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Denise Austin Solves Women's Fitness Problems

By Mike Falcon, Spotlight Health
With medical adviser Stephen A. Shoop, M.D.

Fitness instructor and author Denise Austin's usual outfit for her show and videos is the kind of form-fitting attire many women avoid. But with appropriate exercise and a modest diet, areas that concern many women - the hips, thighs, and buttocks - can be toned, reshaped, and trimmed.

"You definitely can change your appearance in those frequent problem areas," Austin says. "It just takes some intelligent planning, a little determination and discipline, and the willingness to do the work. And it's not tough work, just work which recognizes what's possible and hones in on what you can do and accomplish."

Keeping your "bottom half" looking its best starts with discarding miracle myths and maximizing your own genetic potential through specific exercises and science-based nutrition.

"I'd like women - and men - to know that we can all look and feel better, and that starts by recognizing the great progress that's possible and discarding crazy claims which sound great but leave us ending up looking and feeling no better, or even worse, than before," Austin explains.

Chief among these misleading myths is spot reducing, the claim that specific fatty areas can be diminished while other areas remain as they are. "You really can't really 'spot reduce' per se," Austin notes. "That's because aerobic training gets rid of fat deposits from head to toe."

"You can, however, reshape and trim an area," Austin says, "and that definitely includes the buns, hips, and thighs - where we women tend to build fat deposits." Austin's newest videos, Yoga Buns and Fat Blasting Yoga, were created to do just that and reflect her growing interest in successfully merging the best of east and west.

What works

The only thing that works for changing the shape of the thighs, hips, and buttocks is a combination of exercise programs that stimulates muscle tone in target areas and a carefully constructed diet.

"It's not just fat we're seeing," Austin observes. "We see muscles that have not been exercised in a long period of time, so we need to firm up those muscles to create a base that doesn't wiggle and jiggle."

"And we need to perform an exercise program that we can make a habit," she adds. "If you don't do your exercise program regularly, it can look good on paper, but you continue to look just as you are. If you can accept that, great. If you cannot, and you want to change, then it's time to create an exercise regimen that works for you and with you."

"You can do it at home," Austin says. "That works for moms and business people both, which makes trying to get to a gym at a time when your kids have a soccer match or you have to work late unnecessary." Denise Austin's Daily Workout leads viewers through a wide variety of home exercises each morning on Lifetime TV.

Exercises that work the buttocks, hips, and thighs will likely include:

  • Walking - "Walking is great," Austin recommends. "You can do it anytime of the year, indoors or outdoors and it works the entire leg. You do not have to run."

  • Stair climbing - "Stair-steppers at the health club are great," Austin says, "but walking up the stairs in your home or apartment house works terrifically. It gets your buns and the backs of your thighs, and you're pulling in adjacent supportive muscles."

  • Walking lunges - In this exercise you dip down on the forward knee and lunge ahead. Positioning is critical in this movement, both to maximize exercise benefits and avoid injury. Detailed instructional examples are available free on the Denise Austin website.

  • Chair squats - Holding onto a support in front of you; a table or something else secure or immovable. Squat down until your legs assume the same position as if you were sitting in a chair. Be careful not to go any lower, particularly if you are over 35, as the knee's meniscus cartilage can be traumatized or torn.

  • Lying side leg lifts - This targets the hips. Lying on your side, straighten your leg and raise it towards the ceiling.

As for bicycling: "You can get some work on the thighs and quadriceps," Austin says, "and it can be great aerobic exercise. But your butt doesn't get as much work as you'd like because you're sitting on it."

Since all of these exercises help develop muscle tissue, there's an added bonus. "One of the miracles of metabolism is that when we develop more muscle we burn more calories," the expert says. "Muscle cells are active and require more calories to sustain them, while fat tissue is essentially sedentary and it takes very few calories to keep them just as they are."

Austin cautions not to do too much, too soon. "This rings true more for guys who were high school athletes than for most gals," Austin notes. "They go out for three-mile runs when their bodies aren't ready for more than a 10-minute walk. As a result, they get ankle and knee problems."

"Start with shorter times, like 10 minutes walking a day," Austin advises, "and gradually ramp up to 30 or 40 minutes a day. You do not have to run -- just walk briskly, as you can. The idea is to give yourself a little chance, not a forbidding challenge. Do what you can; not what others think you should be able to do."


Without an appropriate diet, toning and strengthening exercises will result in muscles that are toned and stronger - and remain surrounded by existing fat stores. "You have to expend more calories than you take in to help diminish fat stores," Austin emphasizes. "There's simply no way around it, so increase your activity and decrease the amount of calories."

The types of foods you ingest also figure in this equation. Excessive levels of fat are stored. Unused carbohydrates may also convert to fat stores.

Austin avoids all prepared foods with partially hydrogenated fats. "Those little wheat crackers you think are healthy are often chock-full of these types of fats, which are detrimental on a number of levels. Check the labels."

Austin suggests three small balanced meals a day, and one mid-afternoon snack. "Never miss breakfast, because that starts your 'engine' for the day," she says. "Numerous studies show that people who skip breakfast more than make up for it later in the day."

As for that afternoon snack: "That might be a piece of fruit or a small palm-sized portion of unsalted nuts - not a pork chop or club sandwich."

"It's a pretty simple plan," Austin says. "But that's part of the beauty - unlike brain surgery, anyone can do it and see and feel results."

Spotlight Health is the leading creator of celebrity-featured health-issue awareness campaigns, connecting consumers with impassioned celebrities whose personal health battles can open eyes, dispel myths and change lives. Spotlight Health helps sufferers and caregivers meet the challenges of difficult health circumstances with understandable, in-depth medical information, compassionate support and the inspiration needed to make informed healthcare choices.

Created: 1/21/2003  -  Mike Falcon & Stephen A. Shoop, M.D.

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