Guest blog by Hana Ilg
Want to harnesses the power of your cycle to exercise and socialize at your peak?
Then say hello to cycle syncing! Revolutionize the way you work out, socialize, and eat for the optimal you!
I was clinging to the wall for dear life, or so it felt like it. The padded floor of the rock climbing gym was really only about 10 feet below me, but I couldn’t for the life of me hold up my own body weight and I was about to slip. I was so confused and frustrated. I’d climbed this exact course so many times before. Why was I all of a sudden so completely unable to keep myself going? Then I remembered… I was 2 days away from my period. Dang it! I was most definitely not using cycle syncing to my advantage.
I first heard of cycle syncing in “The Woman Code” by Alisa Vitti. The basic concept is that the neuro-hormonal patterns of each phase of our cycle affect our mood, physical energy, and cravings. If we learn these patterns we can then strategically plan our workouts, social life, and diet to best optimize our productivity and mood during these phases.
This practice comes back to the idea of using your body as a tool – harnessing your hormones to perform better, smarter, and more proficiently every single day.” – Alisa Vitti
In this post I will share with you specifically what exercises and social activities are best during each phase of your cycle so that you can harness your own power for your life.
Then be on the lookout for a post later about certain foods and recipes to make and eat during different phases of your cycle.
Phase 1: Menstrual Phase (Cycle days 1-6)
Progesterone levels drop off triggering your period/bleeding.
Social: You might not be feeling your best or feel more contemplative. Make room for time to be alone, to check in with yourself, and prepare for the next month ahead. Many women are relieved to learn that feelings of dissatisfaction or restlessness are common and completely normal during the menstrual phase. Journaling and gentle exercises can help with these feelings.
Exercise: Rest, especially the first couple of days. Then yoga, stretching, and walking are perfect for this time.
Phase 2: Follicular/ Ovulatory Phase (Cycle days 7-16)
Estrogen increases to thicken your uterine lining so that it can host an egg, making you most fertile near the end of this phase. Blood flow to the brain increases, boosting seratonin, the happy hormone.
Social: You’re at your peak! Creativity, energy and strong communication skills are flowing during this phase. Brainstorm or problem solve at work, have important conversations with your spouse, ask for a raise from your boss, say yes to invites with friends!
Exercise: You’re at your strongest, so go for that full body workout of cardio and weights. Or try something with friends like a group Zumba class, or rock climbing, putting your brain and body to work.
Phase 3: Luteal Phase pt.1 (Cycle days 17-22)
Progesterone rises signaling your body to keep the uterine lining intact in case an egg was fertilized. Estrogen levels continue to rise.
Social: Awareness on an external level is heightened and a feeling of wanting to nest is at the forefront. It’s an ideal time to take care of domestic chores that you may have neglected all month, such as organizing your closet, doing heaps of laundry, going for a major grocery haul or cooking food for the week.
Exercise: During this phase your energy may still be high and your body is able to burn fat more effectively. So continue with the more strenuous activities you took on during the Follicular and Ovulatory phase.
Phase 4: Luteal Phase pt. 2 (Cycle days 23-28)
Testosterone increases and progesterone will soon halt triggering your period.
Social: Awareness on an internal level is heightened. Pay extra attention to your self care regimen, such as getting good sleep, taking baths, relaxing and reading a book or watching a movie.
Exercise: You may feel more sluggish during this phase, so scale back on the intensity of your workouts, focusing more on walking, pilates, vinyasa yoga and lower resistance exercises such as the elliptical trainer.
Note: The phases mentioned here are based on a 28 day cycle (your cycle may vary) and my break down of the phases differs slightly from “The Woman Code” and Bodyform’s Red.Fit.
It only takes a few months to get the hang of cycle syncing, and the key is keeping track of your cycle. The number one app I recommend for this is Kindara. After a few months of practicing this, I felt so motivated during my follicular and ovulatory phase to work out hard in the mornings and hang out with friends at night! Then, I felt so relieved to have the grace to say no to certain activities depending on the time of the month. Previously I would push through and end up exhausted, resenting my friends, or disappointed in my body. But now I respect my body and emotions and take breaks when I need to.
It may seem like we’re ruled and dictated by our cycles, but it’s not that at all! It brings freedom, rhythm and flow to our lives. Our bodies are powerful and they allow us to harness its power, but it must be respected in order to do so.
I highly recommend every woman read the “The Woman Code” by Alisa Vitti. Her story of healing her Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) through diet and lifestyle changes and then being able to get pregnant is so inspiring. With great spunk and energy she gives practical advice for all women to perfect their cycles, amplify their fertility, supercharge their sex drive and become a power source. Heck yes!
I was also excited to see this concept gaining more traction when Bodyform, a menstrual pad company, released their Red.Fit website all about cycle syncing! While I’m not a big fan of conventional chemical laden menstrual pads (post coming soon about alternative menstrual products) I’m still super stoked that they are spreading the knowledge. Take a look at their awesome add promoting Red.Fit.