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Denise Austin’s Fit Forever is an Internet based diet and exercise program that focuses on developing a personalized plan for healthy eating and an active lifestyle. Individuals who join the Fit Forever program receive customized exercise regimens based on their body type; daily meal plans and recipes; as well as motivational assistance in the form or support groups, testimonials, and information on creating a healthier lifestyle.
Denise Austin was born on February 13, 1957, and grew up in San Pedro, California. She attended the University of Arizona on an athletic scholarship and then earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education from California State University, Long Beach in 1979.
After college, Austin’s interest in exercise and fitness continued and she became an aerobics instructor in Los Angeles. She soon began hosting her own exercise program on local television. Her popularity grew and she quickly became a national fitness personality. In 2002 she was appointed to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and she helped the United States Department of Agriculture to develop MyPyramid and primarily serves as a spokesperson for the food guidance system that replaced the Food Guide Pyramid in 2005. Austin has sold more than 20 million exercise videos and DVDs, and written nine books. She also writes a regular column in Prevention magazine, and appears in two daily fitness shows on the Lifetime television channel.
With Fit Forever, Austin continues to try to help people become more fit, more active, and enjoy better overall health. Through the Web site she delivers many different tips, inspirational messages, and guidelines to help people personalize their program.
Denise Austin’s Fit Forever program operates primarily online. It is intended to help guide individuals through the weight loss process educating them on proper nutrition, exercise, and general healthy lifestyles. It is also intended to help people maintain their new healthy lifestyle once it has been achieved. The Fit Forever program has two main components, diet and exercise. Each provides many options so that it can be tailored to meet an individual’s specific needs.
The diet plan offers choices of diets that provide 1,400, 1,600, or 1,800 calories a day based on an individual’s weight loss goals and activity level. Meal plans for each day are provided, as are shopping lists associated with the meal plans. Substitutions are allowed whenever they are desired, as long as each day’s total caloric intake is on target. Austin provides her own diet philosophy that involves six aspects of healthy eating:
- Control portions
- Maximize fiber
- Savor good fat
- Boost fruits and vegetables
- Hone in on hunger
- Change behaviors
To help control portions Austin suggests practicing until it is possible to accurately judge how much food is in one portion, and always checking nutrition labels to see how many servings are in a package. To maximize fiber she suggests eating a variety of high-fiber vegetables, such as fresh spinach, and whole grain foods, such as brown rice.
Denise Austin does not suggest completely cutting fat out of the diet. Instead, she suggests trying to limit foods that contain bad fats (i.e., saturated and trans fats) and more food that contain good fats (i.e., mono-and poly-unsaturated oils). Foods she suggests as sources of good fats include avocados, nuts, fish, and olive oil.
One of the most important aspects of Fit Forever is the emphasis on increasing fruits and vegetables in the diet. Austin provides many recipes and suggestions for eating fruits and vegetables as meals, snacks, and on-the-go treats.
Austin believes that binge eating and eating for reasons other than hunger are common sources of weight gain and are often the source of problems when trying to loose weight. She suggests paying more attention to the signals of hunger that the body sends, and only eating in response to those signals. Eating should not be a response to other signals such as stress or habit. She also suggests trying to remember the goal of being healthy, slim, and fit, and using that to overcome the desire to eat too much or when not actually hungry.
The behavioral changes Austin addresses in her program refer to eating for reasons other than hunger, such as stress, unhappiness, or even happiness. She recommends modifying this behavior by identifying the underlying problem for the unwanted eating behavior. Once the problem has been identified, an activity other than eating can alleviate the feeling or fix the problem. For example, if the problem is feeling overwhelmed, the activity may be talking to a close friend, taking a break, orspending sometime alone. According to Austin, finding solutions that are more appropriate than food are also more likely to relieve the unwanted feelings.
Although diet is a very important part of the Fit Forever program, it only comprises about half of the overall regimen. Exercise is equally emphasized by Austin, if not more so. The Fit Forever program provides suggested exercises for beginner, intermediate, or advanced fitness levels. The program also provides exercise plans that target the midsection, upper body, or lower body. The basic workout suggested by Austin takes about 20 minutes, including stretching and cool down times. She also provides a “Body Blast” workout routine that only takes about 10 minutes, for when there is not enough time in the day for the usual workout. Daily routines and customized workouts are available online to members of the Fit Forever program. Nonmembers can access workouts using her books, videos, or television shows.
In addition to her main workout routines, Austin emphasizes the importance of getting exercise in other ways. She believes in the importance of walking regularly, and suggests ways to make it more fun such as listening to music or walking with friends. Austin encourages walking at least four times each week.
Austin believes workouts should vary throughout the week to make sure each muscle group is used. Her workouts involve cardio training to help the heart and cardiovascular system, weight training for muscle tone, and targeted workouts to focus on areas where excess fat may be a problem. She offers a variety of workouts including yoga, Pilates, a fat-burning dance mix, and boot camp interval training, and suggests ways in which shorter routines can be added or even substituted for certain parts to keep exercise interesting.
The Fit Forever diet and exercise plan includes not only suggestions about which foods to eat, and which exercises to do, but also provides motivational tips. On the Website, dieters can read messages or listen to audio clips from Austin providing encouragement and cheering them on. Individuals following the Fit Forever diet can support each other through online discussion boards. People from varying geographical areas and backgrounds can exchange helpful hints, ask questions, share frustrations and obstacles, and provide support for each another. A dietician is also available to answer questions and give advice.
The Fit Forever diet and exercise plan is intended to be a lifestyle changing regimen helping dieters lose weight and increase overall health and fitness. The diet and exercise aspects of Fit Forever are designed to be used together, with each providing increased benefits in the presence of the other. Although Fit Forever is largely about losing weight, the overall lessons of eating healthier foods and getting plenty of regular exercise are intended as long term lessons to keep weight off and provide better overall health.
There are many research supported benefits to eating less fat, more fiber, and more fruits and vegetables. The benefits of weight loss can be enormous. People who are obese are at higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and many other diseases and disorders. Weight loss, if achieved at a moderate pace through a healthy diet and regular exercise can reduce the risk of these and many other obesity-related diseases.
Anyone thinking of beginning a new diet or exercise regimen should consult their physician. Requirements of calories, fat, and nutrients can differ significantly from person to person, depending on gender, age, weight, and many other factors such as the presence of any disease or conditions. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should be especially cautious because deficiencies of vitamins or minerals can have a significant negative impact on a baby. Exercise should be started gradually to see how the body responds.
With any diet or exercise plan there are some risks. It is often difficult to get enough of some vitamins and minerals when eating a limited diet. Anyone beginning a diet may want to consult their physician or a registered dietitian about whether taking a vitamin or supplement might help them reduce this risk. Injuries can occur during exercise, such as strained or sprained muscles, and proper warm up and cool down procedures should be followed to minimize these risks. It is often best to begin with light or moderate exercise and increase the intensity slowly over weeks or months to minimize the risk of serious injury, such as heart attack, that could occur if strenuous exercise is begun suddenly and the body is not able to keep up.
Denise Austin’s Fit Forever has not been the subject of any significant scholarly research. However, moderately limiting caloric intake, eating a diet low in fats and carbohydrates and high in vegetable and plant products is generally accepted as a healthy diet for most people. The U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends a minimum of 30 minutes per day of light to moderate exercise for healthy adults. Following Austin’s fitness and exercise program would meet, and in most cases exceed, this minimum recommendation.
Austin, Denise. Shrink Your Female Fat Zones: Lose Pounds and Inches—Fast!—From Your Belly, Hips, Thighs, and More. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2003.
Austin, Denise. Tone Your Tummy Type: Flatten Your Belly and Shrink Your Waist in 4 Weeks. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2007.
Austin, Denise, and Amy Campbell. Eat Carbs, Lose Weight: Drop All the Pounds You Want Without Giving Up the Foods You Love. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2005.
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