She has a long list of celebrity followers which includes Hugh Jackman, Miranda Kerr and fitness entrepreneur and All Black wife Casey Green, but nutrition specialist Dr Libby Weaver's most ardent supporter is her husband.
“My skill is in having a vision – being able to see how something can succeed,” says former Auckland Racing Club CEO Chris (44), who has put all his support – personal, professional and financial – into helping his wife of four years use biochemical and behavioural influences to help women lose weight.
Libby's gift for taking complex chemistry and putting it into simple language has made her one of Australasia's top nutrition specialists. But while she's the face of the brand, it's Chris, she says, who has helped her get to where she is today.
“I absolutely love working with Chris – I'm beyond grateful to this man, not just for our relationship but for his belief in me,” says Libby (38), whose third book, Dr Libby's Real Food Chef, is currently number three in Whitcoulls’ New Zealand non-fiction bestseller list.
“I love his company and I always look forward to seeing him. I've always had an absolute passion for what I do – I believe it's the reason I was put on this earth – but without this gorgeous human encouraging me and helping get the message out there, I'd still be trying to write my first book!”
Libby and Chris met at a lifestyle retreat in Queensland, where she was speaking on how people can understand and treat the causes behind their weight-gain.
“Chris pulled me aside at the end of his stay, was very complimentary and told me I was a great speaker with a great message and I need to write a book. And, he suggested how I could do it,” says Libby.
“I'd never met this guy, but he had such great humour, was so playful – I was blown away that anyone would think through what I was doing the way he had. I had no idea at that stage he'd become my husband!”
Chris and Libby are devoted to delivering their message throughout New Zealand and overseas, to the point that they can easily count the number of nights they've spent in their apartment in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour this year.
“We do put a lot of hours into this, but it doesn't feel like work,” insists Libby, who works from home as well as her office, which now has a staff of seven.
“We gave away the TV last year because that was the only way we could find more time!” While Libby and Chris’ jobs are all-encompassing, the pair couldn't be happier.
“One day I know I'll have chooks in the backyard and a different lifestyle, but I'm not drawn to that right now,” explains Libby.
“ Most people will tell you it's very rare for me to be stressed. I meet a lot of women with cancer – extraordinary women with extraordinary courage. My long to-do list is nowhere near anything they have to deal with.”
Chris delights in telling the story of when, aged 22, Libby decided to break down the biological biochemistry of the body to work out why certain reactions were happening.
She covered her bedroom walls with butchers' paper on which she wrote down every chemical reaction she knew and memorised them. But while Libby is inspiring to listen to, it's Chris who keeps her smiling.
“He's amazing at finding the fun in anything,” she says lovingly of Chris, who says he learned while working with entrepreneur Richard Branson that the key to any success is “to surprise and delight, so I work hard at trying to do that for Libby”.
While many couples would find working and living in such close proximity difficult, Chris and Libby make it work. “Once you've worked out the cause of the argument rather than the symptom, it
often disappears,” says Chris.
Which, in essence, is Libby's message – and it's one that has worked for thousands of people already. Last month Libby was invited to speak at the New York Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world's largest nutrition school, and she and Chris are currently working on creating “webinar” sessions – live internet seminars that can be broadcast worldwide .
“Doing everything ourselves like this has been hugely enjoyable, but it's not how we want to go on,” says Chris. “We get countless emails, letters and texts from people Libby has helped. The next plan is to help as many more as we can.”
- Body shape and size is a lot more than calories in, calories out. Hormones, emotions and stress are all factors in weight-gain.
- It’s not a lack of education that gets you reaching for the chocolate biscuits – very few people do that thinking they are doing themselves a favour. Ask yourself, why do you do what you do, when you know what you know?
- Take a breath. Find something that brings you peace and make sure you make time for it in your everyday life.
- Eat properly. Eating like a bird and exercising like a maniac isn’t sustainable or healthy. Understand how your body works if you want it to work properly.
- Be nice to yourself! Many people speak to themselves in a way they wouldn’t treat their worst enemy. Be conscious – don’t let the guilt at eating those biscuits do more harm than eating the biscuits themselves.
Dr Libby’s Real Food Chef ($49.99, Little Green Frog Publishing) is available from book stores.