Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Denise's Daily Dozen Book Review and Q&A With Denise Austin

Since the birth of my second daughter six months ago, I have not been back to the gym.  While I was pregnant I went to the gym about 2-3 days a week up until I was about eight months pregnant.  Even then I still went walking (at the mall in the air conditioning) and did exercises that the trainer I had met with recommended.  I honestly thought that getting back into the swing of things after my daughter was born would be easy since I had made an effort to stay fit during my pregnancy but is hasn't been.  I am just starting to get back on track.

I had the chance recently to review Denise Austin's Denise's Daily Dozen. In her new book, Denise introduces her Daily Dozen Fitness Plan to get you on the road to a healthier lifestyle. The book outlines 12 exercises for each day of the week that will take you about 12 minutes to do.  The workouts include all types of exercises including cardio, kickboxing, and even yoga.  On a weekly basis, Denise also advises including 12 miles of cardio.  The variety of workouts will keep you from getting bored and losing interest.

Everyone can carve at least 12 minutes out of their day to exercise no matter how busy they are. For days where you may have more time, Denise has included two extra workouts, one for abs and one that is a ballet-inspired barre routine.  She has also included 12 "fidget-cisers", exercises that you can do as you go about your daily life and for those who sit at a desk, she has included a half dozen "tension tamers" that you can do at your desk.  Pictures and explanations on how to do the exercises are included making the exercise program easy to follow. This also allows you to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly to help minimize injury.  I liked that all you needed to follow the exercise plan was a pair of sneakers, two sets of weights (one heavy and one light), and a mat or towel for floor exercises.

The book also includes a meal plan.  The meal plan covers a three week period and it includes recipes and suggested foods for each meal and for snacks along with nutritional information.  Checklists are provided for each day.  The checklists include spaces to check off the daily dozen foods that you should be eating for a balanced diet and whether you have drank your 8 glasses of water.  It also includes spaces to check off if you completed the day's Daily Dozen, some of your weekly cardio miles, and whether you did any fidget-cisers.  This makes it easy to monitor your progress.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the tips (by the dozen) included throughout the book from "12 Ways to Spice Up Your Water" to "12 Ways to Trim Your Body and Your Food Costs", to "Easy Ways to Boost Your Energy".  Denise's characteristic cheerful and motivational outlook are evident throughout.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in trying to live a healthier lifestyle.  This book made me realize that I could fit exercising and eating healthy into my busy days.  The exercises were easy to do and I liked that I didn't need any special equipment, just weights.  What has made me feel better is the fact that I feel that I have accomplished something for myself after just getting a few minutes of exercise.  The recipes are incredibly easy to prepare with fresh ingredients and taste good.  If you made a New Year's Resolution to get fit, this may be the place to start.

If you are a fan of Denise, you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter or visit her website.

Q & A with Denise Austin

Denise was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer several questions for The Practical Mom Guide readers.

TPMG: You dedicated your new book, Denise’s Daily Dozen, to your mom and dad.  How have your parents influenced the choices you have made, especially in the career path that you have taken? 
Denise: My parents both helped me develop a love of fitness. Many people know my father was a professional baseball player, but my mother was also active and was a New York State jump-roping champ in her teens. As I grew up, my parents really instilled a sense of “you can do anything , or be anything you want to be, if you follow your dreams,” which definitely influenced the path that I have taken. I try to now give my daughters that same encouragement. As a child and teen  and into college, I was very involved in competitive gymnastics, which taught me all about discipline and dedication. My parents were extremely supportive of that. My dad in particular had an unbelievably strong work ethic. He was never late for anything, and always told us, “The harder you work, the luckier you get!” which really stuck with me. My mom, who has been my personal hero, was a busy working mother but never lost her happy attitude and positive, enthusiastic outlook on life. I try every day to embody my dad’s discipline and my mom’s positivity. With those two role models, I am who I am today. 

TPMG: What motivated you to write Denise’s Daily Dozen?
Denise: I know how busy and stressed out people are these days, and I wanted to show people that they really can fit in the time to be healthy – that it’s worth it and that it doesn’t take as much time as many think it does. That’s why in Denise’s Daily Dozen I give exercises that can be done quickly, in 12 minutes a day – I wanted to show readers the minimum daily requirement they need to get fit. I also sought to simplify people’s eating habits. I gave 12 power foods that people should eat for a balanced diet, plus recipes that are quick and easy to make and can easily be fit in to a busy schedule. Also, people are always asking me, “What do you really eat? What do you cook for your family?” and this book is my answer to those questions!

TPMG: Your Daily Dozen incorporates different workouts (from cardio and kickboxing to yoga), do you have a favorite workout?
Denise: I love all forms of exercise, and they’re all important. But I’d say my favorite things to do are my 30-minute at-home workouts in the morning with my husband, because it’s our time to talk before we go off to our busy workdays. I also love taking walks on the weekends with my girlfriends. It’s an opportunity to chat and catch up on each other’s lives. We love to “walk and talk”!

TPMG: You recommend exercising for at least 12 minutes each day with the 12 daily exercises and doing at least 12 miles of cardio exercise a week in your book.   How many times a week and for how long should the average woman workout altogether?
Denise: That truly is the minimum daily requirement that any woman needs. But don’t forget to sneak in exercise in other ways, wherever you can. This means parking further away from the supermarket; taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work; bringing your kids to the park instead of to the movies; and doing squats in the bathroom while you brush your teeth or leg lifts in the kitchen while you prepare dinner. Those little moments of fitness really do add up to a healthy, active lifestyle!

TPMG: You look amazing.  What is your exercise regimen?
Denise: Thank you!! Well, I constantly mix up my workouts between toning, stretching, and burning fat.  Those are the big three, and it really takes all three of those to add up to total-body fitness. So I alternate between my exercise DVDS, maybe doing toning with my Body Makeover Mix one day and doing lots of fat-burning moves from my 3-Week Boot Camp DVD the next. By alternating each day, I’ve covered every part of the body by the week’s end.  Then I also walk outdoors whenever I can, plus sneak in little moments of fitness during the day whenever possible. I also do yoga and Pilates to keep myself flexible. I really love mixing it up -- I never get bored!

TPMG: How should our exercise regimen change as we get older?
Densie: As we get older, staying active and fit becomes increasingly important. After all, exercise helps us fight gravity! More importantly, as we get older we tend to lose muscle mass, which can lower metabolism and lead to weight gain — even in people who have never had a weight problem before. Make a commitment to moving your body throughout the day and dedicating time each week to power-walking, aerobics, or some other form of cardio, which helps protect you from cardiovascular disease, a leading killer of women. Exercise also lowers your risk for bone problems (like osteoporosis) and maintaining flexibility helps prevent injuries.

TPMG: What staples should women keep in their pantry and fridge to help them create healthy and quick meals?
Denise: There are plenty of meals out there that are quick and easy to prepare – Denise’s Daily Dozen is filled with them! Plus, these days, there are so many healthy options that come frozen or ready-to-go. I suggest you fill your freezer with bags of pre-cut veggies that steam in the microwave (just make sure you don’t get the ones that come drenched in a cheese or butter sauce – too fattening!). You can also buy brown rice the same way, which cooks quickly. Fill your freezer with lots of lean protein options like chicken breast, and broil or grill a large batch at a time to use in salads or fajitas all week long.  I also suggest keeping lemons, garlic, and onions around – they are a great way to add flavor, not calories, to any healthy meal.

TPMG: We all know that we tend to eat unhealthier foods when pressed for time or on the go.  What are some suggestions for grab-and-go snacks?
Denise: The best grab-and-go snacks are low in sugar but high in protein and/or fiber – or both of which help keep your hunger levels in check. Stash good-for-you snacks like  raw almonds, dried fruit, or dry whole grain breakfast cereal in plastic baggies and keep them in your car or purse. Boil a dozen eggs on the weekend and store them in the fridge for a high-protein snack that’s very healthy and easy to eat when you’re on the run. Cutting up fruits and veggies works the same way – just make a point to mix up the variety of which ones you’re eating from week to week. (Carrot sticks get boring quickly when you eat them week in and week out!)  The key is advance preparation – it protects you from the temptation of vending machines or drive-thrus.

TPMG: Your book is full of positive thoughts and motivational messages.  How do you stay so upbeat and positive?  Any words of wisdom for other women out there who struggle each day?
Denise: Keeping an upbeat attitude is so important for health and wellness! I inherited my sunny outlook from my mother, who always made us see the bright side of any negative situation. I tell women (and men)  to concentrate on becoming a “glass half full” type of person, and you’ll be surprised at how much more enjoyment you can get out of life. An optimistic outlook can awaken you to new possibilities that often are buried by self-doubt and negativity. Just remember: With all the things in life we can’t control, there’s one thing you can control: your attitude. Make it positive!

TPMG: Any advice for moms who are trying to balance taking care of the kids, home, and work while trying to find time for themselves?  How do you pamper yourself?
Denise: Taking time out for you is so important! Every day — or, at a minimum, every week — do something for yourself and let everyone know that that time is yours and can't be rescheduled. Those few hours can be spent getting a manicure, starting a new hobby, or simply sitting down in a quiet room with a good book. This is not about being selfish. Every woman needs to recharge her batteries, and that's okay! Once you get into the habit of spending nonnegotiable time with yourself, you'll start to see a difference — both in your body and your mood. You’ll be a better mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend because of it! One of my favorite ways to pamper myself is by soaking in a warm bath – just add candles, delicious-smelling bath salts, and dim lighting, and it’s just like an at-home spa!

TPMG: How has having children inspired you in your career?
Denise: Well, I believe that fitness is of constant importance during all times of life, so I was careful to exercise during both of my pregnancies. I even taped one of my exercise videos when I was eight months pregnant! And after both babies, I had to bounce back to my pre-baby weight quickly – each time, I had just six weeks to get back in shape because of my work schedule. In fact, the ratings for my ESPN show skyrocketed after I had just had a baby – I think people wanted to see what my tummy looked like! So, yes, having my daughters really motivated me to exercise and eat right. Other than that, I never wanted to push my career or love of fitness too strongly on my daughters, but when they were young I had them be part of my Fit Kids video -- an experience which we all loved and which helped them see how fun exercise could be. Now that they’re older, I just  try to motivate them and encourage their personal dreams as much as possible, as my parents did for me. While they’re both proud of me and what I do, to them, I’m still just mom!

TPMG: Did you make a New Year’s Resolution this year?
Denise: Yes! January is a great time to recharge your batteries for the year ahead as well as create a few, clear strong goals for yourself. My New Year's resolution is to vary my workout — mixing it up constantly from Pilates to yoga to boot camp workouts to interval training to using kettlebells. And, I'm going to make sure I take vitamins every single day.

TPMG: Thank you much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions!
Denise: You’re welcome! I’m so happy to help out -- thanks for reading Denise’s Daily Dozen!

I was provided a free copy of Denise's new book from Hachette Book Group in the hope that I would provide an honest review.  No other form of compensation was recieved.  My opinions expressed are solely my own.  I was made aware of this opportunity through The Product Review Place.


♥ Katinka said...

Stopping by from SITS and wishing you a Happy Tuesday :)

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