Got a Boomer babe client? This sandwich-generation woman has met her hormones and thinks they're going to do her in. If you work with one there’s a chance that she is not getting results at the rate you’d expect. What’s going on?
The answers are not intuitive and they are not in textbooks yet. You don’t have time to wait. For success in acquiring and keeping these clients you need these answers right now.
Read on to learn why it's not about calories. It’s about hormones. Identify coaching strategies that increase your value, and identify what she's not saying that you need to know. You’ll understand why your traditional nutrition and exercise advice won’t work during menopause. Lastly, learn where to start.
- Identify solutions for the over-50 female client with weight loss challenges.
- Learn lifestyle choices that affect a woman’s health and fitness during hormone change.
- Identify traditional strategies that don’t work for clients with hormone imbalance.
- Explore alternatives for putting clients back in hormone balance.
- Learn about the influence of hormones on weight and fat.
It’s Not about Calories: It’s about Hormones
Counting calories does not work, at least not in terms of simple math. Hormones, not calories, rule fat burning and fat storage. Even in the face of a calorie deficit, if her hormones are not balanced your female client can store fat.
Encouraging clients to count calories without counting the quantity of protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrates is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Your mid-life client has been doing it all her life though and it’s what she knows. Help her shake that old mentality in light of her new hormone rules and you’ll help her win the game.
Working with hormones requires a focus on food type and timing of consumption. That’s not new. Yet, type and timing of food for hormone balancing is different than simply muscle mass gain or weight loss strategies. It all depends on which hormones affect her most. Among even this narrow female-after-50 market no two women will have the same experience.
Take time to match symptoms and signs of imbalance with the hormone responsible. If she’s not sleeping, has afternoon cravings and often feels rushed or worried, for instance, there’s a good chance cortisol is getting in the way of her results. Soothe cortisol with lower intensity exercise. Suggest yoga instead of long cardio bouts on the treadmill or boot camp. Her temporary exercise prescription may burn a lot fewer calories but successfully reduce fatigue and cortisol. Doing more when she’s out of balance will push her further into a state of fatigue.
Health Coaching Strategies
When she says eating healthy and exercising are not working, ask questions. Eating “healthy” is a fluid concept. Use old-fashioned food logs to focus on quality and timing and get away from calories. Help her understand “healthy” during hormone chaos is different than during hormone bliss. Grains, dairy or other food sensitivities should be considered.
As the expert you supply the facts. As a coach you supply the questions.
A woman going through hormone changes and chronic fatigue may lack appetite in the morning. Telling her to eat breakfast won’t solve the real problem. Coach her about lifestyle habits. Here’s an example of coaching:
Mary said she gets home from work and starts eating. She’s had a good lunch and she’s got a snack with her at work. Still, she often stands in front of the refrigerator and dives in.
You could say: “You’re not hungry, and it isn’t a craving you’re describing. What could it be that causes the stress that leads you to this reaction?” Then focus on the stress. You and Mary may decide that she journal or have a different cue for that moment she walks in the door. “Instead of going to the kitchen, what could you do?”
Help a client avoid random acts of dieting, sleeping and stress management she’s been repeating for years with a systematic approach. She may not connect a stressful day at work or a restless night with a need for a change in her workout intensity.
What She’s Not Saying That You Need to Know
Sleep has a big impact on weight loss. Cortisol is up when sleep is down. When elevated cortisol, along with the hormone ghrelin, cause cravings and then pair with insulin released in response to satisfying those cravings, fat storage in the belly is more likely.
Your client may not see the connection between stress, sleep, and fat weight. She may fail to mention these. Question her about stress in several ways. Ask about her sources of stress. Ask what signs she gets when she’s stressed the most. Ask how often she feels rushed during a day. Ask how much she worries.
Ask what she does to reduce stress. Ask what activities give her joy. Help her increase those activities. A woman may hear from a doctor that she needs to sleep more or reduce stress. What she needs from you is a plan. Most women don’t take time to deal with stress until it’s causing a health problem. You can hold your client accountable.
Why Textbook Nutrition and Exercise Advice Make Things Worse
If you use a common sense approach to exercise and nutrition you might make your client tired but not better. Chances are she’s already exhausted.
- Instead of cardio three-to-five days a week she may need a week off to just smell the roses and do down dog.
- Instead of her Monday, Wednesday, Friday weight training she may need two days of 10-20 minutes of major muscle groups with heavy weight. She may do better with Monday – Thursday schedule to allow more recovery.
- Instead of targeting a range of fruits and vegetables she may do better with a visual of filling half her plate with vegetables and limiting fruits that are higher in sugar.
- Instead of counting calories, which naturally reduces fat intake, she may need to increase Omega-3 fats to reduce inflammation.
- Instead of being told to eat dairy for bones and whole grains for fiber she may need to test to see if she’s sensitive to these common triggers to poor gut health.
In Order to Get Fit She May Need to Stop Exercising
If she’s physically and emotionally stressed she potentially needs less exercise but she still needs you. She needs to balance hormones before she does more exercise. Think of it like simply using portion control if you’re eating processed and packaged food. Less of the same food that got you here doesn’t get you there. Likewise, more of the same exercise doesn’t work. For a short time just allowing her body to figure some things out can get her to her goals faster with less frustration. That’s not intuitive and that’s why she needs you.
Hormone Imbalance is Misunderstood
“You’re getting older.”
“It will get better after menopause.”
“What do you expect at your age?”
These are statements that women report they’ve been told by trainers and doctors. When what’s been prescribed doesn’t work because no explanation was offered. If you’re a trainer who understands signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance you’ll be a haven for frustrated women. First, though, you will have to gain a woman’s trust. Figure that she’s seen a doctor or two, been exercising and trying to eat “healthy” without any results. She’s beyond frustrated.
Know Where to Start
It’s not a one-size fits all program. Not even every menopausal woman needs the same kind of program. Help current and prospective clients see that you understand that and you’ll win them over. They’re used to feeling crazy when they tell people about brain fog, belly fat, and hot flashes. Empathize.
Assure your after-50 client that she’s unique. Provide a systematic way to find her unique solutions. Though there’s no blueprint for women after 50 to follow there is a systematic way you can eliminate her confusion. That’s exactly what she wants. Conflicting nutrition and exercise information together with a woman’s game-changing hormones lead to a frustrating situation. What she used to do doesn’t work. That’s a recipe for frustration for her that creates an opportunity for you.
This target client is definitely seeking solutions and not finding many good options right now. She’s looking for you.