Sunday, January 22, 2012

Who Wants To Be High School Skinny Anyway

This weekend I attended my 30 year high school reunion, Dr Oz published the post, "28-Day High School reunion Weight-Loss Plan. He cites that, with a 1 lb a year weight gain, you could easily weigh 25lbs more than on graduation day. I discovered that Dr Oz was right - most of us had gained 25 lbs and more!

I confess that I weigh about 20 lbs more than my graduation day. Yet, at 48, I am much healthier than I was then. In high school, I was so underweight there were fears I was suffering from anorexia. I wasn't but a diet of sodas, cigarettes, chips & dip and candy bars wasn't doing me any favors. Today, I consume nutritious, whole foods that I prepare from scratch. I haven't smoked since I was 18. Chips & dip are still a favorite, but I don't eat them more than once or twice a quarter. Cheap, empty caloric sweets have been replaced with quality dark chocolates.

The Dr Oz plan consists of eliminating sugars, eating global spices, selecting rainbow foods and exercise. These are sound recommendations and his "28...plan" will better prepare people for their high school reunion "reveal". What is preferable is a commitment to healthy lifestyle changes that readies us to embrace any occasion with very little thought to our weight.

Given Dr Oz's status as one of Oprah's all-stars, I am a bit of a contrarian to Dr Oz's guidance generally. I have some all-stars of my own that enabled me to just reach into my closet and grab something to pack before the big day. They include:

Dr Cordian is the leading expert on paleolithic eating. I adhere to the Primal Blueprint, a version of the modern philosophy inspired by our pre- agriculture ancestors. I can't help but wonder if all my classmates would be thinner, healthier, happier and live to attend our 40th and 50th reunion if we would remove grains and reduce or eliminate sugars and dairy from our diets.

"80% of your body composition will be determined by your diet" - Mark Sisson 

 Our reunion committee did an excellent job of planning our event, including the buffet selection. While there were starches galore, I was able to eat colorful and nutrient dense foods, particularly from the Jambalaya station...asked for the meat and vegetables...said no to the rice! Since compliance is not absolute, 89-90% works best for most rather than the unattainable 100%, the cupcake was a nice treat at the end.

I don't know about the rest of my classmates but I have arrived at a time in my when I am seeking simplicity and authenticity. With regards to my diet, I buy lots of fresh foods at vegetable stand and seafood markets. I frequent natural food shoppes. Since meat and vegetables are the foundation of my meals, I can whip up most meals in under 45 minutes. My go to is a grass fed rib eye seared with roasted asparagus on the side for dinner and scrambled eggs with zucchini or strawberries for breakfast. 

Outside of the paleo diet and cookbooks, Michael Pollan pretty much sums up the guide to eating in modern times. In Defense of Food, he suggested we eat what our great-grandmothers ate. Sage advice, if you ask me.


One advantage I have over most of my classmates is that I am a fitness professional - Certified Pilates Teacher, in fact. I get plenty of exercise. But, now that my classmates and I headed into our 5th decade, we all have to be concerned how our weight and muscle mass will have an impact on how we age and our longevity.

The latest research shows that interval and resistance or strength training are the most effective exercise approaches. We can all grow old with Pilates but our heart and muscles need the challenge that comes from bursts of effort and pushing and pulling. I supplement my Pilates/Yoga wellness practice with bodyweight workouts, such as those of ZuzkaLight, the former host of BodyRock.TV. I think it's important to be active in ways we enjoy, so barre workouts like Physique 57 and Booty Barre are fun and invigorating to me. The guys we watched throwing around a football may gravitate to Ultimate Sandbag Training while the ladies with and without the pom-poms may like UgiFit. 

It has been graduation since I last saw many of my classmates. There isn't much I can do about the wrinkles that have appeared. And the tah-tahs and derriere have lost the perkiness they had in the 80's. Frankly, I don't think any of us was so superficial as to fixate on outer appearances. It was wonderful just to renew acquaintances with those we have shared history. My hope is, rather than the Dr Ozs' of the world tempting us with quick fixes, my Class Of '81 will live wisely day to day so that we may all enjoy our middle age and senior years in good health.