Cycle Syncing: Why You Should Start Planning Your Life Around Your Period
September 20th, 2021 at 5:09 am
Most of us are very routine-oriented and those routines are always planned around the 24-hour clock, where we have separated our time for rest, play, sustenance, and work. But as menstruating persons, there are days that we struggle to find the necessary energy or motivation to get on with our routines, especially around the days before we start our period or while we are menstruating.
We often forget to keep track of what is going on inside our bodies, and at times, get overwhelmed by what we are expected to do and our actual capacity to fulfil such tasks. What if we told you that there was a healthier way to adjust our lifestyles and optimise our productivity?
A study has revealed that hormone fluctuations play a key role in how a menstruating person’s body responds to the changes that are taking place within the 28-day hormonal cycle. According to the study, the changes in the hormone flow affects the physiological, neurological and psychological development and function; impacting the thought process, eating habits, emotional status, energy levels and more.
What is Cycle Syncing?
In recent years, cycle synching has become a buzzword and the hashtag returns a considerable amount of content across social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram, sharing tips on the how’s, what’s and why’s.
Alisa Vitti, who is a Functional Nutritionist (HHC, AADP), hormonal expert and the founder of Flo Living, popularised her now trademarked term Cycle Syncing after taking into consideration her years of study, and her personal experience in understanding the female reproductive-system and wanting to assist.
According to Vitti, the 28-day hormonal cycle has four phases, and based on which phase of the cycle a person is, they should adjust their lifestyle (i.e. food intake, physical activity and work schedules) to improve productivity, as well as their overall physical and mental well-being.
Cycle syncing can also benefit groups that have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), struggle with weight fluctuation, looking to improve fertility, and improve their libido.
The Infradian Rhythm
For persons who menstruate, it is quite beneficial to take note of their infradian rhythm, which takes place through four phases during their 28-day hormonal cycle. The infradian rhythm affects a person’s mood, health, as well as energy levels as it cycles through the four phases; that is follicular, ovulatory, luteal and menstrual.
It is important to understand how your hormone levels fluctuate, and the changes that are taking place within these four phases, so you can adjust your lifestyle around it.
Phase 1: Follicular Phase
- Duration – Day 6 to 14 of your hormonal cycle.
- What happens – The pre-egg release stage, where estrogen and progesterone levels start to rise.
- What exercises to do – Light cardio, hiking, jogging, flow-based yoga to work up a sweat.
- Foods – Try to add foods that will process estorgen to your diet, such as sprouted or fermented foods; flax seeds, tofu, tempeh, soybeans, edamame, kimchi, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, sauerkraut, dates, prunes, dried apricots, strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries.
- Activities – With estrogen levels gradually rising, this is the best time to use your sense of curiosity and inspiration to brainstorm, create vision boards, explore new ideas, plan your next carer move or even plan a road trip.
Phase 2: Ovulatory Phase
- Duration – Day 15 to 17 of your hormonal cycle.
- What happens – The egg is released, estrogen levels are at its peak, testosterone and progesterone rise.
- What exercises to do – Circuit and high-intensity exercises, high-intensity interval workouts, or spin class.
- Foods – Add foods that are good for your liver as well as anti-inflammatory foods; coffee, tea, grapefruit, beet juice, leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards), fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines), olive oil, blueberries, cranberries, grapes, prickly pear, oranges, nuts (walnuts and almonds), and tomatoes.
- Activities – During this phase you should look at networking, problem solving, following up on projects, initiating important conversations and negotiating work terms.
Phase 3: Luteal Phase
- Duration – Day 18 to 28 of your hormonal cycle.
- What happens – Post-egg release stage, where estrogen and progesterone levels are high. If the egg isn’t fertilized, hormone levels decrease and the menstrual cycle starts again. You may also experience cramps, bloating, or acne due to Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS).
- What exercises to do – Light-to-moderate exercise, such as strength training, pilates, and more intense versions of yoga.
- Foods to add – Magnesium-rich foods and serotonin processing foods, such as dark chocolate, avocado, bananas, pineapple, nuts (almonds, cashew, brazil nuts), Legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas, soybeans), seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin), whole grains (wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa), fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut), and leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens, turnip greens and mustard greens)
- Foods to avoid – Alcohol, carbonated drinks and artificial sweeteners, red meat, dairy, foods with added salt.
- Activities – As your hormone levels start to equalise, this is a good time to engage in activities that require a lot of focus, such as following through on projects, compiling and reviewing reports, and other such administrative work.
Phase 4: Menstrual Phase
- Duration – Day 1 to 5 of your period.
- What happens – Estrogen and progesterone continue to decrease, the endometrium (lining of the uterus) is shed, causing bleeding and fatigue.
- What exercises to do – Workouts that engage mindfulness, such as yoga or restorative stretching, or opt for meditative walks through nature.
- Foods to add – Warm and nourishing foods, such as soups and red meat, iron-rich foods such as dried apricot fruit, spinach, podded peas, asparagus, white button mushrooms, acorn squash, leeks, dried coconut, green beans, raspberries, passionfruit, lentil sprouts, and olives. To combat cramps, you can also drink camomile tea.
- Foods to avoid – Fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine, and salty foods.
- Activities – Cut back on work tasks and avoid the pressure of inflexible deadlines, schedule rest and prioritise sleep, allow yourself to work at a slower pace. This is also a good time to reflect, evaluate yourself, and make informed decisions.
My Flo – A period-tracking app that helps you to achieve hormonal balance; recommending what foods, exercises and activities are best suited for each phase of your cycle. It also keeps track of any symptoms and provides necessary food-based tips to resolve them.
Clue – An app that uses gender-neutral language to help you track your cycle and health. The app predicts your period, PMS, fertile window, and provides additional information on birth control, cramps, emotions, skin, hair, sleep, sex, pain, moods, cervical fluid, and more.
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