Why You Shouldn't Focus on "Weight Loss" With Young Athletes & Adolescents

It’s true that we’re living in a childhood obesity epidemic. In Australia alone, 1 in 4 kids aged 2-17 are overweight or obese, but this is not the main problem we're going to discuss here... The problem lies in how we’re approaching this situation. The problem lies in our fixation with ‘weight’ and making everything we do revolve around this topic.  We need to take the focus off weight and instead place it on creating the behaviours and habits needed to develop a healthy lifestyle they can live for the rest of their lives

1 in 4 - The Youth Academy

Firstly, weight is NOT the definition of health. Losing “fat” does not equate to a healthier person. It is not the be all and end all - especially with kids, adolescents, and young athletes (if you compete in a weight class sport this may be a different story). A number on a scale doesn’t define you - and when you look at the BMI, it’s complete BS - as it doesn’t take into account body composition (i.e. muscle weighing more than fat)

And we’re giving the way we look more power than the way we feel. We’re not taking into account what’s happening on the inside… you know, the things we can’t see. And when it comes to “weight loss” with kids and adolescents at The Academy, those two words are ones you will never hear within our walls

Now, we’re not playing down the damage that carrying extra weight can do to the body - as the research shows the increased risk of numerous metabolic diseases amongst other things. The point we’re trying to instil here is to not focus on losing weight, but rather creating behaviours and habits that help to develop a healthy lifestyle for the future & the rest of their lives

And with that in mind, we focus on a few simple principles that in turn, are going to create a healthier lifestyle for these next generations... as that’s one of our end goals, creating habits for life with these kids

And it’s amazing what will happen to the body when you focus solely on doing these things consistently over time...

Move - The Youth Academy

Move Everyday

Your body was designed to move in every way possible. And when we focus on simply moving for at least 60 minutes a day (doing anything you’d like), the body will begin to change in itself. Personally, we’re huge proponents of strength and conditioning changes due to the physiological & psychological changes that a stronger body will bring about. This can be doing anything you love - from playing a sport, to riding a bike or walking with family… just begin to move and do something you love

Make Smarter Food Choices

There is no such thing as a “good” or “bad” food, there are just some foods we should consume more often and in larger amounts. And you already know what to do here... but what’s funniest is that when kids begin to move more, they begin to want to make smarter choices with their food

Veggies - The Youth Academy

Academy Nutrition Principles

  1. Five serves of veggies a day: nutrient-dense and low in energy, veggies are full of everything good for us, and instilling this habit does phenomenal things for the body - plus they help us feel fuller for longer

  2. A real-food protein source at every eating occasion: essential for recovery and growth, protein is also thermogenic and aids in helping us feel fuller for longer

  3. Learn to love your carbohydrates: they’re not evil, they’re essential for growth and energy. The thing to be mindful of here is to match your intake of carbohydrates with your activity levels. So, a very active child will need a larger amount than a sedentary child - but don’t think ‘cutting carbs’ is healthy

  4. Make the smartest choice you can at the given time, and then move on: one single eating occasion doesn’t make a difference, and when eating out, or travelling, simply make the best choice you can at that given time

Get OFF The Scales

This is no way to measure your progress - instead focus on how you’re feeling, how you’re performing with your exercise (are you getting quicker, stronger, is it becoming easier to do), or how your clothes are fitting… these are much better markers and trackers for progress in this department

Tortoise Vs Hare - The Youth Academy

Consistency Breeds Success

There is no shortcut. There is no overnight success. Success comes from consistency and focused energy over time. And this is the foundation for which everything in life needs to be built on...

These are the exact things we’ve focused on with Cam. We’ve made no massive changes with him, we just instilled the ideas discussed here inside his mind. He views it as creating a healthy lifestyle for the rest of his life. He works hard in the gym 3 days a week, plays soccer with this mates, and is making smarter choices with his food…

The result after a few solid months?

He’s happier. He’s much more confident in himself. He is down shirt sizes and pant sizes. He’s quicker on the football pitch, and he’s MUCH stronger in the gym. And most importantly, he’s damn consistent with everything he does and knows that this is him for the rest of his life

This is his new identity

Let’s take the focus off weight with our kids and adolescents, and instead put it on creating the behaviours and habits needed to create a healthy lifestyle they can live for the rest of their lives 

Nick Maier