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Richard Simmons Diet

Definition

The Richard Simmons diet focuses on three areas: diet, exercise, and motivation. It emphasizes a balanced diet, moderate exercise, and a positive outlook.

Origins

Richard Simmons was born on July 12th, 1948, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He reports that growing up in an area with so much good food was exciting, but that it had a very negative impact on his weight. Simmons says that by the time he was 8 years old he already weighed 200 pounds. He was picked on by the children at school for being so overweight. As he continued to get older he gained more weight, at one point weighing as much as 268 pounds. He reports trying many different unhealthy ways to lose weight such as purging (throwing up) and using laxatives. At one point he even tried starving himself and drinking only water. He says he nearly died when he starved himself for two and a half months.

When Simmons was 16, and weighed more than ever, he decided to try a different approach to weight loss. This time he educated himself about nutrition, healthy eating, and exercise by borrowing books from the library. Through this self-education he learned to stop doing things that were bad for his body and start to do things that were positive. Over time he slowly lost his extra weight and became healthier.

Simmons says that it was his early struggle with his weight, and how bad he felt about himself during that time, that inspired him to try to help others lose weight. And knowing all of the things he had tried made him want to help others lose weight the right way. In 1973, Simmons moved to Los Angeles, California, and was inspired to open his own weight loss and fitness club because he could not find any clubs that were welcoming to people who were not already in great shape. He called his club “Slimmons” and opened it in Beverly Hills. His own experience with weight loss is his only qualification. Simmons has no formal training in nutrition.

Over the more than30years since he opened “Slim-mons” people have lost more than 3,000,000 total pounds following Richard Simmons’ diet and exercise plans. He invented the Deal-a-Meal, the FoodMover to help people easily keep track of how much they have eaten each day, and a steamer to help people make healthy meals. He has also written an autobiography and cookbooks, made more than 50 exercise videos, which have sold more than 20 million copies, and had his own Emmy Award winning television show.

Description

The Richard Simmons diet consists of three main parts: diet, exercise, and motivation. These three parts are combined to make a weight loss and exercise program that follows healthy guidelines for most adults,

KEY TERMS

Dietary supplement—A product, such as a vitamin, mineral, herb, amino acid, or enzyme, that is intended to be consumed in addition to an individual’s diet with the expectation that it will improve health.

Mineral—An inorganic substance found in the earth that is necessary in small quantities for the body to maintain a health. Examples: zinc, copper, iron.

Obese—More than 20% over the individual’s ideal weight for their height and age or having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.

Toxin—A general term for something that harms or poisons the body.

Vitamin—A nutrient that the body needs in small amounts to remain healthy but that the body cannot manufacture for itself and must acquire through diet.

and is intended to provide weight loss at a moderate pace.

Diet

The Richard Simmons diet follows guidelines for a balanced, healthy diet and moderately paced weight loss. It emphasizes fruits and vegetables, with a minimum of seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The minimum daily number of calories on the diet is 1,200. This is generally thought to be a healthy number of calories per day for adults trying to achieve weight loss. The diet includes about 60% carbohydrates, 20% fats, and 20% proteins. Also included each day are 2 servings of low or non-fat dairy products.

Richard Simmons provides a number of different tools to help people follow his diet more easily. One of these is known as the Deal-A-Meal, which provides cards in a wallet. Each card represents one serving of a food group, and during the day as the dieter eats the cards are moved from one side of the wallet to the other. Once there are no cards left the dieter knows that he or she has eaten all of the allotted food for that day. A more recent version of this tool is the Food-Mover, which is a tool designed to fit easily into pockets or purses. As the day goes by the dieter closes a tab for each serving of proteins, carbohydrates, and other food groups as they are eaten. It also includes windows for water and exercise, aswellasmotivational messages.

Many different cookbooks are also available, which include a wide variety of recipes designed to be eaten while on Simmons' diet. Also available is a food diary so that the dieter has an accurate way to record not only how many servings of what food groups were eaten, but which specific foods, and any other information the dieter wants to record.

Exercise

The Richard Simmons diet is designed to be done with one of his exercise routines. He has many different routines and is known for pairing upbeat music with moderately strenuous exercises. Simmons designs his exercise programs so that they are safe and effective for almost anyone to do, including the very overweight and seniors. Some of the titles of his exercise videos and DVDs include “60s Blast Off,” “Richard Simmons Dance Your Pants Off!,” and “Richard Simmons Super Toning.” He also has specialty videos for some groups such as “Richard Simmons and the Silver Foxes” a work out routine designed for seniors that features various celebrities who played moms and dads on television. His DVD “Sit Tight” is designed for people who, for any reason, cannot exercise standing up. It is designed to give a dieter a full workout all from a sitting position.

Motivation

Richard Simmons provides motivation to dieters following his plan in many different forms. On his website, www.richardsimmons.com, dieters can join his clubhouse, for a fee, and get access to many helpful tools. There are discussion boards where dieters can share their frustrations or encourage others, and a daily motivation message from Simmons. He also frequently chats live to members and to give them even more motivation. His exercise DVDs are filled with up-beat music and encouraging words.

Simmons' website provides information about when he can be seen on any of the many television shows on which he appears as a guest. Additionally, there are also many opportunities for dieters to be motivated by Simmons, in person. He travels an average of 250 days per year, according to his website, and visits places as diverse as senior citizens centers, schools, and shopping malls. When he is not traveling he still regularly teaches exercise classes at his health and fitness club “Slimmons”. He also organizes a cruise from New York to the Caribbean each year that dieters can sign up for. The cruise is designed for people following his program and includes special meals, motivational talks by Simmons, and exercise.

Function

The Richard Simmons diet is intended to help people lose weight at a healthy, moderate pace, over time, and to help the dieter keep the weight off after the desired weight loss has been achieved. Simmons intends the diet for all dieters, even those who are disabled by their obesity. He also believes that it can be effective for senior citizens, or others who need a more moderate pace of exercise.

Benefits

There are many benefits to losing weight, being more healthy, and being more fit. The benefits of weight loss can be very significant, and are generally considered to be the greatest for people who are extremely obese. People who are obese are at higher risk of type II diabetes, heart disease, and many other diseases and disorders. The risk and severity of these disorders is generally greater the more overweight a person is. Weight loss, if achieved at a moderate pace through a healthy diet and regular exercise can reduce the risk of these and other obesity-related diseases. Increased exercise can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. An additional benefit of the Richard Simmons diet is that his motivational messages are intended to help dieters get through the trickiest times of dieting without giving up, and can help lead the dieter to an more positive outlook overall.

Precautions

Anyone thinking of beginning a new diet or exercise regimen should consult a medical practitioner. Requirements of calories, fat, and nutrients can differ significantly from person to person, depending on gender, age, weight, and many other factors such as the presence of any disease or conditions. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should be especially cautious because pregnant and breast feeding women have different needs of vitamins and minerals, and deficiencies of can have a significant negative impact on a baby. Exercising too strenuously or beginning a rigorous exercise program too suddenly can have negative effects on the body such as an increased risk of injury.

Risks

QUESTIONS TO ASK THE DOCTOR

  • Is this diet the best diet to meet my goals?
  • At what level of intensity is it appropriate for me to begin exercising?
  • Does diet or exercise pose any special risk for me that I should be aware of?
  • Would a multivitamin or other dietary supplement be appropriate for me if I were to begin this diet?
  • Is this diet appropriate for my entire family?
  • Is it safe for me to follow this diet over a long period of time?
  • Are there any sign or symptoms that might indicate a problem while on this diet?

safely, although some risk of injury still exists as with any exercise program. Injuries during exercise can include as strained or sprained muscles, and proper warm up and cool down procedures should be followed to help minimize these risks. It is often best to begin with light or moderate exercise, and increase the intensity slowly over weeks or months.

Research and general acceptance

Richard Simmon's diet has not been the subject of any significant scholarly research. However, moderately limiting caloric intake, eating a diet low in fats and carbohydrates and high in vegetable and plant products is generally accepted as a healthy diet for most people. The Richard Simmons diet follows the United States Department of Agriculture's MyPyra-mid guide recommendations for healthy eating.

As of 2007, the U.S. Center for Disease Control recommended a minimum of 30 minutes per day of light to moderate exercise for healthy adults. Following Richard Simmons' program would meet this minimum recommendation. Many studies have shown that even this amount of exercise can have significant health benefits including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have also shown that exercise is a very important part of any weight loss plan, and diet and exercise combined are more effective for long term weight loss and weight maintenance than either diet or exercise alone.

Helen M. Davidson


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