Last week I took in my belt a notch …… burning calories while having fun

Back in ‘my day’ we didn’t have online apps or electronic devices to keep track of what you should be eating, how many calories you were burning, how many steps you had walked and how far you had gone. For my kids they can’t imagine a world without this kind of technology at their finger- tips. In fact they look at me as if I have led a sheltered and simple life. While I try my best to keep up to date with the latest electronic gadgets out there, Project SWIFT (System Wide Integration For Transformation) is opening up my eyes to how we can potentially use technology to help people manage and monitor their own health from the convenience of their own home.

To practice what I preach I’m now wearing a Fit Bit. For those of you who are slightly puzzled a Fit Bit is a wireless wearable device – in my case a wrist band, which is motivating me to get out there and be more active.   Here’s how it works ….

During the day my Fit Bit tracks my steps, distance and calories burned and at night tracks my sleep quality and wakes me silently in the morning.  All you need to do is put in your parameters and away you go. The device also automatically syncs your stats to your computer or iPhone ….pretty smart.  

So what brought this on? Well it’s really a decision that’s been in the back of my mind for some time and on talking with my wife Sam, we both decided we needed to get off the couch and move more.  I guess what also prompted it was the knowledge that a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercise, can help reduce some of the risk factors of Alzheimer’s and other chronic health conditions.

Now what many of you won’t know about me, and what may surprise you, is that back in the day I spent many years playing rugby and squash. In fact I used to run a lot!   While this kept me fit and active, the downside is it’s left me with worn out knees and a bad back. With that in mind I wanted a mild exercise programme that would be fun, motivating and result in a gradual but sustained weight loss.

So that’s why my wife and I chose the Fit Bit – and three weeks on we are walking 10,000 steps a day and enjoying it. I have to say it’s been quite a revelation, that on the days when I have ELT (Executive Leadership Team) or Board meetings, I rack up no more than 3000 steps because I’m sitting down for most of the day. What this has encouraged me to do is get out and walk more.   This means going for a walk at lunch time, which gives me a great opportunity to say hi to people, or as to what happened last night, walking around the house at 11pm so Sam and I could reach our goal of 10,000 steps. So imagine the huge whoops of success as I got there first and could finally go to bed.

What I suggest is that you check out the Fit Bit or the other weight loss or exercise apps that are out there. I’m sure you will find a programme that works for you. What I like about the Fit Bit is that it’s not a crash diet or requires me to hop on a treadmill each day.   It’s a lifestyle change I can work into my day-to-day routine.

As a result I’m feeling better, lighter and have gone down a belt size. The dogs are also enjoying the extra exercise as they get walked around the block a bit more.

And while I’m on the subject of walking I’m more than happy to visit your department and spend some time finding out about the work you do and discussing some of your ideas for how you can be doing things better.

The other week I spent some time with Samantha Huntley from Pharmacy. Thanks to Sam and the Pharmacy team, for a great morning and the opportunity to talk through some improvement ideas.

If you would like me to visit get in touch via email:






Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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