Fashionably fit and well
How a Kiwi designer is at the forefront of a health crusade. By Aaron Leaman.
FOR the first time, Lottie Siaosi loves the woman staring back at her in the mirror.
‘‘I’m absolutely gorgeous. I’m 53 years of age and I’ve never said that before.’’
Siaosi went through the Kia Pua¯wai wellness programme, an initiative which helps participants change their lives.
The Kia Pua¯wai approach is based on three core principles – nutrition, movement and mind management – and is the brainchild of fashion designer Annah Stretton.
The programme was sucessfully piloted by Waikato Women’s Refuge – where all participants had improvements in lab results measuring cholesterol levels, liver function and average blood glucose. Sixty per cent of them lost between 10 and 25 per cent of their initial body weight.
Stretton said the Kia Pua¯wai approach aimed to make lifestyle ‘‘edits’’ with a 13-week programme focusing on mental health and mind management.
‘‘I truly think fat has become a feminist issue and so many of us aren’t happy with our bodies and how we look,’’ Stretton said.
‘‘The yardstick of our success has been whether we’re heavy or light and I want to throw that out the window. Instead, we ask participants to do well by their body 80 per cent of the time. They can still eat fried chicken and cake, but we encourage them to keep it at that 20 per cent level.’’
Since her involvement with the programme, Siaosi has made fewer trips to the doctor and has her diabetes under control. She’d also picked up new cooking skills. ‘‘In my home, my family loves pizza and burgers. But Annah has taught us how to make home-made pizzas and burgers and has given us confidence to experiment with healthy food.’’
Another valuable lesson has been learning to love herself, Siaosi said. ‘‘We should love the fact that every day we get up, we breathe, we can walk and do what we need to do and it’s all because of this body.’’
Stretton said the Kia Pua¯wai programme was aimed at an entire demographic who had been left behind.
‘‘Unless you’re white and advantaged and can afford the gym . . . and the latest supplements and shakes, you’re not actually going to be activated in that space.’’
Stretton worked with one young woman who was spending $100 a week on energy drinks. Stretton began by encouraging her to reduce her intake by one can a day. ‘‘If you can get people to make a mental shift, then you will get some great outcomes.’’
Cathy Khouri, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, said the key to making long-term changes to a person’s wellness and lifestyle was understanding their story.
‘‘Annah’s underlying principle is gain health, not weight, and that’s an excellent approach to take, in my view. It seems to me the focus is off the scales and off a set of food rules that you must stick to, and more on mindful eating.’’
‘ We should love that every day we get up, we breathe, we can walk... and it’s all because of this body.’ LOTTIE SIAOSI
Lottie Siaosi, left, has benefited from the Kia Pua¯wai programme created by Annah Stretton.