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Kickstart reader story: Reach goals with help from your cheerleaders

Sacha Fawbert, a specialist teacher in dyslexia and other learning difficulties, decided it was time to get proactive about leading a long, healthier life. With the aim of achieving healthy longevity, first-time Kick-starter Sacha Fawbert enrolled the help of key supporters to make challenges easier and add motivation. 

I’ve been subscribing to Healthy Food Guide from the start and, although I hadn’t renewed my subscription last year, I would still buy a copy with the groceries quite often and noticed the Kick-start programme about a month after it kicked off.

I decided to try the Kick-start Plan because I am in my late 40s and realised that if I want to achieve healthy longevity, I had to be proactive now about making it happen. Waistband creep was happening and I was in danger of going up another size.

At the time I had been reading about the National Geographic Blue Zones project, which identified nine key attributes of people around the world with healthy longevity. Exercise and nutrition are things we are all aware of, but they  are sometimes hard to work into our lifestyles. The Blue Zone attributes include a plant-based diet, eating until only till 80 per cent full, exercise – particularly incidental exercise that naturally fits into your daily life, having a sense of purpose, surrounding yourself with like-minded people, prioritising family and taking a daily time out.

The things that have helped me most are the Healthy Food Guide Kick-starters Facebook group, which provided me with like-minded people to support and motivate me, and the recipes, which helped me come up with a variety of ideas for meals. I also enjoyed sharing what I was learning about the Blue Zone project on the group page. The meal planning was perfect for our family. Having the kilojoules identified in recipes made it so much easier to plan meals for a day. I also supplemented this with family favourites tweaked for better nutrition. The other very useful aspect was the resistance band exercises, as I could do these in the lounge with the family while they watched TV.

Exercise is the hardest thing about adopting healthier habits for me, as I’m not someone who naturally enjoys many types of exercise, and making time for this was also a challenge. I ended up including my planned exercise and weekly commitments into our meal plan. Trying to keep some variety was key. With a permanent injury to my foot and an arthritic hip, finding doable exercise is always a challenge.

The best thing about adopting new, healthier habits is keeping the weight in check, which lessens the pain in my hip, and the healthier lifestyle will bring ongoing, long-term benefits for my health as I progress through the decades. It will also extend how long it will be before I need a hip replacement.

My biggest motivation has been my goal to achieve healthy longevity.

New healthy habits I’ve picked up include making conscious choices about all the food I eat in a day and keeping exercise equipment handy so it’s easy to do.
Resistance band training is a winner, as it is so straight-forward, and you can do it anywhere, any time. Also, geocaching (a sort of digital treasure hunt) into my exercise regime gave exercising a sense of purpose and enjoyment.

Peanut butter and celery has become a favourite snack in our house. I chop up half a head of celery each week and keep it handy in the fridge. Natural yoghurt and frozen berries with a sprinkle of oats makes a great morning tea.

The advice I would give someone else starting out on this journey is to find people to support you. If you have a bad day, just start again the next day. My second tip is to not miss out on your favourite treats, just have them less often, in smaller portions and really take the time to savour them. Slow and steady gets you there and keeps you there. You can do it – believe in yourself.

The thing that helps me most when things get tough is my husband, who has been my biggest supporter, congratulating me on progress, encouraging me when my weight goes in the wrong direction and being willing to eat the adapted meals I cook. Having someone encouraging you to get up and swim at 6am is very motivating, and it gave us some time together before heading to work.

First published: Oct 2018



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