National deputy leader Paula Bennett has issued a heartwarming message to struggling Kiwis after opening up about her dramatic weight loss.

Last night Bennett spoke about her very personal weight loss journey, where she shed a whopping 50kg.

But the Upper Harbour MP has issued an emotional plea to New Zealanders who are battling with weight loss, not to let their size determine who they are as people.

"One of the most important things is, I've always been comfortable in my own skin no matter what size I am," Bennett exclusively told the Herald.


"I understand the struggle of weight loss but I want those that are going through the struggle to know they are beautiful and significant and can be confident. Weight loss isn't the answer to happiness.

"I'm reluctant to give advice because I'm not a medical professional and I believe it's a very personal journey that will work for some and won't work for others."

Twelve months ago Bennett had a gastric bypass which saw her drop 50kg and the 49-year-old has worked to keep the pounds off.

However, it hasn't come without its challenges.

Bennett has overcome a number of challenges on her health journey, including dealing with her body's changing dietary habits.

The National MP has shed 50kg thanks to weight loss surgery.
The National MP has shed 50kg thanks to weight loss surgery.

While the National MP is reluctant to give advice, she has lifted the lid on how she has been so successful with maintaining a healthy lifestyle while still treating herself to a cheeky wine.

"Working out how much you can eat and what the right foods are for your new body and new stomach have been the biggest challenges.

"It does limit the types of food you can eat and it changes. Just when you think you've nailed it your body says 'no I don't like that anymore' or it'll go 'I like this better'.


"It's the same as any diet. Good, fresh food feels good for me and bad fasts or eating too much makes me feel unwell.

"I'm not on any particular diet, I've just used trial and error. I didn't want to restrict so much that I'm not enjoying life. I found out I can still have a glass or two of wine, which is very important!

"You can still have treats from time to time but protein is my friend. Eating protein first makes me feel good and is good for my body and has been the answer for me.

"I've got arthritis in my knees and feet and taking some of the weight off them has meant I'm in less pain."

Paula Bennett, pictured here with sports commentator Keith Quinn, has shed 50kg.
Paula Bennett, pictured here with sports commentator Keith Quinn, has shed 50kg.

Bennett hasn't just noticed a change in her health since her 50kg weight loss.

Everyday activities are now a lot more enjoyable and booking seats on a plane no longer carries any issues.

"I definitely take up less room! I'm more comfortable in a plane seat and can certainly get around faster because I'm not lugging an extra 50kg.

"But I have to admit shopping has been a lot more enjoyable since I've slimmed down! That's definitely one of the more enjoyable aspects of this journey."

A year ago Bennett went public with the gastric bypass procedure through the Herald on Sunday, talking candidly about the health reasons for having the operation and saying she hoped talking about it would encourage other New Zealanders in their respective weight battles.

"I hope it sends a positive message out there to other people with weight or health problems that this may be a solution for them," she said in an exclusive interview.

Bennett joined an ever-growing list of political high-flyers who have undergone variations of gastric surgery; including former PMs Dame Jenny Shipley and David Lange, current MP Anne Tolley and ex-MPs Dame Tariana Turia, Chester Borrows, Marama Fox and Donna Awatere Huata.