Are you a victim of your hormones? Would you like to learn how to work with your monthly cycle? Did you know women are not small men?
In her book “ROAR” Dr Stacy Sims, exercise physiologist, helps us as women maximise our potential by working with our physiology and hormones instead of against them.
She talks about how our menstrual cycle can be divided into 2 phases;
Low hormone (Follicurlar Phase) - This is from the first day of bleeding up to ovulation around day 12. Most woman feel stronger, and things feel easier. We have better access to carbohydrate, our core temperature is lower and we have increased plasma volume and better access to oxygen.
High Hormone (Leuteal Phase) – During this phase we generally don’t perform as well, we have decreased reaction time and co-ordination due to increased central nervous system fatigue and we have an increased loss of plasma. During this time our metabolism will increase 5-10% and we burn fat better.
SO, what can we do with this knowledge?
When we are in the low hormone phase, it’s the time to aim to set new personal bests, train hard and train at a higher intensity. You will find that it’s easier to focus and you may feel like superwoman! Ticking things off that ‘to do list’ in record time. It seems effortless to be present with your children, have a clean house, prepare 3 square meals a day for yourself and your dependents, exercise and fit in that ‘me time’. This is the ‘creative’ or ‘yang’ phase of your cycle. It’s the time to consume higher carbohydrates and high protein (new research says at least 40g after exercise) to help with recovery.
Conversely, in the high hormone phase you may feel flat and bloated due to increasedhistamine and inflammation, fatigued as you can’t access carbohydrates as well and you will also be experiencing greater sodium loss. This makes functioning at your highest output and recovering well, much more difficult. You may be wondering what you were thinking when you made all those social, work and personal commitments during the follicular phase! During training focus on technique and rehabilitation. Make your training sessions slower and focused more on endurance. Plan to do arts and crafts or more quiet activities with your kids, give yourself a break if you don’t feel as productive at this time. This is the ‘receptive’ or ‘yin’ phase of your cycle. Do some yoga, go for a fun bike ride, enjoy nature. Look to essential oils to help balance hormones, particularly around your period. Consume more good fats for a fuel source. Salt your food to help with the sodium loss and you may want to take a branch chain amino acid, specifically leucine, to help with the nervous system fatigue. If its bloating and PMS you are having problems with 5 days from your period you may want to consume 45mg of zinc, 350g of magnesium and 1g of omega.
Of course, at the end of the day we are all individuals, so the best thing you can do is track your cycle. There are many apps available, FITRWoman is one that tracks energy, mood, sleep and fatigue so you can adjust your diet and training till you find the perfect balance. . Natural cycles is another that is an accredited contraceptive and can therefore also be used as a fertility tracker, negating the necessity for hormonal birth control and in turn assisting to lessen the highs and lows of the month.
Take control of your cycle and feel the benefits!
As an Osteopath and body builder, Rebecca is familiar with the need for performing at ones peak, while maintaining a work life balance. In this blog she explores how to work with your hormones through the month in order to best achieve your goals.