It’s the day after Thanksgiving here in the US, and most of us are feeling bloated, fat, and mildly hungover. I seriously think I put on five pounds yesterday.
If I were still playing professional hockey (or college for that matter), that might be somewhat of a red flag. Player weight is monitored fairly consistently.
The process starts once you arrive at camp – since there’s no advantage to weighing in light, and some for weighing in heavy (after the summer it’s all muscle), the goal is to put up the biggest number possible. After all, that’s the number that goes in the program. It’s what scouts see, what opponents see, what the fans see.
Because of this, players do what they can to inflate that number on the day of weigh-in. They’ll drink gallons of water, eat as much as possible, and in some cases – some rare cases – sneak actual weights onto themselves. I have a friend who was drafted and monitored closesly by his NHL team, so to impress them with how hard he worked that summer, he strapped a five pound gym plate to his leg for weigh-in.
The only reason anything like that was possible is because teams want you to weigh in big too – there’s no advantage to having your players come off as small, so we were allowed to weigh-in in jeans and hoodies that year. How ridiculous is that?
After that, weekly weigh-ins are required to track any significant gains or losses. For the majority of guys, it was losses they were looking to find.
You work out for a living, whether it’s a game day, practice day or time in the gym. If you lose too much mass, you’re more prone to injury, more likely to start losing puck battles, and more likely to get sick. You could eat like Morgan Spurlock in Supersize Me during the season, and while your performance would suffer, it’s unlikely you’d gain weight.
Sadly though ”those guys” do unfortunately exist (unfortunate for them). ”Those guys” have the bad luck to draw genetic code that says they’re going to struggle with weight their whole lives.
As so, these folks become members of what’s usually called ”potato chip club” or “fat club” or something equally shaming, and their weigh-ins are crucial (think types like Byfuglien and Penner).
When you weigh in at the start of the season, they also take your body fat percentage. You can maintain the same weight for months on end, but if that percentage is climbing it means you’re losing a lot of muscle, and gaining a lot of fat. Potato chip clubbers have to have this taken more frequently, and usually have to do additional bike workouts after practice until they get under a certain number (whether it’s pounds or percentage).
Holidays like Thanksgiving are torture for those poor souls. “Yes, I’d love ice cream on my pumpkin pie, but if this scoop puts me back in Potato Chip Club I’m going to be one bitter pilgrim.”
All I know is, today’s one of those days where I’m happy to be behind a laptop, and not on a scale for a public shaming. Some weekly weigh-ins are worse than others, and the one after Thanksgiving? Never a pretty sight.