Workplace Wellness, Fatigue Prevention, Health Education


Have Pottenger’s Cats arrived in Human form?

Perhaps you are not aware of the studies conducted by Dr Francis Pottenger back in the 1930’s. Taking over his father’s Tuberculosis Research facility, Pottenger was distracted from his usual research by an unlikely discovery. This discovery lead him into a 10 year research program that revealed startling results.

Pottenger was conducting studies on cats, researching his father’s theory that Tuberculosis was caused by adrenal deficiencies. As part of the research it was important that the cats, as test subjects, consumed a consistent and balanced diet, according to relevant theories at the time regarding feline nutrition.

The cats were fed a diet of cooked meat scraps, organ meats, bone, raw mild and cod liver oil.

At a point where the cat population in his holding pen began to outgrow the food supply, additional food was brought in from a new source. These cats were fed raw meats instead of cooked meats. Over time, Pottenger noticed a marked difference in many health markers in these cats. This intrigued him so he decided to develop a completely separate study.

He separated the cats into groups and fed them differing diets from fresh raw meat and milk in one group, right through to a diet of cooked meat and sweetened condensed milk at the other end of the spectrum.

What prevailed was stunning. The cats consuming the raw diet, remained strong, were energetic and active, were interested in things and explored, gave birth to healthy off spring and showed general signs of strength and robust health.

The other cats in the study began to deteriorate. They were weaker, smaller and less active and energetic. Some even failed to land well on their feet when thrown a short distance. As the cats bred, the new generations began showing significant signs of weakness and deformity. Reproductive habits reduced, still births became common, changes in bone structure abounded, tooth and gum disease were almost normal and the cats were often anxious and reactive.

Pottenger’s study revealed was that as the species moved away from a natural diet toward a more processed diet, the health of the animal deteriorated and that deterioration was passed down to following generations.

I got interested in this yesterday as I was talking to an AFL Senior Coach. He is an interesting guy who likes to explore all facets of the preparation of his athletes. He said to me that he felt this generation of young footballers was not as robust as those in the past. He said that whilst they arrive at his club with talent, there is so much they lack and the work that goes into turning them into footballers is costly and time consuming.

He lamented that when he first started in the system, young blokes would arrive, already strong and tough, with incredible natural agility. They could kick with either leg, stood up easily to the intense physical contact of the game, and pretty much arrived at the club ready to go for it and play at the top level. And he said that it was a great deal more physical back then, in fact it was violent. And I agree with him.

He said he felt that it was because kids are so wrapped in cotton wool these days and don’t get outside and “ go for it” after school and on weekends. He said they sit at home because parents feel it is too dangerous to go outside without supervision. Schools have reduced physical education in place of maths and science and in general, the kids grow up without the battle hardening of an adventurous childhood and youth.

I am inclined to agree with him and his viewpoints warrant some investigation. But then I also remembered Pottenger and thought to myself that maybe we are already seeing the genetic developmental drop off resulting from a highly processed diet.

When I was a kid in the 60’s, we got to drink soft drink about once every fortnight, and it was one glass. Kids now, and for several decades, have been consuming it daily, in large quantities. As kids we lived on a farm and drank raw milk. For decades now kids have been drinking pasteurised milk, often with added flavours and sweeteners.

So much food is processed and now so much of the meat that people eat is far from the natural grass fed, free range flesh eaten years ago.

But I suppose we can never really know for sure. It will all just be observation. Cats have a shorter life cycle and over 10 years we can observe and simply assess many generations. With humans, it is a little more challenging.

The closest we can come to a real life human observation is the work done by Weston A. Price who observed the health decline of indigenous populations when they moved away from their traditional diets and lifestyles and began following a modern western way of living. His studies revealed significant and wholesale degradation of health and general wellbeing.

So perhaps our kids are not as robust as prior generations? But what do we do about it now?

I guess the belief that we are an aging population living longer than ever before takes our attention off such things. But, I am afraid that is not a fact, just a sales pitch designed to sell a whole lot of political and commercial agendas.

Perhaps the best way to describe Australians today is “Too rich, too comfortable, too fat, too lazy, over fed and under nourished and living in still trying to convince ourselves we are as tough as the Anzacs”.

And only one part of this causes me irritation. There are passionate, interested, courageous and dedicated parents out there striving to change things for their kids and the get attacked for their efforts. Maybe f we took time to get interested in what they are saying, many more could become inspired, could learn and could lend a hand in changing the status quo.

After all, who is going to fund the healthcare in the future?

 Watch the Pottenger Cats Video….






Let’s Get the Ladies on Board

Let’s Get the Ladies on Board

Retrace: Back in 1980, I started work at Melbourne’s most up market and luxurious Health Club in South Yarra, The Ultimate Sporting club. The who’s who of society went there, from Barry Humphries to Sam Newman and from Andrew Peacock to visiting artists like James Taylor and Billy Joel.

But the most impressive person I ever met there was Sue Gooding. She worked with us for a while as a Gym Instructor. She was perhaps the most beautiful looking woman I had ever seen, was extremely kind, smart and gentle and was also a former Canadian Women’s Olympic Gymnast. But the thing that got me most was that she was also the Captain of the Canadian Women’s Rugby Union Team.

Girls FootballIn 2001, I was living in Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula. That was perhaps one of the best places I had ever lived. Being a person who likes to get amongst the community, I joined the local football club and played a couple of seasons, and also joined the Management Board of the Red Hill Recreation Reserve. It was a big gig because we had lots of facilities, Senior and Junior Football Clubs, Senior and Junior Cricket Clubs, a Tennis Club, the Red Hill Market and the Red Hill Show as regular users.

At the time, a memo went out from the local football league, seeking to urge the football clubs to start Netball teams for the ladies in the area. The league thought this would be a good way to get more women involved in the football clubs and as a consequence, strengthen the clubs financially.

I read the email and sat dumbstruck for a few moments. Of course, all the Netball keen women in the area already had their teams. Why would they abandon those just to play for a team established by the football club? The delusion and arrogance in the memo was quite shocking.

But the message was clear. The clubs needed to find a way to get more of the local ladies involved. When you get more women at social functions and games, you get more men. The whole thing sprouts wings from there.

So this floated around in my mind. You see, I am a true believer that sports clubs are an essential part of a community. They bring people together. The nurture friendships, common interests and provide those who need it an opportunity to serve; to make a contribution. Along the way, young adults can learn values through their participation in the game and the club.

During that year, my youngest daughter Toneya, took an interest in Football. She had a male teacher who loved the game and he entered a girls’ team in a lightning premiership. 10 Primary schools on the Peninsula sent a girls football team to play in the event.

Toneya was sick all week with the flu, really sick, but she was determined to play. The team needs me to be there she lamented. So on Friday morning she dragged herself out of bed and we headed for the oval.

Now I knew Toneya was a good athlete. She is small, but loves to train and is a very good netballer. At 12 years of age, she was searching for a sport she could make her own. Something awesome was about to unfold.

Over the next 80 minutes, I watched these young ladies go at it with as much ferocity as the boys would. They ran, bumped, marked, kicked, crashed through packs and took to the game like ducks to water. And Toneya, well, in that period of time, she kicked 20 goals.

As I watched, I remembered the memo from the football league. “This is it” I thought, “I am watching the future of local football. If these young girls keep playing, and why wouldn’t they, in 8 years we will have a women’s team playing at the Red Hill Football Club, and the other clubs in the league.”

So I flipped open my phone and rang David Parkin. “David, let me tell you want I am looking at right now.” I went on and explained the scene. I then told him about the memo and my vision for the future.

David is a smart guy who loves football and is passionate about people. He said, “Give me 5 minutes and I will ring Laurie Woodman” who was heavily involved in Football Administration at community level for the AFL.

David rang back and said, “Laurie is arranging a meeting with Mick Daniher at The Victorian Metropolitan Football League. He wants to know if we can come in next Wednesday.”

When I got home I rang an old friend Julie Henry who worked at GP Bates Advertising. They had the AFL Account and I asked her if she could mock up some promotion for women’s football. My goal was to get an under 13 girls competition going for the next season.

The Victorian Metropolitan Football League meeting was great. They decided to fund a female field officer and all looked well. But then the bombshell dropped a few weeks later. They had decided in all their wisdom to establish an Under 17 competition up in the city.

Now this was the very same year 3 young girls had been told they had to stop playing in an under 13 competition because administrators thought they should no longer be matching it with the boys. Under 13 was the exact target age group. From there, start an Under 15’s next year and in 2 more years start under 17’s.

Not one of those young girls who played that day went on to play competition football.

An opportunity went begging. Football and community level could have been very different by now. Is it too late to resurrect the idea? I do not know.

But the one thing I do know, young girls love playing football. Rugby and soccer are wide open for women. What is wrong with AFL?

Tossing the Ball Around

Tossing the Ball Around

It is August 19th, 2013, and I am very excited this morning. I am sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Hamilton in New Zealand. Last night, the All Blacks gave the Wallabies a bit of a spanking, but I am excited.

Did you see the game? Maybe Rugby Union is not your cup of tea, and that is ok. I can forgive you for that. But having been born and partly raised in Queensland, it is in my blood.

I feel like, for the first time in a very long time, the shackles have come off the Wallabies. They stopped being so dour in defence and started to throw the ball around. Their play was exciting, adventurous and they took chances.

They made some mistakes that the All Blacks capitalised on, but they didn’t go into their shells. They just kept at it, running the ball and throwing it around, taking risks.

And the amazing effect was that this seemed to free up the All Blacks as well and they started to play an even more positive brand of Rugby. The game was thrilling and spectacular.

Wait till the Wallabies settle into this new style of play. They will give the World Cup a real shake in 2015.

But, that is not the main source of my excitement. It demonstrates to me a shift in attitude at the pointy end of this country. The Australian Rugby Union is not the government but they still hold our hearts in their hands. Perhaps Cricket Australia is learning this too.

See, I have had this feeling of dismay for so long about the decisions being made in the top end of town. The world economy has been struggling for a long time and the best strategies our corporate leaders can think of is to shut down on spending. They are playing a defensive game and it is killing so many other areas of the economy.

What would happen if they took a different viewpoint and took some risks and started to spend, become ambitious and bold. There may be some different results.

Small businesses depend on big businesses spending money. When big businesses go into “spending shut down” mode, they still make big profits. But, those profits end up in company savings or in the pockets of shareholders and very little of it creeps out into the economy.

Small and medium businesses then tend to follow suit and zip up their wallets and purses and everything slows to a crawl. Then we look at Governments and say they are not doing enough.

This fear based mindset makes a recession more real and keeps it frozen in place, as opposed to building our way out of it.

Economic slow-downs have a huge negative impact, not just because people lose their jobs or because small businesses fail, but also because there is less revenue going into essential community services and many of societies normal support structures begin to break under the strain.

So, let’s bring this back into our own lives. What are we doing? Are we playing it safe like the Wallabies have been, or are we prepared to take a risk and throw the ball around a little?

Are we stopping spending “just in case”, or holding back on more speculative investments, or even holding off on going into the business we always wanted to start….because the time is not right?

Are we investing in the shares of the big companies who are putting the brakes on and sucking the life out of the economy so we can get safe returns? If we are, it could be argued that we are part of the problem.

Are you buying cheap food to save money or are you going for good health and wellbeing and buying the good stuff, and in doing so, supporting positive industries and food suppliers?

This probably all comes back to us shifting our perspective from “What can I get?” to “What can I give?” When you step up and do your bit to make the economy grow, you are making a huge contribution to the lives of others. And you don’t have to spend money with the big corporates who are cutting costs and hording wealth either.

This fits in perfectly with a piece of advice Greg Norman once gave me. I asked him about some of the outrageously risky shots he used to take, like a One Wood over the trees on a par 5 dog leg at Huntingdale. He said to me, “My first obligation is the fans. They come to see exciting golf. So, that is what I give them. If I win too, that is a bonus.”

So, is the world seeing your most exciting gifts right now?

John Toomey