It’s the week before Christmas when I visit Libby Limon in her North London flat, and while most of us look grey and bloated from Christmas party season excess, she’s all clear skinned, toned limbs, bright eyed and full of energy. This is all the more impressive given that during her twenties, she was struck down by multiple illnesses that doctors were unable to diagnose for months.
“I had chronic health issues that, in the eyes of conventional medicine, were either not illnesses or were untreatable,” she tells me, settling into the chair opposite me on her dinning table. “I didn’t think that being an ‘ill well person’ was a satisfactory way to live my life so it definitely pushed me to search for a solution.”
Even though she managed to push through with her symptoms for years, her health suffered and she battled with immunity issues, as well as hormone imbalances, problems with digestion and IBS. “Conventional medicine and the NHS are amazing but I don’t thin they have all the answers – nobody does. There’s definitely a need for both conventional medicine and other wellness avenues,” she enthuses. “I wasn’t in a good way for a long time and it probably took a year to feel well again and maybe two to three years to feel optimally healthy.”
In her early twenties, Libby resigned from her insurance job in the city and embarked on a journey training to be a yoga teacher, going back to school to learn nutrition. “I came from a typical middle class family, school and community where it was encouraged to have a ‘profession’,” she says of her decision to go into finance. “I didn’t really know professions like being a nutritionist existed; it was just a doctor, lawyer or accountant. I was always good at maths and interested in global economics and politics so economics and finance seemed like a good option. It definitely never was a passion and I think I realised pretty quickly after starting my career that it wasn’t right for me long term.”
When you step off the ladder and start again, you will watch your friends seemingly zoom past you career-wise, which is hard. All through my retraining and the start of my business, I had no money and worked waitressing and temp PA jobs to pay the bills while I invested all my money in my future. At times I wondered if I had made the right decision but in the end, I know I did.
Taking the leap was a no brainer, she says. “I remember people calling me brave to quit, but it never really felt like I was. It didn’t feel like a big decision; it was just something I needed to do and I knew it was the right choice. I was 27, so still young, without children or a partner. Financially I was in good shape too and had managed to purchase a small flat and I’d saved enough money to pay for my nutrition course.”
Naturally, the early days came with their challenges. “When you step off the ladder and start again, you will watch your friends seemingly zoom past you career-wise, which is hard. All through my retraining and the start of my business, I had no money and worked waitressing and temp PA jobs to pay the bills while I invested all my money in my future. At times I wondered if I had made the right decision but in the end, I know I did. I never wake up with that sinking feeling of dread that I used to have everyday in my city days.”
Like a lot of nutritionists and health gurus, she’s Instagram-friendly with Pinterest-board ready images, beautiful recipes and a huge fan base. What sets Libby apart is the fact that she’s highly qualified. She’s not a 21-year blogger turned author waxing lyrical about nutritional plans they know nothing about. She’s refreshingly self-deprecating and approachable, the antithesis of a self-promoter. But she’s doing herself a disservice: After completing her nutritional therapy course, she trained and registered as a teacher of Vinyasa Flow Yoga and has spent years treating hundred of clients for conditions including weight problems, exhaustion and digestive issues through one-to-one sessions in her clinical practice. LVMH, VITL, Etsy and Frame are just some of her corporate partners (she teaches Vinyasa at Frame Queen’s Park every Tuesday morning).
“This is really the cornerstone of what I do. Having expert knowledge and grounding is essential to me,” she tells me, passionately. “Nutrition is not a simple subject that can be reduced into a bite-sized online course. With nutrition, not one size fits all. Actually understanding the biochemistry of the body is integral to creating bespoke, evidence-based programmes for my clients.”
Her key message is balance and consistency. Keeping healthy doesn’t mean giving up the treats you love, which is what a lot of us do at this time of year when we make grand resolutions for the year. Instead, she advocates making small, easy changes that you can stick too and build from there. In her world, it’s more about being conscious about what you put into your body in an active way rather than simply being restrictive. If you sign up to one of her one-one-one sessions, she’ll work you through your eating habits functioning through a medical lens to come up with a personal solution. I think because she has experienced the healing power of food and exercise, she understands where most of us are coming from with all health qualms and is incredibly practical when it comes to offering a holistic solution.
“I know from personal experience how it can be a daily battle that affects all aspects of your wellbeing. One 30 year-old guy I was working with had never eaten a full meal without feeling sick, followed by bloating and discomfort. After 6 months on the programme, he could eat normally with minimal symptoms and was eating foods that he couldn’t eat before…For most people it isn’t about making huge changes or going on restrictive complicated diets. It’s about understanding the underlying issues to make an informed and focused approach.”
Libby’s annual Urban January Detox Programme, REEBOOTCAMP kick starts next week. More information and booking details here: https://moveyourframe.com/class/reboot-camp-15th-22nd-january-2016. She was shot at her London home by Naomi Mdudu.