…so some sort of celebration is in order, right?
I don’t really feel like celebrating, though. I don’t know what I’m feeling, to be quite honest, and, to paraphrase a song lyric, I don’t know how I feel about that.
There’s a lot to celebrate, and muddled emotions aside, I am still very proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished. I weighed 402 pounds in January, 2010. Since then, I’ve lost and kept off 160 pounds, and that’s no small feat. There are studies out there that say that 95% of people who lose weight gain it back. So far, I’ve beaten those odds.
Those feelings of pride, though, go hand-in-hand with memories of Richard Simmons. It was Richard who got me started on this process. Richard who offered to help me, at a time when I thought weight loss was a lost cause. Richard who held me accountable and cheered me on and reinforced, over and over again, that I was worth it. Richard who sat next to me on national television when I was a guest on Ellen. It’s hard to acknowledge my weight loss anniversary without also acknowledging the anniversary of the first time I met Richard.
Hence, the mixed emotions, because Richard still hasn’t emerged. It’s been a year since his last public appearance. February will mark a year since he last taught at Slimmons. Apart from a very short statement released through his publicist in November, when his disappearance finally hit the media, he hasn’t said a peep to the press, or talked to anyone that I know. His social media accounts are still active, but posting old photos.
I first wrote about Richard’s disappearance in June, and I’ve barely mentioned it since then, because there was nothing to say. Nothing had changed. Sadly, that’s still the case. I still email Richard regularly to wish him the best and share what’s going on. I still go to Slimmons a couple times a month, to take a class taught by Anne (one of the other instructors).
Oh, how I wish I had more of an update. I wish I could say I’m not worried about him, but I still am. I wish I could say I knew what was going on, but I still don’t. I wish I could predict if and when he’s going to start teaching again, or at least make an appearance somewhere, but I still can’t.
A few days ago, I pulled out “Sweatin’ to the Oldies 5.” This had just come out when I met Richard five years ago. I used to travel with this DVD, so I had a workout ready to go wherever I was. I’ve done this workout in four different states.
I had the thought that I could celebrate my anniversary with Richard by doing the DVD, and it would kinda sorta be like we were in the same room again. But I haven’t touched the DVD, because seeing him on the cover makes me sad.
Sometimes I have horrible, scary thoughts about Richard being gravely ill and alone, and it’s terrifying. So I cheer myself up by imagining him relaxing on a beach somewhere, drinking a cocktail out of a hollowed-out coconut, the crystals on his tank top catching the sunlight and reflecting it all over the sand.
Sometimes I catch myself thinking about Richard in the past tense, like I’m never going to see him again, and that makes me the saddest.
So I remain confident that, eventually, I’ll see Richard again. I’m excited for that day. And in the meantime, I’ll continue embracing the changes that this past year has brought, because ultimately change is going to happen, whether I want it to or not.
Back when I was first losing the weight, I would occasionally wonder if I could keep going with the weight loss if I didn’t have Richard’s help. And I didn’t have a good answer, because this was when I was leaning on Richard as a mentor the most: emailing back and forth on a weekly basis, and taking his class every weekend.
My relationship with him had evolved long before he went into hiding. It’s been years since I’ve emailed him food logs, and while I still value his friendship and support, I’m not relying on him on an ongoing basis.
What this past year has reinforced is that my success is mine. I was lucky to have a world-famous fitness icon guide me when I started, but he hasn’t been around lately, and I’m almost exactly the same weight I was a year ago. I haven’t gained it all back. Wanna know why? Because I work hard. I make smart choices. I challenge myself. I stay focused. I’m responsible for my health and wellbeing, and I’m kicking ass.
I’m also reminding myself that the change will continue to happen, even after he reappears. Chances are things won’t go back to how they were, and I can’t expect that.
The most I can hope for is the same thing that I’ve been hoping for all along: That Richard is happy and healthy. He deserves it. He’s done so much so for many people. He’s done so much for me.
And it all began five years ago this month.
Happy Anniversary, Richard!
Now it’s time to tackle year six.
Keep it up, David!