How Libby Babet got her fertility back
After a health scare in her 20’s, Libby Babet was told she’d be on medication for life and probably never have kids. Healing herself through the right kinds of exercise and nutrition, and getting off medication, was the start of her life-long mission to inspire others to move more, eat better and live life to the full.
A decade later, her knowledge and passion led to her starring role as a trainer on Channel 10’s re-imagination and relaunch of “The Biggest Loser: Transformed”. As a former journalist she writes for publications such as Prevention Magazine and has also been the fitness expert for Women’s Fitness Magazine and the HIT Network.
We sat down to hear a little more about Libby’s journey to regaining her fertility.
Can you share a little about your journey into motherhood?
I had a health blip in my 20s, crazy high blood pressure that was really uncontrollable, which needed a LOT of medication. I lost my cycle for over a decade after that. No matter what I did it didn’t want to come back. I worked tirelessly on restoring my fertility and when it finally arrived, it was like a miracle – I bled for the first time in November 2018, the next month I didn’t and thought it must have just been random, but I was pregnant with Izzy!
It was so surreal, and to be honest after so long without a cycle, I was sure the pregnancy wouldn’t go to term. But it did, and she arrived, and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t recognise the miracle in that. We also welcomed number two (Harrison) into our family in 2021.
If you are interested in living in alignment with your cycle here are some tips!
Our own personal fertility journey can be an emotionally draining time, did you use any foods, nutrients or stress reducing techniques to support yourself during that time?
Our bodies are incredibly intelligent. All you need to do is look at the amazing things they can do, like how the composition of our breast milk changes when our baby is ill.
So, I thought to myself, if I was a hunter gatherer 10,000 years ago how would my body know that it’s a good time to have a baby? Well, my body would need to feel like it was in a ‘safe time’, it would be healthy, with plenty of good nutrition and low stress. So, that’s what I tried to recreate.
The biggest impact for me was definitely my nutrition. I started by cutting out the things that aren’t good for hypertension like coffee, alcohol and processed salts (hot chips and takeaway, crisps, packaged noodles etc). Then I really focused on replenishing with traditional foods – those that roamed or grew on the Earth, with ingredients I recognised. So, well sourced meat, fish, nuts and seeds, full fat dairy like Greek yoghurt and butter, and of course plenty of fruit and vegetables.
I also avoided vegetable and seed oils that can create inflammation and that our bodies don’t love to burn for fuel (things like sunflower, canola, hydrogenated oils, etc – google The Hateful 8 oils if curious) and include a lot more traditional fats like olive oil, pure butter and ghee, avocado, nuts and seeds.
I still enjoyed whole grains but didn’t overdo them because they tend to fill you up and crowd out more nutrient-packed foods, and really the number one thing to know about nutrition is to focus on nutrient dense foods. I still had some sugar, but not the heavily processed kind like lollies and store-bought cakes, and I avoided most artificial sweeteners.
Level up your diet by learning the basics here.
On the mental side of things, I made a very conscious decision that I was going to have a baby which probably helped me to get out of a stressful “what if I can’t” headspace. We’d actually booked a trip to Hawaii in Dec 2018 and I said to my husband Justin beforehand, “I think we’re going to get pregnant on this trip”.
As I mentioned, my cycle came back in Nov, just a few weeks before we took off. When we were on holiday I slowed down, I slept and ate well, I got off my phone and I started to really relax.
Funnily enough, Justin got food poisoning towards the end of the trip and I wasn’t feeling well either so I didn’t even twig that I might be pregnant. I just remember leaving Hawaii thinking, “damn, I really thought I’d get pregnant” but when I got home, I did a pregnancy test (very much expecting a negative, I didn’t even tell Justin I was doing one!) but those two little lines popped up and I was in shock. After more than a decade of trying to have a baby and thinking it would never happen to me, it finally had. What an overwhelming feeling that was… I literally ran to the late-night chemist and did about 6 more tests to be sure!
In your experience is there a right way to exercise to help support fertility goals?
Being healthy and well, both mentally and physically is critical to fertility as I mentioned. So, you definitely don’t want to be a couch potato. You also don’t want to be overdoing it either. Challenge and fun is good, stress is not.
I’d focus on what you LOVE doing. Get moving and use the word ‘movement’ in place of ‘exercise’ because it really opens up your options and walking, playing, dancing, stretching and swimming/surfing are seriously underrated as forms of exercise. Walking is the absolute Queen when it comes to fertility goals, as it helps to keep your body and mind in a great place, without the intensity that can sometimes be an issue (hello over-achievers!)
If you’re wondering about specific styles of exercise, then I wouldn’t be doing high intensity every day, but most forms of exercise will be fine so long as you’re not overdoing it. Feeling a little sore afterwards is fine, feeling absolutely spent and unable to move the next day is not.
We know how much an evening self care routine can help us through a stressful time, did you have one and if so what did it look like?
Confession time, I’m terrible at sitting still which means I’m terrible at meditation. So, for me I find relaxation in reading fantasy novels. I know, I know… I’m a dork, but it’s an escape and it gets me out of my head so it’s like a meditation.
The other thing I like to do is get to bed really early, around 9pm if I can. I forgot to mention sleep before, a good night’s sleep is probably the single most important thing you can do for your health. To help that, I turn off the phone and TV plenty of time before bed to help my hormones work for me.
I also find writing a list of what I need to do the next day before I go to bed gets those things out of my brain and onto paper which helps me sleep better. And I avoid any alcohol at all if I need a good night sleep. Another thing I’ve recently started using for Sleep is a hot chocolate product called Beauty Sleep which is from a company I co-founded called Beauty Food. It really does work!
When it comes to regulating your system, another routine that’s really important is your morning routine. One of the best pieces of advice I can give to women trying to conceive is not to go straight from bed to coffee in the morning, as this really disrupts your sex hormones – the ones you need for fertility. Wake up, grab a glass of room temperature water and drink it with some sun on your face, either outside or with your head by an open window if you can, then have something to eat – it might be a small snack if you’re headed to a workout, or a bigger meal if you’re headed straight into your day, but leave your coffee hit until after you’ve had a good breakfast, mid-morning is a great time.
Here are 100 ways to relax which may inspire you to start or re-start your own self care journey.
You’ve started a few brands in health and fitness, can you tell us about them?
Day-to-day you’ll find me at The Upbeat which is my fitness studio in Bondi (and online). I’m passionate about all my businesses but this one in particular lights me up because I always wake up excited to get into the studio to see my girls, and we all feel amazing afterwards. So many people tell me it’s better than therapy, and it’s incredibly rewarding when people tell me it’s what’s kept them sane through an incredibly challenging few years.
I also co-founded two snack food brands, which were created because my co-founders and I were so frustrated trying to find healthy packaged snacks – even most ‘natural’, ‘organic’, or ‘healthy’ products were stacked with fructose-loaded dried fruit, artificial sweeteners, or other unhealthy fillers. I just couldn’t find anything I was happy to eat and recommend.
The first I already mentioned, Beauty Food. We make a super healthy and delicious collagen cookie-like snack that’s full of all the right things, like healthy fats and well-sourced collagen that can support everything from a healthy glow to calming your nervous system, birth recovery and breastfeeding. We also do a deliciously healthy protein coffee (anxiety free!) and hot chocolate for better sleep and I mentioned (I’m addicted).
The other snack food business is the same company but a different brand called Chief Nutrition, which is a range of collagen protein bars and organic, grass-fed meat products designed for “pack flippers”, i.e. health-conscious people who look at the back of the packet and our whole range has great macros and very clean ingredients. Chief also does a range of real food supplements including liver capsules which are particularly great for fertility.
Both of these product ranges are so healthy that I’m happy eating them for breakfast on the go myself, or feeding them to my kids Izzy and Harrison, who love them!
And finally, my new passion project is my sustainable activewear brand
Earthletica which I’m incredibly proud of. It’s honestly the best activewear I’ve ever worn (and others concur!) and it’s all recycled!
Do you have any advice for women starting back on their fitness journey after giving birth?
Go and see a women’s physio, I love The Physiotherapy Clinic, or Women In Focus, or The Pelvic Floor Clinic, they are incredible at empowering women with exactly what to do as they rehabilitate their bodies. And DO look at that process as rehab. Walk a lot, do some simple core re-engagement exercises like diaphragmatic breathing, get out in nature, clear your head, eat a lot of fresh food. Connect connect connect. Then slowly reintroduce strength exercise and finally more intensity. I’m a professional in this field and it honestly takes me a few years to feel myself again, so don’t worry about rushing it! It’s a process, it really is. And that’s fine. Replenish your body with good food, retrain your fitness day by day, it’s a normal process that takes time.
If you would like to follow Libby’s journey click here.
If you are looking to improve your fertility we provide nutrition, herbal and lifestyle support to help you in your goals. To learn more or to book in click here.