Happier & Healthier Periods 101
Ever wonder why despite working out, staying hydrated and “eating clean” you don’t have energy and can’t lose weight? Good news is that as you learn more about your body as a woman it will become clearer that health is a lot more than eating well and exercising. Hormones play a key role in the well-being of women, and hormones often get a bad rep, many of us dread when aunt flo comes to town and our partners say your being so emotional are you getting your period or the ever dreaded why am I so hormonal? Newsflash: You are always “hormonal,” whoa!? No way?! We are upgrading junior health class here ladies. When you get to know your hormones, they can become your besties! You might not LOVE your period after this, but you will at least appreciate it a little more.
Now this might sound crazy, but stay with me, the moon cycles are connected to your menstrual cycle. Typically on a new moon you should be bleeding and on a Full moon you should be ovulating. The moon’s cycle is 28 days and a normal ideal menstrual cycle is 28 days, coincidence? I think not! So why does this matter? Then moon has 4 phases, New, Waxing, Full, Weaning. Your hormones also fluctuate by 4 phases, Menstruation, Follicular, Ovulation and Luteal. By Understanding these fluctuations you can become more in tune with what your body needs at different phases, how cool is this?! We are not meant to be on the go 24/7 365, but we think are and then can’t figure out why we are burnt out, with a muffin top and insomnia. We need rest, we need downtime and we need self-care. So how do we honor our bodies and balance our hormones. This is a roller coaster ride so strap in tight and let’s get going.
Phase 1: Menstruation (Day 1-5) - pretty much the only phase we are aware of and semi taught about in school. What is going on for this to happen? Lasts from 3-7 days, your progesterone plunges at this point and the uterus sheds its lining of soft tissue and blood vessels which exits the body from the vagina, loss of 10 to 80ml is normal. You may experience cramps since the uterus contracts and so do the abdominal muscles to expel fluid.
Your energy is at its lowest here so you may feel tired and like hibernating, it’s ok. If you can’t fully rest because of well, life, then take at least time to meditate, practice deep breathing, stretch, go for a walk, schedule a massage or take a bath. Please do not take a HIIT class or cycle for an hour during this time you will completely deplete your energy. Focus on foods that warm you here, especially if you have cramps, salad will not be helpful here!
Phase 2: Follicular phase (Day 1-13) During this phase the pituitary gland secretes a hormone that stimulates egg cells in the ovaries to grow. One of the egg cells begins to mature in a sac-like-structure called a follicle, it takes 13 days for the egg cell to reach maturity. While the egg cell matures, the follicle secretes a hormone called FSH that stimulates the uterus to develop a lining of blood vessels and soft tissue called the endometrium.
During this phase you’ll have the most energy so try a new exercise class, you can go for HIIT or a harder workout during this phase. For diet focus on foods that are nourishing like salads, tons of sauteed veggies, beans and lean proteins.
Between this phase the next one you might notice that your libido is stronger, take advantage! Get your sexy on girlfriend! Wear sexy lingerie, bring out the candles and toys as a couple or solo. This is a great time to get to know your body and what it likes!
Phase 3: Ovulation Phase (Fertile for 5 days /Ovulating for 1 day)
In a normal cycle this happens on day 14, the pituitary gland secretes a hormone that causes the ovary to release a matured egg cell. The cilia of the fimbriae sweep the egg into the fallopian tubes. Fimbriae are fingerlike projections located at the end of the fallopian tube close to the ovaries and cilia are hair like projections on the fimbria.
During this phase your communication is great, you can convey your thoughts and opinions more clearly so that hard conversation that you have been waiting to have, have it, this is also a great time for a first date. As far as diet goes, go easy on heavy carbohydrates here try quinoa or corn instead and up your veggie intake, prepare them by steaming. You want to focus on more fiber to detox extra estrogen that is flowing, veggies, legumes and beans. Exercise focus is on high impact and group exercise as connection and socializing feels best during this phase. I find during this phase I do HIIT, run sprints on the treadmill or lift heavy weights.
Phase 4: Luteal phase (Day 14-28) The follicle from where the egg burst called the corpus luteum grows on the surface of the ovary, which causes it to produce progesterone. The rise in this hormone causes signals the body to keep the uterine lining intact, it also signals the pituitary to stop sending out FSH and LH hormones, at which time estrogen continues to rise. If the egg has not been fertilized at this point the corpus luteum is reabsorbed into the body and progesterone with stop triggering your period
During this phase energy declines, and you may develop PMS symptoms. Comfort is key now, and your energy begins to focus inward now. You may find that during this phase you crave organization and notice things around you that you didn’t notice before. Your brain starts prioritizing administrative details and responsibilities. For diet, eat foods rich in B vitamins, iron, magnesium and calcium. Craving chocolate? Cacao contains high levels of magnesium. For my environment, I find that during this phase I want everything clean and in its place, I love candles everywhere during this time well actually always, but especially during this phase. As for exercise your energy is still high the first week of this phase so keep up with HIIT or vigorous exercise. But the second week you might find yourself with low energy honor that, lift weights, light bike rides or take yoga classes, focus more on strength here than cardio.
That’s all of the phases of your cycle, pretty cool huh?! Can you believe that we are not taught any of this in school? Periods have been tabooed for decades, it's insane to me, like where do we think we all came from? If a woman is not ovulating, she cannot have a baby!
I remember the first time I got my period I was at my friend’s house and while getting ready to go to my crushes house, I was MORTIFIED! I didn’t know anything about what was happening even though my mom is a middle school health teacher (Not your fault mom). Our bodies are magical, incredible and amazing and when we learn how to work with our hormones we actually start to appreciate what a gift they really are. Now that you know a little more about your body and what it needs. If your cycle is not normal, too long, too short, too heavy, too light, too painful or completely nonexistent, let’s talk! You can book a complimentary consultation here.