Richard Simmons, 63, knows how to make an entrance. The fitness guru showed up at "The Wendy Williams Show" last fall wearing a sleeveless rainbow fringe exercise top and barely-there short shorts, hugging and kissing audience members as he shimmied down the center aisle. Simmons still has the manic energy and humor he was famous for on his self-named, inspirational talk show, which ran from 1980 to 1984 and today might be described as "Oprah" meets "The Biggest Loser."
Simmons, who grew up in New Orleans and successfully overcame childhood obesity, has helped millions of people lose weight. He's the author of nine books, including the New York Times best-seller "Never Say Diet," and author of three cookbooks, as well as DVDs and nutritional guides. Huff/Post50 caught up with him in Los Angeles on a rare stop at home -- he spends 250 days a year on the road spreading the gospel of healthy living.
1. What's the one thing you know now that you wish you knew when you were growing up?
When I was growing up I did not exercise at all. I was raised in the French Quarter in New Orleans. If I saw someone running I would call the police because I thought they stole something on Royal Street. I wish back then that I knew what I know now about exercise. I spent my childhood eating. The only exercise I got was trying to twist off the cap of a jar of mayonaise.
2. At this stage of life, what's the one rule you feel you can break with impunity?
I don't break rules. I lead a very disciplined life. I am still a compulsive eater and every day I fight those demons. I have rules about eating, exercising and rules about staying positive. And these rules are sacred to me.
3. What is the riskiest thing you've done in your life since you've turned fifty?
I don't take risks.
4. What ignites your creativity?
People ignite my soul. I have had my exercise studio Slimmons in Beverly Hills for almost 40 years. When I walk in and teach all my students my mind just starts thinking about all the ways I can inspire and motivate them.
5. What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
My parents always told me to be myself. I was always funny and silly as a kid. And I would always make them laugh. And they always told me to dream big and follow those dreams.
6. What social or political cause are you most passionate about?
For almost 40 years now I have tried to help the overweight and obese people in our country. I eat, breathe and sleep what I do. I travel all over the world spreading my message about self-worth, eating healthy and exercising. I hope in my life time I can see our country healthier and happier.
7. What is your biggest regret?
I have no big regrets. I don't have time for them. Each morning I get up and plan my day. In my life I have reached so many of my goals. I don't dwell in the past. I seize the present.
8. What is your greatest accomplishment?
Making people laugh whether they are laughing with or at me. I am glad God made me humorous. No matter where I go I bring a smile on someone's face. I also allow people to be kids again; we should never lose our childhood.
9. If you could say one thing to the next generation, what would it be?
I would tell the next generation to do what I have done all my years. To plan for their future. I would tell them to think big and not settle for less. I would tell them to clean up their eating habits and never live a day without a workout. I would tell them to be kind to everyone and treat them like family. That is my secret and I would tell them they can be what they want to be if they truly believe in themselves.
10. If you could reincarnate as anyone or anything, what or who would it be?
If I can come back as anything I would come back as a wishing well. People could come from all over and make wishes that they hope will come true. I would be there to hear their sadness or rejoice in their happiness.