Dr Libby Weaver gives a wry smile, recalling the moment she realised she was falling victim to the very health trap she was trying to help others overcome.
“I’d written this book called Rushing Woman’s Syndrome and here I was, becoming a rushing woman myself,” says Libby, a leading nutrition specialist and bestselling author, widely known as Dr Libby.
“I thought, ‘Uh-oh, I’ve got to put a stop to this!’”
Rushing Woman’s Syndrome is a phrase Libby coined in her book to describe the biochemical and emotional effects of always being in a hurry, and the health consequences it can cause – such as PMS, poor digestion, infertility, sugar cravings, overwhelming stress and difficulty losing weight. Ironically, the incredible success of the book, along with a previous title she penned called Accidentally Overweight, was a major factor why her life was racing along at a breakneck pace.
Libby was in great demand around the world to speak about the advice in her books. Although she was keen to get her message of how to enjoy optimal health across, being under so much pressure soon had an impact.
The 38-year-old always had measures in place to help keep her life on an even keel – such as eating well and exercising. But these began to slip by the wayside, and after about four months, Libby realised she wasn’t her normal, energetic self.
“It wasn’t that I was sick or starting to notice health problems as such, but I just didn’t feel right,” reveals Libby. “I was experiencing some of the things my patients were coming to talk to me about, like always feeling tired.”
Normally vigilant about getting enough sleep, she was working until 2am and getting up again at 6am. And after faithfully practicing soothing t’ai chi every day for more than 10 years, Libby began missing her daily session because she had too much else to do.
“We don’t think about it, but it is important to breathe properly – I find t’ai chi allows me to handle anything. When I didn’t do it, I really noticed a difference. I was going down the Rushing Woman path!”
Fortunately, Libby was able to get back on track, as she resumed t’ai chi and resolved to get more sleep. While it was a little alarming to find herself on the way to becoming one of the people she was trying to help, the experience did provide further insight into how easy it can be for the demands of daily life to impact on women’s health.
“I had noticed a lot of the women coming to see me were always in such a rush,” Libby recalls. “They’d burst through the door, all apologetic for being late, and when I talked to them, I found they were just trying to fit more and more into their lives and it was too much.“They had no downtime –and if they ever did rest, they felt guilty because there was always something to do, such as 4000 emails to be answered or washing to be folded.
“I was seeing all these women who were saying, ‘I’m so tired, but I suppose that’s because of my age.’ Yet they were only 40. If it was down to age, then every 80-year-old would be absolutely exhausted, but that is not the case.” Libby says there is only so much the body can take before you start to notice symptoms such as constant bloating, trouble sleeping and painful periods.
That’s because rushing, and the stress it causes, disrupts the finely tuned processes in our bodies, from our nervous system, to the production of sex hormones, and the way we digest food.
While slowing down is the obvious way to combat this, Libby believes that’s easier said than done.
“It’s more about changing your perception and the way you do things. Try to achieve the best health through eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, learning to cope with stress and simply finding time for yourself.”
Libby, whose husband Chris uses his business skills to help promote her message, says she makes the effort to have “me time” every day – even if it is just reading a book for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, the rest of the year is looking pretty hectic. Her diary includes a US conference appearance, where TV medic Dr Mehmet Oz is a guest speaker – and Libby is well aware she has to pace herself.
“I appreciate how important it is not to rush more than ever – I am taking my own advice!”
ONLINE AND ON-THE-GO.
Since it was first published in 2012, Rushing Woman’s Syndrome has been a huge success. But, ironically, many of the women it is aimed at haven’t read it – because they don’t have time!
Now, Libby has devised the Rushing Woman’s Syndrome Quick Start Programme – incorporating 30-day online coaching and support, providing strategies and practical tools to help women put the brakes on and lead a calm and productive life, instead of one that is rushed and constantly stressful.
“It takes no more than an hour a week, including a short video of 20 to 30 minutes, and there are some very clear actions to take. I’m hoping the women who try it will really notice a difference,” says Libby.
The programme can be downloaded from drlibby.com for $97.
photos: michelle hyslop • hair, make-up & styling: luisa petch • P32 (main): libby’s shirt from louche. P33 (main): libby’s Top from Lennox. Location: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour