John Jones once played rugby league for the Newcastle Knights. He has since returned to the Mannng Valley, where he know specialises in personal nutrition.
You once played front row for the Newcastle Knights. What brings you to the Manning Valley?
I left the Manning Valley in 1995 when I was 16 to play with the Newcastle Knights. I returned to Taree with my wife Bernie some 5 years later, after a house fire had gutted our home and destroyed most of our cherished possessions.
I can remember standing outside our home laughing in shock. Of course, this was a surreal experience, and I can still smell the stench of smoke as if it were yesterday. Out of tragedy came hope, when we returned to the Manning Valley to the support of family and friends. This has proved to be the magnet which attracted us back to this fantastic location.
> What is your fondest memory of your playing days?
While I loved the intensity of playing rugby league, I prefer to reflect on time with mates travelling to and from training. I was fortunate to car pool with two fantastic gents by the name of Steve Crowe and Brett Clements.
Steve Crowe is a passionately political individual and has a zeal for a particular political party – for which I did not share the same feelings. Our car trip was always memorable, and after many heated debates we would take the field with the camaraderie of brothers.
One aspect that fascinates me about a sport like rugby league is the ability for a very different group of individuals to mould into a team that can, when focused towards a common goal, achieve amazing feats.
> What do you enjoy most about living in the Manning Valley?
The Manning Valley is an area of opportunity, and I enjoy the pleasure of spending time with people who are meeting the challenges of today and looking to add value to other people living in the area. It’s interesting talking to friends my age about living in the Valley – it often brings about a less than positive response from them. Despite the fantastic beaches, the amazing landscapes and improving cultural aspects, there is a general feeling of apathy that if you decide to stay you are placing yourself at a disadvantage.
I have found this the opposite and have enjoyed a growing business by serving the needs of people living in the area.
Life can be extremely busy, and recently I had the pleasure of spending time camping with my family. I was impressed with how fortunate we are to be able to pack up and travel less than 15 minutes to surf at some exceptional beaches and then feed a group of wallabies with my two gorgeous children, Mikaela and Zachary.
At times the lure of big city lights becomes magnetic and the urge to move to a metropolis seems attractive, but there are few people who have the pleasure of living the lifestyle we take for granted here in the Manning.
> You are now an accredited nutritionist. How did this happen?
When I was playing rugby league with Newcastle, I went from a fairly lean teenager into a chubby front rower in less than twelve months. I can still remember going to school and bursting the seams of my uniform after gaining over twenty kilograms. Despite being extremely active, training in the gym twice a day, I was very overweight.
This led me to study nutrition, as I wanted to understand how the right food choices could improve my performance. The ability to transform myself through nutrition became my focus, and the benefits I found on the football field led me to spend the next four years at university to become a nutritionist.
My passion for helping people came about as a result of my study, and I believe that at no other time in history has my profession been as needed by people than today. As a nation we are said to be leading one of the most unhealthy lifestyles in the world.
This is driving much of the chronic health problems we face today, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
I was fortunate to be accepted to participate in further education and was awarded a scholarship to specialise in diabetes. This has allowed me to spend a great deal of time serving the people in the Manning Valley to better their health.
> What are the basics in your line of work?
I customise nutrition recommendations to a person’s lifestyle to get sustainable results. The problem with most diets are their short term nature and the ‘one size fits all’ approach they use.
Many diet programs give the same ‘off the shelf’ program to everyone else, without adapting to their needs.
After being in practice for over 10 years, I believe that a one size fits all approach does not work. Each person has a different set of metabolic, genetic and lifestyle factors that have to be considered when recommending an eating plan, and I have the pleasure of getting the right fit for my clients.
I spend most of my time educating about how the food choices we make affect our body, and much of my work is a learning process that I go through with my clients. I do a lot of research about what we eat, why we eat and the best way to eat, which helps my clients get sustainable results.
People who know me will tell you that I have a zero guilt policy when it comes to food, and I personally believe that a journey to a healthy lifestyle is about finding out what works, not about feeling guilty for eating.
> What are the biggest mistakes most people make when it comes to diet?
We tend to take nutrition messages from the media and immediately adopt them to our eating pattern, without questioning them or asking how it should fit into my lifestyle. Nutrition research is a challenging area to work in, because conflicting information is being published all the time. The main issue is that not all the information is suitable for every person, and not everything you hear is appropriate for you.
Our food supply has changed dramatically over the past twenty years, which has led to a number of chronic health problems. A good example is the recent changes in farming practices with grain fed beef and farmed fish. The amount of omega 3 fats in these foods are substantially lower than those found twenty years ago, and this may be contributing to some of our health problems today including depression, heart disease, arthritis and some cancers.
Over the past ten years there has been an explosion of new products on the market, and it has become increasingly difficult to make the correct food choices for our health needs.
Getting accurate information about the right products and deciphering the nutrition information on food packages is often the most difficult challenge of healthy eating today.
> What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Getting results! There is no greater joy than seeing someone turn around their lifestyle by making the right choices.
I find the relationship I have with my clients allows me to connect with them and travel the journey to living a healthier life. I guess this is summed up in my mission statement ‘eat right, have fun, live well’.
> Thank you John.