Friday, January 27, 2023

Fat Freezing, Collagen, Virtual Hypnotherapy – Do They Work? Stacey Morrison on the Worried Well

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Radio host, author, telly star – and now podcast host. Stacey Morrison has a lot on her plate so it makes sense she’s interested in new ways of keeping healthy. In her new season of podcast Healthy or Hoax she tests out some of the food and wellness industries most, er, interesting trends, so we decided to ask How Are You Today (and also for the inside word as to if anything works!)

Kia Ora Stacey! How are you today?

It’s a good question to ask! I’m good today, because I strategize the starts to my day. I knew I had a TV interview at 8.30, so I made sure I got up and went for a run before that. That always helps, when I feel like I already have a head start on the day. Right now we’re at alert level three in Auckland (when this interview was conducted) and I have three kids… and they’re at three different schools! So online schooling for us at the moment… one of them needs us to sit right there for each task!

That was going to be my next question, we’ve been through the wringer when it comes to all the lockdowns and Covid-related disruptions – how are you and your whānau going through it all? It takes such a massive toll on every part of your hauora?

Yeah, the age of the kids is a really big factor actually – our older two are 14 and 12, so they have different needs. The eight-year-old is the only one who doesn’t much like the idea of the online learning! But on lockdown four, she’s got her head around it a bit more. But it’s just trying to fit in all the work.

I’m not a parent, so I have no idea how you all are managing to fit in your own work and all of your kids’ stuff! I’m barely keeping it together and it’s just me!

My kids said to me, I mentioned something to them about doing the vacuuming and they said, ‘Why? No one’s coming around?’ So I’ve just had to explain that we don’t just vacuum if someone’s coming over!

I feel like you have your hands in so many different pots, I don’t know when you’d have the time for a vacuum! You’re on the radio with The Hits, the podcast we’re about to speak about and so many other things in the media – how do you not get overwhelmed with all of the different things you do?

Well I start pretty much all emails and texts with ‘Sorry for the late reply’ – that’s a start! [Laughs]. And I mean, they’re all things that I feel fortunate to do and passionate about, so that makes it a lot easier. There’s also that strategy to fit in some of these things to feel healthy and be healthy.

But also, I’m mindful at this time in my life, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. So I’m going to do it! I’m getting so many opportunities I’m so fortunate to have, so that’s really energising.

Do you have a true passion within all of your different roles?

Code switching is something I love to do, I guess! But first and foremost I’m a māmā, and that’s the thing I am the most… I hope the kids feel like that! It’s the whanau being happy and healthy. And also trying to keep myself healthy because none of this will work if I’m not!

Ok well that leads us nicely into talking about the third season of the Healthy or Hoax? podcast, that you’re again hosting.

Yes! It’s really important that people are so busy, it’s so hard to not get swept away by an Instagram for the latest *easy health fix*. We’ve all been there! But this podcast looks into, does the trend actually work, and is it worth your money and time?

I’ve definitely gone, oh my gosh, it’s 5am in the morning and this Instagram ad is telling me exactly what I need! But, I don’t! The first episode I did, the waist trainers – I definitely bought one! It’s good to go into the science into what it does and doesn’t do.

They’re essentially just modern-day corsets, aren’t they?

Yeah, exactly and that’s what we talk about, and we go into the history of these things and talk about what women used to do to themselves, and waist trainers do seem like a backwards step – and this idea that they can make you lose weight is, er, untrue. It just makes you sweat, trust me!

Yup that’s a massive no from us too, thanks

We speak a lot on Capsule about the idea of the worried well – in fact recently we did a story on collagen powder, and it’s also coming up in your third season – and I think my biggest takeaway of it was how powerful Instagram marketing is! I’ve done the same thing where I’ve seen something on my feed and thought, ‘Oh God I have to have that’.

Yeah, and then it goes further for things like collagen – like, can you actually digest the collagen? That’s what we go into a lot.

What are your thoughts on the ‘worried well’ phenomenon – the idea that perfectly healthy people are conned into expensive and sometimes dubious ‘health aids’ where people are literally throwing their money away, but also potentially putting themselves at risk?

I guess that’s the thing about Healthy or Hoax – we give things ratings and if it has a lower rating, we might say ‘do it if you want to, if you have the money and the inclination, it won’t be harmful’ but we also do tell you if it will be harmful, and the costs that are involved. Or, we can say it does work, but here are the side effects.

I quite like that – I think Radio New Zealand is good at treating their listeners with intelligence and respect, and just lays out perimeters, and says this is your call.

I don’t want to spoil anything for season three, but I do see that you’ll be covering fat freezing and I’ve just tried that myself (story to come soon, dear reader) – what did you think?

I thought that it was a weird feeling, and if you had the tendency to look at your body in an unhealthy way it wasn’t good – and it’s a lot of money. And, I don’t really know if it worked, or if I just managed to make the fat again! I think it felt flatter for a bit, but having a numb puku is really weird… and the place I went to they told me that a woman had it done 49 times.

It’s a fascinating space, the new wellness trends isn’t it.

It is – and now people regurgitate information like it’s facts because they’re read it on Instagram, and all of it needs to be checked and then actually related to you personally. Experts must get so frustrated!

You try all of the trends yourself – is there a topic from season two that you can look back on and think, ‘actually yeah, that does work’?

The one we got the most feedback on was essential oils, which I knew was going to come because, you know, it’s people’s livelihoods. As we said, do it if you like it, it’s fine – but don’t ingest it and also don’t think that it’s going to do things that it’s not doing! In the other way, I looked at fermented foods which I was already into, and had looked into it a bit – things like kombucha – and that really confirmed that it did work, with a reasonable expectation.

Oh, and Shakti mats! I still can’t do it, I know some people love it but I just can’t!

So you’re not a health expert, I know – you bring on people who are actual experts in the field?

Yes – and we also bring on experts who don’t agree with each other – we’re trying to give a range of opinion and insight.

Is there anything you’re especially looking forward to people hearing about in season 3?

We talk about gastric bands and sleeves and that part’s clear – but then it comes to the virtual gastric bands, which uses the power of suggestion or hypnosis to make you believe you have a gastric band and your stomach is restricted, so you don’t eat so much.

There are gastric sleeves, bands and bypasses – all with different results – and they’re intense procedures, so the virtual gastric bands are an interesting one to talk about.

What about in your own life, is there something that you swear by yourself?

Yeah, the stuff that doesn’t cost any money! [Laughs]. Those are good. Look, we’re all looking for ways to make things easier, and it often comes back to the really basic things that are hard because of the human condition. We all know we should eat healthy, we all know we should exercise. But you just want someone or something to make it a bit easier for you.

And it’s totally understandable, and particularly in the year that’s been. So what I’ve prioritised myself a bit more this year is exercise because I know I feel better for it. In my day job on the radio I work with Anika Moa who has been inspiring people because they’ve seen the change in her – she’s not about size at all, she said ‘I actually think I like myself curvy!.

But as a woman and a mother, you can easily put your own needs on the backburner, and I just know that that can’t happen if everything else needs to work!

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