Well, well, well….if it isn’t one of my favorite topics. EVER. I’m not kidding when I say that cycle syncing changed my life. And I really hope that reading this post might just have that same impact on you.
If you want more on cycle syncing after you’re done reading this post, then I can’t recommend the book In The Flo enough. Truly. I call this my Vagina Bible, because these words are holy. No joke.
While I’m nowhere near an expert (I’m more of a guinea pig, than anything), I’m confident in my ability to provide you with a high-level overview of each phase of our menstrual cycle, and what the heck cycle syncing even is. Plus, I’ll share some of my personal examples of how this method has changed my life.
Let’s get into it.
Cycle Syncing Your Life to Improve Your Health and Wellness
Phases of the Menstrual Cycle
Most of the time when you hear “menstrual cycle,” people think of getting a period. And that’s it. But the truth is, our cycle is so much more than the time we’re bleeding. In fact, it spans over the course of about 28 – 35 days. Some people have a little shorter cycle, and some have a little longer. You need to start tracking your’s to know what your length is.
The reason it’s important to understand the entire duration of our menstrual cycle is because there’s so much information held in each phase. Plus, our body, mind, and energy undergo a lot of changes in that timeframe.
We’re not meant to be the same every day. We’re not meant to eat the same daily, or work out the same daily. And we’re not meant to socialize to the same capacity every week, nor do we have the same amount of energy every week. It’s changing constantly.
If you end up reading In The Flo, then you’ll know that the author really prefers to call the phases of the cycle by their proper name- rather than nicknaming them by seasons, or anything else for that matter. I’m more in the camp of, call it whatever you need in order to remember it.
So, I’ll list the actual name of each phase, and also mention the season it’s most closely associated with. You do you in however you choose to remember or work with this information moving forward. Deal? Great.
Most of us know the menstrual cycle, because this is when we bleed. This is the phase of the cycle called “winter,” because it emulates those warm, cozy, hibernating vibes. The day we start to bleed is Day 1 of our cycle.
Most people bleed for 3 – 7 days. You’ll also want to check the color and consistency of your blood in order to get a good understanding of what’s going on with your hormones. Your blood can tell you a lot of imbalances in the body, but you’ll only notice if you’re paying attention.
What comes after winter? Spring, of course! Think about the energy of winter, being darker and cooler. And then think about how there’s a sort of re-birth after with the sun coming out, and flowers blooming in spring. That’s the follicular phase.
You’re officially coming out of menstruation (aka hibernation), and you’re ready to greet the world again. You probably have a bit more energy, and pep in your step as you emerge. This means that follicular begins when your bleed ends, and is about 14 days.
After spring comes summer. And summer is all about fun in the sun, lots of traveling, holidays, activities…all the things. Ovulation has this same energy, as the vibes are high, and you’re feeling like a social butterfly. This usually occurs between day 12 – 16 (roughly) of the cycle.
Ovulation is also the time when you’re able to conceive. Contrary to what we learned in sex ed as millennials, you cannot get pregnant day after day, year around. There’s actually a very small window of time you can get pregnant each month, and that’s during ovulation.
When summer break is over, there’s a bit of a crash, right? Say hello to the luteal phase. Luteal phase is like autumn, which isn’t all bad. But still, this part of the cycle tends to get a bad rap, because this is when PMS is alive and well.
It’s important to notice your PMS symptoms, because these are all ways your body is communicating your hormonal imbalances in the body. Honestly, we’re not meant to suffer during this time, and if you are- that could be a sign that something greater is going on. This phase is also about 14 days long.
Related: PMS Cookies Recipe
What is cycle syncing?
Now that you know about all 4 phases of the cycle, you can learn how to cycle sync your life for each phase. Remember, this post is a very high level overview of how cycle syncing works, so to learn the full scope of information, read the dang book.
Cycle syncing is about optimizing all parts of your life around your menstrual cycle. Because each phase of the cycle has a totally different energy and hormonal makeup, we’re capable of different things throughout the month. Rather than trying to put a square peg in a round hole, and power through certain portions- the purpose of cycle syncing is to maximize and optimize where you can, so that when life is life-ing, you’ll have the energy reserves to move through with more ease.
Cycle Syncing For Each Phase
I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single retreat that I teach, I always get my period at some point during the week. This isn’t super ideal for being a leader of a 20 person group, let alone for teaching more strenuous exercise.
However, because I’m able to cycle sync the hell out of my life in all other ways, I don’t have period pain. I don’t get PMS, and I have the energy reserves to deal with this situation with ease. Obviously I can’t just up and cancel the retreat, because of my period. Nor, can I not show up to teach.
Even though I’m my own boss, there are still times that work and life prevent me from cycle syncing my life to perfection. But, because I cycle sync in the areas where I can, this allows more space for the areas in which I can’t.
This is the winter phase, remember. So, this means we’re probably not feeling super social. The energy is likely lower than usual, and more rest is required. Try to not schedule important meetings- whether it’s work or family and friends- during this time. This is a great phase for introspection, alone time, and self care.
This is the time for Yin yoga, gentle stretching or walking. Not the time for hard work outs, high intensity, or heavy weights.
Your body usually craves cooked, denser meals in winter- and the same goes for how to nourish yourself during your bleed. Think of food that will replenish you, something hearty, cooked, and grounding.
Okay, we’re emerging from hibernation, and blooming in the world once again. Energy is lifting, although it’s not quite at its peak. Coming back to life means socializing again, although not to the point of burn out. Start slow.
Movement can consist of stronger yoga classes again, interval training, hiking, surfing, HIIT, or anything that gets your heart rate up. Again, you’re not at full energy, but you certainly have enough to get the blood flowing and the heart pumping.
When it comes to food, think of how you cook like spring itself- it’s not hot, but it’s not cold. I love a blend of raw greens with cooked lentils, grains, or veggies on top. Fermented food (like kimchi, sauerkraut or kombucha), and healthy fats (like nuts, seeds, fish, and avocados) are also recommended during this time.
Hello summer! Nice to see you again. Energy is at its peak. That means social events galore during this time. If you want to host a dinner party, or plan a girl’s weekend- this is the best time to do it.
When it comes to work outs, you have energy to burn, so use it! This is the best time to go hard with however you move your body. I’m talking Barry’s, Soul Cycle, a tough climb, or a long surf. Whatever it is that challenges you, this is the time to do it.
In the summer we usually crave lighter, fresher foods. And the same goes for ovulation. Fruit is my best friend during this time, and so are big salads.
To avoid the crash and burn of the going back to school fall-time blues, you want to make sure you’re supporting yourself in all the other phases leading up to luteal. It also means that by the time you get to luteal, you remember to slow down- rather than trying to stretch that ovulation energy out.
Because you’re slowing down, that means your movement will shift from the hardest ever, to something more mindful like yoga or pilates. Don’t get me wrong, it can still be challenging. You’re not in total rest mode just yet.
When it comes to nourishment, it’s important to remember that you actually need about 250 more calories during this time. So, out with the light, fresh, low caloric foods- and in with the legumes, grains, animal protein, and yogurt. You’re preparing for the hibernation that is menstruation, so you want to make sure you’re satiated.
Have I convinced you to try cycle syncing yet? I hope so! Make small shifts where you can. Watch the magic unfold.
I can’t wait to hear how it goes.