Would you like to know how connected you really are to nature and the earth?
Just as there are four phases of the moon each month, there are also four phases of the menstrual cycle. If you are not menstruating regularly, you can follow the cycles of the moon. This is also called the infradian cycle, not to be confused with the circadian cycle (24h) that men operate on.
So what are the four phases of our cycle & the moon? The menstrual cycle consists of (1) follicular phase, (2) ovulatory phase, (3) luteal phase, and (4) menstrual phase. In that same order, the moon follows (1) waxing moon, (2) full moon, (3) waning moon, and (4) new moon. Along with each, we can relate the four seasons of the earth (1) spring, (2) summer, (3) fall, and (4) winter. Let's learn a little about each phase!
Follicular Phase - Waxing Moon - Spring
This is the first phase of your cycle, the phase after your menstruation and before ovulation. Your hormones at this time are at their lowest, your body is full of energy, and you are feeling like a social butterfly! During this time, your metabolism is slower and your resting cortisol levels are lower. Your body requires less food and is also less stressed. Let's learn which foods, exercises, and mantras you should live by during this season.
Food: Eat lighter meals, plenty of vegetables, light grains, and fermented foods.
Exercise: Less cardio & more strength training. Try vinyasa yoga, hiking, & dancing. You may be feeling tired, listen to your body and do not force anything. Go with the flow!
Mantra: I am vibrant, I create my own reality.
Ovulatory Phase - Full Moon - Summer
I know I shouldn't play favorites, but this is by far my favorite phase. During this time, you are boosting with confidence and just an overall ray of sunshine! This is also the phase that I like to call "the work" phase because your energy is at its peak for the month. Let's learn which foods, exercises, and mantras you should live by during this season.
Food: Focus on eating raw foods, light grains, and more cruciferous vegetables. This is also a high craving phase, don't do it! However, if you just want to indulge and live your life (as you should), remember the magic of moderation!
Exercise: More energy = high-intensity workouts! Practice cardio, HIIT, cycling, boot camps, & kickboxing.
Mantra: I am powerful, I am my own light!
Luteal Phase - Waning Moon - Fall
This is another one of my favorites. In this phase, we start harvesting all of the work we have done in the previous phases. Your progesterone begins to increase, preparing to bring on menstruation. Your caloric intake also increases, so don't feel guilty if you feel hungrier than usual. Receive the blessings you have sowed and take the time to relax! Let's learn which foods, exercises, and mantras you should live by during this season.
Food: Eat more warming foods like pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, & turkey. Try to eat complex carbs only, when consuming carbs. My favorite recipe for this phase is zucchini turkey taco boats!
Exercise: Work slow & listen to your body. Practice strength training, pilates, and power yoga.
Mantra: I am strong, I am healthy, I am at peace.
Menstrual Phase - New Moon - Winter
I like to call this the resting phase. During this time, bring your work inward. Instead of focusing on outward productivity, focus on your internal needs. Utilize alone/quiet time, rest, reflect, pamper yourself! Your caloric intake also increases, so don't feel guilty if you feel hungrier than usual. Let's learn which foods, exercises, and mantras you should live by during this season.
Food: Try to eat high protein foods and healthy fats. Go for that avocado burger or try a vegan burrito with quinoa and black beans!
Exercise: This is literally your body's cleansing phase, practice deep breathing, yin yoga, meditation, walking, & napping.
Mantra: I am worthy, I am enough, I am patient.
Why is this important?
As our bodies move into the luteal and menstrual phases, progesterone rises to its peak. It is important to be aware that more progesterone = less serotonin and dopamine production. This is what causes us to feel anxious, irritable, or depressed during these phases. Progesterone also creates instability of blood sugars, meaning your body will naturally crave foods that will trigger the same response, like carbs & sugar. These foods will also cause a release of serotonin and dopamine, giving us that instant gratification that we crave.
But wait, there's one problem. Unstable blood sugars can cause insulin spikes, we crash and burn. And in turn, we feel hungry again & the vicious cycle continues.
Detours and setbacks in one phase will likely carry on and negatively impact the next. For example, if you do not rest during the menstrual phase, you are keeping your body from restoring and recharging itself. Moving into the follicular phase and ovulatory phase will feel sluggish instead of productive/energizing. In my personal experience, when I do not respect the resting phase, I find myself tired and unmotivated during my "work" phases and experience severe ovulation pain and cysts. However, if I respect the cycle and listen to what my body needs, I feel energized, I have minimal menstrual cramping, I am happier, my skin is clearer, and I have zero ovulation pain.
If you experience PMS, severe cramping, mood instability, or acne during your cycle, there is a high chance that your hormones are out of balance.
How can you help your body balance and cope during your cycle?
Understand that your caloric intake changes.
Eat more whole foods.
Never skip meals!
Eat more fiber.
Keep your gut healthy.
Try to balance the glycemic load of your meals.
Herbs that naturally balance hormones:
Chaste Berry (Vitex)
Red Raspberry Leaf (during luteal & menstrual phases)
Understanding the phases of the cycle helps you become more patient with yourself. When you learn that you are literally a different version of yourself each phase of the month with different needs, different energy levels, and different mindsets, you learn to be compassionate on days when you may not feel like doing a high-intensity workout.
But most of all, you can learn to use these phases to your advantage. If you allow yourself to rest and restore when required for example (luteal & menstrual phases), you will feel more recharged and motivated when your body requires more work! Cycle syncing will - over time - also help to minimize the negative symptoms associated with menstruation.
The main purpose of cycle syncing is to balance hormones and lessen symptoms of menstruation and other reproductive issues (endometriosis or PMS for example).
Please do not suffer in silence! I know that this is only a small water droplet into the ocean that is cycle syncing. If you have any questions, please reach out!
Until next time,