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Get Fit with ESSENCE Festival Speaker Denise Warren

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Denise Warren
Fitness expert Denise Warren leads a class at last year's ESSENCE Festival.

Denise Warren of Body by Denise, a fitness center based in Queens, New York, has witnessed so many of her clients' weight loss transformations. ESSENCE.com recently checked in with Warren to learn her top tips for staying fit and eating right. Hear more from Denise at the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans from July 4 - 7.

ESSENCE.com: What's the first thing people can do to be more healthy?

Denise Warren: I believe that a body in motion remains in motion. If you work out daily, it will promote healthy eating and you'll see the results on a scale. You just feel better about yourself. Start by finding a daily plan that works for you and just follow it.

ESSENCE.com: How exactly do you develop a solid fitness plan?

Warren: Preparation is key. You have to prepare your weekly exercise schedule and food menu. Cardiovascular exercises lower your resting heart rate, which is what doctors want to see. You can also run, walk, swim or bike. I suggest 35 to 40 minutes a day. Eat most of your meals from home. If you do, it decreases your risk of obesity by up to 69%.

ESSENCE.com: Can you share a bit more about your view of a healthy meal?

Warren: Eat fresh fruit for breakfast. You can also make an omelette with fresh broccoli and a low-sodium cheese like mozzarella, and have one slice of whole wheat bread with it. However, if you have high cholesterol, you might want to reduce the yolk. 

Buy fresh vegetables and steam them. Dark, green vegetables have a lot of minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals that help ward off diseases. Try organic, green salads with nice, lean cuts of protein. It's simple to season chicken breast, tilapia, or salmon with fresh onions, cilantro, basil, thyme, peppers and dill and just throw it in the oven. I like to add a lot of spice to my food because it makes you feel fuller a lot longer. And whenever you're eating, chew your food slowly and use portion control.

ESSENCE.com: Many of your clients have enjoyed significant weight loss. What advice would you give to someone who is not used to exercising?

Warren: A lot of my new members have never exercised and live sedentary lifestyles. Start by doing anything that includes movement. For my clients who are morbidly obese, I ask them to power walk. I advise them to do whatever they can do that will elevate their heart rate for 10 to 15 minutes. It's slow progress and it's actually saving their lives. The more they do, the more they can do. They'll eventually start eating properly and it just snowballs into a positive effect. 

ESSENCE.com: How often should you change your workout routine?

Warren: It should be changed every four to six weeks, but it depends on the individual. You want to change it whenever your weight is not moving. When your weight isn't moving, it could be your diet. Your body will tell you this.

ESSENCE.com: Why are you thrilled to be a part of this year's ESSENCE Festival?

Warren: I'm very excited that fitness is being put first because it's much needed for Black men and women. Some of my members will be on hand to show others the importance of clean living and eating. I've been at the ESSENCE Festival for the past three years and it's important to me.

For more health-focused tips and ideas on how to prepare for the ESSENCE Festival in New Orleans from July 4 - 7, explore our Get into the Groove feature.

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