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The Health Upgrade


Eat, darling, eat. Fox is 5'5" and 104 pounds. "She's so small because her body has adapted to a famine eating pattern," says Hill. "The body has a miraculous way of adapting no matter how whacked-out your diet. She's experiencing some muscle loss, and there's a risk of declining functionality." Her diet is exquisitely unbalanced, and the bet is very dangerous for her, according to Peeke. "She's got to ramp up her nutrition like there's no tomorrow with whole foods and whole grains," she says. "It would be great for her to work with a nutritionist until she understands what her body needs. She's got to get more nourishment to protect the integrity of her precious immune system."

Chew your food, not your vitamins. Fox takes calcium in the form of chocolate-flavored chews that list, as the first two ingredients, corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup. Nelson and Peeke agree that the chews are basically fortified candy and recommend tablets of calcium citrate. Some experts think the citrate is better absorbed than calcium carbonate, while others maintain that's true only for people with decreased stomach acid. Either way, at Fox's age the recommended daily allowance is 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day plus 400 IU of vitamin D.

Trade waif for wellness. The National Institute on Aging has stressed that there are four important components of living well past age 50: strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance. Fox's regular Pilates workout, which she performs admirably, is great for the last two, but she needs to add cardiovascular exercise for endurance, and resistance training (in the form of hand weights or even ashtanga yoga) for muscle strength. Building muscle mass will result in an increase on the bathroom scale, which will be hard for the frequent weigher to tolerate, and living in Los Angeles, Fox is surrounded on every side by a culture that idealizes the superslim look. "But most women become more compact," Peeke says. "Think of Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2. Small people will develop small muscles. And it will optimize the ability of her metabolism to burn calories because muscle uses more energy than fat."

Model Lady Macbeth. Even after a season of flu shot shortages, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised regular hand washing to keep from getting sick, Fox thinks that soaping up too often or too thoroughly deprives the body of necessary bacteria. But the CDC's advice is backed by research: A 1996 study of Detroit schoolchildren, for example, found that those who washed their hands four times a day missed up to 51 percent fewer school days from illness.

Know your numbers. Precision is essential to Fox's sense of well-being—her bottled water lined up like an army of toy soldiers on the shelf, her bed made the moment she awakens, her plants devoid of brown leaves, her sports car as tidy as the day it left the showroom. A propensity for order can bode well for making a transformative change, according to Treitler. "I always look at people's cars and offices," she says. "Do they have logical systems? Are they consistent?" What works against Fox is her resistance to information if recommendations do not fit her mental mold. One of Peeke's litmus tests for healthy self-awareness (which Fox fails) is, Can she tell you her cholesterol? "If someone her age doesn't know that number, it's a very bad sign. It means: I don't want to know, I'm perfectly fine."

Next: Treitler goes inside the home of Yolanda Gaskins

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