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We Go There. By Waxon

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Everything You Need To Know About Cycle Syncing!

July 02, 2020

Today, we’re delving into one of the coolest women’s health phenomenon's we’ve come across in a while: cycle syncing. (And no, we’re not referring to period syncing, the belief that women who live together or spend a lot of time together will eventually begin menstruating at the same time, but let’s be sure to ‘go there another time.) Rather, cycle syncing is a relatively new theory that involves adapting your lifestyle (diet, exercise routine, social engagements, etc…) to the different phases of your monthly menstrual cycle. Why would someone want to do this, you may be wondering? Well, according to Alisa Vitti, the founder of the concept and a functional nutritionist, cycle syncing may have the ability to improve symptoms of PMS, increase energy levels, increase libido, and boost mental health. Ultimately, cycle syncing is a way for women to exercise control over their hormones and indulge in a little menstrual self-care, and what’s more empowering than that? Keep reading to learn all there is to know about the latest women’s health trend, cycle syncing.  

What is Cycle Syncing? 

There’s no denying that fluctuating hormones during your menstrual cycle impact women in a variety of ways. Not only do most women feel that something isn’t quite right, but the research is there to back it up. Changing female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, can influence everything from mood and energy levels to pain tolerance and the food you’re craving. Through cycle syncing, women can gain a better understanding of their body. Cycle syncing enables women to be more in tune with their natural rhythm, which in turn, prevents them from being a victim of their hormones. By adapting their lifestyle according to the phase of their menstrual cycle they are currently experiencing, women can maximize their hormonal power and optimize their well-being. If you’re wondering who should try cycle syncing, it’s really for everyone! However, certain groups of women may benefit from it more, including those who struggle with weight loss, are trying to conceive, have low libido, have polycystic ovarian syndrome, have heavy, irregular, or painful periods, and who struggle with PMS symptoms. 

The Four Phases 

Your monthly cycle consists of four distinct phases: the menstrual phase, the follicular phase, the ovulatory phase, and the luteal phase – and y.ou thought your body was complex before!   Learning how each phase affects your mind and body is crucial to cycle syncing. Once you understand how your hormones are impacting you, you can make the necessary changes to combat these effects.  

*Note: The breakdown below includes recommendations for diet, exercise, and lifestyle that women should engage in to optimize and rebalance hormone levels. It also includes an average time span for each phase. However, it’s important to keep in mind that every woman is different and if you decide to try out cycle syncing for yourself, the first step will be determining the timing of your own unique phases.  

The Menstrual Phase: Days 1-6 

The menstrual phase begins on the first day of your period. During this phase, estrogen and progesterone are low, and the lining of the uterus is shed, which results in bleeding. Due to this loss of blood and iron, many women feel fatigued. 

  • Exercise: Your energy levels are lowest during this phase, so it’s a good idea to take it easy at the gym. Consider light workouts, such as yin yoga or meditative walks.  
  • Diet: Warm, nourishing, iron-rich, and omega-3-rich foods are key during the menstrual phase. Not only will these types of food support blood loss, but they can possibly even ease PMS symptoms like cramping, bloating, and tender breasts. Consider soothing tea, such as chamomile, as well as soups, stews, bone broths, salmon, chicken, and leafy greens.  
  • Lifestyle: Slow down and rest. If you’re someone that is constantly on the go, try to limit your plans during this phase. The menstrual phase should be a time for relaxation. Engage in a little self-reflection, whether that takes the form of journaling, creating a vision board, or making a list of goals for the month ahead. 

The Follicular Phase: Days 7-13 

The follicular phase is when your hormone levels are on the rise. During this phase, the ovaries are growing follicles (up to 30 of them), each of which contains an egg. Later on in the phase, one lucky follicle will take over and the others will stop growing. This follicle starts to produce estrogen, which thickens the uterine lining to prepare for implantation of the fertilized egg. Overall, this phase is where you’ll be most mentally alert and have high energy levels.  

  • Exercise: Now that you have the energy and motivation, you can start to engage in more intense workouts. We’re talking about weight lifting, running, and vinyasa yoga.  
  • Diet: This phase is all about eating food that will nourish your growing follicles. Increase protein consumption and try to incorporate foods that will metabolize estrogen. For the former, consider free-range eggs, beef, or fatty fish. For the latter, think fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, or foods high in vitamin E, such as sweet potatoes. 
  • Lifestyle: You’re feeling productive, social, and full of energy. Make plans with family and friends, try out new hobbies, and schedule important work meetings or projects. In essence, use the follicular phase to get sh*t done!  

The Ovulatory Phase: Days 14-17 

The ovulatory phase is an important one, but it’s also the shortest. During this phase, the egg is released and travels down the fallopian tube, where it may be fertilized. Hormone levels are at their peak during this phase which means a few things. The good news? Increased confidence and sex drive. The bad news? Increased vaginal discharge.  

  • Exercise: Energy levels continue to be high during this phase, so take this as a challenge. Think high intensity interval training (HIIT) or a group fitness class, such as spinning.  
  • Diet: With your hormone levels reaching their peak, try to include foods that are high in magnesium, such as spinach and dark chocolate, as magnesium helps balance estrogen and progesterone. In addition, broccoli, cauliflower, and bok choy are your friends during the ovulatory phase, as these veggies all contain an antioxidant known as glutathione that will help rid your body of unwanted toxins, like excess estrogen. 
  • Lifestyle: Simply put, you’ll want to have sex during the ovulatory phase. Take advantage of your high libido and plan a date night with your partner. But remember, this is when you are most fertile, so if you don’t want to get pregnant, be sure to use protection if your partner is male. In addition, this phase is when many women feel their most confident and attractive. Whether you finally want to ask your boss for a raise or try out a new dating app, now is the time. 

The Luteal Phase: Days 18-28 

If the egg has been fertilized (AKA conception), it will travel to the uterus, where it will implant in the uterine lining. However, if the egg was not fertilized, then hormone levels will drop and your uterus will prepare to shed its lining (and back to the menstrual phase we go!). Progesterone and estrogen levels are highest at the beginning of this phase, which means more normal energy levels and a balanced mood. But by the end, assuming you’re not pregnant, you can expect the likes of bloating, cramping, and other premenstrual symptoms. 

  • Exercise: As your body prepares for another menstrual cycle (we’re going to assume you’re not pregnant), energy levels start to decline. In other words, it may be a good idea to swap SoulCycle for pilates, strength training, and eventually, restorative yoga.  
  • Diet: This is the phase where most women report that their food cravings (especially for foods high in carbs and fat) start to kick in. Although it may be difficult, try not to give into these cravings. Eating healthy during the luteal phase is key to avoid discomfort or cramps. Focus on cruciferous vegetables, organic berries, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds, and do your best to avoid alcohol, caffeine, red meat, and dairy products. 
  • Lifestyle: You may feel your inner introvert coming out. Allow yourself to decline invitations from friends and spend more time at home, resting and perhaps indulging your creative side.  

How to Get Started 

Interested in giving cycle syncing a go? Don’t be intimidated. If you know your cycle, it’s really quite simple! There are several apps available that can help you track your cycle, and get you familiar with each phase, such as MyFLOGlow, and Kindara. Be patient, as it can take up to three months before you can accurately identify how long each phase of your cycle is. Once you are in tune with your body’s natural rhythm, it’s time to let the cycle syncing begin!  

 

 


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