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My Journey

Eseta Nicholls attended the Pacific Heartbeat Certificate in Pacific Nutrition course earlier this year and has since made some remarkable lifestyle changes. Here, she honestly and openly shares her story with us.

Hi my name is Eseta Nicholls, I’m a 53 year old female, widowed for nine years, and of Tongan, Maori and English decent. I was born, raised and educated in Otahuhu, Auckland. I have four young adult sons, three by birth and the fourth is a son’s friend who came to live with us, so certainly no one unique.

As a community health worker I help pregnant mums learn about creating a safe sleep environment for their babies through the use of a pepipod (baby bed). I also deliver nutritional information to women before birth. My role also includes following up with women who don’t attend their appointments or are hard to engage.

Completing the Certificate in Pacific Nutrition was a requirement for delivering the nutrition programme to pregnant women who had consented to being part of the HUMBA (Healthy Mums and Babies) research study.

I had previously been an overweight couch potato. Following a referral to the cardiologist, I learnt that age, ethnicity, hereditary factors, and my lifestyle put me at high risk for a heart event. I also learnt more about this from attending the Certificate in Pacific Nutrition. So, with my first grandchild due in September 2015, something had to change - ME!

In March 2015 I started attending a boot camp five days per week. A month later I seriously started looking at my food diary and making healthy choices such as reducing sugary foods, stopping all processed foods, reducing portion sizes, and including vegetables that are all colours of the rainbow.

Weekends are a time when I’m likely to be relaxed. But I’m still mindful of food consumption, as I know how long I have to exercise to work it off. I still love to cook for my sons and take the opportunity for family time. So Monday to Friday I’m more regimented and keep to a stricter routine.

I recently attended the Heart Foundation’s Pacific Heartbeat Symposium. What I took away from Lita Foliaki and Niki Harré’s presentations is that, for me, it’s really important to always self-check and to walk the talk. 

I am now appreciating having this second chance and I don’t want to miss a beat. I’ll share my story with anyone who wants to listen! 

I’ve been telling the ladies at boot camp about the hidden sugars in our food. One lady responded, “But it’s ok to have a treat”. My response was “And there lies the problem”. She has now also lost weight and we have become friends. Let’s face it, knowledge is power!

I can and do work passionately with whanau, knowing positive changes can happen. Best of all, I know that healthy eating can be done on a low budget. How do I know? I’m living it!