I feel that those of Maori descent don’t like to talk too much about themselves. It’s probably just as well that I was bought up by my mother of English and Welsh pedigree and have no trouble in that respect. My driving motivation for founding Living Lean is actually three-fold. Beforehand, I thought you might be interested in a little trivia. So, just in case you were wondering, the following is how to pronounce Ngawhau – my family name and the legend of its origins. If that’s not really your thing, feel free to jump on ahead.
How to pronounce Ngawhau and a little background on the name
The pronunciation sounds kinda like “Nah bro”. Simple enough. However, instead of saying ‘nah’ with the tip of your tongue against the back of your teeth, you place the back of your tongue against the roof of your mouth and say “Nga”. Now that we’ve come this far, let’s try the “whau” part. Instead of saying ‘bro’ say ‘foe’. So, put it all together and you have Ngawhau.
Ngawhau is an ancient Maori word. Unfortunately, the meaning and origin have fallen into uncertainty. Ancestral accomplishment is alluded to by way of legend. Apparently, a warring iwi (tribe) took captive two brothers and assimilated them into that particular iwi. Several years later another iwi group posing as friendly manuhiri (visitors) awaited their opportunity for a surprise attack.
Incidentally, they were totally unaware that these brothers knew of this particular iwi and their evil intentions. Memories flooded their minds of a treacherous attack on their own hapu (sub-tribe) in years past. Fashioning weapons from a Whauwhau tree, these brothers lay in wait for the attack of these renegades. As night fell, the perfidious group made their move. Howbeit, defeat came swift at the hand and weapons of the brothers who viciously overcame their startled foe.
In order to pluralise a Maori word, you would use the prefix ‘nga’. The second part of the word, ‘whau’ is taken from ‘Whauwhau’ the wood used to make their weapons. As a result, Ngawhau was the name given to them and they rose to prominence within their new iwi.
So there it is for what it’s worth. Whether based on historic oratory, rhetoric or conjecture, it really matters not. It’s an interesting story to share with the kids around an open fire. Moreover, you should now be able to pronounce my last name!
My three-fold motivation for founding Living Lean
1. Desire to help others
People are busy juggling study, a career, and/or a business and family time. The pressures of everyday life are enough to worry about let alone health and fitness. I know as I have been and am still currently in the thick of it myself. A growing family, personal training business and church commitments keep me constantly busy and struggling to maintain healthy stress levels. Given a few simple factors, we’re all empowered to handle these normal life pressures with ease.
As you read on, you’ll learn a little of my own health journey and experiences. Hopefully, they will encourage and help you with your own. Let’s face it, obesity, type 2 diabetes, IBS, Leaky Gut, autoimmune, inflammatory and stress-related diseases are becoming standard ailments like never before. It is liberating when you understand that ‘food is medicine’ and our lifestyle habits form the foundation of our health. Therefore, my main motivation is to empower others who are struggling with their health, weight, fitness levels, self-image, etc. No matter how desperate your circumstances, I believe I can give you the necessary tools for overall well-being.
2. A lifestyle business
Lifestyle is basically my other compelling motivation. Online personal training enables me to reach a far greater number of people that need my help. I can also do it remotely from just about anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, my family doesn’t share the same enthusiasm for traveling abroad. They’re quite settled where we are. However, actually having that option is incentive enough for me.
3. A place to vent and share my inner-thoughts
I have a faith that drives and defines my personality, lifestyle choices and relationships. I will share whatever insights I garner under a specific category dedicated to my spiritual walk.
How I came to be a personal trainer & nutrition coach
Interestingly enough, I approached my college guidance counselor with the proposal of going into ‘Health Science’. I was met with the ‘all too familiar’ response, “I don’t think that you are smart enough to go there”. In hindsight, I wasn’t really an outstanding student. In fact, most of my reports always indicated that I had plenty of potential, but didn’t apply myself. So I did what any normal young teenager would do, I left school to become a chef.
I spent the next 15+ years working in the hospitality industry as a chef. Noted for my creative flair and innovation, food was and still is a passion of mine. Food is not the enemy! In fact, I love food. It’s our lack of understanding and resulting habits, which can become problematic with weight control and subsequent health problems.
Among other reasons, time for a change saw me working more manual labour type work from construction, to the Railway, to Silviculture. After an accident that took me out of commission, it was back to school to study graphic design and business. Having completed a postgraduate diploma in business enterprise, it dawned on me that my college guidance counselor was actually mistaken.
For the next decade, I worked on my own graphic design business. I had always been very active. Studied martial arts from childhood and even as an adult, I surfed almost on a daily basis. However, running my own business saw me doing too many hours behind a computer. Moreover, the lack of exercise and poor dietary habits had me spiral into obesity practically without even realising it. Eventually, it became impossible to ignore. On the odd occasion that I managed to find the time to surf, it was like ‘Mission Impossible’. I struggled to paddle and even get to my feet on a wave. Although, I think the real catalyst for change was trying to keep up with my young girls in what felt like concrete gumboots.
Now when you realise that you need to ‘pull your socks up’ and make necessary changes, the question becomes how. There is so much misinformation regarding health & fitness. Actually, there is so much information out there that you almost become paralised wondering where to start.
So, I decided to go back to school and train to be a personal trainer. This was no easy task; at my age made more challenging with a dependent family of five. However, if I’ve learned anything about myself, it would be that I don’t do anything by halves. I go at it, which can be a curse or a blessing. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure whether it was either or, but I know now that it was definitely a blessing. I feel for the first time in my life that I really do have a purpose and clear direction. Helping facilitate life-changing outcomes for others is rewarding beyond expression. It is still a constant challenge, but I love it. It keeps me engaged and motivated to continue learning and growing as a coach.
Consequently, as well as attaining several qualifications in personal training, I am now a qualified Precision Nutrition coach and a Biosignature Modulation practitioner. However, qualifications in themselves, aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on without the incredible network of professionals I have behind me. You can rest assured that, if I don’t have all the answers to help you reach your goals, someone will. Challenge excepted. I look forward to working with you!