U.S. men's hockey captain Zach Parise discusses his healthy lifestyle
On January 31, Minnesota Wild star forward Zach Parise was named captain of the 2014 U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team.
For Parise, 29, the appointment was not just a tremendous honor. It was also another major responsibility placed on his shoulders that already included being counted on as one of the top offensive players on a U.S. team for whom anything less than Olympic gold will be seen as somewhat of a disappointment.
Of course, these expectations are on top of those he is expected to deliver the Minnesota Wild, which he also balances with being a husband and father to two young twins, Jaxson and Emelia.
NBCOlympics.com recently caught up with Parise to discuss his responsibilities, how he manages them and how he maintains the sort of healthy lifestyle that will enable himself to function at the levels necessary to successfully fill all of the many roles he fills.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Zach Parise's career through the years
NBCOlympics.com: First off, congratulations on being named Olympic captain. It’s a huge honor. The world found out you were going to be the 2014 U.S. captain on January 31. When, and how, did you get the news?
Parise: I was told three days before they announced it publicly, so I think that was the 29th (of January).
We had an off day in Anaheim and we were eating some lunch. Coach (Dan) Bylsma called me and informed me.
NBCOlympics.com: It’s a big responsibility. How will you manage it on top of your entire list of responsibilities?
Parise: I think the biggest thing for me is to just be myself. They selected us to be captains and assistants for who we are and I don't plan on changing anything just because I have the “C” now.
NBCOlympics.com: When you get named captain, there is a certain amount of expectation placed on your shoulders. As it was, you were already expected to be one of the U.S.’ top players in Sochi, as well as to lead the Wild to the playoffs. With all of these things going on in your life, how do you budget your time?
Parise: The NHL schedule is compressed when it is an Olympic year, so it's important to find time for yourself away from the rink and clear your mind a bit.
For me now, I come home to two newborns and that consumes all of my time and lets me get my mind off of hockey – it’s refreshing.
NBCOlympics.com: Of all the things we’ve mentioned, we haven’t discusses your off-ice training methods. How do you fit going to the gym in with all of these other things? Or do you find that the amount of time you spend in the gym suffers during a long season?
Parise: For me, during the season, it's about maintaining what I did in the summer.
We train to last us from October through April, May or June, depending on the playoffs.
On off days, I just do 15 minutes of work, two or three times a week, to keep what I built up during the offseason.
Rest is important so I try not to overdo it in the season in the gym.
Photo: USA Today Sports
NBCOlympics.com: How about your diet? You’re in multiple cities per week, and almost everybody who travels could tell you how hard it is to eat healthy while traveling. What is your diet like?
Parise: My eating schedule is pretty basic.
On game days I have eggs and an avocado with some type of turkey bacon or chicken sausage.
Pre-game meals are always pasta, followed by a peanut butter toast snack before leaving for the game.
Non game days, I'm not too picky. Only for dinner on the night before a game, I like to have a filet with a small side of pasta.
I take a calcium supplement, vitamin D pills, and a vitamin B drink.
Postgame and workouts I drink chocolate milk.
My meal sizes are generally pretty big. During the season I tend to lose weight pretty easily, so I make sure I eat a lot to maintain my weight.
NBCOlympics.com: And I hear you have a soft spot for Chobani Greek Yogurt? What’s that all about?
Parise: My wife introduced me to it. I didn't know much about Greek yogurt until she started getting it at the store.
I usually eat some once a day or every other day.
We use it as a substitute for sour cream in a lot of meals that we make – especially tacos.
It tastes great – they have quite a few different flavors. There is a lot of protein in it, which is great for athletes when training.
NBCOlympics: Sounds like you have a lot of routines. At the Olympics, you’ll be in a country very different from your own, with a strange game schedule and game start times, and will be away from your NHL team that helps you maintain your routines. Are the foods you usually eat going to be available in Russia? Will you bring your own food? How will you adjust?
Parise: I don't plan on leaving the village much, so I’ll be eating whatever they have for us at the dining center in Olympic village.
Hopefully there is a big variety, because we will be eating there a lot.
We have some meals at the USA Hockey house, which will be good to switch it up.
I’ll bring some snacks and bars over, as well.
NBCOlympics.com: Okay, so you seem to have everything figured out on how to condition yourself. But, nobody’s “that” perfect. Come on, there’s got to be sometimes when you break your routine and splurge. What is your guilty pleasure?
Parise: Yes, I admit that I have a weakness for cookie dough! Also for vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.
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