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Me and my health: Belfast Giants player Colin Shields

By Helen Carson

The 36-year-old is an ice hockey player with the Belfast Giants. He is originally from Scotland but now lives in Dundonald with his wife, Claire, where he runs his own gym Total Performance Fitness.

Do you take regular exercise - and if so what?

I started playing hockey in Scotland but then got the chance to play in both Canada and the United States, where there are more opportunities, so I have always trained regularly. Playing ice hockey is my number one priority and, as an athlete, I have to stay in shape. Because I play ice hockey at such a high level, I take my training very seriously, both in season and off. I have been with the Giants for eight years now and we practise everyday, in addition to two or three games a week with one day off. I am also responsible for my own off-ice training, which means hitting the gym three times a week doing mostly weights to maintain strength. In the summer I train harder - four days a week, again a lot of it involves weights and conditioning. During the season we all work on speed, agility and power. As a personal trainer I have to be fit, too.

What's the worst illness you've ever had?

I had chickenpox when I was a child, but that's all. I've been very lucky.

How healthy is your diet?

Because I play so many matches it is important to take care of myself and that includes what I eat, so my diet is good. While I have to watch my carb intake, after playing matches three days in a row I can pretty much eat what I want. After that it is all about lots of protein to help my body recover from the pounding it has taken on the ice. It has to be a healthy balance.

Any bad habits?

I drink too much coffee. I am always drinking it before a game and after a game, but I am trying hard to drink more water.

Do you drink and/or smoke - and if so how much?

I do have a drink once a week usually at the weekend when I head out with the guys at the Giants. We go for a few beers, but nothing crazy. None of us can drink too much alcohol as we are athletes and it would be bad for our training and our game.

Do you take supplements?

I take a mix of vitamins including zinc and magnesium and a green supplement - it's a pill to get lots of greens into you. While I try hard to eat plenty of veg, sometimes I just don't have enough time with my training. It's great for giving you a boost.

How do you take time out?

I like to relax at home with Claire. We have just got a dog - he's a pug called Norman - and we like to take him out for a walk to the park. He loves getting out for walks, but he likes sleeping, too. The two of us go up to Coleraine to visit Claire's parents - it's nice to just chill out there.

How well do you sleep?

I wish I slept better. I like taking naps and although I get off to sleep easily, I tend to wake up in the middle of the night. I am a restless sleeper. If I am thinking about something I will wake up.

Do you worry about getting old?

I worry about the time when I won't be able to play my sport. There will come a time when ice hockey won't be my first priority. Thankfully, I have the gym, which I opened a year ago, and I have been building the business up. I will have, at least, two more years of playing ice hockey.

What is your go-to product/habit that keeps you feeling healthy?

I found a really good protein shake a few years ago which I have after every match. It really helps my body to recover after the intensity of a game. It is a 2:1 carb and protein mix with amino acids and creatine and makes a huge difference post-match.

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