Thursday, May 2, 2013

RIP Parekura Horomia - why diet and exercise is vital for NZ's future

I have been listening all week to lovely messages about Parekura Horomia, a popular Labour MP who died this week.  As an avid watcher of Parliament TV, as well as a qualified personal trainer with Merit in Sports Nutrition from AUT, it pains me to see talented people like Parekura Horomia die at the age of 62.  To know he was so behind whanau and our culture and to see in his younger years he was a boxer and played a lot of Rugby, I often ask myself what when wrong.

We need people like Parekura Horomia to keep our society balanced and to keep our culture and history alive.  We also need role models for our young people.  It pains me every time I saw Parekura Horomia, Gerry Brownlee and Paula Bennett in the media or on Parliament TV.  Again, I have a great deal of respect for both of these people as leaders in their field, although I do not agree with the way that they are presenting to society in the form of their weight and often the significant health issues that come with being so over-weight. 

Like many over-weight people, Mr Horomia had struggled with his weight and previously revealed he was a chronic asthmatic and had an enlarged heart.

I have personally trained executives with enlarged hearts and asthma as well as seriously overweight people.  All of these people could exercise and eat healthy and the impact of doing so was a more positive outlook on life.  There are benefits all round...there for the taking if we could just get people to apply themselves.....

People in the spotlight are role-models for our society and it is vital for the health of our country that they are construed as fit and healthy people.  Our country depends on having strong, fit and healthy people for our future economies.  We need talented people to live long enough to pass knowledge and wisdom onto generations to follow and we need them healthy during their working life to be the best they can be....and know this themselves.

I often hear things from my corporate personal training clients clients as to why they cannot get their nutrition or diets under control like- "I don't have time- I'm so busy" or "I travel a lot so can't control what I eat" or the other lines are "Something came up and I had to go out".  Excuses mean avoidance.  People are simply lying to themselves.  Getting to the root cause of why is often the biggest issue.  Many people can have problems at home, suffer from depression, low self confidence or simply find it easy to not bother as they think no one cares, or their 'busy' lifestyle can justify their reason for not eating well or exercising.  I too am busy.  I simply make the time to do these things.  Again- we are personally accountable for our actions, no one else.

Food addiction and lack of exercise can be caused by many factors and being under stress produces cortisol hormone which can be a blocker on the path to successful weight loss.  Uncovering the root cause of why people are overweight can unleash some dark secrets, however this is the first part of the journey to sort things out.  If you are over-weight- the first questions I would ask of yourself is "Are you OK?" 

If you answer no, you need to fix these issues first- seek help from professionals, medical profession or friends and family.  I personally have an issue currently which is preventing me going back to swimming or cycling as every-time I get out there, I can't breathe properly.  I love to do both but feel like I am going to run out of breath.  I have since visited specialists to find out that I have a chronic sinus condition that was not treated correctly, despite me going to 3 doctors.  After a CAT scan and some serious medication, I am finally feeling like I can breathe again and yes, I am starting to feel OK.  This means I can give the swimming and cycling another go, which is very exciting for me as it was a blocker for these sports.

The bottom line, quite simply put is that there is no excuse for poor diet and lack of exercise.  We all have to make choices everyday- which lane to take on the motorway, what tie or dress to wear in the morning, what to eat for breakfast and lunch and if we will take the lift or the stairs.

So what do I suggest as a personal trainer as well as a busy CEO?  Here are my top tips:-

* Understand health and nutrition is a lifestyle choice, not just a diet or exercise programme for 12 weeks.
* Use Incidental Exercise where-ever possible- always take the stairs and not the lift
* Don't try and get the car park nearest your destination- use one further away or better yet, walk to your meetings.
* Choose a form of exercise you can enjoy with your partner such as walking, kayaking hiking, cycling and book in advance into your calendars time to do these activities together
* Understand that food contributes to 80% of weight issues.  You do have a choice as to what and how much you eat.  Every time I put something in my mouth I think about when I am eating it, what I am doing to burn the energy and what nutritional value it has.
* Watch liquid calories.  You don't have to drink juice, beer, wine or anything with sugar in it at all.  Opt for vege juices if you need to or water or last choice, diet drinks but restrict these to only 1 or 2 per day along with healthy food intake.
* Start a weight loss challenge with your friends and family- we just did this through  and members of my family lost up to 8 kg each over a 3 month period- the site emails weekly reports on who is winning and has a facebook style post where you can update statuses regularly.

NZ has one of the highest obesity rates amongst Maori and Pacifica in the world, we need to be encouraging our generation to be healthy.  To do this, we need to educate our communities and have fantastic role-models we can all look up to.  This is my plea.  If you are over-weight or need help, either help yourself or seek out someone who can help you.  There is always a way and it will be for your own healthy future, and for the future of your family, friends and of course NZ as a healthy nation.

Parekura Horomia- your death has not been without purpose.  You have stirred emotions in me of sadness, anger, frustration and a genuine want to help get the message out that we must as a nation work towards healthier lifestyles - including nutrition, health, mental wellness and exercise.  May you Rest in Peace.  NZ please take the message on.  The time to get fit and healthy is now.

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