Need a little inspiration to recommit to your exercise routine? Take a look at fitness queen Denise Austin, who, at age 55, looks better than many women in their 20s and 30s. Of course, the exercise DVD diva isn’t immune to the effects of aging—she’s just figured out how to offset them.
“As soon as I hit 48, any fat that normally would have gone onto my hips or thighs traveled to my middle,” says Austin. “It was frustrating, but I realized I needed to change up my workout and start watching my calories." Her secrets to a slim, sexy body after 40 can be found in her new book, Side Effect: Skinny. “After 30 years in the business, I know what works for woman my age and what works for me, and I’ve put together a plan that will help you lose weight, taking it one week at the time,” says Austin.
Want a sneak peek? We thought so. Read on for Austin’s top tips for blasting belly fat after 40.
Kick up cardio workouts.
After age 30, every additional birthday candle that you blow out increases your risk for muscle loss. Which means you’re burning fewer calories, because a pound of muscle naturally burns more calories than a pound of fat. One way to offset this and avoid the middle-age muffin top: “Lengthen or boost the intensity of your cardio workouts,” says Austin. “You’ll burn more calories per sweat session.” Her favorite calorie-blaster: Interval walking. “I love it, and it’s really helped me keep off weight after hitting 50.” The best part is intervals are easy and all fitness levels can do them. “All you have to do is change the pace of your walk every two to four minutes, increasing your speed for a few minutes and then dropping back to a more moderate pace for a few minutes, and repeat that series for 30 minutes,” says Austin. “For the speed bursts, do a faster walk or break into a little jog. Just pump it out as best you can.”
Sneak in strength training.
“I’m really into compound exercises because they allow you to double the workout in half the time,” says Austin. “If you’re doing moves that target the entire body, like a squat with an overhead press or a lunge with a bicep curl, you can tighten and tone all your muscles in only seven minutes.” (Here, get the 5 Best Toning Moves For Your 5 Trouble Spots.)
Adopt the 7-to-7 rule.
“Another trick that really helps me stay on track is to only eat between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Sunday through Thursday,” says Austin, who’s more lax about eating later on the weekends. “It’s really made a difference for me because it cuts out a lot of the extra noshing in the evening that can pack on pounds.” Tempted to snack? Sip on lemon water or herbal tea.
With your tea, that is. “I really believe that green tea is the key for all of us women who are gaining some weight around your middle,” says Austin, noting that research shows green tea extract may increase your calorie and fat burn. “I think that’s a big part of what’s helped me. I now drink one cup every day.”
Plan a food splurge.
“I think it really helps if you focus on losing weight one week at a time,” says Austin. “Aim to eat healthy six days out of the week, and then enjoy what I call a “super splurge” on the seventh day. It helps you enjoy yourself and not feel so deprived, so you’re ready to recommit to healthy eating the following week.” Austin normally saves her super splurge for date night with her hubby. “I love to go out with my husband and a few friends on Friday or Saturday. Being from Southern California, Mexican food is my favorite, and I normally splurge on enchiladas and margaritas.” Yum!