Libby Weaver is an authority on women's health and the author of bestsellers Accidentally Overweight and Rushing Women's Syndrome. She recently hosted Body Basics seminars in New Zealand.
What is your medical training?
I spent 14 years at university. I did a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Dietetics and graduated with honours. Within this science degree there were also a few years of psychology. I carried on to complete a PhD in biochemistry, examining biochemical and nutritional factors in children with autism.
Why did you concentrate on women's health, weight and wellbeing?
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I didn't set out to focus on women's health. I simply saw more women than men for consultations and realised early on that the way we eat, drink, think and move all influence our health, body shape and size. I wanted to encourage people to look at all facets of their health and not just on obtaining a particular weight outcome. I don't weigh any of my clients as I believe all we do is weigh our self-esteem when we do this. Losing weight is often not about the food, and I wanted to provide people with insights into different factors influencing their health.
Do you temper seminars to the food trends and tastes of the audience?
The message really is universal. I want to encourage people to return to a nourishing, whole foods diet, to consider the impact of their thoughts on their health outcomes, to move their bodies in a way that is suitable for them. Whether there is an underlying challenge with an aspect of their biochemistry, their nutrition or perhaps they believe they are too busy to prioritise their health, the information I provide is relevant regardless of nationality.
Is the media and associated imagery a large part of the root cause of weight/health problems?
Unfortunately, a lot of people now obtain their health and nutrition advice from the media and girls are bombarded with diet advice at increasingly young ages. I meet 8-year-olds who have put themselves on diets. We need to teach children and adults to focus on the nutritional value of foods rather than calorie count.
Is your message "feel good and looking good will follow"?
No. For so many people today, before their biochemistry will "allow" them to feel good, sex hormone imbalances (for example) need to be sorted out. No amount of positive thinking can get a woman through severe PMT. Biochemical changes are often required before a woman will feel consistently well. When striving to obtain desired health outcomes there has to be a fundamental shift in someone's psychology. I aspire to get people to the point where they are able to effortlessly take outstanding care of themselves and I always encourage people to explore the emotional as well as biochemical side of their health. Someone doesn't eat a packet of biscuits after dinner because they believe it is good for their health. There is an underlying emotional connection to the way this food makes someone feel. I believe my work helps people achieve sustained change because I help them literally get to the heart of their matter.