Ok, hear me out, people. I know it sounds crazy, but Richard Simmons is a legend as far as I am concerned. My story started with him and I have been a fan girl ever since.

His energy and enthusiasm coupled with his heart to help others has always drawn me to him. He always made me laugh, mostly because he is so dang outrageous, but he always made me feel….Grateful for who I was.

Weird, right? I felt grateful to a guy that wore his hair in a fro and striped Dolphin shorts with sparkly shirts….But in 1991 at 255 pounds I didn’t have a whole lot to look forward to in my life.

I have lost weight before-actually I have lost a significant amount of weight before. 125 pounds to be exact.

And it was all thanks to Richard Simmons.

I had my second child in 1990 and was still a very big girl—but not 300 pounds, yet (that came later). I was more like 275-ish. Most of us who are morbidly obese don’t go around weighing ourselves once a week. We don’t want to see the damage we have inflicted on ourselves. So, I am spitballing at my weight.

I was desperate to get it off. Like desperate. Thats when I locked eyes with my hero….

He was on a late night infomercial. Now, I had seen Richard (we are on a first name basis now…) on General Hospital and some other late night talk shows, and thought he was funny and weird, but never really gave him a second thought….

Until that infomercial

It was around 11pm and I had eaten a gallon of ice-cream after my husband and children had gone to bed. I felt fat, awful and desperate. I hated hating myself all the time.

I was tired and I was only 25. I felt not only my weight, but the weight of the world beating me down.

So, I clicked on the TV to feel better and to numb my feelings. Thats when I saw him. He was balding, short and wearing the most crazy outfit—his signature dolphin shorts with the red sparkly tank top.

He was holding a fat older ladies hand and crying. I rolled my eyes and thought “Lets see how this turns out…” I was hearing her story, which was so similar to mine—fat kid, fat adolescent, fat adult and now depressed fat adult who felt trapped, depressed and somewhat suicidal.

She found solace in food. Good lord, could she be my sister from another mister? Our stories were so similar, even though she was at least 45.

He was holding her hand, actively listening to her and not berating her for not “putting in the work.” He just listened. He told her he thought she was a wonderful person. That she deserved more than what she was giving herself.

He told her he could help her.

There was something about him that was absolutely genuine. Like truly real. I know, people will say, “Duh, he’s also an actor, idiot!” But for real-he struck a chord in me.

He talked about his Deal-a-Meal plan. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have fallen for every weight loss diet, every guru touting the latest thing. But this—this was different.

I cried. I cried and mourned my fatness and that I would be sad to see it go. I cried because I felt like this could be my chance—this could be my shot-my only shot at getting rid of how I felt—and I didn’t have to hate myself while I was doing it, because I had Richard by my side.

So, I snuck into my husbands wallet and paid for Deal-a-Meal via a phone operator that I had to wait like 45 minutes for (that was back in the day when you actually had to talk to people on the phone to order stuff).

It came like a week later. I knew I was going to lose weight on that. I read that little booklet he had and got a tape to sweating to the oldies, and read everything Richard Simmons related.

I lost 125 pounds in 8 months. I kept that off for 3 years, but stress and straying from Richards core values, I ended up gaining it all back plus some.

The agony of defeat. But this is what I learned.

We should all be like Richard Simmons.

Richard Simmons is kind and genuine-to EVERYONE. He knows what it is like to be taunted and treated like crap. At one point he was 268 pounds. So he gets it. His strength is in his kindness to others.

Richard Simmons is fun and doesn’t take himself to seriously—and neither should you. Life is about loving each other, having fun and learning. Life isn’t about being scared all the time or hating the life that was given to you. He is someone who loves to have fun and loves people.

Richard Simmons is a giver. He knows that giving love, respect and kindness have a way of boomeranging back to the giver.

Richard Simmons reminds us that we have control over ourselves and our circumstances. He does this without brash tactics or yelling in our faces. He does this by listening, by being kind and by showing us that it can be done. He gently reminds us that we are responsible for the food that we shove into our mouths or the lack of activity that is leaving us immobile.

In order for us to be more like him, it is important to have empathy for someone you have difficulty being empathetic to.

Thats crazy, but its cool to do.

Pick a coworker that you just don’t jive with. Maybe they are a negative person or a person that complains about their spouse all day. Maybe they want sympathy because they feel like they are victims of their circumstances.

Now, usually these types of people put me off. My mother used to say this wise adage that I attribute to the person who is a sympathy seeker: “you know where you can find sympathy? Between shit and syphilis in the dictionary but not here…”

My mother had a way with words, don’t you think?

However, after applying my Simmons Psychology, I actually can empathize with these types of behaviors. I say behaviors, because this may not be the persons true self.

So, heres what you should do. Actively listen. Really hear the problem the person is complaining about. Then, talk about it. That person will likely open up if they don’t get put on the defensive right away because you are looking at them with judgy eyes.

You can find out all kinds of things just by listening. Maybe that person has valid points and needs a friend to talk to.

I was the negative, frustrated person that no one wanted to be around—basically the Eyore of the group. I was always the fat, ugly cock blocker for my friends, and my husbands fat wife.

I became negative and frustrated.

But, when Richard came into my life, I learned that I can change my destiny. Even when I fail, gain back weight, or think life is hopeless—I have the ability to change my life. Me.

I have had years of therapy and found more substance and insight from Richard Simmons than from someone who looked like they were in a coma when I was talking to them. One psychologist even called me the wrong name.

I always wanted my name to be Jessica…

So, in closing, whatever your problem is, the way to solve it is to try and help others. Actively listen. Be present in another persons life—selflessly.

Redirect that person if needed, and remind them that they are wonderful people and that they have the ability to change their life into what ever it is they want it to be.

Be more like Richard Simmons.