Denise Austin has been queen of health and fitness for more than 25 years, hosting Denise Austin's Daily Workout on Lifetime TV and creating 84 workout videos. Now she's busy traveling on the Smucker's Simple Steps to a Better You Tour, but she shared with us her favorite busy-mom exercises (that work for her!), tips for healthy eating that everyone can follow, and how she was able to (healthily) go from maternity wear to spandex leotard in practically no time.
What's your best tip for moms who don't have tons of time to exercise?
Denise Austin: Your muscles don't know that you're in a fancy gym or in the supermarket -- you can exercise everywhere. You can work in small bursts of exercises for different muscles throughout the day and you will get a full body's workout.
DA: Well let's go through the course of the day with Denise. I do exercises all day for a minute each, and they add up. In the morning, I do butt exercises while I'm brushing my teeth. You have to brush your teeth for two minutes, anyway. While I'm making breakfast, I do leg exercises-- I lift my leg out to the side, and then cross it over to the other side for inner thigh toners. I'll do a minute for each leg. At my desk at work, when I'm on the phone, I stand up and just do ten good butt taps to the chair to firm up my legs and butt.
What if you are really stuck sitting?
DA: In my office chair, I do tummy tucks by bringing my legs up to my stomach. Or you can twist in your chair. That's great for the waist line. Just move. Fidgeting can burn up to 300 calories a day if you just keep moving. Even standing burns up more calories than sitting still.
If you're waiting for the toaster or microwave, place your hands on the countertop and push away to work the back of your arms. The closer your hands are to your body, the better. It's like a push-up but works your triceps instead of your chest. Throughout the day, while you're carrying your kids or your heavy purse, you use your biceps. The triceps are underused.
(You can actually watch her do these videos in her own home and find some recipes she likes at smuckers.com/simplesteps.)
So that's it? Should moms buy any workout equipment for their home?
DA: You are your own architect by the way you move. You can do tons of exercises without anything at all. But if you are going to buy something, get a small pair of dumbbells. You can do so much with them. An exercise ball is great, too, for abs. And get a pair of walking shoes -- walking is great.
What about snacks? What are some good, easy, cheap options?
DA: At around 3, eat a little something so you don't eat everything you see when you go home for dinner. Pick something with a little protein and some good carbs that are under 100 calories.
[snack interlude! Denise had prepared a chocolate rice cake smeared with peanut butter and jelly and topped with blue berries. Mmmm! She also recommends putting low-sugar or sugar-free jam into fat free plain yogurt or cottage cheese, so you can control how much sugar is going into your food.]
How did you get back into shape after you gave birth?
DA: Whenever my daughters went to sleep, I did a little workout. Even if it was 10 minutes, at least I knew I did it.
How long did it take you to lose the baby weight? I bet you were in pretty good shape throughout pregnancy...
DA: Yes, but it still took me three to six months to wear the same belt and pants that I wore before. I had to wear a leotard for my videos six weeks after giving birth! I was still nursing!
Nightmare. Were you on a diet of any kind?
DA: I never starved myself and I never missed a meal. I started very slowly. After I gave birth, I started going on slow walks. I tightened my tummy the second my baby was born! I had to retrain those muscles. My stomach was so paunchy! Nobody told me it would be like that.
I never thought I'd hear Denise Austin say that. What motivates you to work out, even on those days you don't feel like it?
DA: Losing weight will follow if you exercise. It will boost your metabolism and you'll have more energy. You just have to know you're worth it.