Natural hormone balance is the key to losing weight, beating back menopause and generally feeling good after age 35.

On that premise, Dawn Cutillo founded BeBalanced Natural Weight Loss Centers in her native Lancaster and has been spreading the word about her company’s against-the-grain philosophy through a gradually growing chain of franchises, including a recently launched Blue Bell location.

Owners Allison McWilliams and Mary Guarino are ideally suited to be running the BeBalanced center at the Shoppes at Village Square, Cutillo noted during a recent grand opening party held at the facility at 708 DeKalb Pike. “They did their research and understood the concept and are really in it to help women — and men — who struggle with losing weight and other issues,” Cutillo said.

Co-owner Mary Guarino, left, and co-owner Allison McWilliams at the BeBalanced Natural Weight Loss Centers facility at The Shoppes at Village Square, Blue Bell.

Guarino noted that, with the help of a franchise broker, the women, who both live in Skippack, discovered the business opportunity that could “help people and even save lives. Based on our strengths and the kind of business we were looking for, this kind of fit both our personalities.”

The upscale Shoppes at Village Square center seemed ripe and ready for a health-altering, boutique-style enterprise like BeBalanced, according to McWilliams. “It’s a great location. There are good stores here that bring in a lot of women, but it’s not a crazy shopping center. It’s a little more intimate.”

The Becoming Balanced plan at the heart of BeBalanced is unique in the field of available weight loss options, Guarino said. “There is no other concept out there that deals with hormone issues in a natural way,” she said. “You have hormone replacement on one end of the spectrum, where on the other end there is our all-natural, homeopathic method.”

Although the majority of BeBalanced clients are women, men have had great success as well, Guarino noted. “Men do fantastic on the program, and it’s the same one for both because men and women both have testosterone and estrogen, in different levels obviously. Everyone that comes here is seeing weight loss every day, which is very motivating, and they see that their hard work is paying off, their energy is better, they’re sleeping better, feeling better and seeing results on the scale, which is great.”

McWilliams added: “It’s very common for middle-aged women to go to their doctors and the doctor doesn’t believe them that they’re eating the same calories and exercising but gaining weight. In our program we believe them because we know it’s a hormone imbalance.”

Cutillo, who is certified in health and nutrition and still oversees the flagship BeBalanced Lancaster location, ultimately designed the finely tuned medley of ketogenic diet, supplements, skin creams, education and stress-relieving therapies after listening to clients’ frustrations with losing weight at the fitness center where she worked. “I was watching how the women would exercise, eat right and still couldn’t lose weight. And even I knew for myself that I was doing everything right and couldn’t lose weight. The ‘calories in, calories out,’ diet and exercise theory isn’t working for everyone when 25 percent of the population are not able to lose weight that way. So I did my research and tried to fill that need.”

Cutillo worked with a naturopathic doctor to put together the supplements portion of the plan, which includes herbs and probiotics. “He is in California, which is usually ahead of the trend, but he said no one is putting hormones and weight loss together, so if you do that you’ll do well. We brought some of those natural things into the facility where I was working and women were starting to see results. Then I went on my own and started BeBalanced. The reason we can franchise it is because it’s completely non-medical and all-natural. Everything is based on symptoms, and we use natural things to alleviate the symptoms. The only hormone we use is progesterone, a topical cream.”

The Becoming Balanced plan will also help with diabetes and blood pressure, explained Cutillo, who also works with a chemist who creates proprietary BeBalanced formulas. “Blood sugar and blood pressure are directly related to hormones,” she explained. Many BeBalanced clients transition over to the natural hormone balancing method from traditional hormone replacement, Cutillo noted. “Hormone replacement can cause you to gain weight if you’re doing it wrong, so we have women coming to us from weight loss plans that are not working, from their hormone replacement doctor.”

Initially, clients sign on with a goal of losing 20 pounds in eight weeks, and then may continue for additional weight loss or maintenance. “Because you lose weight quickly on our program, the cost per pound ends up being low,” Cutillo said.

BeBalanced offers free consultations anytime by appointment, and walk-in informational seminars every Tuesday at 7 p.m. For more information, call 610-239-8888, or visit the BeBalanced Blue Bell location page.

An article by By Gary Puleo, The Murcury