Paula Deen prepares for 'Dancing With the Stars': 'I want to dance to the moon'

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Paula Deen Won't Let 'Obstacles' Get Her Down, Prepares for 'DWTS'

Paula Deen is getting ready to for her Dancing With the Stars debut, and the former Food Network star isn't about to let being the oldest woman in the cast hold her back.

"I just want to bring hope, especially to older women in the middle part of their life," Deen told ET on Friday. "You can have a lot of obstacles come your way that are unexpected. I just want to help women realize that they can overcome."

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The reality show marks Deen's first-time back as a TV regular since the Food Network failed to renew her contract in 2013.

Deen is motivated to send a positive message to fans in her time on the show. "I have gotten so many thousands upon thousands of well-wishers contacting me," she said. "It's so important that I not let them down. I want to dance to the moon and make them proud and just bring hope."

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A big part of preparing for DWTS is the grueling training regimen, which may prove difficult for a chef who notoriously loves baking – especially with butter. Deen opened up to ET about the sacrifices she was willing to make for the show. "I will never cut out butter totally," she confessed. "Never, ever, ever. Moderation, you know? Moderation is the big word in my life right now."

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"Especially when it comes to practicing," the 68-year-old added, teasing pro partner Louis van Amstel.

Jokes aside, Deen marveled over her inspirational dancing partner. "I feed people's bellies, and he has fed me with movements and words -- words of wisdom. He's fed me -- just not the way I've fed him!"

From the sound of it, Deen's certainly fed her partner well so far!

"Are you kidding? The first two weeks, we rehearsed in Paula's home next to the kitchen," van Amstel, who has previously danced with Priscilla Presley, Margaret Cho and Kelly Osbourne, gushed. "Amazing!"

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