[See a one-day sample DASH diet menu.]
You two say your biggest personal disagreement was over the importance of exercise. Susan said if you can walk a mile in 20 minutes, you're pretty fit and healthy; Ali thought that the process of exercise itself is also key to health.
Love: The answer turns out to be that both of us are right. It depends on age. When you're young, it's more important to be fit. The additional benefits of actively exercising are not major. The body is more forgiving. [Though you do set habits that may be hard to change later on.] As you get older, the practice of exercise becomes more important. That's when you get to the "use it or lose it" point. I didn't start running until I was 50, and I lost some weight after menopause. Domar: Women feel incredibly guilty if they don't exercise, but if you have a toddler, you're probably running around after the kid all the time. The human body isn't designed to go the gym for 50 minutes every day. It's designed to be naturally active throughout the day.
Any other areas of controversy among the experts?
Domar: We disagreed about the importance of the annual physical. I think it's a good idea to check in with your physician once a year. Love: But there's no data supporting an annual physical, and with the amount of time physicians have to actually spend with you…it's not likely to be useful.
What about mammograms? Your book went to press before the United States Preventive Services Task Force came out with its new recommendations that women in their 40s should make individual decisions whether to get screened and that women from 50 to 74 should be screened every two years.
Love: There wasn't controversy among us. [The book says women in their 40s without a family history of breast cancer can get a mammogram every two to three years.] These [new] guidelines are not anything new. They're the guidelines that most of the world already uses. We've oversold mammography. The question isn't whether young women get breast cancer; it's whether mammographic screening is going to make that much difference. How do you suggest women approach health claims—about exercise, diet, procedures, or whatever?
Love: I think you have to look as critically at medical information as at everything else. If someone says, "Drive this car and you'll be sexy and get a good husband," you recognize that they're trying to sell you something. You have to look at medical information as critically. Was research done in people? Who paid for it? What do you two prioritize, healthwise?
Love: I worry about trying to get in some exercise at least every other day, and I do try not to gain weight. Those are really the two things I feel strongly about. I'd love not only to live to see my grandchildren, but to be able to play with them. I'd love to meditate if it weren't so stressful to find time to do it! And I play piano—I started taking lessons when I was 55. Domar: Exercise is the one thing I really push to make time for. It's associated with a decreased risk of many diseases, and it's the best stress reliever I know. It would be pretty ironic if my stress level was high and I was advising people on how to reduce stress. I'd literally skip a meal rather than miss exercise.
[Read about 4 diets that are really good for you. And check out why women might want to focus on strength training.]