Isn't it crazy how every month we women gotta brace ourselves for the inevitable suffering of our cycles? The whole experience varies from woman to woman, month to month, day to day...and it's just..."normal".
But it's really kind of not.
In her book In the Flo Alisa Vitti talks about how what we've accepted as normal about our cycles actually isn't normal.
"Mood swings. Bloating. Breakouts. We're told these premenstrual symptoms are normal. News flash: They're not." (Vitti, Alisa. In the Flo.)
This got my attention because all I've ever known is that every month a few days are gonna suck and I'm just going to have to deal with it. The whole not having energy thing. Being in pain. Other weird random pains that just happen to show up. Brain fog. The period poops. (IYKYK) Not to mention getting called (or even calling ourselves) "hormonal" when the feels are hitting extra hard. The list keeps going. And we've always just been expected to suck it up and ignore comments like, "Why are you so emotional?", "It can't be that bad.", "Why are you being such a b*tch??"
"Excuse me, sir, but I've been bleeding for 2 days straight now, can't sleep, my uterus is screaming, not to mention my colon, and I cried cuz I dropped the only piece of chocolate I had left on the floor earlier. This is normal, though."
Alisa goes on to say, "Science shows us that PMS symptoms arise only when there is an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone during the luteal phase."
And lemme tell ya what when I read that I was like...Wait a mother truckin minute...I actually have some control over this?? Why has no one told me this? How am I just now finding this out?? (Probably the fact that women have been hardcore underrepresented in studies up until more recently has something to do with it.) So all of that to say, I'm currently on a cycle syncing journey and I'm trying to figure out the best way to support my well-being through my entire cycle.
As you know we all have a circadian rhythm which is our wake/sleep cycle. Women also have an infradian rhythm which is the 28 (ish) day cycle of our periods. Our hormones fluctuate a lot causing our moods, energy levels, and how we're able to show up to change quite a bit.
I've gotten so frustrated with myself for not being able to show up the same way all through the month. Like I thought I should be able to just suck it up and show up at peak performance regardless of what my body was doing or how much I may have been pushing against its natural processes. However, the natural flow of our cycles does make it so some times of the month we are more sociable and energized while other times we are more introspective and lower energy, for example. If we learn to flow with this instead of trying to fight against it we can actually function AND feel much better.
Through this process I've been learning about how nutrition can effect our hormone levels and what types of foods can support me better at different times of the month. I don't want to play food Tetris all month, and it's honestly probably not necessary to be that hardcore about it, so I'm focusing on the ones that show up as a good source of nutrition regardless of what part of my cycle I'm in. And sprinkling in the others.
A few of the ones I have found to be the real food MVPs are:
Leafy greens- like spinach, kale, mustard greens, collard greens, etc. If you're not a big fan of these you can easily throw them in a smoothie with some fruit, protein powder, maybe some honey and you'll barely taste them- if at all. In the research I've done these have anti-inflammatory benefits (so extra great for menstruation), plus they support the metabolizing of estrogen and progesterone.
Nuts-almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, etc. A serving is not only a good source of unsaturated fats, but also protein, selenium, magnesium, and other minerals, plus vitamins, to support our cycle.
Broccoli- this one is top of my list as it supports your hormones and is considered an anti-inflammatory food
Cycling syncing comes into play for my workouts as well. Instead of being frustrated and judgmental towards myself for being lower energy and not wanting to lift weights I either do yoga, take a walk, or simply rest instead. There's no point in putting my body under a bunch of stress unnecessarily when it's already telling me GIRL. CHILL, PLEASE. And it's extra unhelpful to mentally kick myself for listening to my body.
It's not about beating our bodies into submission, ladies! It's about LISTENING to our bodies and supporting them so we can thrive!
This post could go on for quite a bit because there's just SO much when it comes to the topic of cycle syncing. I highly recommend checking out In the Flow as it's a really helpful resource for learning how to be more in tune with your body and work towards making your periods less sucky. It even addresses things like birth control, endometriosis, and PCOS.
Have you ever heard of cycle syncing? Are you thinking about giving it a try? Tell me in the comments below!