Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Recently I saw Richard Simmons on several TV talk shows. I’ve always thought of him as a fun guy with lots of hair in little shorts and HUGE enthusiasm about leading and encouraging people to exercise and live a healthy life. But this time I saw a different side of him. I was very touched each time he passionately talked about how people need to love themselves so they’ll take better care of their health. He got very emotional about how important it is. Hearing him speak I needed to know more—his story and what drives him to his crusade to get people moving and loving themselves more.

I decided I had to interview this amazing man. Talking to Richard was delightful! His sincerity about helping people is intense; his enthusiasm warmed me as I listened to him. At 63-years young, he pushes himself harder than anyone I know, driven by his desire to help as many people as he can. This is not an act. Richard knows what it’s like to feel lousy about yourself and out of control with your weight. Since he found his way to being physically fit, he’s also been on a mission to help others get healthier and get their bodies into good shape.

Richard told me he gets up early (4:30 AM!) and begins to return calls and reply to emails. Then he teaches his exercise classes and travels around spreading the word. He believes that building self-love is key to having a healthy life. With Self-Love Month approaching in January, I asked him to share his story and philosophy with you. Rather than shorten the interview, I’m presenting it in 2 parts. Come back tomorrow for the rest. I’m in awe of htis man who has dedicated his life to helping people get themselves into shape and love themselves. Here’s what the iconic Richard Simmons had to say:

How did you feel about yourself as a child? I came out of my mother’s womb with a fork and said, “Where’s the buffet?” Both of my parents were very good cooks. There was always exciting food in the house. I was 200 pounds in the 8th grade. That’s when my parents starting taking me to doctors. They were very concerned. My brother was very thin but I had an enormous appetite. I was the heaviest kid in school. I felt punished and angry and many kinds of emotions. I started to do eating disorders because I wanted to be like the kids in school. I started taking diet pills. That led to laxatives and throwing up and that led to starving.

I felt that if I was thin then people would like me more and others would accept me more but I was wrong. I ended up in the hospital at 119 pounds. I didn’t like myself thin and I didn’t like myself heavy, so now what was I going to do? A nurse told  me I was really fooling around with my body. She asked me if I want to live or die. I thought about it. All I was doing when I was overeating was killing myself. And when I was going through all these eating disorders I was killing myself. If I wanted to live, all that would have to change.

How did getting fit make you feel and affect your overall life? I never knew what fit tasted like before. My father would watch Jack LaLanne and I’d turn off the TV. I was jealous of him, that he was fit, positive, had energy and could wear that jumpsuit. I used to turn off anything that didn’t interest me, like I had a knob on my head. Fitness and eating well never interested me. But once I almost lost my life I figured out these were the things I should be interested in.

How do you begin to change? I started working on my sort of Catch 22 phrase: Love yourself. Move your buns. Watch your portions. That’s what I kept saying to myself. I finally got to a good weight and felt good. I was exercising—I’d never exercised before. After I’d done that for me, I decided to help others. So I saved $25,000 from being a waiter and opened a little salad bar and exercise studio 38 years ago.  I think I opened it because of my compulsions.

How did doing it help you? I realized if I wanted to stay at a healthy weight I would  have to exercise and if I owned my own exercise studio and taught there, that would help control the way I was. And I had a salad bar so if I was eating healthy every day, that combination would build my self-love. Then, when people came in and I taught a class and they felt good, it made me feel better. It was a win/win situation. That’s what I’ve been doing all these years. I’ve never changed my formula: Love yourself. Move your buns. Watch your portions.

There’s been a lot of gadgets in the fitness and weight loss fields but I’ve always been the constant voice of being realistic to people. With all of the diets that you lose so much weight in a week and the surgery to lose 10 pounds in 3 days, and before you know it people are trying these regurgitations of diets and pills and shots over and over again because we haven’t learned to love ourselves. We haven’t learned to believe in that formula.Love yourself. Move your buns. Watch your portions.

Richard Simmons has been motivating people to get take control of their bodies for 38 years. While many people come and go on the fitness scene, he has remained a constant for his passionate approach to getting people moving. Check back tomorrow for the rest of Richard Simmons‘ interview. He is greatly inspirational and also has many philosophies to share that you can learn from.



Take the self-love challenge and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at And you can post your loving acts HERE to reinforce your intention to love yourself. Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.

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