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Richard Simmons' new year's revolution.

Nothing quite tops the holiday season--except, perhaps, our weight the end of it. Office pitch-ins, family get-togethers, Grandma's chocolate-chip cookies, and Mom's madefrom-scratch Dutch apple pie line up as double-barreled temptations, aimed squarely at our resolve to survive the season's festivities without the unfestive fat.

No one knows the scenario like the health and fitness expert Richard Simmons. He personally knows the temptations and the consequences of a "consuming" passion that didn't stop until he tipped the scales at 268 pounds with 40 "waist. But that was 20 years ago. Today, armed with nutritional good sense and enough motivation to lead a stampede, he is helping millions of men and women confront a foe that never takes a holiday: fat.

"Do you know that the average woman will gain somewhere between 6 and 12 pounds before January I?" Richard asks. "What happens, you see is a ritual. It's December 31 the

clock is just about to strike 12, and you start putting as many rumballs in your mouth as is conceivably possible. And when the clock strikes 12, everyone rushes to their supermarkets to buy water-packed tuna and Alva-77. If you walk into your supermarket on January I after 10 in the morning, you won't be able to find a single can of water-packed tuna, because that's the day everybody starts the new diet."

* * *

Anyone worth his weight in waffles knows that these New Year's resolutions dissolve twice as quickly as the weight gained just weeks before. So any real solution must come before and during the celebrations rather than as an afterthought.

"People have to understand that their body doesn't know it's a holiday," Simmons explains. "The inside of your body-the liver, the pancreas, the heart-none of these organs knows it's ho-ho-ho-day. The average person starts to eat for 12 during the holidays. Our eating habits haven't gotten any better. We have the worst eating habits in the world."

It's not that Richard doesn't know the "good stuff"-those special little treats that surface only during the holiday seasons. He's been there, and he had the girth at one time to prove it.

"On Christmas day, 14 million American women will take a quart of sour cream

and a package of Lipton soup mix and make a dip," Richard fondly relates. "Now, I coWd eat that dip on top of cement. I'm not kidding you. On live mice, I would eat that dip. I have dipped everything, including parts of my hand, in that dip.

"But the big thing in 1988 is honeybaked hams," Simmons continues. "I mean, everybody during Christmas bakes a ham. I'm surprised there's a pig left in America. On Christmas, 30 million women will be serving a honey-baked ham. I love them, you love them. I mean, even dead people like honey-baked hams.

"During the holiday, the temptations are everywhere. Satan is buried in the sandwiches and candy at the office, and everyone bakes and gives each other food," he says. Simmons "Don't build your whole holiday season around food.

"Before going out to those dinners and parties during the Christmas season, go immediately to the bathroom. Remove all of your clothing and just stare in the mirror," Richard advises. "This is a very healthy thing to do. Take a thick red felt-tipped marker and put small little x's on all of the areas of your body that you don't particularly like. Because people don't look at their bodies enough, and they have to see all those little cookies and treats and what they are doing to their bodies."

* * *

You see the problem in the mirror and know you've got to stop. But how? Richard firmly believes that "you get yourself to stop by having more respect for yourself. When you're overweight, your heart beats at a different pace, your blood flows differently, you have this globby fat all over the insides of your body. Breathing and posture changes. And then there's the attitude. You personally look in the mirror, and you see the pounds have to go. It shows in your clothes. It shows in your face. Ask yourself a very simple but important question: 'Aren't you more important than what's on your plate?'

"There is not a cookie you have not tasted. There is not a Christmas candy or fudge you have not tasted. You have been there before. You have done it all, so just start cleaning up your eating habits. I mean, look. God does not have a scale at the Pearly Gates. He does not say, 'Oh, Mrs. Anderson, you can come in now that you've lost 83 pounds.' If you're on this earth and you're trying to live the best of the best, you've got to take care of your health.

"Your health and your life and your relationship with your family are a lot more important than your relationship with dressing and gravy, aren't they?"

It is hard. Food is a quick fix. And Richard Simmons knows the food affair can be addictive.

"My mother broke water at a very famous restaurant in New Orleans," Simmons relates. "I was delivered on the second floor of a restaurant in the French Quarter. This is a true story. I mean, I had Bearnaise sauce on my rice crispies. I love food.

"Right now, if there was a man with a gun pointed at my mother's head and they said, 'Richard, lasagne or Shirley,' it would be, 'Lasagne'!"

* * *

Redesigning eating habits and serving styles are basic tools in helping you avoid even the possiblility of overeating.

"Throw away all large bowls in the kitchen," Simmons directs. "Stop serving food table-style, family-style, where you're putting everything on the table. The food should be portioned out in the kitchen and brought to the table to eat. No food on the table. No large turkey. No 400-pound honey-baked ham. None of that on the table. Here's a holiday quiz. While you're eating a piece of turkey, aren't you eyeing another piece on the platter? While you're finishing your stuffing, aren't you eyeing that second portion? I have friends who, when the fried chicken comes to the table, have already picked out their first, second, third, and fourth pieces."

What about all the various "diet" substitutes? Can we safely pig out on those and manage to control the calories?

"Smaller portions is the real key," he says. "Forget about substitutes, which are usually full of preservatives and additives. 'Smaller portions' is the phrase to keep foremost in the mind. If you want a piece of cake, have a piece of cake. Don't sit there and eat the whole thing. If you want some stuffing, have two tablespoons of stuffing, not half of the bowl. During the holiday, you shouldn't have to sit there with a tofu burger. You should just take smaller portions and exercise more."

Adult eating habits set a direct example for our children, and Richard stresses that we should realize what we are doing.

"Kids are like Polaroid cameras. It's terrible. Boy, when they see Mommy and Daddy eat during the holiday season, they pull up a chair. Did you ever see a thin Santa? And what do we train our kid to do? Leave cookies and milk."

Revising our attitudes toward food and redesigning our eating habits, serving styles, and portions will help, but what else?

"Remember: don't build your holiday around food. Build your holiday around religion," Richard advises. "Build the holiday around your family. Spend more time with them. The family goes grocery shopping together and eats together. But how many families exercise together?"

"People say, 'The family that prays together stays together.' I also say, 'The family that exercises together lives longer together!'

Don't just jump into a jogging or exercise program. Especially if you're very overweight or have any doubts about the state of your health. It could be more dangerous to begin a routine than not to have one at all.

First, consult a physician. Richard insists that all of his new patients see the doctor before they embark on weight-loss programs. And his program does include certain types of exercise programs.

"I'm very into walking. Also, lowimpact aerobics, which means that one foot is always on the floor at any time. Your chest is not hitting the ceiling. I also recommend swimming -an excellent exercise."

Instead of baking a loaf of bread or stirring up a batch of vanilla fudge as a gift this year, Simmons suggests giving a gift of an exercise video or-if the person would feel comfortable in a gym-a month's membership. Some overweight people would feel extremely self-conscious in a room full of Jane Fondas, so judge accordingly.

Finally, enjoy the holiday. Just don't overenjoy. An attitude adjustment is Richard Simmons' major recommendation. A positive attitude will help you respect your'health and happiness and will take precedence over the desire for tha"food fix."

"I spent the first 20 years of my life as an overweight person," Simmons says. "I've lived the second 20 as a healthy person. And, believe me, it's a much better half."
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Title Annotation:dieting
Author:Perry, Pat
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Jan 1, 1989
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