Cycle and FLOW

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Last week I shared with you the story of how I came to learn more about my cycle and why I was in my late 30's before I finally started to figured out what was happening to me. This week I wanted to dig deeper into information that can help all of us "go with the flow".

Before we jump in though,,,,,

I had some questions come up after last week's post about how what I am sharing with you has anything to do with the education that I have. That's a fair question, as to most people I am a Yoga Instructor and Registered Massage Therapist. Without boring you with all the details, I wanted to let you know that I have also taken University and College level courses and certifications in Human Biology, Pathophysiology, Holistic Nutrition and Herbalism. This background has given me extensive knowledge and understanding of the body, the know how to be able read the research and also how to look for good quality information. Of course, I am not your doctor or medical professional and this information is me sharing my experiences and what has helped me. Please make sure to do what is best for you and listen to your body.

Let's Jump IN!

This week I wanted to talk about using our cycle to create intentional movement and nourishment. In order to do this, we need to talk a little bit about the phases of the flow first. Each stage of your cycle has a different flow of hormones and energy levels and it is important to tap into that instead of fighting against it.

Last week we talked about tracking your cycle for a couple months first, then using that information to help you see patterns and learn more about your personal cycle. You will need that information to help you create an action plan around movement and nourishment for each phase. If you haven't done that yet, I would suggest that first, book marking this post, then coming back in a couple months with your info.

Most cycles are 28 days with a 3 - 7 day menstruation. Knowing your flow / cycle will be key in learning to listen to your body as well. This week we are digging into Menstruation!

The four main phases of the menstrual cycle are:

  • Menstruation (shedding)

  • Follicular (before release of the egg)

  • Ovulatory (egg release)

  • Luteal (after egg release)

Menstruation: Days 1–5

At the start of your period you are likely feeling low levels of estrogen and progesterone (plus extra inflammation). A lot of women report feeling pretty unmotivated, and likely tired. But this is actually prime time to build strength and muscle, due to relatively high testosterone. As this part of the cycle can be extremely draining for many of us i suggest you Do whatever workouts feel good. Often we feel drawn to easy, restorative movement, focus on low-intensity workouts like yoga, Pilates, and stretching during your period.

But…if you feel energized, hit the weights and lift. In fact, going for the max loads you can manage for only six reps is highly beneficial at this time. If you are currently experience extreme and painful periods rest will be your friend, especially when paired with a restorative or gentle movement.

Nourishing your body properly at this time is also important. I know we all want the hot fudge sunday's to be the top of the "foods that support your period" list, but unfortunately they aren't. During menstruation we have an increased amount of systemic inflammation and like we talked about a couple weeks ago, sugar and processed foods are one of the BIGGEST contributors to inflammation in the body. So the last thing we should want to do is make that even worse,,,,, but we do, all the time....... So how do we start to support our bodies at this time, instead of making it work harder and feel worse? Well, I would like to encourage you to fuel up with good foods that are rich in antioxidants, iron and fiber. You will also want to focus on getting key nutritional elements such as vitamin D and your omega's like salmon, flaxseed and tree nuts to naturally decrease inflammation.

It's important to start building up your iron levels a week or two before your menstruation to increase your blood counts. Foods like farm raised, grass fed / finished red meat, deep green, leafy vegetables — everything from spinach to chard and broccoli and collard greens. If you are vegetarian / vegan, lentils and beans actually have a good amount of iron in them. However some beans are known to increase inflammation, so you will want to cook them properly – for instance, using a pressure cooker in order to get the good aspects of the beans without adding to the problem of inflammation.

Once your menstruation has started and the "must have it" cravings for the hot fudge sundae start you will want to add foods high in antioxidants. Foods like dark berries. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and cherries are great sources of antioxidants. As an added bonus antioxidants help fight off free radicals which are linked to illnesses like diabetes and cancer. Some research has shown that increasing these fruits and berries at this time of your cycle can help decrease the intensity of the cravings, level sugars and help with the systemic inflammation. So maybe order a blueberry hot fudge fudge sundae instead?

Those of us who have discovered that we are estrogen dominance really need to focus on adding the fiber into our days. I mean we should all add the fiber, but some of us more than the others. To some degree, reabsorption of estrogen can be blocked with fiber. Good sources of fiber can be found in whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, and bok choy are not only good sources of fiber, but they also are packed with antioxidants (see a trend?) and reduce inflammation. Vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes are good sources of fiber too. If you are craving fruits, choose the antioxidant options such as berries, cherries. As well as grapefruits, pears, green apples.

The last thing I want to touch on is whether or not taking supplements would be helpful for your period, PMS and symptoms. I will speak on this from my personal experience and point of view. For me, making sure that my body is nutritionally dense and sustaining optimal levels of vitamins and minerals needed to function is vital. I personally take my bioavailable vitamins daily, and have noticed an improvement in my cycle by doing so. Our bodies become very depleted during our menstruation, being aware of this allows you to ensure you aren't dipping too low on required nourishment.