There's a certain feeling of panic every time a class reunion invitation comes in the mail. Has everyone else put on 10 pounds? How do you explain your recent divorce to people you haven't seen in 15 years?
"As we get older, we develop an intrinsic competitiveness with ourselves. At a reunion, you use those people from your past as a benchmark of how well you've done," says Lisa Dorfman, a registered dietitian and co-author of The Reunion Diet: Lose Weight and Look Great at Your Reunion and Beyond (Sunrise River Press, $13).
And, let's be honest, one of the biggest benchmarks is how healthy you look compared to your peers. Whether you want to boost your confidence or fit into your old cheerleader uniform, Dorfman gives four tips for lookingand feelingyour best at your next reunion.
1. Be realistic.
If you want to drop 30 pounds in a month, it might be time for a reality check. "If you're up front with yourself, you have a much better shot at losing weight," says Dorfman. If a nightly glass of wine is non-negotiable, don't skip it, and instead cut calories from lunch or dinner. If you like having a chocolate treat in the afternoon, nix the croutons on your salad.
Also, it takes a while to take weight off, so last-minute weight loss will mean some serious sacrifices. "Two to six months is the ideal amount of time to diet [before a reunion]," says Dorfman. "If you have a month or less, you have very little time to work with. You'll need to be at the gym every day."
2. Eat more, not less.
"There's a perception that if you keep cutting calories, you'll keep losing weight," says Dorfman. However, by drastically cutting calories, you can inadvertently cause your metabolism to slow down. Instead, she suggests eating throughout the day, selecting foods that keep you satiated.
Dorfman recommends a trifecta of low-fat, lean protein (low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt, turkey), fiber-filled, plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, even whole grains), and some sort of seasoning (spices, salsa). The combination of protein and fiber fills you up, while the seasoning adds enough flavor to satisfy you taste buds. And, if your seasoning is especially spicy, it may even help boost your metabolism.
3. A little detox is OK.
Though Dorfman doesn't recommend crash diets, cleanses, or detoxes as healthy, long-term weight-loss solutions, she admits that doing something radical with your diet may jump-start healthy eating. "Sometimes people need a dietary slap in the face," she says. "A detox can simply mean you are taking out things that are sabotaging your efforts."
Whether that means donating the economy-size box of your trigger food to a food bank or turning your lunch date with your burger-loving friend to a coffee break, eliminate those things that prevent you from meeting your goals. Dorfman warns that this can be challenging, especially when your spouse or partner is a saboteur. Be upfront with them by explaining your goals and sorting through any problems as soon as they arise.
4. Visualize your goals.
Professional athletes visualize their big events from start to finish, and Dorfman suggests you steal their trick. "Picture yourself at the reunionwhat kind of dress you're wearing, how you'll wear your hairbut be realistic. Don't picture what you looked like when you were 20." Visualizing how you want to look will help you stay on track with your diet.
A few days before the event, prep yourself by trying on your outfit and forming a script in your mind. If you know certain questions will make you uncomfortable, Dorfman suggests you prepare your answers ahead of time. Know why you're happy to be a stay-at-home mom, or practice a clever way to say you're unemployed.
In the end, Dorfman recommends remembering why you're there in the first placeto reconnect with old friends.