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Weight Questions


ArucariaBallerina
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Hi, I don't know if this is in the right forum, sorry if not, but I just had some questions about weight.

1) will putting on weight make you taller? I have always always been underweight (BMI from 12 to 15 max) and always been tiny in height. My family have no history of tiny-ness, they are all average height! I was just wondering whether, if I put on weight, I would be able to grow those inches to make me not tiny!

2) I'm scared that putting on weight will make my dancing bad... What if I get flabby and chubby? What if I eat more and more and don't stop? All my hard work on developing the right muscles will go down the drain!

3) if I do put on weight, what is a healthy way to go about it? I am active and want to be as healthy as possible. My mum says that I should introduce 'unhealthy' foods more often into my diet... I've started to have a square or so of 85-90% dark chocolate a day. But I don't know whether this is a good idea! All I know is that I want to be a ballet dancer, and to grow taller but stay slender and lean! 

 

Im so sorry if this bothers anybody, I'm just getting a bit nervous! I like my life at the moment! (PS I am not ill mentally or physically)

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1.  Putting on weight will most definitely not make you taller (I am living proof of that!).  Coincidentally my cousin and I were talking about height today - her brother is 6'1" and she is 5'2" - most of her family on both sides are average height not shorter or taller.  I am about 5'4" as was my sister and Mum.  The ladies on my Dad's side of the family tend to be taller.  There are a number of small lady dancers in our companies and most of them are amongst my favourites so I wouldn't worry about your height.

 

2.  If you put on some weight but you are still doing your dance activities in my opinion it is extremely unlikely that you will become flabby and chubby.

 

3.  A healthy balanced diet is essential.  I believe there are books about nutrition and dancers available.  Other members may be able to advise a suitable one.

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Not sure about lots of your questions but in one of Elmhurst's policies there's something in there about if your bmi is at or below 16 then you are taken off all dance -  I think it relates to weight loss but even so, a bmi of between 12 and 15 sounds worrying, no matter how tiny you are height-wise. 

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Any young dancer needs a good balance of carbohydrate, protein, fruit and vegetables and some fats. Carbohydrate is needed to give you enough energy to complete your training. Protein will help your muscles to stay/get strong and will help recovery and reduce injury. Fruit and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals which keep you healthy and allow you to keep up with your training, as well as fibre for digestive health. Fat is essential for brain and nerve function; nerves connect your muscles to your brain so you need this to dance. 

 

Eating the correct balance of nutrients will help you to train and perform. If you are worried about keeping lean, then avoid sugary or fatty foods. Dancers need to eat like athletes - so if you're stuck, look up what they eat. 

 

Eating more wont make you taller, but NOT eating enough will definitely affect how well you grow. 

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1 hour ago, Jan McNulty said:

A healthy balanced diet is essential.  I believe there are books about nutrition and dancers available.  Other members may be able to advise a suitable one.

 

'Nutrition for the Dancer' by Zerlina Mastin is the book that several people recommend when good dance nutrition books were discussed on the forum. It is excellent ?

 

 

 

 

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I think that you should be discussing any concerns which you have about your height and weight with your parents and, possibly,  your GP and ballet teacher. Forum members can only give general advice about nutrition for dancers in training. They can't give you specific advice as they don't know you. I do hope that your parents know that you post on this forum.

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I think it's great that you want to eat healthily, but I must say I am a little worried that you're concerned about having a square or 2 of dark chocolate a day, and are worried about putting on weight. Especially as you say you are very tiny already. 

Im not a nutritionist at all but I can say as a mum of a dancer (and a previous dancer myself) that having an occasional treat isn't a bad thing. Ballet school's give their students brownies, flapjacks etc for morning break quite often so don't think that ballet dancers don't eat. In fact you need to have plenty to eat to give you strength and energy to do as much dancing as you want to do.  Certainly eat healthily with a good balance (as advised in much more detail above) but I would also suggest that you have a chat with your parents and ensure they are also aware of your concerns regarding your growth xxx 

 

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1 hour ago, Balletmum55 said:

I think it's great that you want to eat healthily, but I must say I am a little worried that you're concerned about having a square or 2 of dark chocolate a day, and are worried about putting on weight. Especially as you say you are very tiny already. 

Im not a nutritionist at all but I can say as a mum of a dancer (and a previous dancer myself) that having an occasional treat isn't a bad thing. Ballet school's give their students brownies, flapjacks etc for morning break quite often so don't think that ballet dancers don't eat. In fact you need to have plenty to eat to give you strength and energy to do as much dancing as you want to do.  Certainly eat healthily with a good balance (as advised in much more detail above) but I would also suggest that you have a chat with your parents and ensure they are also aware of your concerns regarding your growth xxx 

 

or look at the amount of calories in a 24 hr ration pack  ( about 4000 iirc)  or   what  they shovel  down the  young lads  at Lympstone ...  there have been comments from others  about  their  offspring descending  like a plague of locusts after dance ... 

if your BMI is  15  and  there  is no  , good , underlying reason  for it  to be that low , a good ballanced diet  with  peltny of energy and calorie dense  stuff in it  will do no harm at all .... 

a 'healthy ' BMI is 20 -25   and  while many sources state  25- 30 as overweight   it does depend on habitus and lean mass / body fat content. 

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Aracuria if you are naturally very slender don't worry too much. Have you had your growth spurt yet? I think the relevance of BMI prior to puberty is limited. My dd prior to growth spurt had an extremely low BMI but it has corrected to 'healthy slim' after. 

 

I agree that a diet with enough healthy calories is necessary to exercise and grow and seeing your GP is a sensible idea. There are occasional medical conditions where a lack of hormones affects growth.

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The men in my family are all around 6' and women between 5' 2" and 5' 8". I wasn't particularly tall until I had a growth spurt at about the age of 16. I'm now around 5' 6" but appear taller because of ballet! Straight back etc. 

 

The thing is, actually, there's nothing you can do. As far as I understand it, height is mostly genetic. In times/places of nutritional scarcity - famine, war - people aren't so tall, but that is not the case now. But while famine or food restriction because of calamity (war time rationing for example) might inhibit growth, but as far as I know, the reverse is not true: eating more won't make you grow taller!

 

Take the advice here, and eat healthily, and think of food as the essential source of nutrition and energy to enable you to be healthy and fuel your dancing. 

 

Edited to add: the other thing you might take into account (but don't need to discuss here if you don't wish to) is the menarche - the onset of menstruation. There is often a link between the development of  weight, height, and menstruation in young women. I'm not a medico, so can't tell you how that works! Maybe DrDance knows more about this.

 

But think of it as your body being busy doing a lot of stuff, so height may be delayed while other things are going on in your endocrinal system  - as I say, I had a growth spurt at 16, and now I remember it, so did my father.

Edited by Kate_N
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6 hours ago, taxi4ballet said:

The range for adults is 18.5 to 24.9 and doesn't apply here as the poster is an adolescent with a naturally petite frame.

Correct - BMI ranges are age and sex specific in children. My youngest was weighed and measured at the hospital last week and his BMI is 17, which is low by adult standards but right on the 50th centile for his age. So the OP's figures are not so dramatic as they might first appear.

However, a BMI of 15 is under the 3rd centile for a girl of the OP's age according to the latest WHO charts. Of course this is not necessarily a cause for concern - by definition, 3% of the population must be under that line and it can be perfectly normal to be that size. 

But the OP is clearly concerned about her growth and I think the best advice would be to seek professional advice, both to rule out any medical issues and to define the optimum diet for her as an individual. 

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My DD is 16, 5ft2 with a health BMI, admittedly most of her weight is made up by muscle because of dancing. She eats absolutely loads of both healthy and unhealthy. She dances most days and is going to vocational college in September but knows she needs food, of all sorts, to help her body especially in keeping her energy levels up. I am a long distant runner, so she has grown up seeing me eat a wide range of foods depending on what I feel like. Listen to your body. 

 

What I am trying to say is don't be afraid to eat, you are young with a growing body and it needs to be nourished and nurtured. Talk to your dance teachers and go and see your GP between they will be able to help you with your concerns. 

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I agree - if this were my DD I would arrange a medical appointment to discuss concerns with regard to height and weight and a recommended eating plan. Eating more won't make you grow taller, but eating too little could inhibit growth and mean that you don't reach your full height potential; if the body believes it is being starved it will conserve the energy it receives for vital functions, leaving little if anything to fuel growth. 

 

You may simply be a late starter in the height stakes. Although it is more usual for girls to have a growth spurt earlier in their teens, it is certainly possible to experience that later - my DD had a growth spurt at c 13 and has grown again (although not so dramatically) at 16. Did any of your family experience a later growth spurt? 

 

In any event, much the safest and best option is to seek an expert medical opinion which can advise re possible hormonal imbalances or deficiencies and generally re a sensible eating plan for a serious teenage dance student. That way you know that you are doing everything possible to fuel your body for your dancing and for growth! 

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I remember many years ago reading Man United captain Bryan Robson's autobiography. [ Queued up to get him to sign it then asked him if I could give him a kiss and he said yes so I kissed him on his cheek. He was gorgeous] !!  Anyway, there were concerns at his first club, West Bromwich Albion, whether he was going to make it as a professional footballer because of his lack of height. I think he was 15 when he signed with the club, and had to move home and move in with an approved landlady who looked after him. The club gave her strict details of a very specific diet he had to stick to, to fill him out and increase the inches which were absolutely essential. Can't remember what he described having to eat now as I was 16 when I read it [ still have the copy, with his autograph in it somewhere in the house]. But lo and behold, he did grow a good few inches taller and gain weight also. Maybe that was always going to be his potential height anyway and the club knew this so it needed "bringing out" so to speak, I have no idea. So it might be a completely different scenario to Acuria. But i'm sure he grew about four inches altogether. [ Not for one minute suggesting a different diet will make you grow four inches of course]. But West Bromich Albion's nutritionist or whoever clearly knew what they were doing for him and it worked. Just looked him up on Wikipedia and while it didn't mention anything about him being short as a teenager it lists his full adult height as 5ft 11.

Edited by Lisa O`Brien
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One other thing -

 

You are 14 and I suspect like most of your age group social media is your best friend ( apart from ballet ) be careful. There is a lot out there and it is very easy to read too much especially regarding body shape/weight / food. Speaking from experience you could be heading down the wrong path. I know you say you aren't but this could be the start especially as you appear to be controlling your food intake. Rather than have one square of dark chocolate, which by the way is health chocolate, have a square of unhealthy milk chocolate ......

 

enough from me 

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My daughter put on an inch or 2 between 15 and 18. My sister grew an inch in university. So there is plenty of time for more height growth. I would note that all the ballet dancers DS has associated with have been an average size (not sure about weight as muscle is heavier so if you are a dancer you really shouldn't pay so much attention to how heavy you are, weight isn't a good measure of body fat in athletes). His ex girlfriend (who is now a professional dancer with a really top European company and an exceptionally talented dancer) was 5' 6" and wore the same dress size as me (12). His current (Russian) dancer friends are a range of sizes and heights and the 2 top girls the graduating year (one has a contract with the Bolshoi and one with the Mariinsky) are NOT noticeably super lean.

 

At 14 it is important to eat normally and not worry so much. I appreciate you say you don't have any mental health problems but it is surprisingly easy to spiral into a poor relationship with food that can dog you for the rest of your life- and that can happen to perfectly normal girls with no underlying problems. From what you say you do sound a bit too overcontrolled at the moment. So don't let your worries get any worse....

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I am sure you are perfect the way you are as god made you and have no need to worry about growing !! 

 

If you are worried at all you could ask your mum to take you to see your GP to set your mind at rest.  I remember my mum taking me to the GP as I was very underweight, pale and very skinny, due to fussy eating, as a child, and him advising her to encourage me eat whatever I liked, ie chocolates , sugary fizzy drinks etc, whenever I felt like it! not sure this was great advice as I now have a really sweet tooth and am discovering I can no longer burn it off as quickly in my 40s!!

 

Remember too you need to eat more if you are exercising.  My dd is always hungry and eats like a horse.  She likes carbs before dancing ie pasta pesto etc otherwise she experiences energy dips. I give her proteins after for muscle recovery a habit we've got into since she did gymnastics. And plenty of fruit to snack on bananas, dried mango, protein bars are good.  I don't think 2 pieces of chocolate a day would make that much of a difference to you growing, although a nice treat ! maybe also adding more calories with healthy carbs ie oats flatjack, porridge , milkshakes, smoothies.

 

I am sure if you eat fewer calories then you burn off it could delay growth, but you would have to be doing a lot of training 30 hours a week or so and or be on a very strict diet !! Which I am sure you are not!!  

 

Just checking your mum knows you post on a public forum as you are although sounding very mature still only 14!? She maybe the best person to advice you as she knows exactly your height and weight and what you are eating X

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The PE staff where I work say BMI has problems, especially if you are muscular. I come out at 30, which indicates obese, except I'm not - I've got big shoulders from literally thousands of pull-ups (I do 60-70 three times a week). The PE staff suggest this as a guide to fitness http://www.ntnu.edu/cerg/vo2max  I like the results - I'm 60 and it says that I have the average fitness of a 21 year old :)

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48 minutes ago, Lisa O`Brien said:

I remember many years ago reading Man United captain Bryan Robson's autobiography. [ Queued up to get him to sign it then asked him if I could give him a kiss and he said yes so I kissed him on his cheek. He was gorgeous] !!  Anyway, there were concerns at his first club, West Bromwich Albion, whether he was going to make it as a professional footballer because of his lack of height. I think he was 15 when he signed with the club, and had to move home and move in with an approved landlady who looked after him. The club gave her strict details of a very specific diet he had to stick to, to fill him out and increase the inches which were absolutely essential. Can't remember what he described having to eat now as I was 16 when I read it [ still have the copy, with his autograph in it somewhere in the house]. But lo and behold, he did grow a good few inches taller and gain weight also. Maybe that was always going to be his potential height anyway and the club knew this so it needed "bringing out" so to speak, I have no idea. So it might be a completely different scenario to Acuria. But i'm sure he grew about four inches altogether. [ Not for one minute suggesting a different diet will make you grow four inches of course]. But West Bromich Albion's nutritionist or whoever clearly knew what they were doing for him and it worked. Just looked him up on Wikipedia and while it didn't mention anything about him being short as a teenager it lists his full adult height as 5ft 11.

This is really interesting, my Dh was only telling me last night, how one of the most talented footballers in the world Messi was spotted for his amazing potential at a young age, but had a rare form of dwarfism, so was would be destined to be far too small to make a professional career from it as he would barely make 5 foot tall as an adult.  The club paid and successfully treated him with a growth hormone treatment and he grew to be very tall 5 foot 7!! Although you can still see Dh said it affected his body proportions and he still has very short limbs. 

 

Sorry to take off subject, I just found it an amazingly inspirational story! 

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27 minutes ago, Snowflake said:

This is really interesting, my Dh was only telling me last night, how one of the most talented footballers in the world Messi was spotted for his amazing potential at a young age, but had a rare form of dwarfism, so was would be destined to be far too small to make a professional career from it as he would barely make 5 foot tall as an adult.  The club paid and successfully treated him with a growth hormone treatment and he grew to be very tall 5 foot 7!! Although you can still see Dh said it affected his body proportions and he still has very short limbs. 

 

Sorry to take off subject, I just found it an amazingly inspirational story! 

That is really interesting, Snowflake. Back in Robson's day, so late seventies early eighties growth hormones wouldn't have existed I don't think, so they had to do it just with the appropriate diet alone. Amazing what they can do nowadays.

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Regarding menstruation, or lack of menstruation, this is a symptom of a body in starvation mode. Essentially, the female body needs a certain level of nutrition (including fat) in order to make the hormone oestrogen. This is the hormone that controls periods but also has implications for growth and bone density (which is why elderly women, who no longer make oestrogen, are more likely to have bone breaks).

 

If a female has a very low body fat percentage then the body tries to save energy and stops making this hormone, leading to periods becoming irregular (dismenorrhea) or stopping completely (amenorrhea). Bones and ligaments are more at risk of injury and some orthopaedic doctors link scoliosis in females (post puberty) to amenorrhea too. 

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Definitely agree with all the posters who advise you to talk to parents about worries like these. Its also important to see food as your friend and ally and to enjoy eating. There is really no such thing as 'healthy' and 'unhealthy food', its all about getting the  balance right . My dd's physio has advised her to follow the 80:20 rule, 80% of what she eats must be high quality nutritious food and the rest is up to her. She has a passion for pink doughnuts and that's absolutely OK. You might also want to get more involved in preparing and cooking meals if you have some time in your busy schedule at the very least it will come in handy if you do go away to train in a few years.

 

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1 - no putting on weight will not make you taller. Not eating enough can effect your growth and your health as a dancer though. My DD was still quite tiny at 14. I know when she was in year 9 they did a whole school photo and brought them out in height order and she was fifth from the end. She is now about 5'5" tall - most of her growth was in years 10 & 11, though steady and periods had started before she grew. This growth pattern was different to the rest of the family.

2 - putting on weight wont make your dancing bad. Not practicing, not listening to corrections, not trying that's what makes dancing bad. In any case, muscle weighs more and I think its normal to put weight on as your hours increase - but its muscle not fat.

3 - at 14 personally I don't think you should be watching what you eat. You should be aiming at a healthy diet yes, but a healthy lifestyle diet, not one that categorises food into good and bad or healthy and treats. The DD I mentioned above is a professional dancer and so are most of her friends. I think all of them would be horrified at the idea of no chocolate or no pizza. I think all of them moreorless follow the 80:20 rule mentioned by mnemo above. You have to get a balance. Incidentally, the book mentioned by piccolo is the one recommended to my DD when they studied nutrition for the dancer as part of their vocational training.

 

Like others, I think if you are concerned by your height, weight or diet, you should talk to your parents first off. Your health will always come first and ultimately you cannot achieve your dream of dancing professionally without it.

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There are height calculators on line. You input your parents heights your age weight etc and it will give you an approx adult height 

You need a healthy diet with all the essential vitamins in order to reach your adult height.

I have observed both my daughters go through changes at various stages. Changes from onset of puberty then again between 16 and 18. Both of them have totally different physiques and metabolism .

Try not to be too fixated on a certain food group , what starts as a healthy interest in food can soon become an unhealthy obsession .

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1 hour ago, Fiz said:

The Russian and East German Olympic teams certainly knew about growth hormones, Lisa. Many female gymnasts have told how they were doled out with their meals.

Oh yes of course Fiz. Forgot about that.

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24 minutes ago, HAIRBELLES said:

There are height calculators on line. You input your parents heights your age weight etc and it will give you an approx adult height 

You need a healthy diet with all the essential vitamins in order to reach your adult height.

I have observed both my daughters go through changes at various stages. Changes from onset of puberty then again between 16 and 18. Both of them have totally different physiques and metabolism .

Try not to be too fixated on a certain food group , what starts as a healthy interest in food can soon become an unhealthy obsession .

I became obsessed with dieting when I was dancing in Japan. I needed to lose about half a stone, that's all. [ The hotel's scales were in kilos]. Was dead pleased with myself when I lost a kilo. Then I looked in the mirror and thought, "I'll just lose another kilo". Lost that and felt on such a high. After a couple of hours of being elated that feeling wore off and I thought, "I'll just lose another kilo". And on and on it went. Thankfully my contract ended and I came home and my mum nipped it in the bud. I had lost a fair bit though and weighed seven and a half stones. My mum said to me, and she meant it, "If you don't stop dieting right now you can go and find somewhere else to live. I'm not going to see you slowly starve yourself every day". This did the trick. There was no way at 22 I wanted to move out and go and live on my own. Couldn't have afforded to anyway. I slowly started putting weight on and then spent years terrified of even going on a diet , even when I needed to, in case the same thoughts came back.

Edited by Lisa O`Brien
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Thank you for telling your story Lisa, and I'm glad there was a happy ending for you :)

 

A former colleague of mine decided to lose a few pounds so she could buy her dream wedding dress... and a few more pounds... sadly after years of battling she is no longer with us.

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