How to talk about female weight gain

Coaches and Athletes

What is the best way to talk to a 17 year old female athlete who has gained weight in the off season (20 lbs or so). It is all in the butt and legs. She is not tall and is a hurdler.

I am in a very difficult situation, on top of this she is not a very stable young woman either, very moody and self consious.

Please help

A very good question and something that we will all probably run into at some point. At this age, as you know, you cannot bring this up without causing some discomfort. The best thing to do is speak on proper nutrition to the team, which will not single any person out. You can also add in some hidden volume into her training, in tempo, weights, etc.
As a dietician, I know that you do not want to make the female feel pressured into losing weight, or feel singled out. With teenage females making up 95% of all eating disorders, this could start off a chain-reaction.
I would approach this issue with the focus being on healthy choices and education without discussing weight loss. Study after study shows that education on dietary and lifestyle choices greatly influence behavior modification.

I do on a regular basis talk about diet and she asks me questions all the time but her fellow athletes have told me that she does not follow the diet that I suggest at all.

I agree with dlive11. Increased tempo should take care of the problem. Don’t rush things, and I wouldn’t even say anything. At 17 she has lots and lots of time to progress in the sport. Girls usually get in their groove as far as weight, around 20-23. Best thing to do would be to encourage her and accept her as she is. If she quits the sport, then there is no hope. If she is fat and still training, then there is still the future possibility of her getting serious and taking things into her own hands.

With the tempo, slower tempo, but more of it would probably be the best. I know when I was over weight and training, faster tempo just made my shins and knees hurt (even when I did it on grass). As well you can include Mid section work as part of tempo. I don’t know how much mid section work you do with your group, but I will almost bet that you can increase your volume there. Get your athletes to do some on their own as well, preferable in the morning. This will slightly raise their core temperature throughout the day which will help with warm-up later in the day, and will also help with using calories throughout the day. If she stays in the sport for 10 years, and she needs to loose 20 pounds, then if she looses a pound (of useless weight, fat) a month for the next 2 years, and maintains her fitness for the rest of her career, then all is good.

Awesome points Herb! At this age (with the influence of peer groups), it is hard for an adolescent to follow dietary guidelines. Find out who she hangs out with (athletes vs. non-athletes), since the non-athletic group will tend to eat fast food and follow trends moreso than the athletic group. Find out how much influence her parents have, if they even know to pay attention.
Just try to provide a sound education and exercise program, and the rest should fall into place.

speaking as a 17-year old female hurdler… be very careful!
even if there is a genetic predisposition to weight gain, that is still all it is- a predisposition. I feel that you have to be trying pretty hard to gain 20 pounds, especially if you are short and may not weigh too much to begin with! which makes me think there is definitely something going on in her life outside of this context… and as you said she is already moody and unstable, i wouldn’t single her out unless you have some other reason to ask if something else is wrong. eating disorders are incredibly easy to fall into, and it is hard to get away from them…

tempo works, i guess there’s not too much else you can do. as far as nutrition goes, if the will is there, it is not especially difficult. i consistently eat well, even around friends who are not athletes.

Could the weight gain be caused by other factors.

Illness, family problems or others.

I have had a girl of 16 apologise for gaining weight to me and we sat down and talked about things. This young lady was to scared to talk to her coach, parents and friends. I got permission to discuss this with her coach, which I did.

Most people are not like that at any age.


Birth Control could be a factor…yet if a coach goes there his days are numbered. Lifesyle is the main factor. Train right, eat right, sleep right, and your body will be maximized. Obese cheetahs and fat deer?

Birth control pills are horrible for you. Supposedly women and men are attracted to people with a different type of immune system gene the more different the better but supposedly when women took birth control they were attracted to men with similiar genes. Also when shown slides of naked men women on birth control were more likely to see the nude males as not sexual and just bones and muscles when compared to women not on the pill. Also isn’t their a increased risk of cancerwhen on birthcontrol? Hopefully this girl isn’t on birth control especially considering she shouldn’t even be having sex at that age anyway.

I wasn’t thinking of birth control. I don’t any athlete without afemal adult present.

I think Charlie covered it fairly well in Speed Trap (I think) about eating. Sometimes money was the issue.

That was partial the problems with the young lady I talked about, other was teasing by training partners and people from her school.

ok cool sorry DMA, I’m just responding to what clemson said.

No worries T2, I was just replying to Clemson as well.

But the original question is a good one and all coaches will go through things that are outside of the track. So thanks Coach_Luc

but 20 lbs. just from the pill? surely not… or maybe i am misinformed?
just as a random fact- gaining 20 lbs. would be about a 17% increase in my body weight, and i am not especially short. clinical criteria for anorexia cite a loss of 15-18%. just because the weight is going the other way, does that mean it is less concerning?
i still stand by what i said before- pill or no pill, gaining 20 lbs. in less than a year without a major change of lifestyle (i.e. going to college) is not within normal teenaged parameters.
best of luck- i hope she responds well.

[It could also be a thyroid problem…weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland.

an inactive thyroid is only a problem in 3-5% of the obese population (though many believe it to be the reason that they are overweight)

I think that weight gain can be red herring for a coach. Has her performance fallen off because of her weight gain? Women/girls can misinterpurt the purpose of training to be weight loss not a way to improve performance. This can be very hard to correct. Including extra tempo can help as long as she does not also become slower at the same time.

2 girls I new gained weight rapidly when on the pill.
One of them was not a girl friend, she was a friend of the neighbours. Basically she was only a 14 year old and even at that age she put on an obvious amount of weight in one year. She suddenly had loads of cellulite on her legs at age 15!
I don’t think she ever had much education on health, balanced lifestyle etc… and well, sometimes that’s sad to see. To much discipline is a bad thing I believe for a young person, but then again, no discipline or structure is crap too.
The other girl I mentioned on the pill was 28 years old (my x girlfriend) and she liked being on the pill sometimes becuase she reckoned it made her boobs a little bigger. Man, these girls are under pressure. I certainly noticed it put weight on her hips and thighs.

I still think the single biggest reason for some peple being overweight is when they don’t have any breakfast and more than make up for it by having a take-away a last thing in the evening. They’ll tend to eat foods that are going to satisfy their cravings cuase of punishing themselves early in the morning.

us girls have it damn tough.

i agree that the pill is horrible for an athlete. a friend of mine also went on the pill and gained like 20lbs by my reckoning but that was over a year, just “creaping” on

Volume increase sounds like the only “cure” but im a powerlifter so im no expert

The pill is bad stuff, it has alot of negative effects besides weight gain ,read my previous post.
Girls do not have it tough, guys have it tough. I can’t get a date, also a I have freind who is a computer science major who has A’s and is also a good triple jumper, but he can’t get a date either. Why can neither of us get dates! Honestly women have it good they don’t have to chase guys. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked last year academically and I plan to step it up academically. Athletically I have just desinged a gpp plan for the next 4 weeks and it’s more then I have ever done physically before. I’m going back to school tuesday and I figure to get A’s and do all my exercise, I have very little time to waste and I’m not going to be able to chase girls. Girls should chase me! I don’t have the time to chase girls.