Women's Health: We Only Get One Body, Care for It (cont.)

This is important because by doing so, people actually end up eating fewer calories, higher quality food, and are satiated throughout the day so that overeating is minimized if not eliminated. This is especially important for women who underestimate the power of the balance of these smart foods, especially protein. Protein is very important in decreasing the craving for refined sugars, especially around the times of a hormonal milestone. Protein also enhances satiety throughout the day.

Understanding this and putting together quality, quantity and frequency, you have a smarter, easier, and doable way to maintain excellent nourishment 24/7.

MODERATOR: Could you tell us some of these smart foods you're talking about.

PEEKE: Smart foods include lean protein -- range-fed red meat for instance. But keep this at an occasional rather than a daily intake. Poultry. Fish -- a very smart food because of the omega fatty acids which are so cardio protective. Skim dairy foods. The vegetarian option in the fat category -- extra virgin olive oils and canola oils. Also, carbohydrates -- here we're looking at fresh produce, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Eat a balance throughout the day while trying to be attentive and mindful to minimize or eliminate processed carbohydrates or sugars.

Any combination utilized in cooking and eating throughout the day in appropriate portions.

MEMBER QUESTION: I get really bad cramps and can't work out when I have my period. I tend to eat less, but I tend to eat junk. I feel like I'm starting all over every month. Is this yo-yo dieting?

PEEKE: Women are very sensitive to changes in appetite around the time of their menstrual cycle, some worse than others. It's important to know your own pattern and be prepared for it.

One of the most important things you can do is to supply yourself with foods that will answer your need for sweetness but in a smarter way. Doing fruit parfaits with yogurt is a wonderful way to be able to fill yourself up and yet get that sweetness and decrease that craving because you are getting protein with yogurt. You could even add some protein powder, just mixing it in, and increase the protein intake for the feeling of satisfaction.

Also, as you do this, remember that you're not supposed to be running to the gym with cramps and expecting the same workout you have when you're not on your menstrual cycle. Instead, why not do something more gentle like yoga or Pilates or a combination thereof? How about a walking meditation instead of pounding out a run on the treadmill when you have cramps?

I can assure you that when you have PMS or cramps, that you can expect a greater benefit by working with them, not against them.

MEMBER QUESTION: I have a great salt craving. Why does this happen?

PEEKE: Every person is unique and in your case, you are hardwired to crave salt.

There are alternatives to this; you can actually find seasonings which will take the place of salt and make you feel as though you have gotten exactly what you wanted without the extra salt intake. Go to your favorite store and look closely in the seasonings section, and you will find at least several brands of seasonings which will work perfectly fine as a substitute for the salt.

Remember, you want to watch that salt intake carefully because:

  1. Women are the ones, not men, who are prone to bloating.
  2. This occurs even at a higher level during your hormonal milestones, especially perimenopause.
  3. Be really aware of the salt intake on many of the packaged items you may wish to buy, because they can be very high.

MEMBER QUESTION: I know what to do -- eat less, exercise more. I sometimes feel like my hormones sabotage me. I'm going through perimenopause and the mood swings really affect my eating and exercise. Is there anything I can do to even my life out?

PEEKE: In my book, Body for Life for Women , I have written down 10 power mind principles. In these I have incorporated a woman's unique psychological foundation and its relationship to her hormonal milestones. You are actually in much greater control of this whole process of eating and taking care of yourself than you think you are. What you need to do is anchor yourself with what I call a bull's-eye motivation, which is "principle two." There is an exercise in the book where you learn to write down and use this specific motivation to be able to arm yourself when you're feeling moody or in distress. In addition, by adopting the entire healthy lifestyle template, your symptoms, especially the mood swings, will decrease over time.

Here is a quick tool: Remember, women tend to overthink while men tend to be more action oriented. In this case, say to yourself, "Just do it." When you get up, take that walk, don't ruminate about it, but take the walk . You will feel so much better and your mood will be elevated. You will be able to continue your healthy lifestyle -- trust me. There is healing in action.

MODERATOR: We're talking about a healthy lifestyle, but the book describes a 12-week program. What can someone expect to accomplish in 12 weeks? What can a woman do in 12 weeks?

PEEKE: In Body for Life for Women , I offer a 12-week segment which means that you will have an eternal number of 12-week challenges. For instance, you will find yourself in a weight- removal segment, and I use the word remove because in my book, I say, don't use the word 'lose'. If you lose your keys, don't you want to find them again? Instead, how about permanent removal? So, you will be in a 12-week weight-removal segment, or you could be treading weight for 12 weeks, meaning that things have happened in your life and you're not going forward or backwards, you need time to rest and stabilize. Or a weight-sustaining segment, which you can actually carry on forever. So each 12-week segment is a challenge.

What can you expect realistically? It depends upon your level of effort. If you give it maximal effort, then a woman, up to the age of 65 or so, can expect to remove one half to two pounds per week of excess body fat. Now, the goal here is not a specific weight -- for that matter, my whole theme is to throw out your scales because you can be misled by body weight. Instead, I would like you to concentrate on what is under the hood -- your body fat, muscle and bone.