Balancing the Grind with Libby Babet, Co-Founder of Beauty Food

Libby Babet is the founder of several ventures, including The Upbeat, Beauty Food, Chief Nutrition, and business & wellness events (Nurture Her and Nurture 360).

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I originally trained as a journalist and worked in TV and magazines before I had a big health scare in my early 20s. Basically, my blood pressure was more than double normal levels, with some repercussions for my organ health, and I was told I’d be on medication for life and very likely never have kids.

Healing myself started me down a whole new path into health and fitness and in the past decade I’ve done a fair amount of work in the media including writing for Prevention Magazine and Women’s Fitness Magazine, and a season as a trainer on Channel 10’s relaunch of “The Biggest Loser: Transformed”.

I’ve also started businesses in fitness (The Upbeat), health food (Beauty Food and Chief Nutrition), and business & wellness events (Nurture Her and Nurture 360). Day to day most of my time is on The Upbeat (as a trainer and running the business) and we have teams that run the other businesses day to day. 

Most importantly, I’m also a proud mum to my 2 year old daughter Izzy!

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Izzy is in daycare 3 days per week so on my work days I’m up at 4:30am to teach at my dance fitness studio The Upbeat in Bondi.

Breakfast needs to wait until about 9-10am depending on the day, because I lead each dance, strength, or mat conditioning workout which means I’ll be jumping around and stretching, bending and lifting for at least a few hours. Often more, so I’ll fill the gap with a Beauty Food cookie which was created for just such a “no time to eat” scenario!

My husband Justin takes Izzy to daycare so after classes it’s a quick breakfast then meetings, meetings and more meetings – doing choreo in the studio, walking meetings or meetings at the office with my team, or around Sydney with partners.

It’s also the time I write and shoot any content for my businesses and my own social channels, catch up on customer messages and whatever else throws itself into my day.

I am absolutely terrible on email. I always have been but I’m worse since having Izzy than ever before. I quickly scan my inbox on my phone but if it’s not in my top priorities, it often ends up never happening.

I’ve learned to let go of the guilt of not getting back to people, it’s just the way it is right now and I can’t possibly get everything done, but I can choose what I do get done.

On the plus side, everyone seems to understand this now so if they really need me they know to call or text! I also have an out of office explaining that I’m terrible on email and direct them to other members of my team, which seems to help.

Justin also picks Izzy up from daycare so I’m home around 5pm to make dinner, bath Izzy and put her to bed. If I have time after Izzy is asleep I’ll plan my next day.

I find getting all that info out of my head and onto paper makes me so much more productive, but more importantly it helps me sleep better because I’m not waking up at 3am thinking “s**t, I need to remember to do xyz.”

After that, I’m usually in bed by 9pm for a quick read before passing out with my Kindle on my face.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Yes and no. I run my own businesses so I can be as flexible as I like in theory, but businesses tend to need a lot of love and my fitness business needs me to be present running classes a lot of the time.

I live upstairs from my studio so I work from home, the studio and every now and then from our office – I guess you could say therefore I work remotely as I don’t have a fixed work address or a desk, but I definitely struggle to leave for more than a long weekend! 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I’m not sure work-life balance exists for me in a pure sense. I find that saying ‘yes’ to one thing generally means saying ‘no’ to something else, so I tend to think of it more as work-life ‘leaning’.

Sometimes I’m leaning towards work, e.g. if I have a lot on or if I’m pushing hard for a period of time to achieve a certain goal (this happened during lock down when we had to transition The Upbeat to a digital business overnight), and sometimes I’m leaning towards life if we need a chance to recharge and reconnect as a family.

I’ve given up trying to keep work and life always in balance because for me balance can often mean compromise which can mean I’m not doing a great job at work or at being a mum and wife.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

Yes! I’ve never been a big TV watcher but I’ve stopped watching altogether (except for the odd bit of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette because, hey) and started going to bed a lot earlier.

I’ve also stopped looking at my phone after 8pm. I have more time, I sleep better, my brain is clearer, and I feel like I have more balance just by reducing the amount of stimulation I give my brain every day, especially the dopamine inducing stimulation from my phone. 

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

As far as books go, I’m a bit of a fantasy nerd, it’s my meditation! I highly recommend anything by Brandon Sanderson, Brent Weeks, Mark Lawrence and Peter Brett.

In terms of podcasts I’m currently loving Healthy Her with Amelia Phillips, Healthy-ish by Body & Soul and Ali Izzo, The mindbodygreen Podcast, Tiddas 4 Tiddas,The Tim Ferriss Show, Ben Greenfield Fitness, anything Oprah, TED Radio Hour, Sincerely X, How I Built This, Unruffled.

I mean, I could go on. I’ll listen to anything I’ve barely scratched the surface here!

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My Apple Watch: It’s handy as a trainer (hello stopwatch, Tabata timer, etc.) but I really like knowing how far I’ve moved any given day with the step counter, and being able to take calls and texts anywhere, and my fave feature, being able to buzz my phone so I can find it when it’s lost (which is almost every hour of the day).

Beauty Food cookies: I need something to eat before I go and train people and they really do fill me up for a good 4 hours with quality nutrition

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

I’d like to read an interview with a single mum who runs a business or has a very demanding job and isn’t yet wealthy enough to have a team of people supporting her and doesn’t have family nearby. I’m not a single mum, and it’s hard enough already, so I’d love to understand just how they do it!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I feel it’s my duty to share something practical on the fitness front! The big thing I’m saying to everyone at the moment is most people don’t do nearly enough walking, especially coming out of a year of lockdowns, and if there’s one thing you can do for your body, mind and soul it’s to walk more.

The easiest way to walk more is to include it in what you’re already doing. Instead of making phone calls at your desk, talk while you walk around the block (tip: add a little “W” in your calendar for calls you can do walking). Doing a Zoom call? Use the Zoom app on your phone and at least stand up and walk around the office.

Make your face to face meetings walking meetings (I find I have better meetings and conversations when we’re walking). Forgot about doing laps for a rock star car spot, park a few blocks away. I always say aim for 12,000 steps a day, because that’s when you start to see real change.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.