Biggest Loser Trainer, female entrepreneur and mother, Libby Babet, shares how she improved her high blood pressure naturally and avoided a lifetime of medication.

Libby was diagnosed with malignant hypertension in her early 20s, with blood pressure 3 x times higher than normal, she was told she’d be on medication for life and never have kids.

Healing herself through the right kinds 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 the new trainer on Channel 10’s re-imagination and relaunch of “The Biggest Loser: Transformed”.

Libby shares, “In my early 20’s, after 12 months of chronic migraines, sweats, shaking hands and extreme exhaustion, I was diagnosed with malignant hypertension. It turns out my blood pressure 3 times higher than normal, and I was told I’d be on blood pressure medication for life and it would make things hard when I wanted to have kids.

That wasn’t good enough for me and I was a journalist at the time so I put my research skills to work to see if there was anything I could do. I studied nutrition and fitness. I started seeing every specialist I could find, both traditional and wholistic.

What I discovered was, yes there are a lot of ways you can naturally reduce hypertension. Here are some of the things that worked for me, and I need to be clear, while I managed to get off my medication (over a long period of 7-8 years), you need to make any changes in consultation with your doctor and allied health professionals, as I did.”

Start with nutrition

Here’s what I did:

Stay hydrated: Lots of water and herbal teas!

Alcohol: Going dry for 12 months had a huge impact for me. I still have the odd drink now but I limit it to a max of one glass of wine at a time, at most 2 times per week, usually less.

Sodium/Salt: It’ll take some time for your palate to adjust to less salt but once you do you won’t want to go back. I still have a sprinkle of sea salt on food I’ve cooked, but I don’t (or at least very rarely) eat the kind of processed salts in things like salted crackers, chips, most snack food bars, cereals, take away meals and deep fried foods.

Coffee/Caffeine: I switched to herbal and green teas rather than coffee for a good few years. I now have a daily coffee but if I have issues with my blood pressure, which happens from time to time, I’ll drop the coffee. I’ve been using Before You Speak at home and they have the most amazing decaf adrenal reset product, which I love.

Eat proper meals: A focus on eating real, whole foods, not food-like products, worked wonders for me. Try to focus on nutrients not calories and aim for variety. Eat when you’re hungry and check in that you’re not just bored first 😉 If you eat meat and eggs choose truly free-range and if you’re not keen on eating meat, some bone broth as a ‘snack’ to assist with gut health and reduce inflammation can be really great. Hot tip: In nature, colour tends to equal nutrients. Eat the rainbow.

Eat your healthy fats: Healthy fats like you’ll find in nuts, high quality olive oil (we like Cobram Estate), eggs and avocado are great for you and help curb sugar cravings.

If you need something on-the-go grab some of my products Chief Bar or Beauty Food, which can also make a great breakfast when paired with a piece of fruit, for those of you who don’t love eating early in the day and struggle with a full brekky – use the code LIBBY for a cheeky $10 discount off your first order.

Eliminate highly processed enemy fats that destroy your health and metabolic fitness: Things like Canola oil, Corn oil, Cottonseed oil, Soy oil, Sunflower oil, Safflower oil, Grapeseed oil and Ricebran oil. This includes no deep-fried foods and always scan the ingredients of packaged products – almost every processed snack, cracker, popcorn, health or protein bar, dried fruit, granola or toasted nut product will include one of these inflammatory oils (but not Chief Bar and Beauty Food, as above).

Avoid margarine and butter substitutes: Choose traditional oils like olive, avocado, peanut, butter/ghee, tallow/lard, cocoa butter, macadamia nut oil, coconut oil, almond oil, unrefined palm or palm kernel oil, walnut, flax, sesame oils.

Stop at 2-4 serves of starchy carbs and sugar per day: Including all starchy veg and grains of all sorts, plus fruit and beans, or sugars. One serve of fruit is one large piece of whole fruit like a banana or apple, two small pieces of fruit like apricots or kiwi fruit, or one cup of berries or chopped up larger fruit like papaya or mixed fruits. One serve of starchy carbs is half a cup of cooked grains or beans, one slice of bread or one cup of a low GI starch like pumpkin or carrot. Let’s call one serve of sugar one teaspoon (4g), which is roughly 2 squares of Lindt 70% choccy if you’re looking for a sweet treat!

Ditch most artificial sweeteners: A little stevia, or monk fruit is okay from a health perspective, but avoid all other artificial sweeteners, like Aspartame, Sucralose, ACE K, and sugar alcohols including Sorbitol, Maltitol, Mannitol, Erythritol, Xylitol. These can have a huge impact on your gut health, focus, metabolic efficiency and appetite hormones, and may even have broader health implications for some people.

Skip the skim: Give your appetite hormones the right message by choosing whole food products, like whole eggs, whole milk, whole cheese, etc… just don’t over-do the quantities!

If you want to delve into more detail and learn about the above step by step, try my 6 week online program Sneaky Nutrition Reset.

Think movement, not exercise

© Lyndon Marceau / marceauphotography

When I say the word ‘exercise’ most people think of the gym and that can scare off a lot of people so I prefer the word movement.

Get started with my Double Dozen program:

  1. Take 12,000 steps per day (I love #applewatch because it tracks all kinds of movement precisely but you can also use your iphone, any step-counting watch, or even a super cheap clip-on pedometer to track your steps if walking is your go-to)
  • Complete a 12-minute home strength workout per day (warm up for 2 mins, then pick at least one upper and one lower body exercise, like squats and pushups, or a few of your fave Pilates moves, or you could even create a circuit with a handful of exercises if you’re confident, then go back and forth between them for the next ten minutes, and you’re done!

Hit the Double Dozen consistently for 12 days out of every 14. Starting with movement over hardcore exercise works best every time because you build sustainable habits that last and help you stay in shape year-round, and you’re moving your body consistently which always get better results.

If that’s not your thing and you’re looking for something really fun, try my dance inspired workouts via my app at The Upbeat. Your first 2 weeks are free!

Libby is a best selling health and fitness author, speaker and presenter. She’s a former trainer for Channel 10’s “The Biggest Loser: Transformed” and co-founder of healthy snacking company Chief Nutrition which has two brands, Chief Bar and Beauty Food. She’s also the founder of dance-inspired group fitness studio The Upbeat and co-founder of business retreats Nurture Her and Nurture 360.

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