Richard Simmons Talks Childhood Eating Disorders
The fitness guru overcame his own food and weight battles before he learned to love exercise.
Richard Simmons, the fitness pioneer whose unforgettable, spirited workout videos inspired people to lose a collective 3,000,000 pounds over the course of his decades-long career, has had his own share of body image issues. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Simmons, 65, says he suffered from eating disorders when he was "just a kid" before he lost 150 lbs at age 19. "I did not like me or the way I looked," he says. "But back then, you could not tell anyone. I took laxatives, learned to throw up and starved and ended up in the hospital." Simmons was raised in New Orleans where he says fried food was the norm—"We even fried pickles"—but he managed to break unhealthy eating habits by adhering to the formula: "Love yourself, move your body and watch your portions." His commitment to exercise and disdain for fad diets has helped him keep off his over-100-pound weight loss for over 40 years. But he doesn't promote health for the sake of vanity, and believes it's "very important that you look like yourself for who you are and not want to look like anyone else." In keeping with his healthy lifestyle, Simmons also abstains from alcohol. Growing up, he "saw people intoxicated everyday," but he favors a natural high. "Drinking ages your body inside and out," he says. "Our youth should be high on life and on friendship, and on their dreams."