’ or the poopy diapers. It’s these kinds of moments that bring you face to face with all of your deep, dark issues, where you don’t handle it well,” she adds. “And I really wish I had handled it differently in the moment.”
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Perhaps not a surprise to those who have witnessed Michaels’ highly effective tough-love style on The Biggest Loser and in her workout videos, books and more, she admits to being the strict parent in comparison to Rhoades.
“Whether or not you’re a strict parent is all relative,” says the Yeah Baby! author. “Although compared to my partner Heidi, yes. Yes. Compared to Heidi, anyone is a strict parent. Big Bird would be a strict parent.”
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While Michaels’ children constantly make her laugh, one of her most embarrassing moments as a parent concerned a time when Phoenix “pooped in the middle of the schoolyard” — but not for reasons one might think.
“The reason it was embarrassing for me is because Heidi didn’t tell me about it,” she explains. “So I went to the school the next day to drop off the kids, and everybody was like, ‘How’s Phoenix?’ “
“And I was like, ‘What the f— is going on here?’ ” says Michaels, adding that she learned from a man in the parking lot what had happened the previous day. “I called Heidi. I’m like, ‘He took a s— in the middle of the playground?! You didn’t even bother to tell me?!’ “
“We’re at a different school now … a better school,” she adds.