EXCERPT: 'My Footprint,' by Jeff Garlin

I'm working out with my trainer, Anne, today. I can honestly say, no exaggeration, if it wasn't for Anne, I would not be alive. She's kept me alive. She's really, really, kept me alive. She can be very serious. Today, as I'm working out with her, I ask her how much money it will take for her to walk up to all the other trainers in the gym and tell them that she's a pretty little ballerina girl. She tells me "I won't, because you couldn't pay me."

"Let's say a million dollars. Would you do it for a million dollars?"

"No, because you don't really have the money."

She just won't go with it. Across the room I see a trainer with huge fake breasts and an attitude.

"See that trainer over there that's taking herself way too seriously? Go over and just pet the back of her head."


"For ten million?"

"Just focus on your workout."

"What if I said I had the cure for cancer?"


"C'mon, I'll give you the cure for cancer."


"Think of all the lives you'll save."

"Stop already."

"What if that trainer got her fake breasts to overcompensate for the anxiety she's feeling from her fear of maybe someday getting cancer? What if you could alleviate her pain by just simply stroking her head? Go ahead and stroke it. But then again, I already have the cure. Why am I waiting to tell you? I should do something about it now. Dear God, woman, I have the cure for cancer and I've done nothing with it."

She stares at me, not even a smile. But I enjoy her nonetheless. I've been with her for nine years. That's amazing . . . and gives you an idea of how long I've been trying to get healthy.

Before I found Anne, another fitness guru tried to help me. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I went to a taping of Bonnie Hunt's sitcom and her guest star that night was Richard Simmons. Bonnie introduced us -- yes, he was wearing his signature Richard Simmons outfit (striped dolphin shorts and a sparkly tank top) -- and after a brief conversation, he confidentially offered to help me. Confidentially, right! He practically screamed it to the heavens. Reluctantly, I told him I did need help. Nothing had helped me lose weight up to this point. I was a bit desperate. Desperate enough for the magic of Richard Simmons.

Richard asked for my mom's phone number -- I gave it to him knowing that her excitement might make up for the second thoughts I was having about this crazy idea -- and then he proceeded to call my mom and tell her that he was going to change my life. I would have felt more comfortable if he'd just told her he was going to help me lose weight. He actually could have told my mom that he was going to help me bedazzle all of my shirts, she wouldn't have cared. She was over the moon about simply being on the phone with Richard Simmons. After he was done talking to her, he handed me the phone.

"How about that?"

"You know I love Richard Simmons!"

"No, I didn't, but I do now."

"My heart is beating so fast."

Richard was smiling at me.

"Calm down, Ma."

"Jeffrey, you do whatever that man tells you!"

"Maybe I will."

"Do it, Jeffrey. This is a rare opportunity."

"It is a rare opportunity."

Again, Richard smiled at me.

"Promise me you'll listen to everything he says."


"Promise me."

" We'll see."

"Not 'we'll see.' "

"I'll try."

"Say it."

"Okay, I'll work with him."

"Please, Jeffrey."

"I just told you I will."

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