Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Denise Austin’s plan for holiday health and happiness

If you’re sitting back after Thanksgiving weekend, planning to make a New Year’s resolution to get in shape after the holidays, fitness guru Denise Austin has a message for you.

By Rob Senior

If you're sitting back after Thanksgiving weekend, planning to make a New Year's resolution to get in shape after the holidays, fitness guru Denise Austin has a message for you.

"Don't wait!" she emphasizes. "Get in shape now, and look great for the holidays."

For over 30 years, Denise Austin has been a mainstay in the American fitness industry. She started with her own show on a Los Angeles station before becoming the Today Show's fitness expert in 1984. Most people remember her from her long-running cable TV programs, Getting Fit with Denise Austin, Denise Austin's Daily Workout and Fit & Lite.

Austin's new book, Side Effect: Skinny is available just in time for the holidays and offers tips on nutrition, exercise and most importantly, how to shed pounds permanently and maintain a fitness program for life.

Austin's been off the airwaves for a couple years now, giving her time to enjoy life with Jeff, her husband of 29 years and their two college-age daughters. "[Our daughters] are off on the west coast, attending school and playing lacrosse and we're back here on the east coast," she says. "So I do a great deal of traveling now."

In fact, it was traveling that gave Denise the inspiration for her new book. "So everywhere I go, I meet women and they ask me what to eat?" she says. "That's why I put together this book. It's all about food—losing weight, having energy and feeling great."

Talking to Denise Austin is no different than watching one of her TV shows—she's energetic, upbeat and eager to share her knowledge and passion for fitness. Admitting that she loves good food, too, Austin's plan was to put together a diet that works in as little as seven days—but still allows you to enjoy your favorite meals and treats. "I interview women around the country, and that's what I hear," Austin shares. "They want to see results within seven days."

On Austin's plan, you'll be provided with a specific outline of what to eat each day. The first couple days of the week allow for the lowest calorie intake, mentally preparing the dieter for lighter meals. Calories are gradually and slowly increased throughout the week, but meals are still planned meticulously. It isn't until day 7—which Austin calls 'Super-Splurge Day'—that a person can loosen their belt, so to speak.

"It gives you something to look forward to," she explains. "If you want to go out for a fancy dinner or enjoy those favorite foods—it's built right into the plan on this day."

Austin also offers 14 foods to improve the health of specific body parts—carrots for good eye health, kidney beans to help cleanse the kidneys and so forth. In other chapters, she offers:

  1. The "7-to-7" rule—These are the hours of the day during which you should consume your meals. "If you eat a huge, late-night dinner, your metabolism can't process that," she shares. Sticking to this schedule will start you on the road to losing weight naturally.

  2. Sneaky Workouts—"We sit too long," Austin simplifies, "and that's where we gain weight. So implement exercise into your life—don't sit and talk on the phone, pace while you talk. Even brushing your teeth in the bathroom—do some alternating leg lifts. Every bit helps—remember, your body doesn't know that you're not in the gym."

  3. Compound Exercises. Certain movements in combination—leg squats and overhead presses, for example—allow you to do twice the work in half the time. "Seven minutes a day is all you need to get into an exercise routine," she says.

Above all, however, Austin stresses the importance of getting into action immediately. Her initial three–week plan will take you right up to the holidays and help you fight off the seemingly inevitable weight gain that comes with parties and presents.

"The average person gains four pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas," she shares. "But this is the time of year when you see people you don't normally see. Why not look awesome and feel better?"

Denise Austin has created over 100 workout videos and DVDs. Her new book, Side Effect: Skinny is available at