Who is the real Richard Simmons? The energetic wizard who gets overweight people eating right and exercising? The comic who prances around in shorts and a tank top on late-night television? The compassionate listener who sheds tears at sad stories? They're all real, but there's much more. In this book, you learn how Simmons went from being an overweight child whose obsession for food controlled his life to becoming the exercise-and-diet guru of today. It's an engrossing tale, filled with poignant anecdotes, fascinating tidbits (he played a meatball in a commercial when he was an art student in Italy), and even horror stories (licking the nozzle of an empty asthma inhaler, trying to get just one more drop so he could breathe, because his father restricted his inhaler refills). The style is pure Richard: food-obsessed and often very funny ("I even changed my own diapers because I didn't like the way my parents did it").
Much of the book is about--what else?--food. Even as a baby,
I could recognize a package of bacon at twenty feet. The strips of bacon looked so weak, so flimsy, so sad, until they hit the frying pan. Then they began swimming and dancing, lacing up at the sides and turning golden brown.
At adolescence, his tastes matured. "Puberty was graduating from Thousand Island salad dressing to Caesar salads... from hot dogs and hamburgers to beef stroganoff... from ice cream in a cone to crème brulée." Simmons describes the torments of being obese (268 pounds as a college student), the humiliation of the diet doctors, and his "angels"--the special people who turned his life around. He has a definite knack for drawing the reader in; you'll feel like a dear friend has just confided his life story to you. --Joan Price
From Publishers Weekly
One of Simmons's great strengths as a fitness guru and infomercial demigod is his palpable empathy for others. But the man who feels others' frustration, anger and sadness does very little soul-searching here, beyond noting that "food equals love." Simmons radiates warmth and compassion in the book's later chapters, which cover his work rescuing morbidly obese fans (the focus of his 1993 book, Never Give Up) and establishing exercise programs for the physically challenged, but that depth of feeling is seldom evident when he tells his own story. Simmons presents himself as a chubby child who was constantly picked on but who was able to deflect all hurts with humor and by obsessing over food. Youthful anecdotes about inviting strangers home to dinner and putting the family home up for sale will make most readers feel for his beleaguered parents rather than for the irresistible scamp Simmons portrays himself to have been. Growing older, Simmons tackled his weight problem with starvation, vomiting, laxatives, shakes, Weight Watchers and diet pills, landing in the hospital after losing 112 pounds in two and a half months. He finally found the key to be exercise and smaller portions. Opening a salad bar/exercise studio in Beverly Hills brought him an acting stint on General Hospital. From there he built his fitness empire by writing self-help books, producing Sweatin' to the Oldies videos, creating the Deal A Meal food maintenance program and cannily marketing his image to the public. Simmons breezes past the $64,000 question, stating only that he is too busy working to have a private lifeAbeyond his dogs. This autobiography is as bland as cottage cheese, but steadfast fans will no doubt eat it up. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.