Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Yesterday I had Part 1 of my interview with the amazing Richard Simmons where he told how he went from a very overweight kid to being at the top of his game and leading so many people down a healthy road of good physical fitness. I felt it fitting to include Richard Simmons in my push for building self-love, as he and his message epitomize learning to love yourself and in doing so, getting motivated to get into better shape. Here’s a lot more of Richard’s wisdom.

How do you feel about what you’ve accomplished? I’m 63 and look in the mirror and I’m 135 pounds with a 29-inch waistline. I exercise an hour and a half each day and travel around teaching classes. And I feel good that I’ve been a good role model to people. Do I sometimes see a fat kid in the mirror? Sure, we all do. But people have been coming to the club all these years. I have people in their 90’s coming to my studio. At the same time I have a 15-year old girl from Beverly Hills High right next to them. We have all different kinds of people in the same room doing their best. They tell me they’re so proud of me for keeping the my body so good and the weight off. It’s a bit of a humbling experience because I never had compliments like that.

People have been so nice to me, saying that I helped them. Not a day goes by that I don’t get Facebook and emails telling me their wonderful experiences. I absorb it and it becomes just wind in my hair because I can’t think of that. It gets way too overwhelming for me. On my birthday I got beautiful cards from people’s soul telling me what I mean to them. I didn’t mean that much to myself. Now all these years later when people say I mean so much to them, that’s what keeps me going. I try my best to be a good example and give people hope. That’s what our country lacks the most.

Why is it so important to teach our kids good habits from the get-go? Children are a Polaroid camera and take pictures of everything their family is eating. That picture is computerized in their brains. We’ve been raised from an early age to love food. Back when I was growing up in the late 40’s and 50’s physical fitness wasn’t that much. We live now in a fast society with computers, phones and moms and dads sometimes working two jobs. Schools don’t have adequate PE. Some kids have high cholesterol; some are fifteen and on antidepressants. The processed foods has made our children overweight with no outlet to burn the calories. I think there should be a course for parents when they have a baby. They have to learn how to take care of that baby and be part of that baby’s growing up.

What can parents do? Parents worry about their overweight kids but they’re overweight and not working out. They have to work out!  There’s not enough PE anymore so it’s up to the parents to teach a child from an early age to move. A baby comes out screaming and moving his arms and legs. That’s why God made them. We need to teach our kids to be active. Parents need to be a good example for their kids. I tell parents if you’re worried about your child you must join them, not just for the summer but for the rest of their lives until they can do it themselves when they’re older.

What do you see as the biggest downfall for people to be fit and healthy? Depression is a huge downfall. When you don’t feel good about yourself, the last thing you want to do is eat a salad and lift your legs. Depression and stress have grown enormously in the minds of most Americans. They can’t get rid of that little gray cloud on top of their heads. My whole thing is planning. I plan my days to the hour. I asked God for this day and I tell him I won’t waste a moment of it. From the time I get up at 4:30 till I go to bed I pack it with as many ways as I can to make many people feel good about themselves.

What are some of the common traps people fall into? They fall into what I call the quick and easy traps— quick and easy diet pills, quick and easy diet shakes, quick and easy diet surgery. They find out these things are not so easy. It’s the speed of weight loss that enamors people. People get excited about losing weight fast but they gain it right back. They fall for things on TV that they can do in 15 minutes and look gorgeous. And they think their entire life is going to change when they lose eighty pounds. But that’s not true.

Why do you think developing self-love is so important? You can’t love anybody truly until you love yourself. You can’t love yourself truly unless you know how blessed you are and know all the wonderful things that are happening to you in your life. People go over their negativity. You have to go over your attributes, the things you’ve done in your life, that you are proud of. I always say, “Build on your achievements.” In New Orleans the horses wear blinders on the side of their eyes to keep them focused. We need to wear blinders to stay focused on who we are, what we want, how to get there and how to be kind to others on the way.

How would you define self-love? Self-love is very hard to explain. It is a deep respect for yourself. It is appreciating all that you are and all that you do.

How does self-love relate to fitness? You may think this is corny. I believe in seven days God made the trees and the bees and then made us. We’re made in our Lord’s image and likeness. There’s only one of each of us. He could have made us a rose that lasted seven days. But He created this body, mind and soul and we have to respect it. The only way to respect is to keep it healthy. And the only way to keep it healthy is if you work out on a daily basis, watch your portions, and you’re good to yourself. That’s the only way!

What do you see as the difference between trying to look good and trying to get fit? We live in a very visual society. You have to look at your body and appreciate it and not compare yourself to another face or body out there. That’s what a lot of people do. They want to look like this one or that one. Never before has there been so much plastic surgery because we’re trying to look like other people. You should look the best YOU can be. I’ll never be 6’ 2” with a deep voice. That’s not who I am. I’m 5’ 6 ½ “, 135 pounds and I try not to compare myself with anyone or want to be like anyone else. You have to be happy with what God gave you.

Why don’t a lot of people love themselves? Many children were not raised in a loving environment. When you are raised around negativity it is tough to love yourself. And then through life we have people who tell us we are no good, and we start to believe them. And when you are feeling down there is no love around.

What’s your best advice to someone who wants to get fit but feels like “nothing works? ” Sit down alone in a room with a paper and pen. Write down your accomplishments, what’s important to you, your dreams and goals—mini ones and big ones—and live that plan now. You can’t live your life in the past. You have to plan for now. The past is a terrible thing. You think about things that didn’t work out and eat over it.

What drives you to push people to take care of themselves? The next city I have to go to, to teach a class. I can’t wait. I am mentally packed before I get on the plane. I love to touch people’s lives. I love to meet people and revisit people I’ve seen before at a shopping mall or when I was on General Hospital or on a Cruise to Lose. I just can’t wait till the next group I can meet and hopefully help. I was raised by parents who were very passionate about helping others, even though they didn’t have very much. My mother and father live inside of me and have taught me everything I do today.

I’m very grateful to Richard Simmons for making time in his busy schedule to speak with me and share his story and wisdom with my readers. It was a blessing for me to experience his energy and devotion to helping others. I hope he inspired you to do more to build your self-love and say “I love me” by getting your body moving!


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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