Coach Sarah Walls: Tips for Beating Holiday Weight Gain

Coach Sarah Walls, personal trainer and owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc., who is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics

Coach Sarah Walls, personal trainer and owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc., who is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 60% of adult women in the country are considered overweight. While this is something to be concerned with all year long, it’s especially troublesome during the holiday season. Throughout the holidays at this time of the year, people are more prone to pack on a few extra pounds. The problem is that while the season is short, that weight gain can last a lifetime. Adding a few extra pounds every holiday season can lead to a big problem that puts people at risk for poor health.

“Most people are surrounded by lots of good, but unhealthy food choices during the holidays,” explains Coach Sarah Walls, personal trainer and owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc., who is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. “It’s so easy to overeat and consume more calories than you even realize. This is especially true at holiday parties and special dinners.”

According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American consumes over 4,500 calories and around 229 grams of fat during a typical holiday gathering. This includes the snacking, holiday meal, and desserts they may consume that day. The calories and fat can quickly add up, and with people grazing all day, they may not be aware of just how much it’s added up to.

Those who want to avoid holiday weight gain can, if they know a few tried and true tips that will help them successfully get through the meals. Here are a few effective tips that will help beat holiday weight gain:

  • Manage your indulgences. Try small tastes of what you want to try, rather than having an entire serving. Keep good mental notes on what you’ve eaten and when. Sometimes it’s easy to forget you had a big breakfast, went out to a holiday party at lunchtime, and are now at a friend’s holiday party surrounded by eggnog and treats. If you remember those things, you may be more likely to naturally minimize the feeling of wanting to dive headfirst into the punch bowl.
  • Pick and choose events. Just because you are invited to events does not mean you must go to them all. Be selective if you get invited to many, choosing the ones you really want to attend. Not only will this probably save on the over indulgences, but it will also allow you to slow down and not feel rushed all winter.
  • Remember summer. It will be summer again, and sooner than you think. It is nice getting to wear warm, comfortable clothes, but don’t let that lull you into thinking you’ll be wearing them year-round.
  • Eat ahead of time. If you have something small to eat before attending a party, you will be less likely to overeat once you are there. Make what you eat ahead of time healthy, such as some salad or raw veggies with hummus.
  • Watch your choices. Holiday parties and dinners are filled with many options, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to opt for the healthier choices. Look for lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and try to avoid drinking too much alcohol, which is loaded with empty calories.
  • Plan ahead. If you know you will be going to a party or holiday dinner, try to eat healthy at your other meals throughout the day. This way you don’t sabotage your diet all day long. Also, avoid standing anywhere near the food in order to mingle with people. Doing that will put you in a position to unknowingly graze and pick up hundreds of extra calories.

“Even if you are diligent in maintaining your exercise program, you have to watch your food intake during the holidays,” added Coach Walls. “You can’t out exercise a bad diet. The food you eat and the amount of calories you consume play a huge role. You can get through the holidays without gaining that extra 5-10 pounds, but it’s going to take some effort.”

While it’s important to eat healthy all year long, it becomes especially so during the holiday season when there are so many temptations. Opting for healthy foods will help keep you feeling good, having high energy during what is often a stressful season, and will help you avoid weight gain. Healthy foods to include in your diet are those that are high in fiber and are nutrient dense, including fruits, vegetables, lean sources of protein, and whole grains. At holiday parties, look for the fruit and veggie tray and salads, and fill half of your plate with them, leaving only a little room for other options.

Sarah Walls has over 15 years experience in coaching and personal training. Owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc, founded in 2007, she offers coaching to develop athletes, adult programs, team training, and has an online coaching program. She is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and has over eight years of experience working as an NCAA D1 strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer. To learn more, visit the site: www.saptstrength.com.