Orem’s Arlene Olsen recently traveled to Dallas to talk to hundreds about her new baby, Tahiti Trim Plan 40. She left behind her husband, Kelly, to manage the home front. Their grown daughter, Allison, called home to talk to her mom but instead reached her dad, who was working from home for the day. A few days later, Arlene was back in Utah but working at the Tahitian Noni headquarters. Allison called home again. After a pause, Allison asked, “Dad, since Mom’s not there, do you want to go shopping with me?”
The roles have changed in the Olsen household.
After raising four children, returning to school to earn a degree and researching solutions to her own health problems, Arlene became the founder and spokesperson for a revolutionary weight loss program that also promotes emotional stability. Tahiti Trim Plan 40, known as TTP40 for short, is housed under the umbrella of Tahitian Noni,the company for which Arlene’s husband is the president.
Arlene is taking the lessons she learned in motherhood — how to focus, to organize and to live in the present — and applying them to the business world she initially knew nothing about.
“I’ve always been active, and I’ve always been healthy,” she says. “But I have never been a business woman. And I never had any desire to share my weight gain and loss story with the world. But my experiences have been so life-changing for me that I feel like shouting from the rooftops that women don’t have to suffer in their later years.”
Laura Kimball, one of Arlene’s co-workers, says Arlene has found “a second spring in her life.”
Arlene, age 50, admits her late 40s and now early 50s have been much more fun and fulfilling than she dreamed. In fact, her current life wasn’t anything that she had planned.
“Arlene is not somebody who had a master game plan for her life with plans to change the world,” says Cheryl Snapp-Conner, who is the owner of Draper’s Snapp Norris Group and has lost weight on TTP40. “But she has taken on remarkable leadership roles and done amazingly well helping women and men live healthier lives.”
STAYING AT HOME
Arlene believes women can have it all — if they are patient and take their seasons one at a time.
“I’d like to say to every young mother I meet that they should relax and enjoy this time with the children,” she says. “You’re going to have other stages in life. When you are home watching little kids, you start thinking that this is all there is to life. But as soon as they leave, you’ll have every opportunity — if you take care of yourself.”
Arlene’s motherhood chapter began ten months after getting married when she gave birth to her first son. Arlene had three years of college behind her — including an associate’s degree in clothing and textiles — but she dropped out of school.
“My dad was not happy,” she remembers. “He said I’d never graduate.”
Arlene had four children,now ages 21 to 29. When the youngest one started school, Arlene hit the books again and worked toward a degree in art and design.
“I usually did two classes a year and finally eeked it out when my last child was a senior,” she says. “I didn’t want to be in college when he was.”
As a stay-at-home mom, Arlene emphasized reading and learning. Her kids participated in a summer program at the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum. Arlene taught swimming lessons and occasionally worked part-time jobs.
“It’s a wonderful time to have your kids discover who they are and to help mold each little person,” she says. “I liked watching my children grow and become the people that they are. One of the coolest things is interacting with the children and seeing their personalities develop.”
Arlene tells her daughter, who is expecting her second child, to take time for herself so she’ll have energy for her family.
“I know that when you have pre-schoolers, it is really hard,” she says. “That’s why it’s crucial to get to the gym and take them to the day care there, or trade babysitting, or take them to grandmas.”
Although Arlene’s own life has been a balancing act of family, church and community, she faced a new challenge when her last son went on a mission.
“I went through a phase of wondering what I was going to do with myself,” she recalls. “I love interior design, but I didn’t see myself being a big interior designer. I kept asking myself, ‘What can I do?’”
As Arlene analyzed herself, she came to the conclusion that she was passionate about getting healthy, and her thoughts and to-do list started filling up with health questions and answers.
“My life has blossomed this last little while,” she says.
As Arlene reached her 40s, she began to struggle with her weight and her emotions. She recalls a time she found herself at a stoplight, and she was furious at the man behind her because his lights were shining into her car. She began to roll down the window to let the man know her feelings.
“My husband said, ‘This is not normal behavior.’”
She also started having severe anxiety attacks, especially about airplanes. She was unable to travel with her busy husband, which was something she used to find joy doing.
Her doctor put her on birth control, and initially Arlene felt better and her hot flashes stopped. Then the weight began to creep up, so she changed to a different birth control pill. Over three years, she tried five different birth control pills.
In 2002, Arlene faced a pivotal moment. She saw a picture of herself taken at her son’s wedding.
“I realized I hadn’t been honest with myself, and I knew I had to do something about my weight gain,” she says.
With her intelligence and persistence, Arlene began doing her own research. She read extensively, with one of her favorite books being “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause” by Dr. Jesse Hanley Lee. Her education on hormones switched into high gear, and she began experimenting with natural progesterone. Within a couple of days, her sugar cravings and carbohydrate cravings were gone. Before long, she lost 15 pounds.
She concluded that hormone imbalances are to blame for weight gain and emotional instability.
“Birth control pills, for example, are such a fast and easy way to control how many kids you’re going to have, but it sets women up for an estrogen imbalance as they head toward their premenopausal years,” Arlene says.
Her research showed her time and time again that hormones are the problem — and the solution.
When Arlene saw Brook Shields on TV talking about her post-partum depression, she wanted to crawl inside the TV and tell her there is another option.
“As women take birth control pills, antidepressants, and then hormone replacement therapy, it’s no wonder women are basketcases at age 60,” Arlene says. “Women should be mad at doctors for not helping us find more natural solutions.”
SUCCESS OF TTP40
Arlene took her ideas and persistence to the scientists at Tahitian Noni, where together they developed a natural progesterone cream (from a soy derivative) that could be most readily absorbed into the body through a base of Tahitian Noni oil. The company developed a cleanse beverage to get weight loss off to a quick and safe start, and developed vitamin formulas to address women’s specific hormone and nutritional needs.
Fifteen Tahitian Noni employees became a focus group for the weight loss plan. They added up the pounds they wanted to lose, which collectively came to a whopping 965 pounds. During the next six months, the group lost 760 pounds. Every single woman had succeeded on the scale. But the weight loss was secondary to the improvement in healthier living. The women felt in control of their food cravings. One of the women lost 70 pounds and went from a size 20 to a size 6.
From there, the plan has traveled the world and been adopted by thousands who have
become smaller and happier by following the plan, which includes eating five small meals a day.
“The reason you can do it and not feel hungry is that for once women can have their hormones in balance,” Arlene says.
For Arlene, it’s not just about helping a woman.
“Once you educate a woman, you’ve educated the whole family,” Arlene says. “She will make more nutritious meals. She will go out and exercise, and the family will see that and follow suit.”
Stories such as this are common. A family practitioner in Ohio used the Tahiti Trim Plan, and it made a profound difference for her. She honed her traditional practice and began offering support groups for women facing hormone imbalance.
“She knew there was a need, but she didn’t have the answer,” Arlene says.
Arlene would love for Tahiti Trim Plan 40 to be as big as the Atkins Diet or South Beach Diet. “But I don’t care if my name is attached to it,” she says truthfully.
Arlene believes her ideas don’t need to be heavily commercialized to be successful.
“Women talk,” she says, “and women love to talk about their weight loss and health plans.”
HAPPINESS BEYOND THE WAISTLINE
Arlene believes that hormone imbalance is often a cause of divorce. Women become unhappy, uninterested in sex and emotionally unstable.
Although Arlene is reluctant to sound like she has all the answers, she does know what has made her happy. In addition to finally getting her hormones and weight under control, Arlene and her husband have maintained a strong friendship throughout their marriage.
“Be interested in what each other is doing,” she suggests to other couples. “When I started TTP40, Kelly wanted to find out all about it. When I got certified to be a lifeguard and swim teacher, he was interested and let me practice my life-saving skills on him.”
Arlene also encourages couples to spend as much time together as possible — including non-kid time.
“Encourage your spouse to make the most of what they have,” she says. “And try to stay interesting. Take classes and learn to do things.”
Arlene is open-minded and loves to learn from others. But she can also dish out the advice.
“Take good care of your health,” she says to empty nesters. “Having poor health will affect everything you want to do at this stage. Get rid of all the highly-refined carbohydrates and start exercising.”
IF GIVEN A SECOND CHANCE
As a young girl, Arlene dreamed of being a veterinarian because of her love for horses. But with 50 years of perspective she says she would have set different goals.
“If I had to do it over again, I would definitely go to medical school and become an OB/GYN because I am so fascinated by the woman’s body. I would be able to help women through all the stages that they go through without the help of synthetic drugs and things that mess up the hormone imbalance.”
Arlene also believes female doctors can offer a unique perspective.
“I’ve never understood how a man can really know what we as women go through, and advise us, when they have never had a period, never been in PMS, or pre-menopause, or menopause,” she says.
Arlene’s new season is giving her a chance to help other women bloom into healthy, stable passionate women who realize that 50 is just the beginning.
“My life is crazy, but I like it,” she says. “I have the energy to do it. I’m so passionate about getting this word out to women.”
ARLENE ON ARLENE
Mystery books by P.D. James
FAVORITE TV SHOW
NCIS, re-runs of older shows
LEAST FAVORITE TV SHOWS
PHILOSOPHY OF SUCCESS
From Woody Allen: “80 percent of success is showing up”
THINGS THAT MAKE ARLENE LAUGH
“So I Married An Axe Murderer”
— “I just love to hear Mike Myers do a Scottish accent,” she says.
“Seinfeld” episode when George “does the opposite”
Birds in the morning
FAVORITE FOOD INDULGENCE
Hot fudge sundae with nuts — although she usually eats sugar-free Jell-O with light Cool Whip instead of a dessert
FAVORITE NON-FOOD INDULGENCE
Shopping while on vacation