Permission to rest.
As a woman and a mom, I definitely find it hard to give myself enough of this… We live in a society that glorifies being productive and staying busy, but pregnancy has helped remind me of the importance of slowing down. And the reality is, you don’t need to be pregnant to have permission to slow down.
Here’s why: Women are not small men. Unlike men, who operate on a 24-hour hormone clock, women follow a 28-day hormone cycle— which is why the daily 9-5 (or in some cases, 8-6) grind doesn’t align with our biology, and why we often feel burnt out over the course of the month. By syncing with our natural internal rhythm, our bodies can truly relax and recover. We feel less stressed, more creative, and we’re able to actually accomplish more when we’re working with our biology rather than against it. But since most of us can’t hibernate every month during our period and luteal phase, what can it look like living in harmony with your cycle?
Here are some ideas:
1.) Menstruation phase (3-7 days long - from day 1 of period to last day of period): Prioritize self-care during this phase.
Exercise: Back off the HIIT workouts, and use this time for rest and recovery. Go for a walk outside, do some gentle yoga, or meditate.
Lifestyle & Work: At work, slow down a bit and take breaks when you need them. Try not to schedule interviews, program launches, or presentations during this time and focus on problem-solving and writing tasks instead.
Nutrition: You might be depleted in iron during your period, so focus on iron-rich foods like lean turkey, grass fed beef, beans, lentils, and spinach. Nutrient-dense, grounding, and warming foods are also super important. One-pot meals, stews, and plenty of water dense vegetables will help you feel nourished. Limit sugar, alcohol, and caffeine intake to help reduce inflammation levels and menstrual cramps.
2.) Follicular Phase (7-10 days long from end of period to day before ovulation): Hormones and energy levels rise as your body preps for ovulation. It’s a time of focus and creativity, and you may feel more energized and motivated.
Exercise: This is a great time to try a new workout, or challenge yourself by increasing your reps and load.
Lifestyle & Work: Tackle a new project at work or at home, do some creative brainstorming, attend social or networking events.
Nutrition: Focus on lean proteins and healthy fats like avocado, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds to support rising estrogen, and fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut to support your gut.
3. Ovulatory Phase (3-5 days long, starts 1-2 days before ovulation & ends 1-2 days after ovulation): Fertility is at its peak and so are your energy and confidence levels.
Exercise: Jump into a group exercise class, go on a run, or try a new dance class.
Lifestyle & Work: Take on interviews, program new launches, or attend a networking event. This is also prime time for date night or a night out with your friends.
Nutrition: Increase your complex carbs like sweet potatoes and whole grains to support ovulation and eat more omega-3 rich fatty fish like sardines, wild caught salmon, and mackerel.
4. Luteal Phase (11-17 days long- begins after ovulation and ends day before period): Estrogen and testosterone decline significantly, as do your energy levels. Progesterone increases, and uterine lining begins to build to prepare for possible implantation. Embrace self-reflection and self-care. You may want to say “no” to more things during this time.
Exercise: Your energy is still high at the beginning of the luteal phase, but slows down towards the middle/end, so opt for pilates, yoga, or hiking outside as energy levels decrease.
Lifestyle & Work: This is a great time to focus more on writing projects and detail-oriented tasks rather than big events and launches.
Nutrition: Increase your fiber and complex carbs by eating plenty of root veggies, as well as plenty of vitamin C. Sprinkle some sunflower seeds over your salads or cooked dishes to help support your progesterone levels. Eat magnesium-rich foods like dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and cashews and calcium-rich foods like tofu, white beans, and dark leafy greens. Limit caffeine and sugar to help prevent PMS symptoms.
This is a general guide, so what works for you and your body!
Hope this helps. xx