Dear Trainer Who Wants to Know What to Do with the 15 Year Old Who has Body Image Issues, and Is the Exact Same Weight and Physique as When She Started Training with You 1.5 Years Ago,
Do NOT focus on the weight loss! I know that I’m the odd woman out as a body positive, weight neutral fitness trainer, so I rarely share my thoughts on this unless invited to, but you’re working with a teen! These are her formative years and your experience with her is literally shaping how she views herself and her body.
This is the time for her to develop a positive relationship with her body. To focus on increasing strength and energy and discovering how amazing she can be physically. It’s a time to explore the concept of Health At Every Size and to recognize that regardless of her weight there is nothing wrong with her body!
Despite the billion dollar weight loss industry, statistics show that 95% of diets fail and for a teen who’s struggling with self-esteem and body image issues putting the focus on weight loss is dangerous and risky, because her perceived success is dependent on something that is primarily genetic and beyond her control.
With all that said, you hold tremendous power in your hands as you are an individual of influence outside of her family and someone she obviously looks up to and respects.
You can really help her get to know her body from a positive viewpoint and give her the tools she needs to build healthy habits.
I don’t know what state you’re in, so I can’t speak to the legal repercussions, but unless you’re a registered dietitian, I assume you’re not supposed to be giving nutrition advice. I highly, highly recommend referring her to a non-diet dietitian (the HAES or Intuitive Eating websites have some great references). I know I’ve come off a little strong here, but I know of too many teens who are currently suffering from eating disorders and perhaps I’m hyper sensitive to this.
Please, please nurture her and give her the tools she needs to believe in herself, even if she looks different than the way you and those around her think she should look. *At Times I need to remind myself these trainers aren’t malicious, they’re merely ignorant