If I asked you where you were in your cycle right now, would you know? If you're like many women, you may only really be aware of your cycle during the bleeding time. This may not be the case for everyone, especially for women closely tracking their cycles when trying to (or not to) conceive. However, for the vast majority of us, if we aren't on our periods, the other parts of our cycle don't seem to catch our attention.
Even though our period may seem like the most "memorable" time in our cycle, there are many hormonal changes and fluctuations that affect us during the other times of the month as well. With these hormonal shifts, we also tend to have a shift in our needs, emotions, energy levels, motivation, and even our appetite.
Just like the weather is different in each of the four seasons, as women we are wired the same way. In spring and summer, we're typically more active, more social, have more energy, and tend to feel more upbeat because of the nice weather. Due to this, many of us plan outdoor activities, vacays, and social events in the spring and summer. Well its helpful to do the same thing with our menstrual cycles. By making certain food, exercise, social, and work decisions based on where you are in your cycle, this can help you to get in tune with your body, support balance, live in sync with your body's natural rhythm, and even optimize your productivity.
So, now that I gave you some background on cycle syncing (that's what's its called), I'll now discuss each of the four phases of our cycle and what you should focus on during each phase.
Menstrual Phase Starts on day 1 of bleeding and lasts approx 3-7 days
During this phase of your cycle, you should rest and practice self-care. The menstrual phase is a delicate time that requires rest and reflection.
Best activities during this phase: · read a good book · relax · sip herbal tea · write in your journal **It’s not a good time to put excess demands on yourself.
Best foods during this phase: · nourishing soups · warm broths (bone broth is magical) · nutrient dense hearty stews Learn toward foods that are high in magnesium, zinc and iron like hemp hearts, grass-fed beef, clams, dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli. Follicular Phase Starts after your period and lasts approx 7-10 days
This is an ideal time to start a detox. The follicular phase is a more dynamic time and perfect for starting something new. During this phase your ovaries get busy, the immune system is strengthening, emotions begin to shift upwards, and energetically it is a more yang time (active).
During this time estrogen begins rising so foods that are high in probiotics and indole- 3- carbinol are ideal to encourage healthy estrogen metabolism. This would be foods such as fermented vegetables (add 1 tbsp. to your meals), coconut yogurt, and cruciferous vegetables (like kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower). Make a kale smoothie or cook up some roasted lemon Brussel sprouts.
Best activities during this phase: · New projects · Go to the gym · Networking · Catch up on work
Best foods during this phase: · Cruciferous vegetables · Cultured foods (like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and fermented veggies) · Phytoestrogen foods like Flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and hummus
Ovulatory Phase The shortest phase lasting 2-3 days
Estrogen continues rising during this phase as does testosterone. During this time your “mojo” is at its peak and you should feel energized and vibrant. This is a great time to socialize with friends, reconnect with your partner, or spend time creating in the kitchen.
During this phase, since estrogen is rising, work on digestion and keep the bowels moving. Your body removes estrogen through the stools. Constipation will allow estrogen to be reabsorbed and this could lead to a difficult period, so keep things moving. You can do that with plenty of fresh green juices, high fiber vegetables (especially sulfur and cruciferous veggies) and plenty of purified water.
Best activities during this phase: · Social activities and events · Intense workouts/boot camps · Intimacy · Creative activities
Best foods during this phase: · Fresh juices · Lemon water · High fiber foods · High enzyme foods like papaya and pineapple
Luteal Phase Begins after ovulation and ends with the start of your period. Lasts approx 12-16 days
During the luteal phase, estrogen and progesterone are both high initially and then estrogen starts to decrease as progesterone takes over. Your moods can get a bit all over the place in the luteal phase, especially in the second half where you may feel some PMS symptoms as the body prepares to menstruate soon. It’s common to feel tired during the second half of this phase.
During this time there is a natural tendency toward clearing and releasing. The luteal phase is an excellent time to move your focus towards dealing with unresolved emotions, personal to-do lists, and organizing your environment.
You can support your emotions with foods high in B vitamins such as quinoa and grass fed beef and support your adrenals (controls stress hormones) with good fats such as coconut oil and avocado. And let’s be real…this is a good time for some organic dark chocolate too! Just a little bit to take the edge off.
Best activities during this phase:
· Moving inward
· Emotional release
· Guided meditation
· Breathing practices
· Journal writing
Best foods during this phase:
· Good fats like coconut oil, ghee, avocado, and brazil nuts
· Foods with B vitamins like quinoa, leafy greens, pasture raised eggs and grass fed beef
· 70% cacao chocolate
Syncing your life with your menstrual cycle is not meant to be extremely complicated. Don't feel like you cant do a particular activity or eat a certain food if it doesn't fall perfectly with where you are your cycle. This is just meant to be a general guide and offer some insight into how our hormonal shifts work throughout our menstrual cycle and how different aspects of our life can align with these fluctuations. By being aware of this, it can help you get more in tune with your body.
Happy cycle syncing!