I am going to tell you about something I feel is a game changer for women and, up until recently, I didn't fully understand it. I was on my usual daily walk and decided to listen to a podcast. The podcast featured a woman named Alisa Vitti who is best known for her books called Woman Code and In The Flo. They are about understanding your monthly cycle and how to best optimize your time throughout the month. Before you say, "Nah, I don't need to hear one more thing about my cycle," hear me out! You will not want to miss this information.
Let me cut to the chase. So we all ( male and female) have something called the circadian rhythm, which is the natural 24-hour biological cycle that regulates sleep patterns, metabolism, body temperature, and digestion. This rhythm starts the day you are born and for the rest of your life. But did you know about the infradian rhythms? The infradian rhythm is a 28 day cycle that regulates your menstrual cycle but also affects your metabolism, mood, energy levels, sex drive, immune system, and much more! All of these functions are governed by hormones so if you aren't tracking this monthly cycle correctly (I certainly was not) you could be doing things to throw off or disrupt your hormones. Let me give you a couple of examples of how you may be setting yourself up for less than ideal results. You may be doing a strenuous HIIT workout when you should be taking it easy while your body is producing new tissue. That stress of the intense workout could then put your body under more stress and, in return, cause your body to hold onto weight or even cause weight gain. Have you ever talked to someone who was on a weight loss kick with a man and the man consistently would lose weight while the woman stayed the same or even gained weight? That is actually a classic example of a woman not syncing up to her infradian rhythm. If she was doing less intense workouts during the phase where rest was needed, her results could have been much different. Another example of maximizing your infradian rhythm can occur during work. Say, for example, you have a new creative idea you would like to present to your boss. There is an actual phase in the the rhythm that would give you the most energy and optimism to slay that meeting like a boss. The best way to truly understand this rhythm is to understand the four stages that make it up. Each phase has certain foods, exercises, and ways too cater to its needs.
Phase 1- Menstrual
This phase occurs between days 1 to 5. During this phase it is recommended to eat your fruits and veggies as well as omega-3, antioxidants and magnesium supplements. You should eat complex carbs to keep your blood sugar stable and sip on some herbal tea. Because there are low levels of estrogen and progesterone during this phase your energy levels will be low so give your self the rest you need. Light movements like walks, yoga and stretching are about all you should be doing for exercise.
Phase 2- Follicular
This phase occurs from day 6 to 14. During this time you should be eating lighter meals like fruits and veggies, fermented foods, proteins and zinc supplements. Paying attention to how muc you're putting in your body will help the metabolism of estrogen. During this phase estrogen and progesterone are climbing back up. Your metabolism is slower so fat burning, cardio, or strength training are good suggestions for workouts. During this time you will feel an increase in creativity and happiness so dive right into those new projects.
Phase 3- Ovulatory
This phase occurs from day15 to 17. Estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone all rise. Foods rich in antioxidants, vitamin B and C are all encouraged. Think fruits and veggies (as always), herbs, spices, nuts, oils, and protein. During this time, high energy movements like running can enhance your stamina. You may feel full of confidence with high energy and an increase in your sex drive. This is a great time to have meaningful conversations and feeling powerful at work.
Phase 4- Luteal
This phase occurs from day 18 to 28. Progesterone is at its highest during this phase. This is a time when food cravings might start. To stabilize blood sugar, eat healthy fats and some high quality meat. Calcium, omega 3 and magnesium are important during this time as well. Light to moderate exercise like yoga, pilates, and low intensity cardio are recommended. Your body needs time to relax so implementing some self-care love would be ideal.
All women are different so of course everyone's cycles are different. No worries! Download the Myflow app to track your cycle. This app is amazing and tells you what to eat, how to move, and what to expect. You don't have to remember the names of all four phases or what to do during a particular phase, this app will have you covered. Once I took the app on a 'test run' and found it extremely helpful, I knew I had to share this information with all of you. I have always wondered why some weeks throughout the month I was super tired and others I felt like Superwoman. Now, after taking a much closer look into my monthly cycle, so many questions are being answered for me. Do some investigating of your own. There is a ton of information on the infradian rhythm. So pass this information on to your daughters, friends, and loved ones. Trust me, they will be forever grateful.