Although you wouldn’t read about it, making sure his customers get their news fresh off the press hasn’t come without some health sacrifices along the way for Maitland newsagent Rodney Porter. Working long hours and regularly eating takeaway food began taking a toll on the Thornton father-of-four who decided to take action and participated in Healthy Dads, Healthy Kids, where he lost more than 12kgs. The award-winning programme is a partnership between Coal & Allied, Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health, and the community. It’s being rolled out in communities across the Upper Hunter Valley, and runs for seven sessions over 12 weeks, focusing on weight loss, healthy eating, and physical activity sessions designed to help dads and their children bond.
Mr Porter, who has owned his newsagency for nine years, participated in the programme with his two older children Toby, 10 years old, and Tom, six. “I had got accustomed to taking the quick and easy approach with food. I start work around 4.30am every day and had got into the bad habit of eating on the run while driving around delivering papers,” Mr Porter said. “For breakfast I’d stop and have a pie or sausage roll, and at lunch time it would be a similar take away food. “I was starting to feel unhappy about my weight and it was only when my son brought home the brochure about the programme and asked me to do it that I felt motivated enough to take action.”
Mr Porter said he had a gym membership but never used it and many of the fathers at his son’s soccer games often talked about losing weight but didn’t do anything about it. “It’s funny because when I was doing the programme, some of my mates jokingly bagged me out for it, but when I started to lose weight some of their wives began nudging them to get involved too,” Mr Porter said. “Even though the programme finished about a month ago, I’ve remained conscious about what I put in my mouth and I make sure I get enough exercise and more time with the kids. “Now I go to the grocery shop and stock up on foods like cereals, yoghurts, and fruit for the week so that I don’t have to go out and buy food every day and it’s also saving money. “Also, instead of driving up each and every driveway to make my paper deliveries, I park at the end of the road and get out and walk. I’ve actually made a deliberate effort to increase my steps each day. “My family and kids are happier now because we play a lot more and do activities together like bike riding, walking, playing in the park, kicking the ball, and just bonding with each other.”
Healthy Dads Healthy Kids programme manager Dr Drew Miller said more than 25 dads and over 50 kids from Maitland had participated in the programme so far and it will come back to the city again.