I have something a little embarrassing to admit. Back when I first started playing girls hockey at the age of 13, I was about 6 inches shorter than I am now and weighed 10 pounds more (I am 5 foot 9 and 160 pounds). To be honest, I was a fat little square. Even though my McDiet led to me being 25 pounds overweight, it was still better than the alternative.
All through grade school and junior high, I was a complete tomboy. I must have played sports every minute that I wasn’t at school or sleeping. I may have been a natural athlete, but I wasn’t eating anything close to natural food.
The fact that I was 25 pounds overweight could have had something to do with the fact that I ate McDonalds every single day for lunch throughout grade 7 and 8. Every lunch-hour I ate a McChicken Meal with super-sized fries. Sometimes I got a chocolate fudge sundae too.
When I think back on it now, I cringe. But at that point in time, I didn’t know any better. The food tasted good (amazing how fat, sugar and salt do that) and I enjoyed eating it. And it wasn’t like I was eating healthy the rest of the time either. I am not sure I would have survived childhood if it weren’t for microwave dinners. On average, I probably ate one piece of fruit a day – a green apple. Almost everything else was processed, packaged and chocked full of the “tasty three” – fat, sugar and salt.
Back then, I was probably eating at least 3000-4000 calories a day of pure crap. I had never eaten a “healthy” diet, so I didn’t know that I could have felt and played so much better if I made healthier choices.
Until one day I made the switch.
After realizing that I could no longer get away with my natural athletic ability alone, I decided to quit the McDiet cold-turkey.
I went from McChickens and sundaes to wraps and salads.
I immediately felt so much better. I had more energy, I was able to focus more at school and at the rink and I didn’t have to deal with all the sugar highs and lows anymore.
But after about a month of my newer healthier way of eating, I felt awful.
I had no energy, I was getting injured all the time and I was grumpy all the time.
Back then, I couldn’t understand how eating healthy could make me feel worse.
Looking back on it now, I know exactly why it did.
I went from eating about 4000 calories a day of complete junk to about 1000 calories of high quality food.
The problem was that I wasn’t eating enough to give myself the energy I need to compete out on the ice.
To be honest, I was probably better off eating the McDiet – if only because it would have given me more fuel to get through the day.
Like many other aspiring female hockey players, I was playing 3 sports in high school, playing on two traveling teams for hockey and going to school all day. I was also doing off-ice training at least 3 days a week to try and get an edge on the ice.
I needed those 4000 calories to give myself the fuel I needed to focus and perform on and off the ice.
Now I am not suggesting that you run out and start eating McChicken meals before your next big playoff game.
But I am suggesting that you take a look at what you are eating on a day to day basis, and how much activity you are doing, and see whether you are taking in enough fuel to take your performance to the next level. The reality is that most young female hockey players don’t eat enough for the amount of activity they are doing.
Are you taking in enough of the right fuel to be the best female hockey player possible?
Work Hard. Dream BIG. Eat smart.
~ Coach Kim