Getting your teenager to diet/lose weight

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by Pergamum, May 30, 2019.

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  1. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Ok, so I am built like a bear. I am not skinny, but have run long distances, to include a marathon and 25-plus mile hikes and have done some power-lifting.

    My son has the same broad frame. He is 75kg at 14 years old. In the gym he lifts more than almost all the Asian adult men here. BUT.....he is not skinny. He is what my dad called me at 13...."husky." Huge shoulders and chest, but also a little bit of width around the mid-section.

    He can go MMA rounds pretty well, and doesn't get gassed like some of the other guys. He trains MMA and jui-jitsu with adults and beats some of them (he embarrassed a middle-aged guy last month when he tried to throw my son and my son tossed him flat, instead). We also have him in boxing.

    ...but he jogs like a wounded water-buffalo.

    When I was 13, I was thick and strong, but chubby. By 14, I was lean and had my gym call me "the world's strongest 14-year old" and I was kick-boxing with adults. At 14 I started running long distances.

    I need advice. I don't want to shame him. But he often doesn't realize that he eats adult portions. I slapped food out of his hand last week and told him "Enough, already!" At 14 I worked out rigorously and last all the baby fat. But he seems more content. He trains and works hard, but he doesn't have the natural drive that I had to lose it. He works out 5 days a week, resting on Wednesdays and Sundays. But he still has the baby fat. I want it gone before he turns 15 in September.

    Any advice to help him lose weight? I am waiting for puberty to do its work and bulk him up. He did Arnold Presses tonight with me and tomorrow has a pro coach checking his deadlifts and squats again (he rounds his back when he is tired). I had him look through the book "Starting Strength" as well.

    Any advice on mentoring my son in "physical culture" and diet.
  2. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    My advice - lighten up. His biggest fault is probably in not having chosen parents with skinny body types.
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  3. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes, he looks like I did at 13. I just lost the baby fat sooner. I guess I had more outdoors and less computer games, though. Thanks.
  4. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

  5. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I agree, brother. I wouldn't be hard on him, but I would encourage healthy eating. Getting stuffed with veggies, fruits, lean meats, whole grains, etc., is much different than filling up on Little Debbies.

    The kingdom of God isn't a matter of eating and drinking, but it's important that his god is not food and drink. A good way to keep our delights in place under God is by fasting from those things for a time. If one can go without certain things they enjoy, this shows that idolatry is not a problem.
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
  6. LilyG

    LilyG Puritan Board Freshman

    I think if he could learn some basic science about fat storage, mainly that more carbohydrates > more insulin > more fat storage, he might be more inclined to a better diet.
  7. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    So that you could eat it yourself? :popcorn:
  8. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I don't know what to say, Perg. He sounds like he's in pretty good shape.

    But it did remind me of my best friend's little brother. We were all ranch kids, and my friend and I were right at around 175 and 5'11". We were strong and fast.

    His little brother was a pudge, maybe 5'4" at 14 and kind of heavy. Rolly-polly in fact.

    So let a few years go by and I was still 5' 11" and 175. My friend's little brother shows up at 6'3" and 200 pounds of lean muscle. I was glad he was good-natured and didn't retaliate for all the insults he suffered for being fat.
  9. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman


    When I was 15, I was like 5'4", 210 lbs - but not strong, just overweight.

    Puberty hit around 17/18, along with an inexplicable desire to start running, and by age 22 I was 5'10" and 165 lbs.

    The point being, puberty can do amazing things.

    However, we should be working out/eating right for the right reasons.

    When I was younger, I mostly did it in order to hopefully impress the girls. Yes, that is a motivation for guys - work out/get a good body to hopefully impress the ladies.

    However, notice how many guys let themselves go after they get married. This is actually sinful in my opinion. We should be trying to take care of our own bodies in order to honour the Lord - not mainly the ladies. When we are fit, alert, and healthy, it will help our relationship with our spouse and also enable us to minister well.

    Yes, I know this is easier said than done. And right now, I am 29 years old, and 5'10" and 195 lbs....a desk job and lack of exercise is a terrible combination.

    It's something to work on.
  10. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is true, but the opposing error must be guarded against--that fitness and health may become idolatrous. I've known a number of believers whose whole life seems to revolve around a "healthy lifestyle" and whatever health food/supplement philosophy they have bought into. Much of their budget and free time is taken up in that pursuit. For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

    While being morbidly obese is generally a sign of poor stewardship of one's own health, having a "dad-bod" may well just be the result of proper life priorities.
  11. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Watch Rocky III and put him on the Apollo Creed training regimen, and he’ll step in the ring faster, leaner, and stronger... with the hungry Eye of the Tiger... ready to take on Mr. T.
  12. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Of course, there is such a thing as marriage-ability and one's relational score increases if he is good-looking and in shape. People respect strong men more, anyway. Since he won't ever be rich, he needs to develop these others aspects to be able to choose a wife. Christians dismiss outward beauty and looks...but it is, indeed, important in a marriage. And AFTER marriage, we should work out to impress one lady at least. I am trying to lose some pounds for my wife, after all.

    More than anything I'd like him to have better eating habits than I developed. I ate like a horse, but always worked out like a horse, too. I could have done more to stay leaner instead of growing into the lumberjack burly look.
  13. BuckeyeGirl

    BuckeyeGirl Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with Edward. I just want to caution you that taking a harsh approach to your son's extra weight could backfire. I was always chubby as a kid. The combination of teasing/taunting from other kids and frequent suggestions about losing weight from one of my parents lead me to develop a seriously unhealthy relationship with food. I bounced between starvation diets and overeating. Some of my friends had similar experiences.

    Abuse of food ultimately finds its root in personal sin, but other people's actions can make life harder for someone struggling with gluttony. I was blessed with wonderful parents who love me, and I know that the comments about my weight were motivated by love and concern. I know the same is true about your concern for your son. But, insisting that your son lose a certain amount of weight by a deadline is probably not the best way to care for him.

    Now as for advice about helping him. First, his biggest issue is probably diet and not exercise. Losing weight is about calories in vs. calories out. A sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy and will lower the metabolism, which affects the "calories out" part of that equation. But, it sounds like he is fairly active.

    I would suggest modeling healthy eating habits to him and limiting the availability of "junk" food around the house. Maybe help him figure out what his daily caloric needs are. Focus on his overall well-being rather than solely on his weight. Another suggestion: make sure he is drinking enough water. I've found that when I'm not drinking enough water, I crave more food. Sometimes just drinking a glass of water will take away my craving!
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  14. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Doctor

    As if that were actually up to you.

    Are you trying to reproduce yourself in him? To turn him into a younger version of you? That will probably backfire, as someone else has already said.

    Yes, he probably should eat healthier (we all should). But, if you try to bully him into doing what you want, it could build up resentment in him and he might (even unconsciously) eat more and/or worse just to defy you.

    Take it easy on the kid. Be encouraging, and try to be more positive in how to relate to him and to his health and weight. No more slapping food out of his hands - all that will do is humiliate him and possibly make him feel resentful.

    You are already who you are. Give him the chance (and the respect) to be who he is.
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    We have a culture that coddles kids. If your kids grow up too fat to do anything, that is on the parents. Loving parenting means giving your kids the tools to have a long and healthy life. Part of that is discipline to eat well and exercise to avoid health and emotional problems later.
  16. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Looks of course play a role in marriage and dating.

    But the thing is, your son is 14, and hasn't even come close to growing into a man yet. I would be more concerned with his emotional and spiritual health at this point.

    Do your best to encourage healthy habits but at the same time, realize that in two years there could be a world of difference, simply due to the natural order of things (hormones, growth, etc.).
  17. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Be careful that when you push back against culture, you don't push back too far the other way.
  18. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes. Thanks. I am trying to figure out what is the best route. The West is overly soft in our generation. But the Spartans were not a godly people, either. He does his school okay, has read some of the classics with me, can hike for hours through jungle, is scuba certified, beats adults at MMA.... yet, can't put his socks up and goes out of the house without brushing his hair, and sometimes eats a whole plate of bacon by himself.
  19. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    Sounds like he is still a kid.

    But he has a good father, and that will do wonders.

    Little life lessons like being respectable in appearance are things you can teach him as they come up, and he will learn them in time.

    14 is still quite young.

    As for eating a whole plate of bacon...

    I am really glad that the ceremonial law is over...

    But that does seem excessive, haha. Gluttony is a sin, and if you can steer him away from it, then you are saving him from harm. But try and engage him intellectually at first, then firm up as required. Talk to him about the sin of gluttony, and go over the scripture with him, and watch the Holy Spirit work.
  20. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Thanks. I guess 14 is young. I keep thinking, "only 4 years until 18....adulthood" and that seems very close at hand. The clock is ticking for me to get him functional and independent in the real world.
  21. De Jager

    De Jager Puritan Board Freshman

    To be sure, I think it is a great thing that you are training him to be a man early.

    Our culture turns people who should be men into perpetual teenagers.

    See multiple Paul Washer rants on this very topic.
  22. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Weight loss is a matter of taking in less calories than you burn. People would be shocked by what the difference is in calorie intake between maintaining x lbs and maintaining x minus ten lbs. The daily caloric intake difference is negligible. Let’s call it 50 calories per day. The question is, how quickly do you want to get to x minus ten.

    Each pound, by a general rule, is 3000 calories. To lose ten, one would have to cut back 30,000 calories from the calorie intake needed to maintain one’s current weight. By cutting back 82 calories per day, one will lose ten lbs in a year, (30,000 / 365 days). 164 calories, ten off in 1/2 year. Once you hit the target weight, caloric intake maintenance is that negligible amount, in this example 50 calories per day. The steeper the slope, the quicker you’ll get there. Once you’re there, your intake will be higher than it was to get there.

    These rules of thumb are extremely accurate. There are calculators on line that are helpful. Also, cutting back is easier than exercising it off, but a combination is good.

    That said, if your son has a crappy diet, I’d try to keep it on a spiritual level. Good stewardship of the body etc., but without making the body an idol. Gluttony is of course sin. Not eating and drinking to the glory of God is also sin. The undue delay of marriage is sin, so in that regard single folk should consider making themselves attractive to some degree.

    The key is, keeping it spiritual but being deliberate and disciplined, which is always under good regulation.
  23. gjensen

    gjensen Puritan Board Freshman

    He will be fine. Your good example is important.

    Concerning diet, at this point in his life, that is up to you. You can set the parameters and guard the boundaries without a lot of extra fuss. If there is a lot of extra fuss, there is something wrong, and usually, it is not the minor that is the problem.

    It is important to maintain balance. It is good to teach them to care about their fitness while guarding against vanity. When it is all said and done, a few extra pounds will be the least of your concerns. I promise.

    I had a hard time remaining balanced. For a period of time in my life, I pushed my sons too hard. Especially concerning work, which was an idol of mine. Then with that regret, I repented and went the other way. It was always a push and pull for me. I was a bad example of this.

    In my home, we had children I adopted and children that were genetically similar to me. I am tall and slim. Two sons, in particular, was the medium height with a heavy build. Similar to yourself. They have to work at their weight and the rest of us do not. I taught them that there were advantages and disadvantages to the different body types etc.

    Our appearances were never on my mind. It would never be. We worry too much about this in the West. Everyone else will worry about it enough for us. I am only concerned about their health, both physical and spiritual.
  24. nickipicki123

    nickipicki123 Puritan Board Freshman

    How's his diet?
    My parents helped me lose weight and I was a teenager. The biggest help they gave me was learning how to eat healthy. They cooked healthy food and did not allow "junk" in the house. I also used an app to log my meals so that I could see what I was eating. Helping him learn to read nutrition labels and figure out what food is healthy would be good for any teenager, not just one struggling with weight.
  25. nickipicki123

    nickipicki123 Puritan Board Freshman

    Also my dad and I exercised together and the whole family ate healthy. It became something we could bond over.
  26. LongWar

    LongWar Puritan Board Freshman

    I didn't read all the replies, but my BLUF advice: Eat what you want him to eat. Get sugar out of your house, along with most carbs. Proteins, green veggies, and fats only (legit fats that come from animals, not trans fats). If you have it in the house for you, he's going to eat it and you're going to damage your relationship by being hypocritical. I gain and cut weight regularly. Check out the keto diet. I cut 20+ lbs on it 3-4 times a year.
  27. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I would not worry about it for now. He has a lot of growing to do the next few years. My son went through a similar phase, but when he hit the later teens, he stretched out and toned up. It sounds like he has the diet and exercise habits down which you taught him. If he still has a problem around 18-20 years old, that may be the time to start encouraging dietary changes.
  28. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Yes, we eat fairly healthy. There is NO sugar in the house at all. We exercise together with the kids. His portions are just huge. He mostly eats good stuff...but just a LOT of it. He doesn't seem to realize just how much food it is.

    We have started him on skipping breakfast some mornings (a little keto) and weighing about every 3rd day. He hates to jog but he will spar mma and jui-jitsu just fine for a long time.
  29. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    Eating slower might help - stretch out the meals time wise, so he has an opportunity to feel 'full' before he eats as much.

    A really, really, bad move. If you are going to skip a meal, breakfast shouldn't be it.
  30. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Millenials have turned skipping breakfast into "intermittent fasting; haven't you heard? :)

    Yes, good idea about slowing down the pace of eating. I eat too fast also, and I am sure he learned that from me.
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