Last Saturday as pretty much every Saturday morning I went to the gym for my 1 hour high intensity workout. It was the 3rd day of my period and I woke up feeling a bit lethargic, but being my usual go-go-self I went anyway thinking: “ I am sure I will feel so much better after a good sweaty session”. How wrong I was! I literally drag myself back home (I also had to cycle 25 minutes back) feeling absolutely exhausted. I had a huge breakfast thinking that maybe I was just really hungry and in need of energy (i usually work out at empty stomach) but even after a huge bowl of porridge I wast still feeling drained and depleted.
I changed into my pjs, went to bed and basically call it a day.
I know this might sound a bit dramatic but in that moment really hit me that maybe after 5 years of healthy eating/living I am still not really in sync with my body (at least not all the time) . If you follow me on Instagram you know I like to lead a pretty active lifestyle. I love working out consistently or I just I love being active in general, I also tend to work or doing something pretty much at any given day. I love what I am doing so I guess it doesn’t really feel like work so I tend to rarely take a proper break. Basically I am of those people that struggle to sit still for more than 1/2 hour.
On that Saturday, while laying in bed and feeling sorry for myself I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something which I was missing? So I started doing some research and I came across the term Cycle Syncing. In case you are not familiar with the term ( I wasn’t) cycle syncing is basically when you adapt your diet, exercise routine, social calendar, and even important work engagements to the different phases of your monthly menstrual cycle. That way, you give your body the support it needs, rather than pushing it to perform at the same high level at all times.
Boom! That was literally a light bulb moment for me, I realised that I didn’t have a clue about my cycle. Like nada, zero, niente. I don’t even write down the first day of my period. Leave alone paying attention to my follicular phase ( didn’t even know what that is).
To make it simple, us women go through 4 phases during the spam of 4 weeks:
1- Menstrual- Roughly from day 1 of your period to day 5 : During this phase your Estrogen is on the rise. It’s advisable to drink soothing teas, like chamomile ( I personally love mint tea) to fight cramps. Avoid fatty/salty foods, alcohol or caffeine. Exercise: keep it gentle and prioritise rest. Restorative yoga or light stretch are great options.
2- Follicular – from day 6-14: Estrogen and Progesteron are on the rise. Eating food that helps metabolising progesteron can be helpful, like sprouted and fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut (my favourite). Keep exercise still light so hiking, cycling, light runs and vinyasa flow yoga are all ideal.
3- Ovulation– from day 15-17: Your testosterone and estrogen are peaking, maximizing your energy levels. This is the time where high intensity workouts are ideal. With your estrogen at an all-time high, you should eat foods that support your liver. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods like whole fruits, vegetables, and almonds. They pack incredible health benefits, including anti-aging properties and protection from environmental toxins, which are known to have an impact on your hormones.
4- Luteal – from day 18-28: Estrogen and progesterone are high. Your body is preparing for another cycle so your energy levels might be a bit low. Doing light to moderate exercise might be the best. You might want to focus magnesium rich foods that fight fatigue like dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds and spinach. Also since the luteal phase is the one before your period you might want to focus on eating extra healthy to avoid as much as possible any discomfort during your period.
Overall eating a variety of whole foods is definitely super important to help balancing your hormones and to help your body to thrive. I have to admit that since I have been on a plant based diet my period is definitely not as painful as it used to be and in general I have more energy. However as happened last Saturday I definitely have days where I need to remind myself that I am not Wonder Woman but just a woman that has her ups and downs, emotionally and physically.
I am definitely going to try to be more in sync with my 4 phases and allow myself to feel tired, lethargic or not as energetic instead of fighting and pushing myself all the time. I also will try to pay a bit mote attention to what I am eating and try to stay away from caffeine especially during my period to see if that has a positive effect.
I am actually really excited to embark on this journey of self discovering and hormones alignment ( does that even make sense??) and I cannot wait to share more with you! I am starting to realise (better late than never, right) that although what we eat has a huge impact on how we feel other factors are super important too, aka our hormones!
I am also trying seed cycling again ( last time I tried I struggle to be consistent with it) and I cannot wait to see if it has a positive effect on my hormones or skin. Definitely stay tuned for that!
Lots of Love