Fitness Icon Denise Austin Shares Her Keys to Strength and Happiness
“My mission is to make people feel happier about themselves."
Since her days on the balance beam as a college gymnast, celebrity fitness guru Denise Austin, 65, has continued to master the act of balance — but in a different way. Juggling her marriage of 39 years, mothering two adult daughters (who she now works with), and maintaining her career and international brand, Denise is a fount of energy and optimism.
“My mission is to make people feel happier about themselves,” Austin shares. And she has accomplished that, as the voice reminding millions: “You’re worth it!” No wonder she’s the one in her friend group who’s always giving encouraging pep talks. Here, Denise reveals the savvy strategies she relies on to power through her go-go-go days. For more joy-filled wisdom, pick up a copy of Denise Austin’s Fit Over 50 magazine (on newsstands) or visit her website.
Cure Cravings With Toasted Walnuts
“For my favorite snack, I toast my own walnuts in a frying pan over medium heat,” shares Denise. “You don’t even need oil since walnuts have their own healthy oils. I stir and flip them for three minutes so they don’t burn, and then add some sea salt. My daughters think they taste like popcorn. Walnuts are so good for us as we age because we need that protein for muscles.” Plus, research shows the omega-3 fatty acids suppress hunger.
Get Radiant Skin With a ‘Fiber Facial’
Austin’s secret to radiant skin is shockingly simple. “I just use an old, white, rough, cheap washcloth to scrub my face and neck,” she says. “It’s the best exfoliation. And moisturizing with regular coconut oil does wonders!”
Maintain Youthfulness With Lifelong Learning
Austin believes that having a lifelong yearning and passion can help you stay forever young. “My secret to success? Being able to evolve,” says the fitness pro, who went from helping women on VHS to DVDs over the years, and now via online videos. “I love to read and learn new things. My daughters are teaching me about social media. I try to be young and flexible in my body and my thoughts by reading new books and listening to podcasts and different music — from The Rolling Stones to high-energy stuff my girls introduce me to.”
Rev Your Energy With a Walk-and-Talk
“On Sundays, I set up all my walks for the week,” Denise says of her weekly routine. “I think, ‘Who’s in town? Can my sister come and meet me? Is my husband available?’ With these walk-and-talks, I catch up with family, neighbors, and friends. I’m a true people person and a true believer in connection — it’s been the happiness of my life — so the best thing to do to stay motivated with exercise is to find a girlfriend for accountability and schedule those walks. It’s free, fun, and keeps you feeling great!”
Get a Flatter Belly With a Posture Check
“I am a posture nut,” reveals Denise. “I tell people if you’re slouched, your tummy has nowhere else to go but pooch out. So all you have to do to have a flatter stomach is have better posture. To reset throughout my day, I pull in my abs and feel as though I’m zipping up those muscles by tightening and engaging my abdominals. When I do that and press my shoulder blades back and down, I’m re-educating the muscles. You are your own architect by the way you sit and stand!” She adds, “Simple things really work on the belly. I do just three minutes of ab work every day to help my tummy and ward off back pain.”
Memorize This 3-Part Power Plan
“I tend to be high-energy, even when the stress comes,” reveals Denise. Still, to keep that high energy spirit going, Denise does a simple check-in with herself.
“I remind myself: There are three things that are totally up to you and they’re the most important things in your life! One: You have an ability to choose your attitudes. So choose to think positively. Two: You have an ability to choose what you’re eating. So try to eat healthy, but enjoy what you eat.” (Denise tells us she swears by the 80/20 rule: “I eat well 80 percent of the time and have treats 20 percent of the time!”)
Her third trick? “You have a choice in moving, so get off that couch,” she encourages. “Exercise has been my saving grace. Even if it’s for 10 minutes — woo-hoo, you did it!” She adds, “I tell my girlfriends: We all have the power in us to make these choices and to live a wonderful life!”
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.