Balancing smart and sweet: staying fit during the holiday season


Jada Hallman, Copy Co-Editor

It’s that time of year again, the time of year where we ditch the diet plans and dive headfirst into the mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. It’s the time of year to be thankful for all that we have and all that we have to eat. It’s the holiday season, and even our taste-buds are celebrating.

West High School takes great pride in our athletic program, and our student athletes throw 110% of themselves into their sports. During this tempting season, it can be tough to resist these guilty pleasures. In order to perform proficiently, it is imperative to sustain a healthy diet and lifestyle, even during the holidays. However, there are still many ways you can indulge in your favorite treats and meals while still eating smart.

West High US history teacher and former cross country and basketball coach, Mr. Tom Haim, encourages student athletes to pace their eating, stick to a regular and healthy sleeping pattern and manage portion sizes. Portion control allows for consumers to be aware of when they’re sincerely full and satisfied rather than finishing whatever’s on their plate. Utilizing smaller plates and cups cuts size down and regulates calorie intake. Also, staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water instead of juice or soda can minimize cravings and feelings of hunger. However, Haim also explains how it is important to never skip meals and to consistently snack on small meals every 3 to 4 hours. “You have to allow yourself to indulge sometimes…But I also aim to eat a low-fat, high carbohydrate, complex carbohydrate diet,” said Haim.

West High math teacher and cross country and distance track coach, Ms. Theresa James, encourages students to stick to healthier food groups when planning meals, such as fruits, veggies, proteins and whole grains. These food groups fuel better performance in athletics and academics as they provide energy for the mind and body. “I also say no to any packaged, processed foods. If it comes in a box or wrapper it probably isn’t good for you… Always try to avoid high sugar content or high sodium content in foods,” said James. Preparing your own meals opposed to going out to eat at restaurants can also improve your diet. By cooking your own food, you are spending less money while also managing the different ingredients that are used in making the meal. “Every kid should start now on a healthy diet because it will affect them the rest of their lives,” said James. “Create good eating habits now; it will be easier to maintain a healthy weight, body and mind.”

During the busy holiday season, it can be difficult to squeeze in exercise between family gatherings and celebrations. Although, sustaining a healthy workout regimen will keep you fit and active during the holiday season. Assistant Principal Mr. Zachary Boswell and Principal Mr. Troy Brown enjoy obstacle courses, morning visits to the gym and running workouts in order to prepare for Spartan races, obstacle races of different distances and difficulty that require great training and mental preparation. In order to engage in the 12-mile long races, with approximately 25 obstacles each, Brown said to set a goal and work toward it in order to achieve results that you desire. “Having that goal of a race encourages me to eat better and to exercise more,” said Brown. Having completed two previous Spartan races with Brown in the past, Boswell encourages kids to work out as well as make smart meal choices. “I usually eat a granola bar or banana in the morning and a premade salad for lunch,” said Boswell.

The last few months of the year are celebrated widely through time spent with family and wonderful celebrations and parties, and while it is important to watch what you eat, it is also okay to treat yourself every once in a while to that slice of pie or that scoop of ice cream. “Falling off the diet once in a while is okay because you won’t feel deprived,” said James, “but one needs to get right back to it after they do.” It’s wise to be cautious of food options and to choose smart, but it is also acceptable to allow the season’s cheer to sneak into your meals. The key is finding a healthy balance between the smart and the sweet that will keep you fit during the holidays.