20 mins with ‘Hitch’

On June 20, 2012 ~ Ken Hitchcock won the Jack Adams Award for NHL coach of the year. Pictured with his wife Corina.

Pre-Game Skate ~ The Backstory.

Growing up in rural Ontario, nestled a house which included my sports-loving dad and two younger brothers…we would watch hockey every single Saturday night. Common to many hockey lovers, this was simply – a ritual.

Bowls of popcorn in hand, we cozied ourselves together as a fam, as we settled in for an evening in-front of the tube. Staring back at us, was the TV stand’s shelf that was lined and completely filled with the entire collection of Don Cherry’s Rock ‘em Sock ‘em hockey videos.Throughout these years, my brothers played competitive hockey.  Back in the day, my ability to list the names of professional players/coaches from various NHL teams, impressed many hockey fanatics and non-hockey breathing friends alike.  Not much changed when I got married.  My husband is a die-hard hockey fan as well.  He is keeping the dream alive, while playing in his Tuesday night men’s league and may or may not be known for yelling a few choice words here and there at the television as we tune into ‘Hockey Night in Canada’. As you can tell…hockey was…and still is a huge part of our life. Heck…we even met for the first time, while out watching the hockey playoffs at a neighbourhood pub. Read on as I express my gratitude for having the opportunity to chat with a very genuine, humble and honest man.

First Period ~ The Prologue.

Enough about me. This post is about Ken Hitchcock – 2012′s NHL coach of the year and Jack Adam’s award recipient, and his associated success of bringing a Paleo lifestyle into his world.

REWIND. STOP…and PLAY…back several months ago now. My husband and I were curled up on the couch watching television one evening and a TSN video clip came on. It was an interview with NHL’s St. Louis Blues Head Coach, Ken Hitchcock. We were glued to the screen, as he spoke openly and candidly about his struggles with weight/health issues and his new(ish) appreciation for CrossFit and the Paleo Lifestyle. Literally that evening, I posted a link to this video and another related article on my PALEOdISH Facebook page…and it turns out the 2nd person to comment on the link was (is)…Ken’s wife Corina!!!

My post on Facebook and follow up comments went like this…

Me: @TSN_Sports_Buzz – just watched an interview with @StLouisBlues coach Ken Hitchcock…and discovered he does #crossfit and follows a #paleo lifestyle. ‘it has already helped him take off 60 pounds and has left him feeling better than he has in years!’ SO WICKED!! YEAH! ♥

Corina: He has actually lost over 90#! We started crossfit together at Desert Crossfit in Palm Desert. We changed our nutrition in May of 2010 and haven’t looked back! #heismyhusband #lovesyourcoconutcurrychickensoup

Me: WOW!!! THAT IS INCREDIBLE! Ken Hitchcock is your husband? CONGRATS to BOTH of YOU on making such a wonderful life change!!! ♥ VERY INSPIRING! =D

Corina: Thanks! He is doing great! We wouldn’t be able to do it without blogs like yours. I have scooped many recipes from it and have developed a greater enthusiasm for cooking as a result! Paleo community rocks!

Me: Holy smokes…super flattered! THANK YOU for following my blog!! YES…you are right…the paleo community does ROCK! I have met and learned so much from so many fabulous people along my journey. I feel so fortunate!! Thanks again…PS – I remember you posted the comment about the link to my coconut chicken soup not working now! LOL =P

Corina: You know what is funny, is I went to make it the other day and it didn’t come up again. I was going to bug you again, but decided not to. I tried to do it from memory, but something was a bit off. Hitch liked it anyway, but you may need to check that. Next time I will copy it down! Keep up the creativity and the great work :)

Me: I pm’d you! =)

From there, Corina and I continued chatting back and forth via email. After several conversations…I asked her if she thought Ken (AKA ~ ‘Hitch’) would be willing and interested in taking part in an interview with moi. He agreed and guess what??? KEN HITCHCOCK PHONED ME!!! Yep…you heard me! One afternoon, while I was bringing in some groceries or putting away dishes (worst memory and all a blur!)…the phone rang…and I answered it. I think I picked up a little snippily (I thought it was a telemarketer HA!) and was totally embarrassed when I heard his voice and realized who it was. He asked if NOW was a good time?! The flustered and crazy spazz that I am…actually asked if he would be able to call me back! DOH!!!! Who does that? *facepalm* I think my giddiness got in the middle of my rational thinking here. On his end…he was totally ‘cool as a cucumber’ and replied with “sure…I will call you again in a couple hours after I get back from the rink!” When I hung up the phone, I felt fully silly and embarrassed. I finished doing what I was doing and had a chance to pull out the questions I had come up with and go over them. A man of his word…later that day…the phone rang again. Recognizing the number, I greeted him with a much more composed hello. And there began my ’20 mins with Hitch.’

Second Period ~ The Phone Interview. 

Me: How did you first hear about the Paleo type of lifestyle?

Ken Hitchcock: To be honest with you, we started doing CrossFit in the Palm Springs area in early 2010. Corina and I had been doing this for about 2 months or so I think, at which point Dr. Gundry came in to our gym to do a presentation related to health and wellness. During his presentation he introduced a ‘different’ sort of eating plan (to us), where he discussed the specifics of a Paleo/Primal lifestyle. He talked about turning off your genes through food. We then found Mark Sisson and he talked about something similar. From there, we were off and running! After all of this, we became really interested in learning more about Paleo…and decided to give it a try. The take home point here was that after we made it through the adjustment period, things got so much easier. After the first 3 weeks, it actually became ‘no big deal’. 

Me: What motivated you to make this incredible lifestyle change back in May 2010? 

Ken Hitchcock: Like I mentioned, while taking part as active members at our CrossFit gym, we attended a presentation on the Paleo lifestyle and from there made the decision to take part in a ‘Paleo Challenge’ with a group of people from this location. Following the decision to make the switch, many positive results followed. With a combination of exercise and healthy eating, I definitely saw initial changes in body composition, due to weightloss. I was able to lose weight, but importantly, this type of eating allowed me to actually sustain it – week to week, while keeping the weight off. 

Me: Since changing your lifestyle, what are the most noticeable benefits that you have seen/felt in yourself to date?

Ken Hitchcock: By making this change and eating right and exercising, I have eliminated the yo-yo notion that many people experience. I have been successful in building muscle mass. More than anything, both physically and mentally, I just feel healthier. I love feeling that increase in energy and that you don’t need a nap. There is just this ‘clear’ feeling, it is difficult to describe. I have also noticed that I haven’t had as many colds or allergy symptoms. I feel like I have so much more stamina too!  To sum it up – I feel like I am in the zone…and I don’t ever want to get out of that zone!!!

Me: What advice might you offer someone who is reading this, who may be wondering about the first steps in initiating change?

Ken Hitchcock: I feel like so many people think it is only about portion control, but it really isn’t. It is about fueling your body with nutrient dense foods. The last thing you want to do is feel as though you are constantly ‘taking things away’. I don’t feel deprived when eating this way, no one does. Instead it is more helpful to think about eating larger meals, while consuming foods that are going to leave you feeling satisfied and provide you with more get up and go. For me that is key.  Speaking to the benefits once again, I find I have much more energy and recovery has improved. I am sleeping through the night more often than not, and I am not relying on medication. I feel GREAT!  This whole thing has been such good experience form me. I don’t ever want to go back to the old way. I love this healthy lifestyle that we have started and I just want to keep going…

Me: While spending so much of your time with your ‘St. Louis Blues’ family, have any of the other coaching staff or players noticed your successes? If so, have they been intrigued to dabble in Paleo or give it a go themselves? 

Ken Hitchcock: Yes, some of the coaches that I work with have started a 30 day Paleo challenge and are making changes. We also do CrossFit together as well. Also, when we go on the road, everyone is very respectful of the way I eat and they actually tend to gravitate that way.  

Third Period ~ The Epilogue. 

Me: What would be your closing remarks on how to successfully implement a paleo lifestyle on the go?
Ken Hitchock: You have to be determined about what foods need to be eliminated from your thought process. Grains, processed foods and refined sugars for example. If you eliminate some of those foods, it becomes quite easy to be successful. When we are on the road it is actually fairly simple because our meals are set and you just make the appropriate choices. It’s a little different for me because I have the opportunity to be with the team, and meals as fuel are a priority. For me, I have to watch myself and be sure I don’t grab for things when I am frustrated or stressed. I know I have to be mindful with that, but for the most part, I do well there too.
 
*** Latest Update: I am continuing to do really well. At present, it is somewhat different because there are no highs and lows because of no NHL season! Overall I feel good. Just bored at times and I miss the competition. 
 
 
Overtime ~ The Shootout.
 
Bacon…YES or NO:  Yes, crisp!
Favourite Paleo meal: Chicken fried cauliflower rice
Most satisfying NON-Paleo treat: Ted Drewes frozen custard here in St. Louis
Favorite workout: Long chipper with rowing.
P.O.P (% on paleo): 90 %
The paleo lifestyle in one word: ENERGETIC!
Post Game Commentary ~ My thanks to Ken (& Corina too!)
 
For your time, I am so very appreciative and grateful. In a busy world, Ken and his wife Corina have been so down to earth, accommodating and a real pleasure to talk with and get to know. I continue to be flattered when I find out folks like you are enjoying reading blog posts on my site. That makes me smile. I am glad both of you are part of this incredible community. I really hope our paths cross in the future, as I would love to share more stories in the flesh. Until then…best thoughts and wishes are being sent your way for continued health, success and adventure! Here’s to hoping the NHL’s season will get underway in the next while, so we can see you in action! (fingers crossed) THANKS AGAIN!!!

Behind the bench. (May 5, 2012 - Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

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