Learning to Go with “The Flow” :: How Learning How to Cycle Sync has Been the Best Life Hack EVER!
I can remember the first time I got my period, at the ripe old age of eleven. It was horrifying! None of my peers had yet started, and I hadn’t really learned much about a woman’s menstrual cycle (from school or my mom). So as you can imagine, I was devastated. Since then, I’ve always viewed my period as an inconvenience. It was 5-7 days out of the month I would be in pain, cranky, bloated, and carefully choosing my wardrobe for fear of leaks. It wasn’t until very recently that I learned about cycle syncing, and it opened my eyes to the magic of our menstrual cycles …. specifically our periods.
About a year ago, I began working with a Naturopath (Amy LaRue) whose focus is female hormone balance. Since the birth of my son 6 years ago, I had felt some things were not 100% as should be, and I wasn’t getting many answers from conventional medicine. So, I reached out to her and we had our initial conversation in November 2021. Shortly after I began working with her, we discovered that some of my symptoms were from low progesterone, but MANY of my other symptoms were simply from a lack of meeting my body where it was at various stages of my cycle. Symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, severe irritability, brain fog, high stress, and cognitive burnout were the main things I had reported to her. That’s when she enlightened me about cycle syncing, and life has never been the same!
She explained to me that in many medical circles, our menstrual cycle is called our fifth vital sign, and can not only clue us in to how well our body systems are functioning but can also be used to hack our bodies to our advantage! Since I’m all about optimizing function, I was all in. I wanted her to tell me EVERYTHING! So here it is …. the meat and potatoes of cycle syncing that I have found from my work with Dr. Amy and research from Dr. Stacy Sims.
DISCLAIMER: This is a basic guideline, and not medical advice. Every woman’s cycle varies, so the days listed below may vary slightly. This guideline also does not consider any hormonal imbalances, rather it is based off a normally functioning cycle. If you feel you are having hormonal imbalances, or have specific medical concerns, please contact your doctor.
- Days 1-7 (Menses/Early Follicular Phase): During this phase, we are very intuitive. Our inflammation is low, and our bodies are primed for high-intensity energy expenditure. So, if you are an entrepreneur, this is a great time to begin brainstorming for new projects. If you are an athlete or training for an athletic event, now is the time you can really push your training as estrogen and progesterone are low, and testosterone is high. This hormone shift allows for more optimal muscle synthesis and recovery.
- Days 8-14 (Late Follicular phase): During this phase, we are very creative. We often have many ideas flowing. This is a good time to begin those projects you were just brainstorming about! As this phase comes to a close, and our bodies prepare for ovulation, our tolerance to physical strain may decrease. This is due to the energy expended to prepare for ovulation. So, make sure to warm up well and adapt your workouts as needed to prevent over-training.
- Days 15-22 (Ovulation phase/Early Luteal Phase): During this phase, we tend to be good at communicating and continue to have good progress working on the projects we began in the follicular phase. However, our tolerance to physical strain drops to the lowest it will be all month. This is due to rises in estrogen and progesterone, and the energy our bodies are allocating to support the newly released egg. So, be sure to modify your physical activity as needed.
- Days 23- 30 (Late Luteal Phase): During this phase, fatigue increases and we may also experience sadness, brain fog, and decreased motivation. This is also a time when we have a low tolerance to physical strain and may not handle high-intensity training well. For entrepreneurs, this is a good time to wrap up projects that are mostly completed and require little focus to complete. This phase also has the most hormonal fluctuation and therefore we may feel more sluggish with physical tasks.
So there you have it folks! The basics of cycle syncing. For me personally, this has helped me both physically, and mentally. It has helped me in my business and in my physical training. It also makes it easier to give myself grace during the phases where I am not as productive as I would like, and I prioritize tasks that fit with where I am in my cycle.
For example, I brainstorm about Instagram reels or tasks like this blog post when I am on days 1-7 of my cycle, and I post those reels or write those blog posts during days 23-30. Now certainly, life must go on, and some deadlines are unavoidable. But, if you have the freedom to be able to plan your schedule accordingly, I suggest cycle syncing to start. And if you geek out over information like this just like I do, might I suggest reading some of Dr. Stacy Sims’ research? You can find one of the more recent publications here and/or she has an excellent book out that is titled “Roar,” which provides detailed insight into the physical demands and training needs specific to women based on their physiological makeup.