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Off the Scale, Into a Better Body
Should you measure your health by the number on the scale? Pam Peeke, M.D., says she's so not about that.
“It’s about the quality of your body, not the quantity,” says Peeke, the author, creator and host of the Body for Life for Women: A Woman’s Plan for Physical and Mental Transformation series that includes both her newest book and a DVD with a 30-minute workout plus motivational, diet and exercise tips.
Although Peeke became rooted in her approach to fitness while doing lab work at the National Institutes of Health, that’s exactly where she realized women need not be treated “like a science fair project.” “You can’t look at nutrition alone,” she says. “You can’t look at activity alone. You’re a whole woman with unique needs.” In her Body for Life series, Peeke uses an integrated, holistic approach to health, targeted at women over 40. She urges women to get off the scale and measure their body’s makeup of bone, muscle and fat. “I’m trying to understand the quality of your engine,” she explains.
That quality, according to Peeke, is a balanced body but one made up of less fat, no matter your weight. “You can actually drop 10 pounds and gain body fat,” she says, noting that this isn’t healthy. “Twenty-five percent body fat is very average and wonderful, but if a woman has 33 percent body fat, for instance, she’s been starving, binging.
“It’s not about aesthetics — I’m trying to save your life,” says Peeke. She implores that fat increases the risks of cancers, heart disease and diabetes — and maintains that measuring body composition using a body fat analyzer (or calculating body mass index, or BMI) is a “cheat proof” way to stay healthy. Looking great is the result more than the goal.
Peeke is a proponent of balancing physical activity, diet, and the mental transformation that comes with staying strong, independent and able to take care of yourself and others throughout your lifetime. Peeke focuses on the mental and physical connection in what she calls the “Mind-Mouth-Muscle” approach, which she explains in her book and DVD. “You don’t have to live in a gym,” she advises. “Be creative with simple, consistent exercises that allow you to maintain your body weight.”
Peeke’s DVD presents three 10-minute workouts — cardio, upper body, and lower body/abdominal strength — acting as a jumpstart for the exercises in her book. “Take that scale,” she jokes, “and give it to someone you don’t like.”