Meet Maria Claps, a member of the Practice Better community, health coach and entrepreneur. Maria helps to empower women to take control of their health and feel their best. Maria’s sharing with us her personal and professional journey to becoming a hormone expert and building a successful online business.
Would you start by telling us a little bit about yourself, what you do and who you work with?
I’m a health coach and FDN practitioner who works with midlife women who want to optimize their health so they can avoid being what I call a “midlife woman health statistic”: burnt out, overwhelmed, no libido, at an unhealthy weight and at risk for the dreaded diseases of civilization such as cancer, diabetes, and cognitive decline.
Can you share with us why you chose to focus on midlife women in your practice?
They are the ones that are struggling the most. When women lose hormones, which is what is happening in midlife, the consequences are profound.
Can you describe your journey to becoming an expert on hormone health and who a few of your favorite teachers and mentors are?
Make that the only thing you learn about for a while. Read everything you can get your hands on, enroll in trainings on the topic, attend symposiums. Instead of being a ‘generalist’, do a narrow but deep exploration of your chosen subject. A few of my favorite teachers and mentors are Drs. Felice Gersh, Lindsey Berkson, and Daved Rosensweet.
How are the needs of midlife women different than women under 40 and how do your programs and services address those differences?
Hormones shift profoundly in the 40s. These shifts can lead to permanent changes in mood, physiology, and the ability to navigate midlife with ease. My programs address this by explaining to women what these shifts are, the health consequences of not addressing these shifts and then together, we get to addressing these shifts with food, movement, supplements, mindset and BHRT education. I speak from a place of experience. My knowledge is not just academic…. I had to learn this stuff to save myself.
You focus a lot on the DUTCH test and training other health coaches on how to use and interpret their tests. What is it you like most about this test and how does it fit into your own practice?
Actually, what I love most about this test is that it becomes an empowerment tool for women when they have someone who can spend an hour explaining their results and steps they can take to improve their health and life. Unlike a typical physician visit, where lab results are usually just brushed over, I go deep with my clients on what their results mean for them from a physiology point of view, I love the estrogen metabolites on the DUTCH test. We make several different types of metabolites. Some are cancer-causing, some are not. Seeing this, and acting upon this knowledge can change the trajectory of a woman’s life.
How has having such a niche market and a clear idea of your ideal client impacted your business?
Well, I recently hired a nutritionist to help me because I can’t keep up with all of the interest! Business is good!
So many women in their 40’s and 50’s struggle with hormonal imbalances. What are some common factors that negatively impact women’s hormones that they are surprised to hear about?
Things that impact hormone balance that women seem to be surprised about is sugar intake. I love explaining how sugar increases insulin and how insulin interfaces with the sex hormone system in the body.
They are also surprised to know how alcohol intake hampers the liver’s ability to process hormones. SO many midlife women love their wine. But it doesn’t usually love them back–that’s because we decline in a liver enzyme, alcohol dehydrogenase, which allows us to efficiently process it!
They are also surprised to learn that their lack of morning sunlight affects their cortisol production.
Lastly, for women that are on BHRT, they are surprised to learn that their BHRT can negatively impact their thyroid. (Side note: I’m very much in favor of BHRT and I coach women and health coaches/nutritionists on how to use it) but there is a lot to be considered when using it.
You also run a group coaching program for women who want to thrive in midlife. What are some of the benefits you’re seeing with coaching women in groups over one-on-one?
I love the energy of a group of like-minded women with similar goals and health needs who support each other. Women helping women is what it’s all about.
Tell us about anything you’ve got coming up that you’d like our readers to know about and where they can learn more?
I am hosting the Women’s Hormone Balance Retreat in Tuscany, Italy from October 3-10th, 2020. It’s in a luxurious 17th-century villa —we will be starting out with morning nature walks (sun exposure in order to have a proper circadian hormonal rhythm and ending our days with fireside chats. In between, we’ll hunt for white truffles, try the region’s best gelato (or sorbetto for those who must be dairy-free) and visit an amazing dedicated gluten-free bakery in the city of Florence. There will be a tonics and tinctures for perimenopause and menopause class and a gluten-free bread baking class. Women can attend with a friend, spouse or daughter. It is open to practitioners and non-practitioners. Learn more HERE.
You can also find out more about Maria at www.mariaclaps.com
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