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On the Edge of Men's Health: Scott Jacks and the Founding of Goodness Me!

On the Edge of Men's Health: Scott Jacks and the Founding of Goodness Me!

The story of Scott Jack's fight for his health, and the subsequent founding of Goodness Me!, starts with another man: his father.

"When my father was 11, he was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes," says Scott. "My grandmother was called into the doctor's office a lot, and they said that if she took him home and essentially starved him, that he might live a year." Back in 1925, the discovery of insulin was only 4 years old, and the first successful clinical trial occurred in 1922. The common management instructions you'd hear from a health practitioner today - a healthy diet and exercise combined with insulin- weren't usually offered, because the cause of diabetes wasn't widely known in the first place. "There was no magic potion back then." All most doctors knew about diabetes was that sugar exacerbated the condition, so many put their patients on starvation diets that reduced their sugar intake. This was still a popular recommendation when Scott's father was diagnosed.

While Scott's father lived long enough to see him marry Janet, his battle with diabetes took a lot out of him. "He lived to the age of 56. I was 24, and Janet and I would go to the hospital and the house to visit him. We watched my dad die over a long period of time. Ample suffering, leg amputation, heart attack, at one point his kidneys stopped." Even with the discovery of insulin, the suffering of diabetics was not erased. Doctors had a lot to discover, and the dietary guidelines just weren't doing it. Scott's dad did what he was supposed to, and still suffered all the consequences of diabetes. There had to be a better way. 

1972 was momentous, and not just with the death of his father and the Summit Series ("he definitely watched it from heaven!"). That same year, he was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes. After witnessing the traditional methods fail his father, Janet and Scott were determined not to let him suffer the same.

"Janet has a bigger brain than I do," says Scott. "She just absorbed the situation, standing back and taking it all in. She read, studied and interviewed everyone she could to find out how to control blood sugar and stay healthy." Back in the Seventies, "fast-acting" insulin would take eight hours to kick in, so if blood sugar was high, it would take a long time to come back down. Their methods took on a "guinea pig approach", with Scott as the subject: trying new recipes and healthy eating strategies, they measured their success based on how Scott felt. "We were lead by how it was all affecting me." 

Solutions took a lot of time to develop. "Janet did a lot of independent research, and she digs deeply, continuing even after she hits bottom." He made subtle changes in his nutrition, and as a banker in Hamilton, his briefcase lunches of healthy food like tofu would often turn heads in the traditionally male profession. It wasn't just that men didn't eat that way back then - no one ate that way. "They'd all laugh at me in the lunchroom, but I'd just sit and eat it!"

Scott and Janet at the opening of the Guelph store.


These forays into healthy eating were not only the beginning of Scott's successful battle with his blood sugar; they were also the beginning of Goodness Me!, as both a health food store and a hub of education. In 1981, seven years after his diagnosis, Scott and Janet opened the doors to the first Goodness Me! location in Hamilton, Ontario. It's allowed Scott to remain at the forefront of new advances in nutrition, and sometimes (as his testing with Janet showed) even help his store lead this advance. "The discoveries made since then have been phenomenal - in both taste and health. Things are done so much better today, but also in many ways worse, so we have to be on guard for that."

While improvements to technology have let Scott manage blood sugar better, a commitment to healthy living has also given him the necessary tools and tactics to maintain his own health in every way. "Had it been different, I might not have made it so long. Because I have something to monitor my blood sugar now, I can correct it quickly, and these corrections are a huge part of my success."

Scott's story is one of success. Not only has he been able to But was it tough as a man the Seventies to take on a healthy lifestyle? In some respects yes, but Scott didn't really have any other options. "I really embraced it, because of the timing. I had the privilege of watching that, and I thought, 'it's much better to live your life flat out than flat out on a hospital bed.'

"I have vigorously embraced it in everything I do, and it dictates what I do. People have the advantage of me doing all the trial and error, and I am here with a plan that works for me exceptionally well."

Scott is closing in on 70 and can still perform great things: he runs 10K a week and has taken up an obsession with cycling. His loves of baseball (his team is the Detroit Tigers, harkening back to his days growing up in Wallaceburg near Chatham) and hockey haven't abated since childhood, and he's still training to see if he can make it in the big leagues.

His advice to other men: adapt quickly! "Men don't have any choice! They either live life abundantly, or they live life poorly, with minimal energy and always upset. My mother used to say to me, "diabetics are all crabby," and lo and behold, I found out she was right. It's because they don't feel well, and whether it's diabetes, the flu, or anything that needs your body to heal, you have to embrace the solutions."

"Living well is victory in and of itself!"


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Judy Morten - November 25, 2017

What an excellent article on my brother. I love the pictures of him capturing his joy of living. Both he and Janet deserve a lot of respect.

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