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FITNESS | GUEST WORKOUT

Austin's Power

January 19, 1998|CANDACE A. WEDLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

One of Denise Austin's biggest fans lives in San Pedro and was probably pacing around in her pajamas waiting for this week's column to land. So, Rita, this one's for you.

Fans have to be up and at 'em promptly at 7:30 weekday mornings to follow "Denise Austin's Daily Workout" on Lifetime TV. The fitness pro puts in her own 30 minutes of exercise every morning, usually around 6:30 a.m., before daughters Kelly, 7, and Katie, 4, wake up.

"One of the best things that I do is get out of my pajamas early and put on my shoes and athletic wear--then I feel mentally ready and psyched," Austin, who will be 41 next month, told me during our phone interview. She and her husband, Jeff (a sports lawyer and brother of tennis champ Tracy Austin), have a gym in their Washington, D.C., home.

"The hardest part is to go up those steps to that gym," Austin said with a laugh. "It's on the fifth floor. I always double up on steps to work my thighs and buns wherever I am."

Once she makes it up three flights of stairs, here's Austin's routine: on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, aerobics--a fast walk, bike ride or treadmill; Tuesday and Thursday are set aside for a four-minute warmup on a stationary bike, treadmill or running in place, followed by weights for arms, chest and shoulders and a series of leg exercises. Every day, she puts in three minutes of slow sit-ups for abs. After all that, a couple of minutes of stretching to cool down.

"Exercise helps speed up your metabolism. That's one of the reasons why I stay in shape, because I love to eat," Austin said. "I think it's so hard on you to deprive yourself of certain things. So, I eat well 80% of the time and I have complete junk and treats 20% of the time."

The 80%: She drinks grapefruit or orange juice and lots of water throughout the day. Breakfast is usually oatmeal or a bowl of cereal with skim milk, fruit, coffee, whole grain toast or bagel with a sliver of butter or cream cheese. "I like the good taste of butter and cream cheese but not a lot of it. And none of that is the 20%." Lunch is a turkey or tuna sandwich filled with vegetables like spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and dinner is usually chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli. "Sometimes if I'm going to a really good restaurant that has great hamburgers, I will order a hamburger and French fries."

The 20%: Fritos and a Coke for a 3 p.m. snack or coffee ice cream for dessert.

Austin's business ventures, like her show, videos and new book, "Jumpstart" (Simon & Schuster), bring her to L.A. monthly. She could stay in L.A., but she prefers sleeping over in San Pedro. That's when she and Rita can have some uninterrupted time together, maybe even hang out in their pajamas and talk as only a mother and daughter can.

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* Guest Workout runs Mondays in Health.

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