COLORADO SPRINGS -- When Taylor Greenfield told her parents that she wanted to hire a personal trainer, her mom, Angie Greenfield, was suspicious.
Taylor, the 6-foot-2 guard from Huxley, Iowa, who is ranked No. 23 in the 2011 class by ESPN HoopGurlz, didn't need to lose any weight off her lanky frame. So why would she ask her parents for a personal trainer, someone known for helping people peel away pounds?
Turns out, Taylor didn't want to lose weight -- she wanted to gain it. When Angie heard this, she breathed a sigh of relief.
Last week at the national team trials for the U17 and U18 USA basketball teams at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., big-time changes in a variety of players' bodies were noticeable. Greenfield had packed on about 10 pounds of muscle since last summer's trials, and a few players had dropped 10 pounds or more. It caused conversation amongst spectators and coaches. But in the world of teenagers, where being skinnier than the next girl is hailed a victory, the conversation about healthy weight and body image is a slippery slope.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, as many as 10 million females are "fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia." It is estimated that 80 percent of American woman are dissatisfied with their appearance, and studies have shown a dramatic rise in eating disorders among girls age 15-19. Those are scary statistics for any parent with a daughter.
"We were very conscious of her wanting to do it for the right reasons," Angie Greenfield said. "It was never about getting skinny, it was always about getting stronger. It's not about, 'Do these jeans that fit me last year still fit me this year?' "
Taylor, who was listed at 155 pounds on the trials roster, says she's too busy running around playing basketball, working out and going to school to worry about what comes up on the scale each week.
"I've always wanted to play in college and, knew that if that's what I want to do, I need to add muscle," said Taylor, who started a serious weight-lifting regime last summer and has added definition. "I put all my time into (basketball); I'm not gonna worry about what size I am."
But even with that attitude, Taylor admits that she is susceptible to the comments of other girls her age. She says it's the worst when she goes out to eat with friends. Taylor, who burns hundreds of calories in the gym each day, usually opts for a grilled chicken sandwich and side of veggies when she's at a restaurant. More often than not, her friends will sit and eat nothing. Taylor just rolls her eyes.
Not eating is not an option for Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, the No. 2 prospect in the 2011 class. Just like Greenfield, Mosqueda-Lewis burns too many calories to go on some sort of crash diet. But at the end of her high school season with Mater Dei, Mosqueda-Lewis made a decision: She would get in better shape in the offseason, and it would start with slimming down.
"I want to lose weight because I know it will help my game," Mosqueda-Lewis said. "It'll only make me better. I'm not concerned about image."
To start, Mosqueda-Lewis and her dad, Khairi Ali, set a goal. Kaleena believed she could lose 20 pounds off her 6-foot frame if she really tried, and Ali agreed. Then they decided to go about it an unconventional way -- Kaleena would start doing P90X, a new workout program that's growing in popularity.
On its website, P90X guarantees to "transform your body from regular to ripped in just 90 days" and includes workouts of all kinds. It's worked for Kaleena -- she dropped at least 20 pounds since the regular season ended in March -- she was listed on the trials roster as 6-foot and 165 pounds -- and thinks she could still drop a few more. And though Ali has encouraged her along the way, Kaleena says she's never felt the push from either of her parents to fit a certain mold.
"Just the way they go about it, I don't feel pressure," Kaleena said. "It's good because my dad and I, we go to the gym together and he pushes himself and that helps push me."
Betnijah Laney never planned to lose weight; it just happened. In fact Laney, the No. 12 prospect from the 2011 class, didn't even notice she had dropped more than 20 pounds until she went shopping one day and realized she could fit into a medium shirt.
"I wasn't trying to do it, I was just working out," said Laney, who admits that she cut out fast food and sweets from her diet at the behest of her mom, who worried more about her nutrition than shirt size.
The new eating routine has brought along a permanent change, too: Laney says, "I don't even like McDonald's now."
Barbara Nelson, the U17 national coach, said she noticed the change in bodies at the trials, and was happy to hear none of the players did it with fad diets or too many workouts. In 20-plus years of coaching, Nelson has seen what peer and media pressure can do to a young woman's self esteem, and says she's always mindful of approaching talks about weight in the right way.
"You talk to them about their health and nutrition and how the body works," she said. "If you do that kids can change their bodies over a period of time instead of extremely rapidly.
"If you just speak to kids about their weight you could open the door for a problem."
Nelson likened caring for one's body to caring for a car -- maintain it the best you can so it will run for as long as it can. For cars that means oil, tune-ups and regular tire rotation. For bodies, it means lots of fruits and vegetables, regular workouts and the knowledge that no two people are going to look exactly alike.
"It's about how to get the best out of them, your body, your car," she said. "I think you can do it without even discussing weight. When I've talked about it with players, I've stayed away from poundage as much as I could."
While Mosqueda-Lewis, Greenfield and Laney all insist they aren't obsessed with their waist size or being as skinny as the girl next to them, Mosqueda-Lewis admits she does have a goal.
"Man, I'm just trying to look like Andraya Carter," Mosqueda-Lewis said with a laugh, referring to the 2012 5-foot-8 point guard from Flowery Branch, Ga.
To be clear, Carter would not be considered skinny; she would be considered ripped.
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Lindsay Schnell is a staff writer for HoopGurlz.com. A graduate of Oregon State University, she has been involved in the Oregon girls' basketball community for most her life as a player, high school coach, writer and fan. She also has been regular contributor to The Oregonian and won several awards for her writing. She can be reached at email@example.com.