Embrace healthy lifestyle: Punialava’a

Award-winning musician, Punialava’a Lale Peteru, has appealed to Samoans to embrace a healthy lifestyle to combat the country’s high incidence of non-communicable diseases (N.C.D.).

The lead vocalist of the Samoan band Punialava’a told the Samoa Observer that he and his wife Kelcey began their journey to address their own health challenges in 2019 after a visit to the doctor. 

“We were in Samoa in 2019 and my doctor in New Zealand called me and said I need to come home as soon as possible,” he said in an interview. “They received some test results that showed that I was at a very high risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.” 

He said they always talked about addressing their health issues for years but did not take the first steps. 

“We always said we’ll start properly next Monday but that Monday never came in 2019. Finally on the 1st of January 2020, we decided to stop talking about losing weight and actually start moving,” he added.

“We went for walks around the block and made minor changes to our eating for about two months but we were never consistent. 

“In March 2020 an angel by the name of Coach Alesio of FitLifeNZ came along and completely changed our lives.”

Punialava’a weighed 178.8kg while his wife was 138.6kg, according to Punialava’a their combined weight was 317.4kg. Fast forward to today, he is now tipping the scale at 111kg and Kelcey 104.7 kilos. 

The secret is making lifestyle changes including the mindset, adds Punialava’a. 

“He didn't teach us how to diet or to exercise all day, everyday. He taught us how to make lifestyle changes while still eating the food we love and doing the things we enjoy. 

“He taught us that losing weight and getting healthy starts with a simple change in mindset. These changes included listening to our bodies when we eat – knowing when to stop eating and also understanding the importance of rest and recovery.” 

He said they took on the FitLifeNZ challenge together with his siblings and their partners back in March this year.

“Ever since then, we've never looked back. Going through this journey with our family has allowed us all to stay accountable to one another,” he said.

“When one falls off plan, the others will pull them back up. This is why it is so important to surround yourself with like-minded people to help keep you grounded and stay on track.” 

Since March 9 Punialava’a has lost a total of 67kg while Kelcey shed 33.9 kg and people have asked them for the secret behind their success. 

“A lot of people have asked us what we eat and what sort of exercises we do to have achieved such weight loss. We simply substituted takeaways for homemade meals,” emphasised Punialava’a. 

“Making our meals at home meant that we knew exactly what was going into our meals which ultimately goes into our bodies. We're definitely eating more vegetables than we were a year ago.” 

He added that another important thing is making sure they drink at least two-three litres of water a day while continuing to exercise and keep active.

“Exercise: our coach makes sure that we are constantly keeping active everyday. We have group workouts from Monday to Saturday every week while Sunday is our rest day. 

“The most important thing to us is that we're moving. Even if it's doing our everyday chores or walking around the mall, our bodies are still moving.”

In September this year the couple created a public online diary on Instagram called 'justmove_withkp' enabling people to follow their health journey as a couple. 

“The idea behind establishing this online diary was to create a positive space on social media for us and everyone else to share in our struggles (and successes) on this health journey. 

“Our only hope is that in sharing our journey publicly, we'll inspire even just one person to get up and just move. 

“One last point that we want to add is that when you're on such a journey, you need to be patient and try your hardest to remain positive. 

“Things don't always go as planned but your mindset really is everything and surrounding yourself with people who genuinely support you and your goals is just as important.”

Punialava’a is the son of the founder of Punialava’a band, Rev. Iosefa Lale Peteru and his wife Vini nee Sofara. 

According to the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.), non-communicable diseases are chronic diseases that tend to have a long duration and are a result of a combination of factors including genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioral.

The main types of N.C.D. are cardiovascular diseases (heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.

The W.H.O. estimates that half of all adults in Samoa are at risk of developing N.C.D. such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

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