As women, we have a cycle each & every month. Understanding our cycle gives us more insight into how we can manage our lives better. Women at their reproductive age regulate at 2 powerful inner clocks. Understanding the circadian rhythm is one thing, but as women we need a deeper understanding of our infradian rhythm, which is only for women who are in their reproductive years.
Being aware of our Infradian rhythm cycle gives us access to a deeper and more meaningful understanding, such as knowing when we're most likely to crave pleasure from our partner or when we're more likely to desire alone time with some self-care; also gives us insight on the best forms of exercise & what to focus on nutrition wise throughout the month.
When it comes to our cycle we need to be aware of the 4 phases & how each phase affects us mentally, emotionally and physically. Let's go deep into each phase
The 4 stages of a woman's cycle: The first day starts the day you have your first bleed
Menstruation (lasts 3-7 days)
Hormones: levels are at their lowest concentrations, this creates very good communication between your 2 brain hemispheres: the left-analytical side / right- your feeling side.
This means you are best able to figure out how you feel about certain situations and able to determine the best course of action for yourself. This is a wonderful time to analyze, review & think strategically about where you're headed. Asking yourself questions such as- Does where I'm going and working towards feel good to me? Am I happy where I'm headed? Go inward and try to get clear about the big picture. It's the perfect time to journal and understand what you want in all aspects of your life.
Diet: Focus on foods that add nutrients, during this time your body is involved in the intense process of menstruation. Eating healthy fats is a great way to minimize cramping. Protein, fats & low glycemic index (low sugar) veggies and fruits. Add fiber and antioxidants. Seafood, kelp and nori can help remineralize your body with iron and zinc, which can become depleted during menstruation. Soups and stews are also ideal during this phase because it brings a sense of comfort during this time of inwardness & reflection.
Mental: Many of us will have lower libido & energy levels. This is a time to self nurture yourself. Try to get a bit more rest and focus on light exercise, sometimes just walking is all you have the desire for. During this time focus on rest, reading, spending time with close loved ones, movies, reflecting, journaling & MOST IMPORTANTLY SELF LOVE RITUALS/PRACTICES.
Follicular phase (lasts 7-10 days)
Hormones: As estrogen rises during this phase, we begin to feel a rise in our energy levels. This rise also boosts the brain's working memory capability- the ability to handle complex processing tasks, according to research in- "Frontiers in Science"
Mental: This phase is all about introducing new ideas into your life. During this phase we're focusing a lot more on ourselves. Brainstorming and creativity are high, begin to plan and start those new projects you've been putting off. You'll be more open to new experiences. At this time set your intentions for the fresh new start of your Infradian rhythm cycle.
Exercise: Try something new to mix up your routine. You'll be experiencing an increase in your energy, so take advantage and push a bit harder in your workouts.
Diet: This is a perfect time to reset your health, this is a good time to start a new cleanse or diet. Your cravings won't be strong & it's easier to lose weight at this time. Focus on fresh, live foods, fruits & veggies.
Ovulation Phase (lasts 4-7 days)
Hormones: Testosterone begins to surge, driving desire & then drops around ovulation. The pregnancy risk is much higher.
Mental: There's a boost in mental sharpness, creativity, & communication skills according to a study in the Journal of Comparative Neurology. During this phase, The verbal and social centers of the brain are stimulated this week. Talk and plan out the things you want, it's a good time for important conversations. Connect with others and focus on networking. This is the week to present ideas, pitch, sell, negotiate and work in teams. Your communication skills will be heightened. Perfect time for socializing and being around others. This is also the time you're more likely to become stimulated and desire sexual pleasures. Your physical energy is at one of its highest points during your ovulatory phase.
Exercise: You'll be filled with much more energy, so go for the burn. Choose high impact workouts. High intensity workouts should be done at this time.
Diet: Focus on fresh raw veggies & fruit. Stick to lighter grains
Luteal Phase (lasts 8-14 days)
Hormones: This phase is made up of 2 parts. During the first half of the luteal phase, you'll have robust levels of estrogen, progesterone, & testosterone, you'll be well lubricated & more likely in the mood for sexual activity. The second half hormones decrease and so does lubrication, making this half the dry phase and your interest in sex may be lessened.
Mental: Your brain is more optimized for detailed responsibilities while bringing projects to completion. Check back on your project plans from the recent follicular week to see what needs completion. This week brings much focus & organization, so set aside time to really put in the hustle. The first half brings more energy for others, while the second half focuses more on taking care of yourself. You may experience PMS if there's too much estrogen in relation to progesterone production. You may become more irritable during this stage, so try to focus on controlling your emotions.
Exercise: Focus on strength training exercises. You'll have more energy at the beginning of this cycle, the second half should be lighter exercise such as yoga, walking and strength training.
Diet: Focus on riding your sugar cravings by having a diet rich in B vitamins. Increase your calcium & magnesium. Leafy greens, roasted or baked root veggies to help your liver & large intestine to flush out estrogen more effectively.
*From the book in the FLO by: Alisa Vitti