Nicki Williams is one of the UK’s leading hormone specialists, a podcast host, an author and a magazine editor. She is also a mentor to a growing tribe of midlife women starting businesses across the wellness space - using her own experience of building a business built on purpose to enable those around her.
We loved talking to her about her own health journey, how it changed her direction of travel forever - and her recommendations on how to manage the menopause well. We hope you enjoy the conversation too.
With love, the MPowder Team.
First, tell us a little bit about Happy Hormones for Life. What motivated you to start your business?
My business came about as a result of my own experience. My dad was a hormone doctor but I’d never really understood what he did! I’d had a high flying corporate career, which paid well but wasn’t fulfilling. Then when I had kids and tried going back to work , it was horrific. I was exhausted. I couldn’t think straight. I was snappy. My brain was much. I was horrid to everyone. I was in survival mode. I went to the doctor and he just gave me anti-depressants, which I knew wouldn’t fix this. And then there was this moment - with my daughter actually – I snapped at her. Looking at her face looking at me, I suddenly thought; ’Why are you like this? This is not why you had kids! You were not going to be the grumpy mum!’.
Luckily for me I had my dad to turn to. He told me that I was peri-menopausal. Peri- WHAT?? I didn’t believe him initially – nobody was talking about menopause 11 years ago, and the word Peri-menopause didn’t even exist! So he got me tested. And, he was right. My hormones were all over the place.
He told me to start looking after myself. I had always yo-yo dieted. I was drinking too much and I was super-stressed.
‘As well as knowing nothing about my hormones and how they worked, I hadn’t understood the impact that diet and lifestyle could have on how you experienced menopause. My dad taught me the basics. He got me eating the right food, taking the right supplements. And I started to feel better - and really quickly.’
I was amazed at how a few changes could have such an impact, without any medication! I started reading and learning. I read all the books there were on hormones . And I made the huge decision to give up my corporate job (and salary) to go back to college to train as a nutritionist.
When I completed my training, I set up Happy Hormones For Life and started helping women struggling through peri-menopause. It soon became obvious that a lot of people needed help. I had found my new purpose!
Things have changed a lot in the last 10 years. Menopause is being talked about like never before. And there’s a lot more help available. Women are aware their journey starts before menopause itself. And my focus has evolved too. I can educate women that menopause isn’t just about oestrogen and progesterone. It is about all the hormones, thyroid health, cortisol, gut heath and more. And I use state of the art testing that really helps me get to the root cause of someone’s symptoms, often when they’ve tried everything they can think of to fix things.
In your experience, what are the most typical struggles that clients today arrive at your door facing?
I have 4 steps to Happy Hormones: Eat, Rest, Cleanse and Move.
Eat; Most women I speak to are on a fairly good diet, but they may not be absorbing the nutrients in the gut. Or they may not be eating enough nutrients for their hormones.
Rest; They may be doing a bit of mindfulness or yoga, but really not enough to counteract the stress they’re under. And most women are not aware of the huge impact that stress has on our menopause experience.
Cleanse; Many of us are not aware of the chemicals in our household or personal products that could be impacting and disrupting our hormones.
Move; Women are told to exercise MORE when often that doesn’t suit our hormones, especially if we are already tired or stressed.
How do you define success for your business and yourself individually?
Success for me used to be about status and financial success. And, to be honest, financial success is still important to me – it gives you more freedom and choice. But it is much more about balance now. I had those adrenal issues so many of my clients have - and that is still a vulnerability. So, now, the most important thing is enjoying what I do. I love what I do. It is why I keep creating. From books that present the knowledge in one format, to podcasts that can convey it in a different way. Our magazine is a new vehicle that I’m really proud of. But I love the variety of it all. And reaching women in different ways - if they’re reading and learning about it, I’m happy. I also love the results we get. The transformations we see. Women do phenomenal things off the back of it. I like to think we’ve saved a few marriages…and a few careers! And, that is really rewarding.
What are your aspirations for your business over the next 24 months?
I just want to keep extending the reach of what we do. In the back of my head, I’ve always wanted to run a million pound business. And even though it’s a good few years away, it feels possible. And that freedom would allow us to do pro-bono work. It would help us start a foundation, to look at bursaries. That is my end goal. We already contribute to the Hunger Project. But I want to do more. And, if we grow, we can do just that.
How has your own menopause transition influenced your outlook towards life and, also, towards being female?
My menopause experience has taught me to be grateful. When things start to go wrong with your health, or not work as well as they used to, it’s easy to complain. But I have learnt to focus on the positive things my body is still able to do! I’m grateful for ageing. Some of my friends didn’t make it this far. I’m also grateful to menopause for bringing me to my line of work, which is hugely rewarding and fulfilling.
I love being a woman, despite the challenges that brings. We are forever changing physically and each new stage brings new adventure and opportunity:
'Menopause can be a big challenge but also a big chance to change, grow and be a better version of ourselves. No more pleasing others, no more wasting time doing stuff you don’t want to do! And a time to focus on ourselves. I see it as a wonderful kind of freedom and a new adventure!'
What do you wish your younger self had known about:
Life: I would have told my younger self to stop trying to ‘fit in’, and mostly to stop caring what others think
Love: Stop worrying about finding it, it will find you! And also to love myself first.
Health: Appreciate it - now! Stop wishing you had someone else’s body. Appreciate your energy, brain, skin and weight while you have the best of it! Your body will change, and although it will work OK, it’ll never be as amazing as it is when you’re young.
Work: Do what you love, stand up for what you believe in, and don’t be afraid to fail - that’s the only way you’ll grow and be fulfilled.
And finally, Nicki’s book It’s Not You, It’s Your Hormones is a must read for anyone looking to explore how to manage their hormones well.