Check in with yourself 31/365

How often do you ever check in with yourself ?

Every month most women are privileged to get to listen to their body. But not everyone is listening.

Your body goes through 4 phases, just like the 4 seasons. If you know, Jim Rohn, his book the Four Seasons, was a great influence on me and how I deal with many challenges and opportunities.

Every month, your body is send you signals that you should learn to interpret if you’re not doing so already. You might find your menstrual cycle a blessing or a curse, but like the weather in Ireland, its just something you got to put up with, so you can embrace it, and work with it. Unlike the weather, we can sometimes control what our body is doing to us. Lets go through the FAB Project Cycle.

If we had the ability to sync our female hormonal cycle with our work and life schedules, wouldn’t that be the ultimate winning formula. So what can you do to try this?

“Our bodies give us a master plan for producing life—as well as organizing our life”- says Dr Kecia Gaither, Director of Perinatal Services at NYC Health + Hospitals/Lincoln, and a double board certified physician in Ob/Gyn and Maternal Fetal Medicine. We should use it.

The 4 Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

Phase 1: Follicular Phase (6- 14 days long) - High Energy Output

During and towards the end of your period, this is when you have the most energy. Hormones are low and estrogen is beginning to rise. Your skin will start to glow. Utilise this time after your period, to stay on top of your tasks, do energy driven workouts and challenge yourself. As your hormones begin to rise, you will be highly motivated, extra social, enjoy an increased libido and an a mood boost. Estrogen supposedly supresses your appetite, so now is a good time to do a little calorie restriction if you want to lose a bit of weight.

Actionable Steps

  • Take on some extra exercise during this 2 weeks. Try to hit your exercise with a bit more intensity. Most importantly, go do something you love.

  • Be social. Call your friends and meet up.

  • If trying to lose weight, work off a small calorie deficit these 2 weeks.

  • Plan new projects, meetings or brainstorming sessions.

Phase 2: Ovulatory Phase (Day 15 – 17) - The Queen

This is the shortest phase, (2-3 days) but perhaps the most magic. Its your most fertile time of the month too. so you have all the powers of being a Queen. You are at your most attractive and with your hormones still on the rise, so as with the last phase, your mood, energy and brain skills are still at a high. So keep using them to your advantage.

Actionable Steps

  • Keep working out

  • Seduce your partner or go on a date.

  • Be productive

Phase 3: Luteal Phase (Days 18-28+) - Power 

This phase lasts 12-16 days longs, ideally a minimum of 14 days for an optimal fertile cycle. The estrogen and testosterone hormones are now on the decline. So for the next 2 weeks, you need to be more aware of your bodys changes. Progesterone rises to prepare for your period. This can cause your body to increase its heat. This hormone is also like a natural sleep aid and anti anxiety pill. Your energy will be lower. During this phase, you may want to avoid many big social gatherings. As your body slows down, you also have increased cravings and PMS symptoms.

Actionable Steps

  • Reduce intensity of your workouts. Opt for extra walks, yoga or Pilates classes and keep your resistance training more light to medium.

  • As your body is getting more tired, it is also reducing in bodily endorphins, therefore, your pain threshold is a little higher. Go for a relaxing massage and avoid the dentist.

  • Plan some extra sleep in.

  • Read a book, or do some meditation.

  • Be aware of your cravings, and go for very nourishing food and occasional treat.

  • This is not the time to think about dieting. Try stay around the calorie maintenance.

Phase 4: Menstruation Phase  (1-5 days long) - Intuition and Reflection

This is the start of your period. You may find some relief, but also you may feel less social, due to your lowest energy levels and cramps. If you can book the day off or find some alone time. Really try to look after yourself during this phase. I find that its important to listen to your body during this time. If you need some extra TLC, then dont be afraid to give it to yourself.

Actionable Steps

  • Take time off if you can.

  • Go for some epsom salt baths or try a face mask and a foot soak.

  • Use a hot water bottle to help reduce symptoms of cramps.

  • Avoid strenuous exercise. Keep up with your walks or yoga. But avoid too much running or bootcamp style workouts.

I use an app called CLUE to keep a track of my monthly cycle. It helps me see where I am with myself, and it answers a lot of questions. I have found it very useful to track. I go easy on myself when I see where my cycle is, whereas othertimes, I would have brushed it aside and tried to keep powering on. those cases I suffered severe cramping and some faint/light headedness that needed attention. I feel like I have a great handle on my cycle now, and I use it for me, instead of it controlling me. We all need to look after our physical and emotional wellbeing. Our menstrual cycle plays a big part. Start using it to your advantage.

I hope you find this useful.

Louise Loughlin