Last edited by Dragonlady; 02-09-2012 at 02:15 PM.
Great post, Blades. (Apart from the first line; I haven't followed Dragonlady's posting history enough to make such a comment. )
Zhang was dealing with a growth spurt/body change. This is where I have the biggest problem with the weight discussion- it's one thing if athletes in their 20s and 30s are having issues with conditioning/staying in shape, but in something like skating, where peak performance often occurs in early to mid teens, weight gain and filling out is simply part of the growing process, it happens when you hit puberty around this age and it has NOTHING to do with fitness. You can't stay a kid forever. And if someone is brain-washed into thinking they're fat (on top of the struggles that come with adjusting to the new adult body), those thoughts can persist long afterwards and THAT is not healthy...
There is an IN article on Zhang- for some reason won't let me post the link here, but here is a quick summary:
Bold is emphasized by me, since it is directly relevant to the current discussion on Zhang in this thread"Caroline was a child star, and it all came rather easily and quickly for her," said Peter Oppegard, who coaches Zhang with his wife, Karen Kwan-Oppegard, at the East West Ice Palace in Artesia, Calif.
"I feel she is kind of late at maturing, and I think she just kind of learned as she went. The body adjustments she had to make took time. Somewhere down the line, she started to make good choices, and I think she's making more and more good choices now."
"I feel like I took a different approach to training for nationals and it turned out a lot better," Zhang, 18, said after her practice Wednesday. "I tried to attack my programs. Going out to the short program, I knew there was nothing for me to lose. I could just go out there and do the program I knew I could do."
In San Jose, Zhang's increased speed and fit appearance led many to believe she had embraced a radically different exercise and diet regime, but that's not the case.
"I've been given that question many times," she said. "A lot of people have commented on it, but really I haven't put as much importance on it as a lot of other people seem to think I have. It was just something that came naturally with better training, and I really didn't pay attention to my weight so much. It was more, build muscle for better jumps."
"She's definitely dropped weight, but she's done it in a healthy way, and she's also worked on her fitness," Oppegard said. "Triple loop-triple loop is a very physical combination that not many people can do. So she's gone up to the gym, and it's paying off for her now."
Whatever happens here, Zhang thinks her efforts over the past 12 months have put her on track for an even bigger comeback.
"I'm definitely happy with where my training is going right now," she said. "I hope to just take the momentum from this and build into next season. I would like to do better here than I did at nationals. I wasn't expecting an assignment, and to come here is just awesome."
Good for Caroline. Glad to hear she hasn't obsessed about her weight.
When I've lost weight, it's always been primarily through exercise. It's a lot healthier and more fun than dieting, for me anyway.
It's easy to say anything we want anonymously on a message board.
The quote you bolded is misleading. It says she hasn't radically changed her regime. That doesn't mean there have been no changes at all. Even aside from any specific plan, it comes down to how much effort the athlete puts into it. If you're just going through the motions, you're not getting much done. She has been training better and working on her fitness more, as they stated. Hence, better body.
Maintaining a good body through puberty and a string of competitive disappointments may be difficult, but that's life. There are a lot of people with less of a support system than Caroline who have to face larger challenges. When you are a competitive athlete you get criticized and you either deal with it or you get out. Caroline put in focus and work that she needed to and, guess what, now she's doing better.
Nobody has responded to my point of how society needs better education on this subject. Not everybody needs to look like a supermodel, that needs to be made clear, but at the same time most people are less healthy than they should be. Similarly, kids going through their difficult body changes need to be given reassurance and assistance so that they can adapt. Too many kids suffer from acne or weight issues or other developments that freak them out and make them feel insecure as a result of adults not giving them the proper knowledge and assistance (and then kids bully each other about these issues because they are scared about their own issues and/or ignorant about other peoples' issues).
So, no, we absolutely should not ignore these problems in order to "make it easier" for the young person in question. By doing that, all we are doing is making it worse for them and making the World as a whole less informed place. Proper nutrition and exercise need to be taught and given real importance. The public needs to stop buying all of the unhealthy crap that corporations are selling. Why do you think people in France, including their teenagers, are significantly less fat than people in America? I assure you it's not because they go through puberty any less.