Ladies, do you dread that time of the month? It feels like we have been conditioned to dread it, it has become this painful, looming, let’s not speak about it thing we suffer through every month.
A Women's menstrual cycle is a huge part of her overall health. It shows that the body is healthy and safe and able to reproduce.
When women in history were in the midst of war or famine, the body knew through stressors and nourishment levels that it wasn’t the best time to bear children. And since reproduction isn’t essential to our survival, it is often one of the first things to go when things get stressful.
The body is an AMAZING thing. To be able to detect that just shows how everything is truly connected!
This is one of the many reasons stress management is so important to our health as females! Though society has evolved and we aren’t in the midst of war or famine, the body still responds to stress, lack of nutrition, or imbalances by de-prioritizing menstruation.
Cycle syncing is when you optimize your phases and also minimize the unwanted symptoms that have come along with today’s ‘normalized’ period or PMS experience.
So instead of dreading it, you can look forward to each phase knowing how to listen and honor your body accordingly.
Let’s dive into it! THE FOUR PHASES: 🩸❤️🌹🔴🌙
🩸 Menstrual (typically occurs on days ~1-6, aka your period).
This is when estrogen and progesterone are low. The lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, is shed, causing bleeding. This is actually a controlled inflammatory response within the body (one of the times that inflammation is doing its job. Quite different than the chronic inflammation I have talked about before relating to food and blood sugar).
During this phase, focus on restorative movements (things like yoga, walks, and stretches). The body is already inflamed so having gentle movement is often going to feel best on the body. And if you can nap, do it! Give your body the opportunity to restore.
Foods to eat: Ever notice your appetite changing during your period? Don't skip meals! It's important to incorporate lots of protein and healthy fat, omega 3s, greens, and magnesium-rich foods into your diet. Also, limiting inflammatory foods (like sugary foods and ultra-processed foods) will help those nasty symptoms. Sometimes we might think these are what we are craving and what we want because of our hormones, but they can lead to you feeling less than great later! Soothing teas like chamomile can also help to combat any cramp cramps.
❤️ Follicular (days ~7-13, the phase right after your period).
This is when estrogen and progesterone are on the rise as an egg is prepared to be released. This for some people can overlap with your period too. This phase ends when you ovulate.
Cardio-focused movements like running, hiking, cardio boot camps, and workouts that make you break a sweat will often feel good for the body. With that, be sure to stay hydrated! With higher levels of hormones, be sure to incorporate more electrolytes (my go to is LMNT!) and plenty of fluids.
Foods to eat: Light & Colorful, cooling foods, and fermented foods. This is a great time to make those big salads, stir frys, and sheet pan dinners with all those veggies! Its always helpful for the body to eat the rainbow (not the skittles kind) but especially for women in this phase!
🌹 Ovulatory (days ~14-21, the middle of your cycle) - Your hormones are hitting their peak levels, estrogen peaks, and testosterone and progesterone rise. This is often the phase where you feel your best! So you may find yourself feeling extra energy, confidence, social butterfly vibes, and high libido. It's all normal! Enjoy it while it last, as this is often the shortest phase of the cycle.
Because of all that energy, high-intensity workouts (like interval workouts, boxing, & spin) are often great options during this phase.
Foods to eat: In this phase, you want to support your liver as it detoxes the excess estrogen (which will help prevent PMS symptoms later). Try eating more raw fruits and veggies, almonds, and salads. You can also supplement with green juice for more anti-oxidants (but of course watch the sugar if you get it store-bought).
🌙 Luteal (days ~15-28, the "PMS phase" leading up to your period)- estrogen and progesterone levels are high. If the egg isn’t fertilized, hormone levels decrease.
During the first half of this phase, light strength training and banded workouts are great.
During the second half of this phase, you may want to shift more towards yoga, walks, and rest as energy starts to decline heading into the menstrual phase.
Foods to eat: There is often an increase in metabolism as the body gears up for the menstrual phase coming up, so its important to prioritize and increase fat & protein intake. Consuming antioxidant rich foods (like berries), magnesium-rich foods (like dark chocolate, spinach, pumpkin seeds, bananas), Iron-rich foods (red meat, leafy greens, beans) all can help!
An example of how to incorporate all that - try a smoothie with banana, cocoa, nut butter, and cauliflower rice. 😋
Note: As your metabolism increases, its easy to find yourself overindulging. One tip I learned from Balanced Beyars is to sip on some Bone broth the week leading up to your period. This can help curb those cravings! Not to mention it is quite satiating & has so many other benefits to our health.