The Richard Simmons Diet for Seniors

Richard Simmons is hard to miss, so chances are you've heard about or seen him even if you weren't thinking about losing weight. He's been the star of several television shows, infomercials, and videos, and he has written an autobiography. For some, his explosive enthusiasm is hard to take.

Simmons' diet is a healthful one for the 50+ crowd, but there is little that's unique about Richard Simmons' diet plan other than Simmons himself. His diet plan is updated regularly and repackaged; the latest version is called Richard Simmons' SlimAway Everyday.

The program is available on his Web site (Richardsimmons.com). To learn about and follow the SlimAway Everyday diet plan, you must join the Clubhouse; the initial fee is regularly $29.95 for 12 weeks (on sale for $19.95) and $9.95 per month thereafter.

Joining the Clubhouse gets you 30 days of meal plans and recipes as part of a personalized SlimAway MealPlan; hundreds of low-calorie recipes; shopping lists; access to live online chats with Richard Simmons and message boards to communicate with other Clubhouse members; food exchange lists and an online Foodmover, which tracks your food intake and lets you know what you have left to eat every day; and a 10 percent discount on products offered in Simmons' online store, including his exercise videos.

The Rationale

With Richard Simmons as your personal cheerleader, you may find the motivation you need to get with the program and to stick with it. His overriding philosophy is one of inclusiveness. No matter how overweight you are or how miserable you feel because of your weight, Simmons reassuringly offers hope. Simmons places a tremendous emphasis on physical activity, and this is the one trait of his weight-loss program that stands out and puts it a notch above the rest.

In fact, Richard Simmons was, and probably still is, best known for his exercise videos. If you're over 50 and out of shape, check with your doctor before you start his exercise program. Some of the exercise routines really get your heart going. Exercise videos are not part of the Clubhouse fee but may be purchased online from Simmons' site.

Eating on the Richard Simmons Diet

The SlimAway Everyday program is the basis of Simmons' weight loss strategy. It lays out a well-balanced and varied diet that admirably includes a minimum of seven servings of fruits and vegetables and two servings of low fat dairy foods a day. He also wisely recommends drinking eight glasses of water each day and not going below 1,200 calories.

It's a no-nonsense program that sets clear guidelines but leaves individual food choices up to the dieter. There are no prepackaged foods, and he encourages you to choose from fresh foods like fish and lean sources of protein, strawberries, greens, oranges, and whole-grain breads.

The foods are grouped according to categories, and the diet is set up much like the exchange system used by people with diabetes. You're allowed a certain number of food exchanges from each group, depending on your daily calorie quota.

What the Experts Say

Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., a nutrition consultant in private practice in New York City, says she believes the Richard Simmons program makes sense and is not extreme. Plus, she gives him extra points because he acknowledges and accommodates the needs of even the most overweight people. Few experts take real issue with any of Richard Simmons' programs.

Those over 50 years old who follow Simmons' diet could run a little low on calcium and vitamin D, even though it includes more dairy than many other weight-loss programs. Be sure to include a calcium and vitamin D supplement to help fend off osteoporosis and compensate for your body's reduced ability to produce active vitamin D and your increasing needs.

Additionally, take a multivitamin every day to fill in any small nutrient gaps. Simmons' plan is good for any age. If you follow his recommended calorie intakes, you may lose about one to two pounds per week.

In the next and final section of this article, find out if Dr. Shapiro's Picture Perfect Weight Loss for Seniors is right for you.

To learn more about senior health, see: