As women we are cyclic by nature! Our bodies are designed to follow a repeating cycle and ignoring the natural changes that occur during each stage could mean that you are working against yourself Understanding your body and making lifestyle choices that align with your body’s needs can result in increased energy, improved performance, better weight management and decreased PMS!
More about the Menstrual Cycle
Our menstrual cycle is governed by hormonal fluctuations. These affect our emotional status, appetite, pain tolerance, thought processes, energy levels… to name just a few! Each woman is unique, will have different cycle lengths and respond differently to hormonal changes. Getting to know your body is important to work with it. Use a period tracker (click below to download ours) to keep track of your cycle, and you will start to see trends which you can then use to plan!
There are 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle:
- Menstruation (Bleeding days). Hormone levels (estrogen and progesterone) are low. You may have lower energy.
- The Follicular Phase (end of menstruation until Ovulation)This is when your body prepares the egg for release. Estrogen starts to rise; you may have increased energy.
- Ovulatory phase (4 days mid cycle). Estrogen levels are high around ovulation and so are your energy levels!
- The Luteal Phase (after ovulation until first day of menstruation). Progesterone levels start to rise and are at their highest during this phase. Estrogen also rises again slightly. You may notice a decrease in energy levels.
How to align your lifestyle with your Cycle:
Step 1: Know your Body:
Each person is different. Using average cycle lengths will give you an idea, but to get the full benefit it’s best to be sure of you own! Use a period tracker….you can download ours by CLICKING HERE ….and keep track of the subtle changes that occur during the month. Note the type of discharge (spotting, bleeding, clear, egg-white consistency etc.), your energy levels, your mood and anything else you feel is relevant. After you have done this for a few months you’ll get a good idea of your cycle length and will be able to start working with it!
Step 2. Consider your Food choices
Be mindful of your food choices. Hormone imbalances can be triggered by bad choices! Stick to a healthy balanced diet throughout the month and try to avoid too much caffeine, sugar, salt, and refined starches! To help support the natural hormone fluctuations and keep everything balanced try the following:
- Help support your liver metabolize estrogen in phases where estrogen is on the rise. Make sure you are eating dark leafy greens, high fiber foods, high quality protein and healthy fats.
- In the second half of your cycle where progesterone and estrogen rise and then drop, include foods that boost serotonin and include magnesium. This will help balance your body’s response to these hormone changes.
- During menstruation make sure you stay hydrated (water and fruit) and eat foods that are rich in iron and omega 3. Soothing herbal teas can help ease PMS symptoms.
Step 3: Add Variety to your Exercise Routine:
Planning your exercise routine around your menstrual cycle will not only provide some variation but might make exercising easier and more enjoyable! At the beginning of the follicular phase hormones are low. During this phase do light cardio and strength training that gradually increases in intensity. During ovulation your estrogen and energy levels are at their highest so take advantage of this with high intensity and endurance exercise. As hormone levels start to drop in the luteal phase, start decreasing intensity. Exercising during menstruation has many advantages. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists regular aerobic exercise lessens PMS symptoms. Be sure to keep it “light” and relaxing exercise, try walking, light strength training or yoga.
Step 3: Be Mindful of your Mindset:
Considering all the hormonal changes that occur in your body each month it’s no wonder that you don’t always “feel” or respond in the same way. Tracking your cycle and getting to know it better means that you will be better aware of why you feel the way you do and work around it! Generally, most people experience their highest levels of well-being and self esteem in the middle of the month, and then before menstruation feelings of anxiety, hostility and depression tend to increase.
So should you align your life with your menstrual cycle? We think helps avoid putting too much pressure on yourself, keeps life interesting with variety and makes you mindful of your body’s needs.
Our answer is YES! Give it a try!
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