Finding your Bodies Natural Rhythm through Cycle Syncing
Somewhere along the way, western women started seeing their cycles as a nuisance, and an interruption to their productivity. Not to mention something that’s shamefully ‘gross’, and the last thing you’d ever want to bring up in public. Oh, and don’t even THINK about using the ‘P’ word around the men in your life.
I get it, and I was no exception!
If I had a vacation coming up, I’d purposely try to trick my body into thinking that I was pregnant by continuing to take my birth control pill, so I could skip my period all together.
When I was smack dab in the middle of menstruation, feeling crippled by cramps, I’d still push myself to do HIIT workouts, lift weights or do an hour long cardio session. Because train insane or remain the same, right?
Mmm, not quite.
What if I told you that your dreaded cycle is actually the leading compass that helps to navigate how to feel and operate as a woman? Because trust me when I say that there’s SO much more to our cycles than we’ve been taught to believe. The truth is, by harnessing the energy of our cycle, it actually helps us to step more into our POWER as women. A huge part of my mission is to help women to truly connect, and come home to their bodies. And I believe one of the absolute best ways to do that is by learning about cycle syncing and how our body functions month to month.
If you’re wanting to find your natural rhythm with your body so you can work WITH her vs AGAINST her, then keep reading!
What is cycle syncing?
You likely already know that women are cyclical beings and are designed to run on a monthly cycle. But what you might not know is that menstruation is just one of the 4 phases in our monthly cycle. Maybe you’ve noticed that immediately following your period, you start to feel a surge of energy, and your mind is razor sharp. Suddenly that 6am HIIT workout doesn’t seem so bad! Or perhaps halfway through your cycle, you become super confident, a little frisky, and you’re open to having more difficult conversations.
This isn’t a coincidence!
During each phase of our cycle we have different amounts of energy, our hormones change and ultimately our body requires different levels of support. The idea behind cycle syncing is that we can work with our cycle and support our bodies by adapting the foods we eat, our daily movement, social calendar and even important work decisions to the different phases of our monthly cycle. That way, you give your body the support it needs, physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually, rather than pushing it to perform at the same high level at all times.
The original concept was created by leading nutritionist, Alisa Vitti from in her book called the WomanCode. (Highly recommend!) She’s even gone as far as creating a period tracking app called MyFlo to support this method as well.
“I call it cycle syncing – think of it as a form of embodied time management – where your hormones create structure. This practice comes back to the idea of using your body as a tool – harnessing your hormones to perform better, smarter, and more proficiently every single day.” – Alisa Vitti
Women are as cyclical as nature.
In our modern world today women have been following a non-stop 24-hour cycle. This is likely the cycle you’ve been brought up in. It’s one of working hard, with no breaks, going until you drop, and then waking up to do it all over again. Which, honestly, is a very masculine way of doing things!
But, in order for a women’s body to function optimally, (the way mother nature intended), women need to work within a monthly cycle. Because just like how the seasons change, and the moon alters through phases, the women’s cycle replicates this same type of cyclical nature.
Here’s what I mean…
* 4 Seasons
* 4 Central Moon Transitions
* AND! 4 Phases of our Cycle: Menstrual, Follicular, Ovulatory and Luteal.
What’s even more incredible is that each of these phases actually corresponds with the following moon/ seasonal phases.
Menstrual: New Moon, Winter.
Follicular: Waxing Moon, Spring
Ovulatory: Full Moon, Summer
Luteal: Waning Moon, Fall
Not only is this wisdom fascinating, (I mean could we BE more connected to mother earth?) but this information can also be helpful if you aren’t menstruating regularly. If this is the case, you can then follow along with whatever phase the moon is in.
So now that you know what the 4 phases of the women’s cycle are, let’s break them down so you can learn how to best support your body during each phase!
MENSTRUAL PHASE (NEW MOON/ WINTER)
Menstruation is your inner WINTER, NEW MOON, and ultimately the time to call in what you want. And much like how we feel during the cold, blustery winter days, this is the time to go inward, get quiet, rest, reflect, and rejuvenate.
What’s happening in the body: We’re all familiar with this phase! This phase begins as soon as you start to bleed, which signals the beginning of a new cycle. When your cycle is functioning optimally, the length of this phase typically lasts anywhere between 3-7 days. If you don’t get pregnant that month, this is where your estrogen and progesterone levels drop.
During your period, both the left and right side of your brain sync up and communicate exceptionally well together, which means that your intuition is heightened!
You might find that you get sudden messages about what changes you need to make in your life. Whatever comes in– don’t shut it down! You’re not crazy, or being ‘too emotional’ — your body is just trying to tell you something. Now is the time to lean in and pay attention to what comes up, especially if you’re dealing with a recurring issue.
Sync with your Journal: Ask yourself what you want to let go of. What do you want to change and address in your life? What is no longer serving you? What beliefs do you have that are keeping you stuck?
Sync your Foods: Intentionally focus on eating grounding warm and satisfying foods that are rich in iron and b-vitamins to help support the extra loss of blood, and your drop in energy. Think hearty soups, stews, and root veggies.
Sync your Movement: Light, and easy going. Now is the time to honour your body by nurturing her with rest, self-care, and pampering. Think gentle yoga, meditative walks in nature, massages and cat naps!
FOLLICULAR PHASE (WAXING MOON/ SPRING)
The follicular phase is the second phase of your cycle, and begins immediately following your menstrual cycle. This is where your body moves into SPRING, and replicates the WAXING MOON. After taking the time to rest and rejuvenate in your menstrual phase (winter), your energy starts to rise, and it’s now time to bring yourself back to life by starting new projects, and goal setting.
What’s happening in the body: This phase typically lasts about 7-10 days. Here is where your hormones begin to rise, as your body prepares for ovulation (passing an egg). But your hormones aren’t the only thing that increases during this time; so does your energy, and mental alertness!
This is a great time to tackle new projects, take on mentally challenging tasks, embrace new experiences, and get outside of your comfort zone.
Sync with your Journal: Ask yourself what it is you want. And dream big here! Once you know what it is you want, what can you do to move yourself closer towards your goals? Break your goals down into tiny actionable steps to get you there!
Sync your Foods: Support your body in this phase with light, energizing foods, that help to metabolize estrogen. Think fresh raw salads, citrus vinegar dressings, light protein, oats with nut butters and flaxseed, and fermented foods like sauerkraut/ kimchi.
Sync your Movement: Light cardio. Now is the time for trying something new, like zumba, or acroyoga. Move your body in a fun and energizing ways by getting outside; riding your bike, or hiking.
OVULATORY PHASE (FULL MOON/ SUMMER)
Like SUMMER, this phase is all about having fun, keeping busy and getting things done! This tends to be when your confidence is high, and you’re more outspoken and bolder than usual. This phase also syncs up with the FULL MOON, which is about birthing new projects into the world.
What’s happening in the body: Here is where your body prepares to carry out ovulation, by passing an egg. As your estrogen continues to rise, your testosterone peaks and then immediately falls right around ovulation. This phase tends to last around 3-4 days.
During this phase, take advantage of your powerful feminine nature! Now is the time to step into your strength, make bold decisions, and create something new.
You’ll also find that you’ll be able to speak with intent, so get ready to communicate your needs more clearly. With your communication skills on fire, you’ll be having more difficult conversations, asking for a raise, and filling up your social calendar!
Sync with your Journal: With all the fun, and productivity going on, you might completely forget to write in your journal. If possible, you’ll still want to reflect each night. This will help you to stay focused and grounded in your goals. Are you on track to accomplishing all you’ve set out to do? If not, what can you do to make it happen?
Sync your Foods: Since you’ll be checking things off your list, will be full of energy, and amping up your social calendar, it’s important to support your body with enough food to ensure it’s getting all the nutrients it needs. During this time, your estrogen will be high, so you’ll want to eat foods that support your liver and are anti-inflammatory. Think whole foods; fresh vegetables (go extra on the greens), high fibre fruits, and lighter proteins.
Sync your Movement: Your energy is at an all time high, so now is the perfect time to get your heart rate up and SWEAT with some HIIT (high-intensity interval training), circuit training, or running. Group classes are also great because you’re feeling that extra communicative buzz. Plus! Sweating is a great way to detox excess toxins and hormones.
LUTEAL PHASE (WANING MOON/ FALL)
The last and final phase of your cycle (before it starts all over again), is your FALL, WANING MOON. Like the autumn season, now is the time to prepare, before hibernation season arrives again (winter). In this phase, focus on ‘harvesting’ all the work you made happen in spring and summer, and start to slow your body down.
What’s happening in the body: During this phase, both progesterone and estrogen levels are high. Once progesterone stops being produced, it signals the start of your next period. This phase tends to be the longest in your cycle, and can last for about 10-14 days. Oftentimes during the second half of this phase (days 7-14), you’ll find that your energy begins to drop, and those familiar PMS symptoms start to kick in.
Pay attention to your body, and be sure to give it the gentleness and care it needs if you find yourself getting irritable, bloated, having mood swings, or experience intense cravings.
Your body will also want to nest, stay in, and get things done around the house. You’ll be more detail oriented and will likely feel called to organize and clean all the things!
Sync with your Journal: Now is the time for introspection — to edit and refine. Ask yourself what worked, and what’s no longer serving you. Finalize the goals that you are working on, and give gratitude for all that you have already accomplished.
Sync your Foods: This is the time for grounding and warm foods. To limit your PMS symptoms, eat foods that will produce serotonin, and are rich in magnesium. Think root vegetables, leafy greens, hearty grains, dark chocolate, and mint. If your sugar cravings are coming in strong, be sure to eat balanced meals with additional servings of carbs like quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat.
Sync your Movement: Your energy will remain higher during the start of this phase, so you could keep with the high-intensity workouts. As your energy starts to decrease, (usually during the last 5 days), move your focus to more calming, lower resistance workouts, such as yoga, pilates or walking.
Learning about the wisdom of cycle syncing has allowed me to be more compassionate towards myself. My body and I now work as a team, instead of me forcing her to do things that she’s not up for. I no longer see my body as the enemy, and this has allowed me to stop beating myself up when I don’t feel the way I ‘think’ I should feel.
Cycling syncing isn’t about following another set of rules, it’s simply a guideline that helps you to lean in so you can support your body and mind better.
At the end of the day, your body is your number one supporter in life, and her only real job is to keep you alive! So it’s only fair we meet her halfway, by listening to her forever changing needs more often!
How do you think cycle syncing would help to support your body? How do you plan to start syncing your cycle?