Balancing Hormones: understanding the relationship between stress, fitness and food for optimal weight(-loss) and energy

I’m delighted to introduce you to Johanne Bade and the work she does as a Hormone Balance coach!

Johanne and I met at the Feel at Home Fair for internationals living in The Hague. We were both helping out on the stand for the Women’s Business Initiative International, of which we are both members. Her energy and enthusiasm instantly drew me in and I became very curious about her work as a Hormone Balance coach for mums. I wanted to share more about it, and so we arranged to meet up for a mini-interview! Originally, I was going to transcribe it here, but it was such a wonderful conversation that I encourage you to listen to it instead!

We talk about her work, and what brings her joy and energy, some surprising facts, as well as some really valuable tips for any (relatively) new mums that might be listening.

I found it so interesting to hear how much hormones affect our weight and energy levels. In Johanne’s holistic and personalised approach, you’ll discover the delicate balance between stress, fitness and what you eat. Using this knowledge and understanding we can make adjustments, even little ones, to influence our hormone balance and change our health in a hugely positive way.

Our conversation took place in the kitchen, the heart of the home, so please excuse the occasional gurgling of the dishwasher and the few other kitchen noises that creep in towards the end of our conversation.

Alternatively, you can also scroll down to read the audio transcription.


Balancing hormones – a conversation with Johanne Bade [AUDIO]

Quick tip: are you listening on a smartphone? The audio plays with your screen locked so you can put your earbuds in and listen on the go!

Also, don’t forget you can scroll down to read the audio transcription! :-)

Did you hear something you’d like to learn more about? Or would you like to find out more about coaching with Johanne? Head over to her website at johannebade.com

I would love to have more conversations like this.. would you like to hear them? Was this helpful to you in some way? Please let me know, send me an email or leave a message in the comments below!

Quick links to some of the things we talked about:

With love,
Natalie xx


N: Hi, I’m Natalie Carstens, a storytelling photographer for families welcoming a new baby into their lives. I’m here with Johanne Bade from Fit & Fabulous Moms. Hi, Johanne!

J: Hi.

N: So Johanne and I met at the Feel at Home in The Hague fair for internationals. We were both helping out on the stand for the Women’s Business Initiative International, of which we’re both members. And I was immediately drawn to Johanne’s energy and enthusiasm and I was very curious about her fascinating work as a hormone balance coach. So I wanted to find out more. Here we are.

So Johanne, tell me a little bit about you and Fit & Fabulous Moms, what sparked the idea for your business?

J: Well, I moved to Zoetemeer from the Hague. I’ve been living in the Netherlands for nine years now. It’s a long time actually, I’ve just applied for nationality. Scary.

But moving here, I broke my foot. And laying on the couch and having my two little kids running around and not being able to do a lot kind of brought things into a new perspective.

And, my husband’s also an entrepreneur. For three years. He kind of encouraged me because I went back to looking for a regular job. And I didn’t see anything that matched my skill sets, that wasn’t triggering my energy. And my husband said, “Come on, you have so many good ideas. Why don’t you start something for yourself?”

So having that support from home is amazing. And my kids were getting to the point where they’re going to daycare more so I would have actually a little bit more time to invest in myself. And that’s kind of how the idea was born.

Also because, I think for 20 years, I’ve been looking for my own balance in health. I mean, my mom signed me up for Weight Watchers when I was 15 years old. We moved back to the States. And then as a 15 year old you’re extremely susceptible to peer pressure, and the American lifestyle is not extremely healthy. So I gained quite a bit of weight and I was never, you know, a heavy kid, but losing that when you’ve gotten into kind of a bad eating pattern. Yeah, I was in California. So then you have access to of course every diet pill and fad on the market. So I went through all the cycles, and nothing really seemed to work and there were points where I would get really motivated, I would see my fat face in pictures and I’d be like, ‘okay need to lose weight’ and then it would go well for a while, and then I would fall off the wagon or that fad wouldn’t work. And it was only after having kids that I kinda came to the insight that I want to create something really sustainable in my life, so that my kids will also know what it is to have a healthy lifestyle and full of energy. I didn’t want to be that mom with the broken bones because I’m klutzy and no energy to run around with my kids. I have two little boys. They’re like energy bombs. Also, one of the reasons we moved somewhere where you can have outdoors. But they’re so full of energy. And I didn’t want to be the mom who had to sit down out of breath while they were keep running around and want to be the other way around when they would have to like..

N: You want to keep up with them. Yeah.

J: Exactly. Exactly. So that’s kind of how the idea was born. I’ve really been interested in health stuff for a long time, and then I went kind of searching for something that would be more holistic because most of the health related educational tracks, they’re very specific. Either, you know, mindfulness, which is specifically focused on your mental state or personal training – very much on the fitness aspect, right? or a dietitian, you know, that sort of thing.

And I experienced with my sitting on the couch with a broken foot that.. I was in an app group with these girls. And they were all complaining about how it wasn’t working to lose weight, and I thought, I’m on the couch, I’m sure I’m going to gain some of this baby weight back and I lost another four kilos in six weeks. Because something clicked that I was like, ahh but I have mentally control over what goes in my mouth. And I found this like this peace in this balance. And I was looking for an educational track that would give me more content-wise knowledge on that. And that’s how I came across the industry. It’s called trainer hormone factor, but it’s a hormone balance coach, and it indeed takes everything holistically, that is your stress – so your mental aspect – and your fitness and what goes in your mouth. And it’s all one combined.

N: Yeah.

J: Which is really it because you can be super stressed out.

N: Yeah, you won’t. Changing one thing doesn’t work. You have to have the whole picture. Yeah.

J: Exactly.

So you can eat great and you can exercise five days a week. But if you have a really highly stressful job, you’re going to notice your body’s not in balance.

And also the other way around. You can’t exercise fanatically and eat like crap. I mean, or be a very Zen person who never exercises. I mean, that there’s definitely a balance between them. I had a personal trainer who was giving us one of our training days and he said, Well, it’s 40% stress, 40% food, and 20% exercise.

N: Right? oh wow. That split. That’s not something that you would imagine.

J: No. So it’s really interesting. Now hearing my friends who are saying, “oh, but I’m so busy, I haven’t had the time to work out. That’s why I’ve gained weight.” But no. You’re stressed out. So then you don’t have the time to work out or to take care of yourself. So it’s one of those vicious cycles again, but it’s really on the stress and the food prep.

N: Also to make the best choices of what to eat as well, when you’re stressed.

J: Yeah. When you’re stressed, you forget to eat. And then you eat the end of the day. Or you have to go shopping because you didn’t remember to make a meal plan. So then you make bad choices. You make last second choices, or, I see a lot of women. Oh, yeah, it’s New Year’s so I’m gonna tackle everything at once. So I’m going to work out four times a week and anything with carbohydrates in it, i’m just not going to touch it. And you know, that lasts for a few weeks, and then you’re back to your old rhythm.

N: Yeah, yeah. You really need something sustainable. So when you’re combining all those three areas you can get on a good track.

J: Yeah, and luckily this is a movement that’s coming up more. Sorry about the background noise. But there’s a lot more institutions looking, and educational tracks, looking from a holistic perspective, this is now something that luckily is happening more and more. But how I like to be a little bit different in it is, I take things a step at a time. So we start always where you are right now. Because let’s face it, like having a kid, or if you’re a single mom, or if you have three kids instead of one, like, everyone’s a little bit different. So where you start from is kind of..

N: Very personal to you.

J: Yeah. This is the base. And you need to make it fun. Because otherwise, let me tell you, if it’s not fun, and it’s struggling, and it’s hard the whole time, you’re going to bounce from one quick fix to another. I mean, there’s a reason why there’s so many people who have written diet books that have become popular because people want that quick fix. But there’s still a need for them because none of those actually work. You have to really make it personal for yourself.

N: So are you working one-to-one or do you have group programs?

J: So I do three things right now. I have group tracks and one-on-one coaching and then I do workshops or lectures, so then it’s a short bite size crash course on hormones and how they influence your health but also on how moms for example, create more time for yourself or really implement those healthy habits. Those are kind of like the loose products, but then one-on-one is more we go into depth we do a full background analysis. What is your medical health? Where are you on stress level? Where are you right now? And then I look at okay, but where could there, based on this intake, be potential hormonal imbalances, and then how can I support you in getting back into balance?

I’m based on your specific situation right now because wherever we are, in Dutch we call it a ‘momentopname’, it’s a ‘still-shot’ of where you are, but we’re kind of a combination of everything out of our past and where we are now and where we’re going.

So your past definitely influences but I think you can’t change anything in your past, it’s good to use what has worked for you or what has sabotaged you, to build on your current knowledge but to only look at your past doesn’t really help you move forward.

And you know, my ideal situation is that people don’t need to be with me very long; that I helped them as much as possible to do it on their own, and get the tools to kind of set their own path. And if you ever want to check it in again and kind of do a refresh, that’s A-okay. But I don’t like making people dependent on me.

And then I have group tracks that are more. Right now they’re generally on the vitality front. And I’m doing those with the nonprofit sector here in Zoetemeer, but those are people who are a little bit on the more extreme end of society. So I’ve got people who have got diabetes, depression, ADHD. Also a couple of guys in there. So that’s a little bit less my ideal target group, but very interesting to see that the tools that I use are also effective with them.

N: Yeah, yeah. So who do you usually, who would you normally work with?

J: Moms. Like those, that’s really, it’s a target group if you use business speak, that’s like really close to my heart, because I also have two little kids, you know, they’re two and four. And I went through the, you know 20 kilos, like 45 pounds of weight gain, and then losing it again, and then getting pregnant again and losing it again, and creating that ideal balance between, now what my kids like to eat because we’re from an evolutionary perspective, we’re kind of hard-wired to go for everything that’s fatty, salty and sweet. Because those were things that were scarce. So for your kids, you’ll notice that if they get put at a table with those ‘paaseitjes’, the ‘Easter eggs’, on the table, they will stuff their little faces. So trying to balance that with a healthy home life is now my biggest challenge. And I think there’s a lot of other moms that are, actually I know, there are a lot of other moms who are also trying to find that balance.

Or they have a husband who do the cooking or who don’t want to change their eating habits and how you combine that on the homefront? So it’s really again a tailored process. But in some some women are really really sick. Right? I have a friend who triggered an autoimmune disorder because of ignoring the symptoms of her body for so long.

N: What kind of symptoms, what would you look out for to know that you need to make some changes?

J: Well, so look, you have two tracks; you have a preventative approach that you’re like, yes, that’s kind of how I went. There wasn’t anything specifically wrong with me sick wise. I broke my foot but that was something that would recover. So I’m more on the preventative track that says, You know, I want to live to be 85-90 years old, fit and feisty, and totally healthy.

And then you have people who have an acute pain or disorder that they’re dealing with. So, alopecia that’s, my friend actually had that, she had her hair falling out. Like she triggered an autoimmune disorder which can lead to three quarters of her hair falling out, which you can influence that a lot on the diet front and the lifestyle front.

Women who cannot get pregnant or after giving birth or also, you know, I have a girlfriend who’s super healthy and she’s just sitting with those extra few kilos that no matter what she does, she’s not getting rid of them so then we can look together so that’s not a you know, that’s not a medical thing. That’s her like, really what on the hormonal front, because she eats really well she she’s a natural food advisor herself, right so she works out.

For hormones you look, are you doing the right kind of workout to keep your hormones in balance because exercising is good but if you’re running three hours straight, you’re, what you’re doing is putting your body in a stress state. So you’re creating stress, which then decreases your ability to digest your food right. Because your body has basically three systems. You’ve got your stress, you’ve got your processes and your digestive system and your reproductive system. And stress is dominant. So if you’re stressed out, the other systems are suppressed. So a lot of the time it’s stress. But food is also a stress on your body if you’re eating the wrong type of food.

So that’s kind of what you can think. I mean, if it’s hormones, you can really think, so what don’t hormones influence in your body? I mean, women go through it from the time where, depending on how old you start menstruating, like from 10 to 12 years old, every single month, and then you go through pregnancy up into Oh, no, wait, I forgot adolescence, where you also have those crazy peaks of hormones. And then when you think it’s all done, then you go through menopause. Women kind of deal with hormones the whole time.

But if you know like, Hey, where I have issues, or women who get crazy migraines or cramps during their periods, or abnormally heavy periods, like that can also be hormonal in it’s base and what you notice with a lot of people who go to a doctor with these complaints, like they’re structurally tired or heavy, heavy cramps, they’ll get a prescription. But that’s covering your symptoms.

N: It’s masking it. Yeah, it’s not really dealing with the issue, something that you could change to then make a big difference in life.

J: Yeah, exactly. So the underlying issues which could be a food intolerance, for example. A lot of us are more and more sensitive to things like gluten or cow milk. So if you are intolerant to those and you’re not used to paying attention to that, of yourself, you can be creating a constant state of stress for your body, which means you’re not functioning well and all the other fronts.

So and again, the hormone factor diet is in essence, pretty extreme. Like if you wanted to implement all 16 of the steps that are kind of prescribed, you’re pretty far. Most people we gotta start a little bit at a time. And that’s really my approach too because I think if I.. You hear my dishwasher, I didn’t know how loud it would be.

A step at a time, you want to look at your behaviour, and most of us don’t do this, for the past year. Right, most of us look from week-to-week, or day-to-day, did I really do what I said I was going to do on the food or the exercise front for my new year’s resolution. But if you look at the last year and how much you’ve changed in that year, that’s what’s predicting your future health.

So if on a regular basis, you’re moving 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and you don’t have any junk in the house. Like our rule of the house is no chips and candy. That’s something we changed in the last couple of years so that I don’t drink my coffee with milk and sugar in it anymore. Whereas a year ago, I did drink it with milk and two sugars. And if you then multiply that by the coming years that you’re implementing these things one step at a time, it makes a huge amount of difference in your health.

Like, I use an example. There was someone who wanted to lose 40 kilos, and she discovered that she was adding a lot as she would have to take a medication and it was really nasty tasting medication. So she had a lemonade syrup. And just by looking at her food for one day, she realised how much that was. She cut it in half and we did the math, that it was 280 millilitres of lemonade syrup per month, per week, sorry, per week, which is 700 calories. So just by doing that, like, she would potentially, over 10 weeks, lose a kilo just by changing that.

So these little tweaks. And also what is doable for you.

Like, I know people who literally eat a full bar of chocolate every day and a pack of cookies, or it’s what you’re used to, or the weekend is chips and candy time. Anyway, that sort of, you know, that sort of thing. If you tackle those one at a time or not eating after a certain time at night, right, like..

N: That can also make a difference over a long period of time.

J: Yeah but don’t underestimate things like sleep, it’s not only your food habits or exercise, a lot of people think they have to, you know, exercise extremely or eat extremely healthy to make a big difference. Let me tell you, if you’re not sleeping well, as any mom who is going attest to.

N: I for sure know sleep makes a huge difference!

J: It makes a huge difference. And we’re often so hard on ourselves about the other things that we do, but if you sleep badly, your body is hardwired to wake up and crave that salty, fatty, sweet stuff. And if you’re tired, you’re also less in the state to make the good healthy decisions when you go to the grocery store, you know, so everything again has effect on each other. So figuring out what for you are the most important things right now. And tackling those, that’s the most important part. Yeah, and for everyone that’s a little different.

For one lady, it was a breathing exercise that she was like, over the moon that this lowered her stress levels. And for someone else, it was like just getting practical tips on how could she avoid gluten?

Right. Like, totally different needs and very specific. That’s, that’s kind of, you know, I go on my little rant about health.

N: So tell me what’s your favourite thing about your job now?

J: Um, I would have to say, freedom. That’s also one of the hardest parts, the freedom. The ability to actually create lasting change in people’s lives. To like, see that aha moment. When they’re like, oh, my goodness, I just have to make this little change and it resulted in this. Like a huge spring in energy or seeing that they really can do it themselves. Because a lot of people have tried this stuff a lot. And they’re kind of like, all right, I give it up. I’m done. So that aha moment. I really like seeing that, and my freedom as an entrepreneur too, to get to work with these women. You know, it’s a blessing. And it’s also a challenge at the same time because working on your own, you know, I’m now actively to the point where I’m looking for partnerships. But my favourite part is that aha moment.

N: Yeah, yeah. Oh, it’s wonderful. Yeah. So tell me what do you do for fun?

J: I love challenges. So right now you’re gonna probably laugh at this one. I was kind of tired of working on my own. So I thought, you know what, I’m going to do something fun on the side. And I went axe throwing with a group of friends and I had so much fun doing it that I applied for a job. So, I have a part time job as an axe throwing instructor.

N: Wow!

J: I was like, if you’re going to do something just because you can. I was like, it matches my image, it’s little bad ass. But it’s still being active and moving and really doing what you love doing.

N: Yeah. Oh I love that. Axe throwing.

J: So I am an axe throwing instructor at the only location you can do that and actually right now it’s in Delft, called Urban Axe Throwing.

N: Oh brilliant, I’m going to look that one up!

J: That’s what I do on the side.

N: Oh, cool.

J: So that’s a fun thing. Also, I go outside a lot with my kids. My son is now into pirates. So everything is a pirate adventure. So even shopping turns into a pirate adventure and we went out the whole family on Sunday morning with bandanas on. Right like, dressed up as pirates. So a lot of things with my kids, and with my family, and axe throwing is the latest physical challenge for myself.

N: I think that’s brilliant.

J: Yeah.

N: Do you have a morning routine that sets you up for the day?

J: Definitely. And during the week that’s a little bit more consistent. I’m lucky I have an amazing partner at home. So usually our morning routine already starts though, in the weekend. We plan the whole week out; who’s dropping the kids, who’s picking the kids out. Who’s cooking. We do the shopping together in the weekend. We have planned in, you know, what meals, are we going to be gone for nights during the week? So then we plan in meals that will last for two evenings. So we don’t want to cook when we’re alone with it. So that kind of sets us up. So I wouldn’t say that that’s a morning ritual. But that’s a ritual that we do in the weekend that sets us up for a successful week.

And the mornings are usually like our kids wake up early. So they’re up around six. So our mornings are actually pretty relaxed because I get out the door by 8-8:15 with them.

We eat breakfast together. That’s something that really is our family value is doing things together.

And then I like taking the kids in the morning because when I take them, I work a lot at home, and when I come home then it’s work time.

Right? So I go, it’s like my daily commute. I take the kids to daycare. I say goodbye, I come home and then I sit down and I usually on a Monday morning, I’ll write up my ‘What is my week’ plan? What does my week look like? And then priorities for the day. And then I’ll try to have a look at the end of the day did I didn’t make those. And my lesson has been to make my list short.

I had the biggest chance of success when I have a short list of things to do.

And one thing I’ve taken over, my husband shared with me and said, ‘handling your frog’. It’s the one thing that you’re kind of dreading doing for the day or that you don’t want to do, to do that thing first.

N: Right?

J: So that’s handling your frog.

N: I had not heard that expression before. I like it. Handling your frog. I’m going to remember that one.

J: It’s a book I think or something written on it.

N: Okay, interesting. So what’s on your reading list, I know you like to read, do you have a recommendation. What are you reading at the moment?

J: I’m kind of in this phase now where I’m reading several books at the same time, which is not something.. so I have a whole stack of books over there. The one I’m reading right now, which is really interesting for me is Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s basically about how to change when change is hard. And they use the metaphor of yourself as an elephant with a rider. So the rider is your intellectual side, the elephant is your emotional side, and the path. So how you need to handle each one of those to facilitate change for yourself. So that’s one that I’ve been recommending to other people.

I just got three books from a girlfriend of mine but that, I would say that one’s my priority number one on the reading list and also motivational, some Dutch right, I’m reading these in Dutch, motivational interviewing. So the starting point is basically that there is no unmotivated client. That it’s up to you as the health practitioner to find that motivation.

N: Yeah. Good. And so tell me when you need a burst of energy, what songs do you listen to? What gets you going?

J: I have a playlist. I wrote a blog on this actually, that was like 10 things to get yourself energised in five minutes or less. So what my favourite go to is actually I put on music and I have – the link is actually on that blog to a 32nd dance break right. Then I put on some songs so you can think like Cake by The Ocean, or even like that, Eye of the Tiger like dun, dun dun dun, you know like songs from the 80s, just something with a beat.

N: Yes.

J: I have a whole playlist and I keep when I find new songs I add to them.

N: Oh, something to look up.

J: So dancing around and, cold shower was at number 10 but now I just did a..

N: Would you have a cold shower?

J: Oh, yeah, yeah, but I just did a intensive training day with a Wim Hof trainer. I don’t know if you know Wim Hof? He is The Iceman so his clients climb Everest in shorts, and so he does cold training. So I did a whole day and sat in an ice bath at the end of the day. So this is also an example of my physical, what I do for fun, sit in an ice bath on the weekend.

The idea behind it is that with the right breathing techniques and cold training, you can actually stimulate your immune system to be functioning at optimal levels. So with cold training you basically, even if you shower cold for up to 30 seconds, you can boost your white blood cell count for up to six days afterwards.

N: Oh wow.

J: Just one time. So you don’t have to do a long cold shower, you can shower warm, but then at the end you turn it cold. So things like that and the right breathing techniques to also just create this like zen in your body, like take on anything. It’s really cool and it can be used for a lot of people with chronic pain as well. So I find it very interesting and in addition to current knowledge, so that’s that.

Now I can teach, it was triggered also by someone who had issues with a lot of clients having issues with stress. How do you tackle the stress side in something like the practical and short, especially moms, you know, like we don’t have very much time so something you can handle in like, two, three minutes and get yourself back on track for the day.

So cold showering is actually up there now.

N: Okay, so then one last question then. So what’s for dinner?

J: That’s a very good question. I have not looked at the meal planning tonight. Oh, I do know. it’s a dahl. So it’s an Indian dish with sweet potatoes, and lentils. We’ve got an extra kid in the house tonight. So it’s Mia, she’s 11 she’s going to help my husband with cooking. And then we put it in our instant pot. So it’s like a slow cooker like a pressure cooker sort of thing, with a lot of really nice spices. And that’s one of those two day dishes, but it’s really hearty, really filling with sweet potato, and the spices that kids, you’d be surprised, they love it. So we have ideas also for a cookbook that we’re talking about, and how you can involve your kids in cooking but also simple recipes that they, simple, healthy recipes that they like.

So that’s a, yeah, dahl. It’s a really yummy favourite. And actually Mia, she requested it because she liked it the last time she was here. So now she’s going to learn how to make it.

N: Oh, brilliant. Oh, good, good, good.

J: That was a good question.

N: Yeah. Oh this is really fun. Thanks very much, Johanne. That’s brilliant. So for more information and to find out about coaching with Johanne, head over to her website at johannebade.com.

J: Thank you.

N: Cheers.



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