Steps for Life
Steps for Life graduates. Photo Chante Betham-Spencer
By Sanele Chadwick
Monty Betham’s known as a hard man. He’s fought many battles on the rugby league field, and even went toe to toe with Heavyweight boxer, Shane Cameron. Now he’s teamed up with his sister Chante Betham-Spencer to address a battle off the field.
One morning Monty Betham was reading an article when he came across a statistic about New Zealand children that alarmed him.
“1 in 12 are overweight, and 1 in 5 are obese”
The Betham’s got thinking and embarked on their latest challenge – addressing the issue of obesity.
With the help of Claire Turnball at Mission Nutrition, the team developed a programme called ‘Steps for Life', focussing on an “encompassing approach” to healthy living, not just a focus on physical activity or nutrition.
There are a lot of fitness fads out there claiming they have the answer to weight loss, a better life and a better you. But what makes Steps for Life different from other fitness fads is they’re not just focussed on getting individuals to lose weight, rather getting participants living a healthier lifestyle.
Betham-Spencer said their programme wants to change mind sets, get people eating well, incorporate exercise as part of their lives and help prevent and eliminate serious health issues. And for Pacific Islanders, one of the biggest challenges in achieving these goals is food. Food plays a big part in Pacific Island culture said Betham-Spencer. “Often the more we eat the more we show our gratitude for our hosts hospitality and generosity.”
Another obstacle in fighting obesity is time. Many households work long hours, some doing shift work and often “juggling a few jobs at a time” said Betham-Spencher, “this can put a strain the households and often convenience is sort.” Families turn to takeaway meals, stopping at the bakery for school lunches, and handing out money for children to buy school lunches. “Parents quite often rely on their children to be responsible, but often aren’t aware of what they are purchasing and how they are spending money.”
There’s a tonne of information out there on nutrition, it can be “information overload” said Betham-Spencer. “The messages aren’t always simplistic or complete, so in most cases it’s not understood or just ignored. It’s important for information to be relative so it reaches homes.” It’s this message that Betham-Spencer wants to share with those willing to participate in the Steps for Life 12-week foundation programme. It’s a chance for youth and their families to make sustainable lifestyle changes.
Another point of difference with the Steps for Life programme is the mandatory involvement of family members. Not only is equipping youth with knowledge about nutrition and physical exercise important, but so too family support. Betham-Spencer believes when a family works together there is strength in numbers. “Everyone is supporting each other to make necessary changes that have a positive impact on the entire family.”
For those wanting a healthier lifestyle now, here are some things can do to start your life changing journey right away.
• Stop drinking sugary drinks; make water the household drink. Drinking 2 litres of sugary drink per week amounts to around 7.5kg weigh gain each year!
• Eat breakfast at home before going to school. Breakfast sets you up for the day, a lot of kids don’t eat breakfast or buy something on the way to school.
• Go for regular walks, join a social sports team where you can meet new people and be physically active playing something you enjoy
Eating right and regular exercise not only helps to eliminate the health risks associated with obesity, it helps us to lose weight and helps us to gain confidence.
Watch the 60Minutes story on the latest Steps for Life programmes here.