Getting In-Tune with My Cycle and Health

In my ongoing, never-ending quest to optimize my well-being, I have studied several books on nutrition, women’s health, and self-care. I devoured In the Flo by Alissa Vitti, Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal, The Best Life Diet by Bob Greene, and several other books recommended by the Optimize (now called Heroic) Coaching program, including books by experts such as Mark Hyman, and Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig (creators of Whole30).

I’ve tried hundreds of programs and plans– Chris Hemsworth’s Centr, Daily Burn, 22- Day Revolution, The Zone, and Whole30. Right now, I am currently enrolled with OrangeTheory Fitness’s Transformation Challenge, an 8-week fitness challenge to see how much I can transform the first couple months of the year.

I’ve tried many of these programs, but I’ve never experienced the success I had in 2014 when I participated in The Biggest Loser competition at my local gym. I lost 54 pounds in about 6 months. What’s more, I felt AMAZING. My energy, mood, motivation, and so much more skyrocketed.

Nowadays, I struggle to find the motivation just to stretch or perform mobility exercises. I want to write, I want to make a difference in people’s lives, starting with my own. I want to workout, I want to swim, I want to bike, I want to take walks, I want to do strength training, I want to do PT and mobility to help my hips, feet, and back. I want to eat better, fuel my life rather than feed my face.

I want. I want. I want. But wanting is different than doing.

There’s this tiny issue that sometimes gets ignored by many professionals. Women are built a little different from men. Sure, we can do anything a guy can do. But we have one thing that men don’t. They have a 24-hour cycle, whereas we women have a lunar cycle. And my friends, that cycle does so much more than releases hormones and control if we get pregnant.

When we really KNOW our cycle, we really can do anything.

I’ll be honest. I don’t know my cycle as well as I feel I should. I can predict when I’ll get my period, but do I know when is the best time to eat certain foods? Or up my ante on workouts? Or when to hole up and really focus on my writing or other creative projects? No. Not at all.

Reading books like In the Flo and Fix Your Period told me that to harness the power of my cycle, I need to eat certain foods at certain times of the month. But is that enough to set me on the right path? Is it actually the right path? Most books tell me the most opportune time of the month for me is during Ovulation– that’s the woman’s power hour (so to speak).

I wanted to see for myself. I spent one month (one full cycle) diligently recording where I felt my Focus, Motivation, Energy, Pain, Cravings, and Body Image were three times a day. To ensure it wasn’t food related, I ate the same breakfast (eggs and sweet potatoes), the same lunch (chickpea curry with rice), the same snacks (protein shake and chickpeas), and the same dinner (rice noodle pasta with veggies).

One month, four phases of my cycle. The only things I varied were my workouts and sleep schedule (I know, I’m a work in progress).

After a month, I looked at my journal and tallied the data, finding some interesting discoveries. One, I cannot stand eating the same thing every day. I hate it. But, I will say that going a month without sweets, breads, cheese, and alcohol helped curve the need to have them in my diet.

Second, I figured out that creating these challenges is very very different than trying a diet. When I tried different diets throughout 2023, if at any time I got bored with the diet, or felt I was missing out because of the diet, I would quit. Diets are easy to quit. But scientific research on my own lifestyle? I hated the idea of messing up the data, or starting over because I compromised the experiment. I had significantly stronger willpower with the experiment than I did with diets (I’m positive there’s an important lesson there!).

But most importantly, I had concrete data to help guide me going forward. Most books and experts state that Ovulation is the best time of the month to increase your activity, network, and try new things. Your menstrual phase (the bleed phase) is thought to be the best time to hunker down and do some deep focus work or introspection. However, for me, according to my data, my Luteal phase (the longest phases of our cycle, right between ovulation and menstrual) is my most powerful. Compared to the other phases, my focus, energy, and motivation were the highest during my luteal phase. Unfortunately, so were my cravings. I couldn’t decide if that was because I wasn’t eating the right foods for that phase, or if I was simply sick and tired of eating the same shit day in and day out for a month. The best way for me to test this is to repeat my experiment, but change what and how much I’m eating based on my cravings report from this experiment.

During ovulation I did experience a spike in one aspect–my patience. Yes, I recorded my patience level each day as well. As you can probably guess, it was the lowest during my menstrual period.

Overall, this experiment was very insightful. The most frustrating thing for me though, was my weight. Yes, I’d love to lose weight right now. I’m considered obese, based on my BMI. Perhaps it is fat turning to muscle (not likely as my clothes don’t fit me any better than when I moved here in July, but I’ll admit it’s a possibility). During my Cycle Attunement experiment, I didn’t lose ANY weight. I fluctuated between 2 pounds all month long, literally ending the month at the same weight I started.

But now that I have this data, and I’ve seen how it helps me stay focused and persevere, I’d love to try it a few more times to figure out what is the best foods for me at certain phases, how to hone my workouts, and dial in my sleep schedule to see how these factors impact my health and well-being.

Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes, as well.

My question for all of you who have made it this far– What would YOU like to see improve by getting in-tuned with your cycle? Would you be willing to try out my experiment for yourself to see?

Keep on rocking it, my friends! Eating clean, living green, and training positive so that we can feel better and do better.

3 Responses

  1. I cannot believe you ate the exact same thing for a whole month, with no snacks! I’m disciplined, but not THAT disciplined! I have had a very similar experience, though, with tracking myself. I am FAR more inclined to study myself than I am to simply restrict myself (sugar detox, no fried foods, whatever it is – deprivation pisses me off when it is absolute). I really like using MyFitnessPal, not just to track calories, but for the nutrient tracking. Fiber, protein, collagen, and other nutrients become so much more important at our age. The work you’re doing with your cycle is good, but keep in mind that we are both perimenopausal, so your data is going to vary month to month simply because your body is changing. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, your body will start producing far less estrogen. If you’re not already, I recommend following Dr. Marie Claire Haver – she’s a menopausal OBGYN and she is PISSED about how little she learned in med school about menopause. She is a character, and a wealth of scientific information, as she has now devoted her entire practice to learning and teaching about menopause.

    1. Haha, right? THe same stupid food, every fracking day!
      I DID have snacks, though– a chickpea/hummus snack and protein shake. The same every day.
      I am interested in checking Dr. Marie out, I think you mentioned her one time we got on that topic.
      Gotta love being a woman…

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