I posted on Instagram stories yesterday about cycle syncing and asked if anyone was interested in hearing more about my journey with this process, and I was so excited to hear back from TONS of y’all that you definitely wanted more information about all this.
If you’re not familiar with cycle syncing, essentially it’s recognizing that women* aren’t actually meant to operate on a standard 24-hour calendar. Instead, our hormones fluctuate within a 28(ish)-day cycle, and we should make food, movement, and lifestyle adjustments accordingly in order to be at our best (and avoid burnout).
*This would apply to women who are currently cycling, meaning post-pubescent, pre-menopausal, and not on a hormonal birth control or pregnant.
I can’t remember where or when exactly I first heard about cycle syncing, but it immediately caught my interest and seemed like there was so much value in it, but I wasn’t quite sure where to start with it. I then learned that, as women, our periods act as our fifth vital sign. (As in, our menstrual cycle — and what it communicates to us — is as important an indicator of our overall health as our body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rate. Isn’t that fascinating? It really made me want to start paying more attention to these messages my body was sending me.)
Then, more recently, I heard Alissa Vitti on Kimberly Snyder’s podcast speaking about her book, In the FLO: Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage and Revolutionize Your Life, and immediately bought a copy. It breaks down whole idea behind cycle syncing, and gives actionable ways you can implement meaningful change in your life to start taking advantage of it.
Though I was so energized by this idea, it also felt a bit overwhelming. I loved reading about the different phases of our cycles and what to do during each phase to optimize the way we feel, but it also felt like a LOT. And so I decided to give it a try…but to start small.
Here’s how I’m introducing cycle syncing into my life right now:
- Continuing to track my cycle, but upping the process a bit. I’ve been tracking my period for the past few years, but didn’t think much beyond that. After reading this book, I started using the Flo app and also testing my ovulation each month using these strips to really KNOW when that was taking place for me. I’d tracked my ovulation before some, too, but kind of went overboard back when we were trying to get pregnant pre-Maggie. Now it feels like it’s with the goal of optimizing my energy and overall wellness, so the whole process feels a lot healthier now. I’ve also added approximations of where I am in my cycle to my Google Calendar so I can easily keep tabs on all that.
- Adjusting my exercise/activity based on where I am in my cycle. I love that I’m a Pure Barre teacher (and that it’s my workout of choice) because there’s already so much variety incorporated in that workout style. I’m going to start adjusting my workout scheduled based on where I am in my cycle. What does that mean, exactly? It means redefining what it means to workout based on where my hormone levels are at any given point. Right now, for example, I’m on my period and so my hormone levels are at their lowest. Instead of pushing it hard with cardio-based workouts, right now I’m prioritizing rest (yep — a nap can count as a workout during this phase), walks, and Pure Barre Classic. During other parts of the month, that will change. Mostly, I’ll pay attention to how I feel before and after workouts to get a sense for what works for me at different times throughout the month.
- Introducing seed cycling. This is easy to do, so I figured why not try it? Some women report their hormones feeling more balanced when they consume one tablespoon per day of pumpkin seeds and flax seeds during the first half of their cycle (menstrual and follicular) and a tablespoon per day of sesame seeds and sunflower seeds during the second half (ovulatory and luteal). It’s so easy for me to just add those to salads, stir fry dishes, or smoothies, so I figured why not give it a go?
- Checking in with my body more. How did I sleep? How did I feel after that workout? WHY might I be feeling stressed? I might even start jotting these things down in a journal to make that more of a formalized process. (I’ve never been much of a journaler, but think this would be really helpful.)
There are other things I plan to introduce as I get the hang of this more, including some more specific mindfulness around foods to prioritize during different phases of my cycle, how to structure my life where possible to optimize where I am in my cycle, and more. I’m really excited to dig into structuring the way I schedule my work and life to align more with my cycle. I think it’s going to be incredibly energizing! It’s helping me, though, to just start kind of slowly so I can really get the hang of a few pieces first, notice how those changes make me feel, and layer on from there.
I have a lot to learn, but I’m excited about this new journey and what I’ll discover along the way! Are you interested in giving this a try in your own life, too? I’d love to hear from you, if so!