Episode 041

Hormones, Fertility, and Running a Business with Lauren Allen

We live in an industry that is constantly focused on getting us to buy more, eat more, and have more of what they are selling rather than focus on what our bodies need and want. From a very young age, women become obsessed with foods and the way their bodies look, and we are up against a lot of pressure to look the way society dictates we should look.

I have a very special guest this week, as I’m welcoming my client Lauren Allen to the show. Lauren is a former sugar addict turned certified nutrition coach who specializes in women’s hormonal health. After being diagnosed with PCOS and struggling with fertility, she discovered the power of using food as medicine to heal her body, balance her hormones and eventually get pregnant naturally. She believes all women deserve to harness the power of eating foods that help their bodies thrive, and her mission is to help women find delicious ways to balance their hormones without feeling deprived or restricted.

Join us this week as Lauren shares her experience with PCOS and how this led her to get certified as a nutrition coach and start her business. We dive deeper into the food industry, the social and cultural factors that affect our opinions about and attitudes towards food, the various ways what we eat affects our hormones and overall wellbeing, and the limiting beliefs around money that she overcame to create success in her business.

If you want a flash of fresh financial inspiration and actionable tips to rewrite and master your relationship with money every week in your inbox, sign up for my email list! When you sign up, you’ll receive my free Money Mindset workbook that has been known to get people making more, investing more, and having warm, fuzzy, money conversations with their partners. I’ll see you in your inbox!

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • A common thought so many women have when it comes to eating healthily.
  • How Lauren felt judgment from other women when she began eating more healthily.
  • Why rest is an incredibly powerful asset to implement in your business.
  • How Lauren learned to see the value in what she is able to give to people in her business.
  • What Lauren offers entrepreneurial women who are still ovulating,
  • The reason so many women aren’t eating healthily.
  • How different foods can affect your hormones, even when you don’t realize it.

Resources

Read the full transcript now

You’re listening to the Mastering Money in Midlife podcast with Debbie Sassen Episode 41.

Welcome to Mastering Money in Midlife, a podcast for midlife women in business to overcome financial anxiety and make more money without burning out or sacrificing their families. Join Certified Life and Money Coach Debbie Sassen, as she shares practical business strategies and mindset shifts that help you dissolve the money blocks that keep you stuck in a cycle of under earning and under saving, sabotage the growth of your business and prevent you from building the wealth that you desire.

Debbie Sassen:  Hello, my friends and welcome back to the podcast. Today, I have a very special guest with me, my client, Lauren Allen. Lauren is a former sugar addict turned certified nutrition coach. Lauren specializes in women’s hormonal health. After being diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and struggling with fertility, Lauren discovered the power of using food as medicine to heal her body, balance her hormones, and eventually get pregnant naturally.

Lauren believes that all women deserve to harness the power of eating foods that help their bodies thrive. Her mission is to help women find delicious ways to balance the hormones without feeling deprived or restricted. Lauren coaches women privately and in groups, to help them optimize their fertility, decrease period pain, boost their mood and energy, and feel empowered in their health journeys.

Welcome, Lauren. I’m so happy to have you on the podcast.

Lauren Allen: Hi, Debbie, thank you so much for having me.

Debbie: I’m so happy you’re here. Tell us a little bit about your journey, which I mentioned briefly. But really, how did you come to the work that you’re doing? I know you’re so successful, and you’re loving working with your clients; we always talk about your successes. I see the stars in your eyes when you’re telling me that another one of your clients is pregnant, or you suspect she is, even before she knows it.

Lauren: Yeah, so I’ll tell a little bit of my backstory. As you mentioned in the bio, I think it’s really important for people to know, when I say I’m a former or recovering sugar addict, I really mean it. I for most of my life, I didn’t know anything about health, and I didn’t really care. I did care a lot about sweets, and baking, and chocolate, and ice cream.

For a very long time in my life, those were, you know, my main tools for coping with happy emotions, sad emotions. You know, I had a good day, went out for ice cream. Had a hard day, went out for ice cream. I didn’t really see a problem with the way that I was eating at all. Because I’ve just always naturally been thin. I have a really fast metabolism. Even though we have a very strong family history of diabetes, you know, I was just like, whatever; I won the genetic jackpot.

My doctors tell me I look healthy, my weight is healthy. So, I’m fine. That theory kind of held until I was starting to try to get pregnant. Then it became very clear from early on, that something wasn’t right. I hadn’t really been paying attention before this. But I realized, as I was, you know, starting to try to figure out when am I ovulating, I wasn’t getting a regular period.

Also prior to this, I kind of felt like, oh, I’m so lucky. I don’t have to deal with a period every month. It’s so annoying. Then I realized, wait a minute, this actually is really annoying. Slowly, more and more symptoms started. I wouldn’t say they were appearing because they had always been there. But I started becoming a little bit more aware that something wasn’t quite right in my body.

Eventually, I went to a fertility clinic. We started doing tests. They diagnosed me right away with something called PCOS; which stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. It basically meant that I wasn’t ovulating regularly. I had cysts all over my ovaries, along with it came some other things. I had high levels of insulin; I ended up later getting diagnosed with diabetes.

But the doctors were like, “Yeah, you’re not going to be able to get pregnant naturally.” I was kind of just in shock while they were saying that. Because again, even though I had this feeling something was wrong. when it came to fertility, it was very shocking for me to get a chronic illness diagnosis when, for my whole life, I had thought you know, “I look healthy. I seem healthy. No one’s ever told me otherwise.”

The doctor said, “Listen, it’s okay, you are healthy, otherwise. We have so many fertility treatment options. We’re going to get you started on ovulation inducing drugs, and you know, we’ll get the ball rolling.” So, I was really excited. “Okay, they’re going to send me home with a prescription and a pill, and I’ll start doing fertility treatments, and then we’ll get our baby.”

Then they started explaining to me, you know, I’d have to do a couple of tests. We’d probably start the treatments in a couple of months. Then, they told me the success rates of these treatments, which were below 30%. I felt my heart drop. I was like, “What do you mean, they’re only 30%?” You could go through fertility treatments and not come out with a baby?

Also, I was just super naive. It was really shocking to me, and I thought that this appointment would give us a lot of answers. I remember driving home from the appointment feeling much more lost and confused. I was like, you know, we’re at the end of the journey. We’re going to go to this fertility specialist, they’re going to give us the answers. And it was actually, “Lauren, you’re just starting the beginning of a very long, hard road ahead.”

That was really, really difficult to take in. I went home and I started, you know, researching all these things about PCOS and what can I do while waiting to start treatments? I came across all these crazy stories on the Internet, of people who had changed their diets and gotten pregnant naturally and really healed their PCOS.

And to me at the time, it really sounded like a weird voodoo magic, witchy kind of thing. It was so woo woo, and I was so not that person. I was not into alternative medicine at all. I’m a very, by the books, cynical person, by nature. I said, “You know what? This seems crazy, but I want to be a mom so badly.” I really felt at that point in my life, you know, it was affecting my marriage, my social life, my family life; it was it was killing me not to have a baby. I said, “Okay, let’s try it.”

As I started changing my diet, which was really, really hard in the beginning, I immediately started noticing all these changes. Or, I shouldn’t say immediately, it probably took about two weeks. The first two weeks, I had withdrawal symptoms, really as if I was coming down from my addiction; I had headaches, I was really irritable, very tired. But then, after about two weeks, that subsided, and I started having a lot more energy.

My skin had cleared up; I had always had eczema all over my face, which was very troublesome and annoying. I controlled it with steroid creams. But if I didn’t have the cream, it could get to the point where my face was bleeding and cracked and very dry.

I woke up one day, and it was as if someone had replaced my skin overnight, it was the craziest thing. I literally woke my husband up; I thought I was dreaming. My skin had really healed. So, I said, “Okay, you know what? This is clearly doing something good for me, even if I haven’t gotten pregnant yet,” or it’s not affecting that. I mean, my skin was looking amazing.

Then, I had also always had a lot of problems with sleeping; I had insomnia. I relied very heavily on supplements or medications to help me go to sleep. All of a sudden, I was falling asleep before I took my melatonin. I was just like, oh my gosh, I’m one of those people now who can lie down and shut my eyes and go to sleep. That is not something I’ve done, for as long as I can remember.

All these other changes, that were making me feel so much better, were happening; I was a lot less bloated. I had less stomach aches. And then after a couple of months, my period started regulating. Once that happens, we were actually ready to start the treatment. The doctors told me I could come in and do it. I said, “You know what? I was expecting to wait a few more months, let’s push it off one more month. Because my body is like, I’ve never felt this good in my life.”

We ended up then, getting pregnant on that cycle. It was just the most incredible feeling for me. Obviously, I was so happy to be pregnant. But for so long, I had had this belief that something is wrong with me and something’s wrong with my body; I’m sick, something is not right here, everyone else seems to get pregnant, but I can’t do it.

This really helped me start to undo a lot of those thoughts, that were very deeply ingrained through the infertility process. That was really what pushed me to say, “I want to learn more about this, because I know I’m not the only one struggling to get pregnant.” I wasn’t talking about it publicly at the time, but I knew there were so many women struggling.

I was like; do people know about this as an option? Because it ended up being a lot easier and cheaper for me than fertility treatments. Not to say there’s anything wrong with building your family that way, it’s amazing that we have that technology. But to me, you know, to be able to naturally heal your own body and have all the positive side effects. So, I was just like, people need to know about this.

That’s what pushed me to get certified. I kind of started my business out of this place of like; women need to know about this. I need to tell them because I believe that’s why I went through this. I didn’t really know what was going to happen with the business side. I had a different full-time job at the time. But that’s really how I got started.

 

Debbie: Amazing. I just have to share, I have full body chills when you were just talking about getting pregnant, and getting pregnant on your first cycle, because I know your story. But I don’t know this part of it.

Actually, I want you to tell some of the deeper emotional issues that you went through. Like, even looking at other women and wondering, “Why them?” We’ve talked about that. If you feel comfortable.

I want to say one thing. First of all, when Lauren and I meet regularly, almost always she’s eating a piece of chocolate. I think it’s important. It’s not like an all-or-nothing, right? It’s not like you can’t ever touch chocolate and the things that you like again in your life.

I think that realizing that healing your body with nutrition doesn’t mean you never get to have a piece of chocolate, or an ice cream cone, again in your life. So, I think that’s important to point out to the listeners.

The second thing is, when you talk about winning the jackpot with your, you know, slim body, fast metabolism. Two things came up. One is actually metabolism, like the speed of your metabolism. Is that really a thing? Because you can read so many different… like, metabolism matters, it doesn’t matter. Talk to that.

Then the second thing is, why is it, in your understanding or opinion, that with all of the knowledge available to us today… Like, you just googled® some information and found out how to heal your body. And then of course, you became certified and went more deeply into it. But why do you think people in general, women in particular, especially when it comes to fertility, are not eating healthfully?

Lauren: Yeah, such great questions, I’ll start with the first one. When it comes to metabolism and the way that we consume, or are able to take calories and convert them into energy, or convert sugar into energy, there’s so much that goes into it. A lot of it has to do with genetics. That’s really important for people to know. Even if you’re eating in a really healthy way.

If I was eating the same exact way as another woman, we might have totally different body types and weights based on our, you know, different hormones and genetics that affect the way that you metabolize different types of foods. So, it’s really important to know that a lot of that… Even though, yes, diet and lifestyle absolutely play a role in your weight management, there’s a lot of it that doesn’t play a role.

I was always that girl that people said to me, you know, “You don’t deserve to look the way you eat.” Like, I could eat, I mean, really, people were shocked. I remember once, going to a Shabbat meal, and there were these boys who were in a very elite unit in the army, they were like six-foot-five and humongous.

Their mouths were dropped at the table. They’re like, “I’ve never seen a person eat like you.” They had been in the field for a week, and they were starving. And they’re like, “We could only eat half as much as you. Where are you putting all that food? I tried to explain to people like it’s just how my body is.

I work with women actually, who really struggle to gain weight. That’s a really big obstacle in fertility, too. If you’re underweight, it’s very, very difficult to carry a pregnancy. Statistically, it’s more difficult than being overweight. A lot of that really is not connected to the way you’re eating. It’s much more dependent on genetics.

There’s a lot of different biological factors that go into it, that I don’t think we need to get into on this podcast. But I think it’s important for people to know, you know, you are working within the reality of your own genetics and respecting your own body for the way it is, and not trying to compare yourself to someone who has a completely different set of genetics, is so important.

Debbie: Thank you. That is important. I appreciate you pointing that out. The fact that you mentioned that slimmer women or underweight, whatever that means, if it’s the BMI, which I think has been dismissed as the rule for body types and body fat. But that underweight women have a harder time maintaining a pregnancy than overweight women, is also fascinating for everybody to hear.

Lauren: Yeah. To speak to your second question, about why women either don’t know about this or aren’t eating healthfully. I think a lot of it has to do with our culture. A lot of women who I speak to, who have hesitations about trying to eat healthier, they have this idea in their head that it’s really hard. It’s really hard to eat healthy. It’s going to take a lot more time. It’s a lot less convenient.

And some of that is true, it depends on the way that you’re eating. We know that a lot of the foods that maybe aren’t the best for us, are foods that are really quick to make or really easy to consume. I totally, you know this, I value people’s time a lot, I think it’s really important to conserve your energy in ways that you can. But there’s a cost that comes with it. a lot of the times.

The food industry, it’s a really tricky place to navigate, because their main objective is to get you to buy their products as much as possible. The way that they do that is they add a lot of artificial things that make it so delicious. I mean, I tell people, “Listen, you’re not going to get the same feeling when you eat, you know, a Snickers® bar and a carrot; it’s not the same thing.”

Because there are so many things added to that Snickers bar that you’ll never find in nature, that make the way it feels in your mouth, and the combination of the peanut butter and the nuts and the chocolate, and you don’t find things like that naturally, in nature. You want to take the time to chop up a salad with lots of different textures and make a really creamy dressing, and you can mimic, you know, having these different textures together.

We know that’s a big thing that goes into satisfaction, having these different textures and flavor combinations. But it’s much easier to get it conveniently, either in the form of takeout or fast food. So, I think, especially for women who are working and focusing on their careers and relationships, it can feel really hard to, to take the time to do that.

I think also, a lot of people don’t realize the impacts. Like, I certainly did not realize the impact that food had on my hormones. I think for a very long time, there has been an emphasis on calories and weight. And that’s what people kind of think of when they talk about health.

But they don’t realize that you could be any size, and the food that you’re eating absolutely affects your estrogen and your progesterone levels, and that’s not really something that we’re taught in school or by our families. I think a lot of women just simply don’t know about it.

Debbie: Right. When I think about my high school health class… In seventh grade, I took health. Obviously, when I was in seventh grade, it was many, many years ago and we’ve had a lot more discoveries, developments, and understanding around health. I took one of my brothers’ teeth, he’s five years younger than I am.

So, one of his teeth fell out, and I had an experiment where I put his tooth in a cup of coke and left it there, kind of in our cupboard, for, I don’t know, a week or something like that to see if it disintegrated. I don’t remember what happened. But that’s what I was learning in health, you know, just a few years ago, as it were.

But yeah, we’ve had a lot more understanding and development, coupled with the food industry. Which is, I don’t know, a multibillion, multitrillion-dollar industry. It’s so sophisticated, and the scientists and the psychologists that are employed in the food industry, to get us to eat food and want more and more and more of it. And, they know exactly where it lands in your mouth and which triggers it’s sending up to the brain, which messages that make us one another Snickers bar or another anything that you pop into the microwave.

It’s fascinating. And we are up against a huge, huge industry that is focused on getting us to buy more, eat more, have more, of what they’re selling, rather than focusing on what our bodies need and want.

Lauren: Exactly. I tell my clients who say, you know, it’s a very common thought that a lot of women have, that is; I don’t have the willpower, or I lack willpower. I’m not strong enough, you know, I did so badly this weekend, I succumb to temptation.

I tell them, you know, remember, these companies are spending millions, if not billions of dollars, on research. About everything from taste to texture, to something called “mouthfeel”, which is what it sounds like; it’s the feeling you have in your mouth. Again, I said, nature doesn’t have that. Plants don’t have these multibillion-dollar research teams.

So, there’s nothing wrong with you for finding those foods really delicious. They give you a dopamine rush. I mean, it’s your brain seeking pleasure. It’s just absolutely normal. I think sometimes, even understanding that piece of it, is really helpful for women to say, “Oh, there’s nothing wrong with me. Of course, these foods are so delicious and enticing, because there’s so much added to them to make them that way.”

Debbie: I just had an image pop into my mind of a woman, with a circle of people around her kind of like, you know… You talked about those football players or those athletes, big six-foot-five muscular guys, broad guys. And this is the industry, and you’re like this little person in the middle. They’re all trying to force their food and you know, down your throat almost.

It’s really hard. Like, really think about that when you’re working on changing your habits around food; whether it’s for fertility reasons, or general health reasons, or other balancing or hormone reasons. We really are up against a very mighty industry. Of course, it’s going to be something that doesn’t change overnight.

Lauren: Yeah, and one of the interesting things I see now, I think it’s almost in response to the diet culture that was really prevalent in, you know, the 2000’s. All of this pressure to look a certain way. There’s been this anti-diet culture movement, which has been fantastic in a lot of ways. We know that diets are the number one cause of eating disorders. Which can be, they can be lethal. They’re very, very serious, and I don’t want to minimize that.

But sometimes what I have seen is that the anti-diet culture can almost morph into an anti-health. It’s become almost this pro-female empowerment thing to say; treat yourself. You deserve the cookies. You deserve the ice cream. You can eat the whole pint because it doesn’t matter what your weight is.

I think a lot of women that I work with personally, I’ve seen they struggle with coming to me and they say, “You know, I want to do this in a healthy way. I also don’t want to become obsessed with food and restriction and, and being obsessed with eating healthy. But at the same time, I don’t get a period every month. I have high cholesterol. I’m pre diabetic.”

I know, I even experienced that a little bit when I started changing my diet. Most of my close friends knew I had never dieted before in my life. They knew it wasn’t to lose weight. I think a lot of people suspected it had to do with fertility. But I had a few people make comments to me like, “You? You’re eating a salad? Why are you bringing salads everywhere? Why are you doing that? That’s so stupid. You’re trying to lose weight?”  I said, “No, I have some blood sugar issues.”

I didn’t really get into the details of what was going on at the time. But I definitely felt judgment, from other women in particular, when I didn’t say anything about the way I was eating. They would just see me eating a certain way, and it felt very, you know, they felt the need to be defensive and make a comment.

I see that’s something that also affects a lot of my clients. It’s really hard. There’s a lot of factors going on, not just with the food industry, but socially, culturally.

Debbie: Right. I will suggest that many women, I don’t know if it’s fair to say most women or all women, are obsessed with food anyway. Because of our culture. It’s just one of those things that has been drummed into our heads from a very young age.

Let’s go back to advertising and media and the industry, whatever industry; whether it’s the fashion industry, or something else, wanting us and giving us the message that we have to look a certain way. We have to be a certain way. Even when we’re in school or in kindergarten, kids start measuring themselves against other kids, right? That comparison is part of our survival instinct.

We know who were the popular kids in nursery school, right? We know, in grade school and I was, you know, never the slim one. I wasn’t given the lottery ticket, like you were, for the, you know, for the fast metabolism. I’m healthy, thank God. I work out and I enjoy it; it makes me feel good. I prefer to eat healthy most of the time. I love my dark chocolate with passion.

But I was always the one who… One of my friends’ moms called me ‘pleasingly plump’. I was picked last for all the sports teams. I was definitely the one who was, you know, I knew about that. My younger sister was the one who could spring across the grass doing cartwheels and back walkovers and do the monkey bars. I was always the more clumsy one. I was great on a bicycle, because I didn’t have to have that type of coordination or upper body strength thing.

But anyway, yeah, we know, we know from a very young age, and we become obsessed, as women, to our bodies and body types, in order to be accepted, to be part of the tribe. Then, just packed on top of that, the huge industry, and we’re up against a very, very big boulder and a lot of pressure.

A lot of it’s internal. Some of it also, is external. I’m just going to suggest that many women are obsessed with food. If you’re going to be obsessed with food anyway, why not be obsessed with it in a healthy way?

Lauren: Yeah, I definitely hear people saying that a lot. I don’t want to get obsessed. Then I ask them; you know, how much time do you spend a day worrying about what your next meal is going to be? Just from an organizational standpoint. They tell me, “Yeah, a lot of time. I’m always thinking, what should I order for lunch? What should I make for dinner? I spend a lot of hours just deciding. And, the supermarket is never clear.”

One thing I do help a lot of women with is just that organization piece, you know, figuring out a nice; it could be more flexible or more rigid, depending on the person meal prep routine. They tell me, “Oh, I don’t have to spend hours every day thinking, because I have the food ready to go either in the fridge or the freezer. I just pull something out. Then I have that much more time and energy to do other things, enjoy my life, focus more at work, be more present with my kids.”

I think a lot of people are very surprised, I would say by the end of my work with most of my clients, they start saying, “You know, I’m not thinking about food as much. It’s kind of just something I do. These are my meals, okay, it’s not a big deal anymore.”

That’s really the goal, is that it’s not this thing that you have to put so much time and effort, and thought into in calculating every gram of fiber and protein. It’s more like, you get into the flow of eating food that makes you feel really good. You’re able to intuitively know, and that comes with some education. But after you get that down, it becomes pretty much part of your routine. It’s actually not something you need to obsess over.

Debbie: Amazing. Let’s start talking a bit about your business. When you and I started to work together about six months ago, in the winter, you were working part time in your business. You also had a part time job. How did you get going?

Lauren: I was working full time at the time, and working on my business, and I had… How old was my daughter then? I think she was around a year, a little just over a year. I was still nursing her. I count it as my third full time job. I was nursing, working full time as a teacher, and then at nights or in between, whenever I could, working on my business. It was complete chaos, in terms of my energy levels were just plummeting.

I think for every new mom energy levels are hard. But I was really spreading myself very thin. I felt really frustrated that I knew that this business was something so needed for women. I think I have a unique way that I’m able to teach them and deliver the information, and really help people. But I felt like I wasn’t able to fully help at the capacity that I wanted to, or that was being demanded, because my time was spread so thin.

So, I think I reached out to you when I was already in the process of leaving that full time job and starting to work on my business full time.

Debbie: So, when we started working together, what was your monthly income from your business, would you guess?

Lauren: It was probably somewhere between one and $3,000 month.

Debbie: How many clients would that, more or less, represent? One client a month or something like that?

Lauren: It depended on the month, but usually between one and three, which felt like full capacity. I didn’t have the bandwidth to take on much more than that. I wasn’t even necessarily getting so many more inquiries than that because I also just wasn’t growing my audience. I wasn’t advertising as much. I’m pretty active on social media, but, you know, I was kind of doing the bare minimum with the time that I had.

Debbie: Lauren has an amazing Instagram® feed, we’ll put a link to your Instagram in the show notes. Anybody who would like to see what she’s offering just in general nutrition or specifically about fertility, make sure to find her link in the show notes. Six months later, what has changed for you, your business, and your clients?

Lauren: Oh, my gosh, it’s crazy to think it’s only been six months. Now, I mean, I can say this, I’m fully booked, which is pretty crazy. I’m working full time, pretty much fully booked with my one-on-one clients. I’ve run a couple of really successful group programs, and I am launching the next one soon, it’ll be in September. Registration’s opening this August. So, that’s really exciting.

I have been able to do this, and not only am I making enough money to support my family, I’ve actually tripled my income compared to my full-time salary of my old job. So, not just my, you know, what I was making in my side business, when I was just doing it as a side hustle. But I was able to literally triple what my full-time salary was, as a teacher.

And, that has been really incredible to see; oh, wow. I can actually do what I love, and be in charge of my own schedule, and have flexibility, and do something I’m so passionate about. While also being able to really provide a meaningful, comfortable lifestyle for my family.

Debbie: Amazing, amazing, amazing. What thoughts about money have been part of your journey?

Lauren: I think in the beginning, I had a lot of thoughts around feeling guilty for charging people money for this kind of help, when I know exactly what place they’re in. I know what it feels like to feel so brokenhearted because you just want a baby more than anything. To feel like the doctors are telling you something’s wrong, you believe something is wrong, and there was a lot of guilt around not giving out my services for free.

There is a part of me that’s like, I just want to help everybody, I really do. And it breaks my heart when people tell me, “I would love to do this. But you know, it’s really not within our budget.” One thing that I really learned through our work together, was that it’s important to charge the value of what I’m giving people, which, I really do believe a child is priceless. You can’t put a price on a child.

I’ve had several clients who have actually been able to have a similar journey to me. They’ve been able to avoid fertility treatments because they got pregnant, right before they were about to start their treatment. They had their meds in the fridge, they had their appointments all lined up. They ended up not needing to do that, and donate their medications to other people who needed it, which was incredible.

I learned to really see the value in what I’m able to give people and to know that it’s an option for them. That’s definitely been a huge part of just stepping into my business feeling a lot more comfortable in the way that I interact with people in general, in my business.

Debbie: Amazing. What about your thoughts on growing your business? Breaking through an income level in Israel, where we live, and then changing your status as a taxpayer? Let’s talk a little bit to that.

Lauren: It’s interesting because I remember when it happened. I think it was when I did my last group course, I hit a new milestone in my business in terms of, you know, a monthly income goal that I had had. I remember thinking, there’s no way I’ll ever get there. Like there’s no way I’ll ever make it into like five figures in a month. That’s crazy.

Once I hit that, I mean, I could say it, this is in your podcast, right? We just talk straight about money. I made over $10,000 in a month, and it was terrifying. I remember telling you, “I thought it would feel like, woo-hoo, I’ve hit this goal. It’s just rainbows and sunshine. And, it wasn’t that; it felt really overwhelming and scary. It felt like there’s a lot of pressure, now. I have to repeat this every month going forward. Because you can’t go up and then go down.”

I was surprised by how complicated my feelings were around that. It was really interesting to talk through that with you, because you told me, you know, that that’s actually, totally normal. It’s normal that you’re in this new situation. It feels scary, and it feels different, and really unpacking some of those feelings around it.

Then, as that continued to not be an outlier, but that kind of became the pattern, it was something that, you know, it didn’t feel so scary when I would see that number in my bank account or into spreadsheets. I would say, “Oh, right, that makes sense.” Because, you know, this is how much I’m working, and how much I value my services, and how much other people value my services.

So, that was definitely something that at first, it was it was hard to work through. I’m sure it will be hard when I meet the next goal and get up to the next level. But I was really surprised by the fact that it didn’t just feel like this amazing level of success.

I’ve said that same thing to you about growing my audience, and my following and feeling, you know, people tell me all the time I hear your voice in my head, or you’ve impacted me in this way, and you’ve influenced me. In some ways, you know, it’s so nice. It’s an incredible feeling. It’s incredible feedback.

But there’s also something really overwhelming about that and feeling a huge sense of responsibility, and pressure. I mean, I also I put a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to everything, but especially my business.

So, it’s been really interesting to see that, you know, I think a lot of people can look from the outside and look at someone who owns their own business, and they just see the sparkly, shiny highlight reel on Instagram, they don’t realize there’s a lot of complicated feelings behind it. Not to say it’s not amazing, because it also is amazing, but it’s not as one dimensional as that.

Debbie: It’s part of our human experience as business owners. I think it’s an interesting parallel to people looking at your body from the outside and making judgments; oh, you’re eating salads, why do you need to eat salads? You won the jackpot when it comes to body type genetics and metabolism, right?

People on the outside will say things, and then we have this whole complicated or complex mush of emotions and thoughts going on inside of us.

Lauren: Totally. I did it the other way. I remember that woman who said that to me, she had three kids. I was like, I would give anything to be in your body and know that I could have three kids, no problem. I mean, I remember feeling it the opposite way.

I do that too, in my business. There are definitely times when I fall into comparison-itis and I start looking at other businesses; oh my god, she’s doing this and that. I have to remember, “Lauren, the same way that you have these complicated feelings around your business. I don’t think there’s a single entrepreneur in the world who doesn’t have these struggles.” Because it’s such an intense experience.

I recently heard someone say, you know, being an entrepreneur is like being under this magnifying glass where you see yourself in the deepest level, because it brings out just so much of you, in a way that other jobs don’t. I just so related to that, it really resonated with me.

Debbie: I love that. I’ve heard it said that entrepreneurship is the greatest personal growth journey. Because we do have to look at ourselves under that microscope, or look at yourself in the mirror and figure out what’s going on in your head, and the vibrations that are resonating in your body. It’s a very complex thing. Thing describes it; to be to be an entrepreneur, right?

Lauren: For sure. Another thing that we’ve spoken about a lot is, you know, practicing becoming the person who is able to step into that level of your business. I think that’s required a lot of self-growth and evolution, and that feels really uncomfortable a lot of the time.

I remember that was a big thing we spoke about when I had hit that milestone, because it felt really overwhelming. You said, you know, “You’re practicing becoming the person who’s able to have this kind of salary every month. And able to have a really successful launch, and a group program that 30 women sign up for.”

At that time, yeah, that felt super scary. But now, going into the next launch, I’m like, okay, yeah, that’s where I’m at now. I feel like I’ve caught up to that version of myself. It’s funny, I feel like there’s always that part of me that’s pushing ahead and running forward. And then, you’re kind of playing catch up to get to the next level. But it’s this just ever-evolving journey, as you’re going through your business, and especially in order to grow and build up the business.

Debbie: Right. What popped into my mind, and it’s a beautiful metaphor to use with fertility, childbirth, whatever you want to call it, that you had a successful launch a few months ago of your program, and 30 women joined. Now, you’re going to do it again in September; August, September.

I like to compare that to having kids, by childbirth. The first time, I gave birth to my oldest daughter, it was sort of this airy fairy la-la, “Of course. Women have been having babies for thousands of years, it’s not going to be a problem.” Do a Lamaze® course, breathe into my body, you know, and I’ll figure it out.

The second one, I already knew, “Oh my gosh, this is painful.” I think I had more fear. I had more pushback, approaching my second labor than I did the first labor. Because I was like; oh, I already know what to expect, and it’s going to hurt.

And in our businesses also, it’s like, “Oh, I’ve done one launch. And, I blew my own mind.” Right? I had 30 people sign up for the program and pay me money. How fun is that? And now, I’m going to do it again? Oh, no. What could go wrong? Where’s it going to hurt? Where the contractions are going to be? Or, something like that.

All of a sudden, we have to almost keep up with ourselves. It’s not even keeping up with the Joneses. It’s like; and what if I don’t do as well? And all those voices, that inner critic just comes talking to us.

And what are we going to make it mean about ourselves, if only 15 people sign up to the program? What does it mean about you? What does it mean about your audience? Are you a failure? Are you not a failure? Those voices can get very, very loud in our brains.

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. It’s something I probably struggle with on a daily basis. Something that just has always helped me, is going back to really asking myself; well, what does success mean, in my business? Is it a certain number? Is it working with a certain amount of people? Or, is it making meaningful change in my clients’ lives?

Whenever I can come back to that because that really is what I’m looking to do here. I’m looking to help people. Then, I’ll go through my client files, and remember these amazing transformations that have happened. I’m able to just remember; okay, this is success, to me. It’s being able to help people, and take a lot of the pain that I’ve gone through and transform it into something really, really productive, and really powerful.

So, okay, the number of people who sign up for the next course, it’ll be whatever it’ll be. But that’s not what’s defining me as a business owner. It’s certainly not what’s defining me as a person.

Debbie: Right. We often get those confused, what’s happening in our business. We make it mean something about us, and our self-worth and our self-esteem, as a person. I will just offer that that is a link that we want to break; our self-worth and our net worth, our self-worth and the size of our business, the size of our income, because we are infinitely worthy.

Regardless of how many clients we’re working with, how much money we’re making, how much money we have in the bank, or in our retirement fund; we are infinitely worthy.

Lauren: It’s funny, I think, when you have a business like mine, where it feels so personal, and part of what I’m selling is me, it’s my own personal approach to helping people through their health journeys. But if I were, I don’t know, selling pipes or something, I feel like I wouldn’t have as much conflation between my self-worth and my net worth, because they’re so not connected.

But I do think it becomes a little murkier when your business is so personal. I know a lot of people who follow you are entrepreneurs, and they might be coaches, and people also, who feel like they’re selling themselves and they are their own brand.

I think that’s also been something really helpful in our work together. It’s just remembering because you need a lot of reminders. It’s not like a one-time reminder that you’ll listen to this podcast and say, “Oh, yeah, my self is not connected to my business success.” I need that reminder every day, probably multiple times a day.

Debbie: Right. And probably as we grow, we need it even more.

Lauren: Yeah, for sure. I think that was another thing that surprised me, I thought once I get to a certain point, it will just flow, it will be easy. I won’t have these doubts anymore. I’ll just be completely at peace with it. It’s interesting to see, oh, that’s actually not the case. It’s never going to really be boring. I’ll never get to that place where…

Or maybe, you know, maybe it’s less, and it’s in different ways. But there’s always that element of, you know, those voices that come back and have these little doubts creeping in. It’s just about working through them.

Debbie: Newsflash; never goes away. New Level, new devil. Actually, I said this on the podcast a few weeks ago; it’s new level, same old devil. Or, as we say in Hebrew, Ota giveret b’shinui aderet, same woman, different coat. There you go, it’s going to come back in a different form. One day, it’s going to be a blue coat, one day it’s going to be a pink coat. One day it’s going to be your $100,000 business, the next week is going to be your $500,000 business.

But those voices in our head keep popping up. And we’re like: but what if? What if your business is broken and nobody wants to work with you? Two days go by, and nobody’s reached out to you: oh, no, what’s happening?

I want to ask you something about women and their hormones, that’s not specific to fertility. But I’ve certainly seen some research, and this isn’t my zone of genius, but about women and their cycle. And, how we’re more productive and creative in different parts of our cycle.

It’s maybe a time when we’re in that creative, productive flow of our cycle, that we can actually bring in more money, we can be more abundant and be receivers. And then, there are other parts of our cycle, where we’re more in that, you know, back in the cave or just needing to rest, to give ourselves time to maybe not be receivers; we’re not putting things into the world. Can you speak a little bit to that?

Lauren: Sure. This is one of my favorite topics, because I think this is also something I learned so much later in life than I should have. Once I did learn it, it made so much sense to me. I’m just going to start with the basics for anyone who doesn’t know. The way your cycle works is that day one is the beginning of your period. The last day of your cycle is the last day before your next period.

You have four different phases of the cycle. The first is the follicular phase; where you’re on your period, it’s usually a time of wanting to retreat a little bit. You’re maybe a little bit less social while you’re on your period, and wanting to rest more. Your body’s expending a lot of energy to shed your uterine lining. So, it makes sense.

That’s usually the time where we are feeling a little bit more introverted. We want to be a little bit more, I would say restful. It’s not unproductive, it’s a different kind of thing that our body needs. It’s just feeling a little bit more restful and protecting yourself.

Then as your period ends, and you start preparing for ovulation, your estrogen levels start rising and you start feeling a little bit more energetic, you start feeling really good. That peaks around ovulation. There’s research, really, really cool research, showing that women are better at making decisions at this time.

They make better investments at this time. I haven’t seen a specific study on projects that work, and success in that way. But a lot of women report that that’s the time where they, you know, if they have something big going on, they do it around their ovulation.

Socially, there’s also a big difference. Nature is kind of pushing you to go out and find a mate to help fertilize the egg that you’re about to pass. So, there’s really cool research around how women’s faces actually get more symmetrical, and you look your prettiest around ovulation. Your skin clears up, you might be feeling more energetic and willing to go out.

There’s a lot also connected to food and exercise around this. You might be craving more healthy foods around the time of ovulation. That might be when you’re actually on your health kick and going to kickboxing, and eating salads and smoothies and these cold raw, healthier foods. Whereas on your period, you crave salty and sweet foods. You crave warm, stewey, comforting foods. So, that’s another really interesting thing.

Then once ovulation happens, you have a huge surge of certain hormones to release that egg. Then they drop. And as that drop happens, you kind of come down from that feeling. You start again, getting more into that retreating, wanting to go inward mode. It’s a time for really reflecting, making time for self-care, taking things a little bit easier. Then, as your period starts again, that’s usually, I would say, the lower end of the energetic spectrum.

But there are there are so many great resources about this, now. There’s a lot of great books. And I’ve found it so fascinating to learn about this, because there’s this idea that our world has kind of been set up on the male cycle. Which is the diurnal clock, it’s the 24-hour cycle; we wake up in the morning, we have a surge of cortisol, we have energy.

Then later in the afternoon, you know, we get tired. That’s, you know, the whole nine-to-five work schedule, really revolves around that daily cycle. Which women have too, but in addition to the daily cycle, we have the monthly cycle.

For example, a lot of women, and most women know this, they’re a little bit more irritable before their periods, they’re feeling a little bit more short tempered. That’s the time to put up really strong boundaries. I remember I read a book that was like, I think the line they said was something like, you know; when you’re approaching your period, when you’re in your luteal phase, that’s not the time to have your in-laws come visit.

It summarized everything. I thought it was just a great line of, that’s not the time to put yourself in a situation where maybe you might clash and buttheads with someone. Just knowing that information and having the knowledge to say, “This week is not great for us. Can we have you for dinner in two weeks?” When you’re feeling your best, most effervescent self, it can be such a game changer in your relationships with people, in work, and in other areas of life.

I think it’s so valuable. I really encourage people to research more about this, to read books about it, because it’s so cool to learn about.

Debbie: In a teeny tiny nutshell, what would you offer entrepreneurial women, who are still ovulating… I am not one of them. I, for sure, grew up in the… I call myself the “go get ‘em girl” because that’s the way I was raised. I have high energy. I am a high achiever. I’ve been doing all-nighters since I was 10 years old, which is great when you’re in college and great when you’re working on Wall Street. But it is not great for, you know, mamas and long-term energy reserves, etc.

But for the listeners who are still having their periods, have a monthly cycle, what are some tips you can give a woman? In terms of, when does she want to be creative? When does she want to allow herself to rest? You’ve touched on it a little bit, but let’s just get a teeny bit more specific.

Lauren: Yeah, sure. Especially things that have to do with being ‘on’, presenting, doing social engagements; whether that’s a networking event or speaking on a podcast, interviewing someone, could even be going on an Instagram Live™ or something like that. Those kinds of activities, that I would say you’re almost in performance mode, are best around ovulation. It’s when you feel the most social, you connect to people the most, you have the highest levels of energy.

And you could be doing some more back-end work that’s a little bit quiet. Or, maybe it’s even doing your accounting and receipts or, you know, typing up the copy for your website. Something a little bit quieter is better done in the time, you know, leading up to your period or around your period.

Depending on the person, and how balanced your hormones are… I have some clients who, you know, they’re taking days off of work, because their periods are so painful. That’s why they’re coming to see me. So, if that’s the case, I would say rest as much as possible.

Also, just knowing that the time to push a little bit is that time also more leading up to and around ovulation. And, the time to be a little bit more gentle, is that time leading up to your period and around your period. Because I think, I’m also a super high achiever. That gave me a lot of permission to say; there are times of the month when I can push myself. That’s where I can reach the new heights and the new goals. And, this is the time for goal setting.

Then, there are other times when it’s really important to take time to rest. Because I think a lot of people, especially business owners, fall into burnout. That’s a big part of burnout, is not giving yourself that time and space to rest. That’s true, whether you’re still ovulating and menstruating, or not. Whether you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and not ovulating.

Because of those things, taking a couple of days a month to say these are days I do not push myself. Maybe you’re doing restorative yoga instead of the kickboxing class. But really, finding as many places as possible to take it easy, is so beneficial.

Our hormones are telling us to do that; they’re chemical messengers. And they’re trying to tell us to do these things, not only because it would be ideal for the baby. The idea is you ovulate, and then afterwards, you want to retreat and rest, because you’re preparing for the pregnancy. We don’t push ourselves in pregnancy, we’re really gentle on pregnant women. So, it’s your body’s way of kind of telling you, you know, this is the time to be a little bit more gentle.

Debbie:  We’re going against the social norm because rest is undervalued, it’s devalued, right? Society as a whole… I don’t like to broad brushstroke and call it the patriarchy; I think that’s way too generalizing. But we have been impacted by the Industrial Revolution; and optimize, be more efficient, go-go-go, work 24/7, or in the Jewish world, in other words, 24/6.

But rest is an incredibly powerful asset and practice that you can bring into your business, women, and men alike. Because we do need to allow whatever’s going on in our brain to settle, to get filed away, to allow ourselves, as we say in the Jewish world when we come to Shabbat, we stop creating.

Rest and connection with our Creator. Whether that’s our internal creator, for ourselves in our business, which I always say we’re co-creating with God. But yeah, we do have to stop the doing, and allow ourselves to rest and refuel, reboot, recharge, all of those “re-” words, to get to the next phase.

Lauren: Absolutely. If we look at anything in nature, everything in nature goes through cycles. You look at the moon and there’s this waxing and waning. You look at the ocean, there are times when the tides are high or low. If you look at any plants or animals, they have their periods of hibernation or growth or, you know, the fertility season.

It can’t always be pushing, it’s actually so unnatural. I think it’s that unnatural pressure to always be pushing and always be growing, and setting new goals and leveling up. It can be really damaging to anyone, but especially when it comes at the expense of it’s your business, and you’re your own business owner, and your own boss, and you’re the one doing it to yourself. It can really cause a lot of burnout and leave you feeling really depleted.

Debbie: And when you’re depleted, then you don’t have the resources to take care of yourselves, your family, of course, and all of the people that you’re here in the world to serve. That would be such a shame to lose out on your genius and your gifts.

Tell us a little bit about your upcoming program, that’s starting in September, and you’re launching at the end of August. Where women can find you. And tell us again, your links, where they can find you on Instagram, and wherever else. So, that people who are looking for a coach just like you, for health and fertility, they can reach out to you.

Lauren: Sure. The course is called, Balance Your Hormones 101. It’s really for women who are either looking to heal some kind of hormonal imbalance or they’re fertility minded; you might actively be trying to get pregnant, or you might want to get your body ready because you’re thinking about getting pregnant in the next six months or a year. I think it’s never too early to start getting your body into an optimal place for your health and fertility.

It’s a four-week course; we meet on Zoom. It’s going to be really, really great, and we really dive into how to actually understand how food affects your body and your hormones. So, that you have the tools and knowledge to go forward and really heal your hormones.

You can find all the information for the course at my website, www.LaurenAllenNutrition.com. You can also follow me on Instagram @LaurenAllenNutrition. I post a lot of just tips and info recipes, fun things over there. I like to hang out on Instagram.

I also do one-on-one coaching if someone feels like they would do best with one-on-one support. That’s also something that I offer.

Debbie: Thank you so much for being here and sharing your story. Being vulnerable about your journey. And, I really look forward to seeing you in our coaching calls.

Lauren: Me too. Thank you so much for having me, Debbie.

Debbie: Thank you. Bye.

Thanks for listening to Mastering Money in Midlife. If you want more information on Debbie Sassen or the resources from the podcast visit MasteringMoneyinMidlife.com

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