Denise's Daily Dozen

The Easy, Every Day Program to Lose Up to 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks


By Denise Austin

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From Denise Austin comes the perfect health book for anyone who wants to live better but just can’t seem to find the time. Much more than just another exercise book, Denise’s Daily Dozen covers a whole range of health and diet related concepts yet manages it all in a no-stress, time-conscious program of 12’s. At it’s core, this book contains the minimum daily requirements to keep the reader flexible, strong and trim. Organized simply into seven chapters, which equal the seven days of the week, it covers a full week in daily allotments. Each day will have it’s own focus from Monday being “fat burning day” to Sunday’s “recharge and rejuvenate.”

Denise has created a total body program, including a 7-day balanced meal plan that includes healthy recipes, and a workout that encompasses 12 exercises done in 12 minutes each day. Everyone can take just 12 minutes, at whatever time of the day works for them, and turn it over to these simple and fun exercises. Cardio, toning, yoga and breathing exercises…they’re all here but in a way the maximizes effect while minimizing time.

Beyond a dozen exercises for each day of the week this book will include many other of Denises dozens for each day.



Publisher's Note: The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health-care professional and is not intended as medical advice, but as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of the author. You are advised and encouraged to consult with your health-care professional in all matters relating to your health.

Copyright © 2010 by Denise Austin

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Exercise photos by Hilmar Meyer-Bosse

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First eBook Edition: January 2010

ISBN: 978-1-599-95261-1


I want to thank all my loving family… each one, from the oldest to the youngest. We are truly blessed to have such a close-knit big family. I treasure all of our times together.

I'm so thankful to my husband, Jeff, for our happy life together… twenty-five years of your amazing love, loyalty, and laughter. I have tears in my eyes of pure pride and gratefulness for our daughters, Kelly and Katie, who have both grown up to be such hardworking, caring, and "love of life" people. I'm so proud to be your mom.

I want to thank Michele Bender for all her help with this book. You are a joy to work with. Also, thanks to Christopher Mohr, PhD, RD, CSSD, a sports nutritionist, for all his help planning healthy meals. A big thanks to all my friends at Hachette, especially Harry Helm and my book editor, Christina Boys.

A very special thank-you to Jan Miller and Nena Madonia, for everything!

Thanks to my three sisters and my great bunch of girlfriends who are so supportive and always there for me, helping me with some of the recipes and testing some of these exercises.

I love what I do, helping people to feel better about themselves and making a positive difference in their lives.

—Denise Austin

Never underestimate your power to change and improve!

You can do it!

The Daily Dozen Fitness Plan

Do you want to boost your metabolism, burn fat, tone up, and get in the best shape of your life? Good! That's just what the Daily Dozen Fitness Plan is going to do! Each day, you'll have twelve easy exercises that you can do in twelve minutes. In just two weeks, you can lose up to twelve pounds! I've designed these exercises to blast fat, burn calories, shrink your fat zones, and help you tone up. Each day's routine makes the most out of those twelve minutes so you are training smarter in a short amount of time. But I'm not just saying this works; I know it does. Why? Because this is how I keep my own weight down and stay firm. Fitness may be my day job, but that doesn't mean I want to spend all day working out. I don't. Instead, I maximize every minute of my workouts doing compound exercises that target more than one muscle group at a time and combining cardio workouts with toning. And that's exactly the program that I've designed for you with the Daily Dozen Fitness Plan.

Your Daily Dozen:
Twelve Easy Exercises in Twelve Minutes a Day

To me, there are three main components of a well-balanced workout: cardiovascular exercise, toning, and flexibility. Each one is important, and the Daily Dozen includes them all.


If you miss a day of exercise, don't stress out. Just do it the next day along with the twelve-minute workout assigned for that day. Of course, if there's a day when you're raring to go and want to do more exercise than the twelve minutes, simply add another day's workout or do one of the two bonus daily dozens.

Cardiovascular exercise is critical for burning calories and melting fat off your body as well as keeping your heart muscle healthy. Cardio exercise blasts off fat, shedding pounds. It also boosts your fitness level so you can do things like climb stairs without huffing and puffing. My favorite form of cardio exercise is walking—and it's also one of the easiest! It's great for your legs and relieving stress, but the reason I really love walking is that you can do it almost anywhere, and anyone can do it.

Toning exercises firm all the muscles in your body, including your abs, arms, buttocks, thighs, hips, chest, shoulders, and back. Toning through strength training, using both free weights and your own body weight, is also important for slimming down, because the more muscles you build, the more you boost your metabolism. The reason? Muscle demands more energy from your body than fat does. So the more muscle you add to your body, the more calories you'll be burning throughout the day. In fact, studies show that for every pound of muscle you add, you automatically burn an extra thirty-five to fifty calories per day—and that's while going about your normal activities. Even at rest, muscle burns almost twice as many calories as fat. (Isn't that amazing?)

Now, I know some women are hesitant about strength training with weights because they're afraid they'll look too bulked up or masculine. But it's time to change that thinking! Men typically develop big, bulky muscles because of the high level of the hormone testosterone that they have in their bodies. Though women's bodies have some testosterone, too, it's not nearly enough to get those bulging muscles. So don't worry about the exercises in the Daily Dozen bulking you up. They won't. Rather, these strength moves tighten and tone and eventually redistribute your weight in a healthy way. Your arms and legs will feel firmer, your body will feel stronger, and you'll be burning more calories daily—even when you're sleeping!

Actions speak louder than words. Walk and talk!

The third essential element of a well-balanced fitness program is flexibility. As we age, we naturally lose flexibility, so we've got to do a little work in order to stay agile and spry and continue walking with a spring in our steps. Flexibility wards off injuries from exercising as well as day-to-day activities. For example, how many times have you heard about people throwing their backs out simply by reaching for something or picking something up? Maybe you've experienced this yourself. But increasing flexibility can prevent injuries just like this. Of course, stretching is also very relaxing, helping you release tension—especially in your hips and back—and simply makes you feel better. That's why we warm up before and stretch at the end of every workout in the Daily Dozen, and it's why I've included a yoga routine.

The Daily Dozen Fitness Plan contains all three elements—cardiovascular, toning, and flexibility—in the twelve easy moves you do for twelve minutes each day. By the end of the week, you've done them all!

In addition to sculpting your muscles, blasting flab, and boosting flexibility, all of these workouts will help shrink your fat cells. We're each born with a set number of fat cells, so it's not the number that makes us, well, fat; it's how big they get. Several things impact the size of your fat cells, and two of the big ones are exercise and eating. By exercising and eating right, you're helping to shrink those fat cells and successfully reaching for the body you've always wanted.

The other thing you'll love about this plan is that it's designed to fit into your life, and it's a great economical way to get your body and mind in shape. I know your life is busy and that you can't afford to add another time-consuming activity to your to-do list. I totally understand. Because as a wife, mother, and working woman, my life is busy, too. Really busy. That's exactly how and why I came up with the Daily Dozen. You have to carve out some time for exercise, and everyone can find twelve minutes, your minimum daily requirement. You can get up twelve minutes earlier—which is what I like to do most of the time—or stay up twelve minutes later. You can shorten your gabfest on the phone with a friend or get fit while watching your favorite TV show. However you squeeze in your twelve minutes, my point is that with my plan, you'll never have to make any kind of radical or jarring changes to your daily routine. It was created to make the most of every minute, because I know that every minute you have is precious to you.


  A pair of supportive sneakers.

  Two sets of weights—ideally one light and one heavy set.

  A mat or towel for floor exercises.


Arch muscles in our feet tend to deteriorate with age, making us more prone to shin splints. If you experience that tender pain along the shinbone when you walk or if you have a falling arch or flat feet, you can tone up your arches and calves with this towel-pull exercise. While in bare feet, sit in a chair and place a rolled-up towel just in front of your toes. Grab the towel between your toes and forefeet. Unroll it, flexing the arches of your feet as you do so. This prevents shin pain by developing your tibialis, arch, and shin muscles. Try it for a few minutes every other day for stronger, healthier legs and feet.

My goal with the Daily Dozen and the minimum requirement of twelve minutes a day is to help you make exercise a daily habit. Just like brushing your teeth, I want exercise to become a natural, non-negotiable part of your life. I want it to be something that you pencil in your calendar daily and make a priority the way you would a doctor's appointment or business meeting. That's exactly what I do, and it works. When it's written in my calendar, it stays there and it gets done. I know you deserve to take at least twelve minutes a day for yourself to look and feel your best. I know you are worth it. My goal with these twelve minutes is to get you on track to a healthier life and to feeling better about yourself. Next month, you can work up to fifteen minutes a day, and eventually to thirty minutes, which is what I do. (Though on my busiest days I at least get my Daily Dozen in.) Try my Daily Dozen for twenty-one straight days and you'll be amazed at the changes you'll see and feel.

Benjamin Franklin said it takes twenty-one consecutive days of doing something to form a new habit. So why not form a healthy one? You can do it! It won't even take twenty-one days to see results. In fact, you'll see positive changes within the first week, whether it's looser clothes, more energy, or a better mood. And once you start, you'll see that this is a regimented, simple-to-follow plan that is guaranteed to help you lose weight. By the end of the first two weeks, you can lose up to twelve pounds.

In part 2, you'll see that each chapter corresponds to one day of the week. Simply open that chapter and you've got your exercise—and eating plan, which we'll get to in the next section—laid out for you in detail. It's that simple. You don't have to spend money for a gym membership or find someone to watch your kids. I don't want that stress in my life and don't want you to have to deal with it, either. I want to make exercise easy for you. This program can be done in the comfort of your own home on your schedule. It's also a plan that anyone can do. Don't be intimidated if it's been years since you've exercised. It doesn't matter whether you're a beginner or an expert. If you're trying to get back to your old weight or you're working to discover an all-new shapely body, you can do it! I can show you how! Exercise doesn't have to be difficult or monotonous. It can be fun.

Each day you'll do a twelve-minute workout that's very different from the day before.

  Monday: Cardio Fat Blast

  Tuesday: Lower-Body and Ab Workout

  Wednesday: Cardio Kickbox Workout

  Thursday: Upper-Body and Ab Workout

  Friday: Body Boot Camp Workout

  Saturday: Athletic Kettlebell-Inspired Workout

  Sunday: Yoga Stretch Workout


You'll also find a bonus workout just for your abs, a ballet-inspired barre routine, a few ways to tame tension at your desk at work, and exercises you can fit into the spare moments in your day that I call fidget-cisers.

They say that variety is the spice of life. It's true. Variety is also the key to why this plan works. It's why I know you'll get in the best shape of your life. By training this way—say, doing the Cardio Fat Blast one day, Lower-Body Workout another, and the Athletic Kettlebell-Inspired Workout the next—you're surprising your muscles and targeting them from different angles. You're also getting your heart rate up in new ways. This element of surprise and challenge is crucial in order for your body to change. Otherwise, if you work your body the same way every day, you hit a plateau and your body—and the scale—just won't budge.


Did you know that you can protect your back during any type of abdominal crunch by keeping your lower back pressed down to the floor and bringing your navel toward your spine? It's true and it's easy. Try it today!

The other easy aspect of the Daily Dozen is that it doesn't require lots of fancy, heavy equipment. All you need is two sets of weights (though many moves simply use your own body weight), a pair of supportive sneakers, and a mat or towel to do floor work on. That's it.

Speaking of weights, how do you decide which ones to choose? I suggest that you pay attention to your body's reaction to the repetitions you do for each exercise. I use five-pound and eight-pound dumbbells for most of the moves, but if you haven't been exercising for long, you can start at a lower weight and work up. Your body will tell you what you can lift. For example, when you're doing twelve repetitions of an exercise, the final two reps should feel tough. If they don't, the weight is too light—so add a couple of pounds. On the other hand, if you start to struggle long before the tenth repetition, it's too heavy. You'll need something a little lighter. Be sure to adjust the weights to accommodate your different muscles. Bigger muscles, such as those in your back, typically require heavier weights than smaller muscles like your triceps. It may take a little experimenting to see what works for you.

Though weights are important, what's really critical is that you maintain proper form and execute each exercise correctly. It's quality not quantity that is going to get you the fabulous results you want. You can do all the repetitions in the world, but if your form isn't correct you're not going to target the right muscles. Focus on good body alignment, on good technique, and on doing your very best. Give it all you've got for those twelve minutes! Make every second work for you. Take note of the special comments about form in each exercise, look at the photos, and aim to do each repetition as effectively as you can. Also, I want you to always improve, progress, and try harder to get to the next level. Thus some exercises offer a "challenge" option—an advanced way to do the move once you've mastered the basics. See which ones you can do—you may be surprised what your body can do if you just try. Remember, I am cheering you on! Success is within reach!

Your Weekly Dozen Miles

I'm a true believer that you need to do cardiovascular exercise (also called aerobic exercise) in order to burn fat and calories and change your body. That's why in addition to your twelve-minute Daily Dozen workouts, you need to do twelve miles of cardio exercise each week. This is a must. And it's the only way that you will lose up to twelve pounds in two weeks and drop a size—or two or three! The Daily Dozen exercises will boost your metabolism and tone you up. They'll sculpt and firm your muscles, but if you have a layer of fat covering up those muscles you're not going to see them.

The easiest cardiovascular exercise for most people is walking. All you need is a comfortable pair of walking shoes that have good arch support (to prevent feet from rolling inward) and that are flexible so they allow your feet to bend as you walk. And they should never pinch or rub even when they're new. If they do, they don't fit well.

I love to do interval walks to jump-start my metabolism and get a more effective workout in a shorter amount of time. An interval workout is where you intersperse fast-paced intervals of exercise with moderate-paced intervals. For example, let's say that you typically walk at a pace of three and a half miles per hour for thirty minutes. If you mix things up and sprinkle in a few minutes of walking or running at, say, a five mph pace, you'll burn more calories in the same thirty-minute workout. Your heart rate rises when you're doing those fast-paced intervals, but it also stays up even when you switch to the slower-paced segments. And even if you aren't able right now to walk or run at five mph for an entire workout, you certainly can do it for a short period of time, whether that's thirty seconds or several minutes. I want your ultimate goal to be doing a twelve-minute mile whether that's walking, power walking, running, or doing a mix of those things. In fact, I'm a member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, which recognizes that the ability to walk/jog a twelve-minute mile is a sign of cardiovascular health. Make that your goal as you do your twelve miles of cardio each week.


Keep your head in a neutral position for every exercise. To know what that feels like, stand with your back against a wall. Align your buttocks, shoulder blades, and head right up against the wall. Now walk forward. Take a moment to memorize that feeling.


Don't get discouraged by ab work. It can feel tough, especially in the beginning. That's because short of getting out of bed, few movements in life mimic the abdominal crunch, so your abs really aren't challenged enough in an average day. In fact, they may well rank as the weakest muscles in your body. Just do your best. As a general rule, go until you start to feel the burn and then do two more. A few weeks of this and you, too, will have awesome, enviable abs.

One of my favorite metabolism-boosting walks is to mix two-, three-, and five-minute intervals. To determine the intensity of these intervals, think of your effort on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being a very easy stroll and 10 being so hard you can't carry on a conversation. You should never be at either of these extremes, but you should push yourself and be honest with yourself about how hard you're working.

  1. 5 minutes: Warm up (intensity of 5).
  2. 5 minutes: Walk at a moderate pace (intensity of 6).
  3. 3 minutes: Power walk (intensity of 7).
  4. 2 minutes: Walk at a moderate pace (intensity of 6).
  5. 3 minutes: Speed walk (intensity of 8).
  6. 2 minutes: Walk at a moderate pace (intensity of 6).
  7. 3 minutes: Speed walk or jog (intensity of 9).
  8. 2 minutes: Walk at a moderate pace (intensity of 6).
  9. 5 minutes: Cool down at a moderate pace (intensity of 5).

You can mix things up by varying whether you walk on flat terrain or an incline, or whether you walk inside on a treadmill or outside on the open road. You can also carry a weight—just two pounds or lighter—in each hand to tone your upper-body muscles as you stroll. If you focus on breathing deeply and walking with good posture, you'll also be working your core muscles.


It's important to keep breathing when you work out in order to bring oxygen to your muscles and give you energy. Try to match your breathing to your movement, and to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing also helps you relax, and it gives you renewed strength to execute your exercises and ready your body for whatever's coming up next.

In addition to walking, there are so many other forms of cardio that can get you moving and count toward your twelve miles a week. This includes swimming, biking, the elliptical machine, and stair climbing. In any of these forms of activity, you can also do metabolism-boosting interval workouts to burn more calories and work harder in less time. Simply alternate one minute of faster-paced activity with four minutes at a slower pace. As you get stronger and more fit, increase the length of those fast-paced segments and scale back the slower-paced ones. As long as you're getting your heart rate up, it counts toward your twelve miles a week. You can do the same form of exercise for all twelve miles each week (for example, all walking) or mix it up doing a few miles of walking, a few miles of swimming, and a few miles of biking. You can also divide the miles any way you like. Perhaps one week, you want to do two miles a day for six days. Other weeks, you'll walk five miles twice a week and bike for two miles on another day. However you choose to do your twelve weekly miles, mixing and matching your cardio will keep each routine inspiring. And the results will be amazing!

Make Every Day More Active

In addition to your Daily Dozen workouts and twelve miles a week, I want you to be as active as possible on a daily basis. I really believe that one reason I've stayed in such good shape over the years isn't just because of regular exercise but because I keep moving. No matter where I am, I don't sit still for long, and I make the most of every moment. Recently I was on a flight from DC to Phoenix. The winds were so bad that instead of five hours, the trip took nine, because we had to stop and refuel. Most of the other passengers just sat for the entire time, but not me. I was walking the aisle to get my circulation going and stretching in the back of the plane. And at home when I'm brushing my teeth, I'll do squats. When I'm waiting for my toast to pop up, I can squeeze in thirty push-ups leaning on the kitchen counter. Like I always say, your muscles don't know whether you're exercising in gym clothes during a formal workout or not. They just know you're working them. I don't just do this to tone up, I do it to boost circulation throughout the day: Circulation is what heals your body, and we all can use healing on a daily basis. I call some of these movements fidget-cisers (see Twelve Favorite Fidget-cisers), and I swear they keep me fit. They're one reason why I have more energy today than I did when I was twenty years old.


Together, nutrition and fitness will help you feel great and stay strong—for the long term! That's the difference between my program and a short-lived diet plan. The healthy habits you're learning from me are meant to last a lifetime! Call it a lifestyle change.

It's also easy to sneak in more walking during the day! Get off the subway a few stops earlier, park farther from the mall, and walk instead of drive to the coffee shop in the morning. Make yourself tiny promises: You'll circle the block twice before you buy your lunch; you'll take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible. If you want, purchase an inexpensive pedometer—it hooks onto your clothing and counts your steps for you. You should aim for ten thousand steps a day, but do the best you can! You'll be amazed at how quickly the steps add up. Just push yourself to increase your number each day and you'll get to your fabulous new shape—one step at a time!

The more you move, the more fit you'll be!

Of course, looking great in your jeans isn't the only reason to do your Daily Dozen workouts and get fit. Getting in shape makes you healthier so you can do more and live longer. A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine


On Sale
Jan 5, 2010
Page Count
336 pages
Center Street

Denise Austin

About the Author

A native of San Pedro, California, Denise Austin started gymnastics at the age of 12 and earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Arizona, graduating in 1979 with a Bachelor’s degree in education with an emphasis in exercise physiology. She began her career teaching aerobic exercise classes in the Los Angeles area and went on to co-host the The Jack LaLanne Show, in 1981.
During more than 25 years promoting health and fitness, Denise has created 82 workout videos/DVDs. Her enormous number of sales led to her 2003 induction into the Video Hall of Fame.
Denise has been married for 25 years to Jeff Austin, a sports attorney and brother of tennis champ Tracy Austin. They share a home with their two teenage daughters, Kelly and Katie.

Learn more about this author