How Your Cycle Impacts Food, Weight, Performance & Why It All Works Out

The female body is one of the greatest designs, if not the greatest. Too bad I spent almost 40 years not believing this very important truth.

The amount of time I wasted in fear/stress because of weight fluctuations, ridiculous food rules/restrictions, extreme fatigue and extremely damaging mental and physical body image behaviors it’s about time I help you save some time and learn to work with your body instead of against it.

Speak Life Over Yourself

If we all sat in a room together and I said “Raise your hand if you’ve said you hate something about your body” every single one of us would raise our hand. Why? I’ll tell you why.. We compare ourselves to women around us and to airbrushed magazines on shelves deciding in our mind that those women are more attractive and therefore more valuable than we are. If we could only lose the cellulite on our legs we’d be more valuable. What a lie!

Everyone has cellulite, as women we have a layer of fat between our muscles and our skin – we will have cellulite because fat is bumpy and we need fat to support our hormones, our power, our strength… Sure, some of us (a very few) could stand to lose some weight – and even if that’s true – speaking hate and shame and guilt over yourself will NEVER accomplish that goal – and neither will starving yourself, binging and purging or exercising everything you eat off.

So, let us all start with one simple step – start speaking life over yourself. What I mean by that is when those times come when you’re just about to say “I hate my legs” can you instead catch yourself before the words come out and instead say “I am so thankful that I have legs that work and move and carry me in life”. Can we please start to honor ourselves instead of constantly shaming ourselves? This step alone will start to transform your food choices, your friend choices, your movement, and many other things.

We are all unique, there is not one person who looks the same – not one! We all have a different purpose and are built accordingly to carry out that purpose. The sooner we start to realize this, the sooner we’ll step into the person we’re meant to be and lead by example what it looks like to honor our body, love ourselves, and treat others with respect so they do the same.

Step Two – Understand Your Cycle

One of the biggest roadblocks in my health was that I didn’t understand my cycle. I thought I should have the same energy, the same food needs, the same weight all the time no matter what. Well, to my surprise, I learned that during ovulation I’m up 3-8lbs. During my period I’m able to eat at any buffet and somehow it’s like I lose weight. The week before my period, I am so tired I can hardly make it through a day without desperately needing a nap, and these are just a few things I recently learned.

Prior to learning about the effects of my monthly cycle, I would go through highs and lows thinking something was seriously wrong with me – now I know there is nothing wrong with me, I’m a woman, and my body does really cool things every month.

The Different Phases of your Cycle & What To Expect

Phase 4 – You’re just about to get your period. (Lasts 3-8 Days)

Many women feel so tired during this phase. The primary reason is – your hormones change. The drop in hormones causes a drop in energy as well. Another really important thing to know during this phase is that your body isn’t using as many carbohydrates for energy. Why?! Because if you end up pregnant, your body needs all the stored glycogen it can to be able to rapidly grow that baby.

This is why we feel bloated and kinda yucky. We hold water and glycogen, It’s actually really cool! Now, what can we do to help stay balanced during this time?

  1. Eat complex carbs (Vegetables, whole wheat pasta/bread…)
  2. Increase your protein intake
  3. Drink lots of water
  4. If possible don’t workout and take advantage of rest (if you’re in sports and have to, make sure you have more simple carbs before exercise (a rice crispy treat is a great option)
  5. Stretch, get more sleep, take things slower than normal, but don’t completely check out of life.
Phase 1 – You’re Period Starts (Lasts 3-7 days)

Once your period starts your body says “Well I have all this stored glycogen I don’t need, I’m going use it to lift heavy and run fast”. Some women, don’t want to move during this phase but I bet if you push past that initial “I don’t wanna” you’ll discover how fierce you are. This is a great time to have your best performances. You’ll also notice that you can eat! Your body is powerful at this phase, but be careful it is also more susceptible to injury due to increasing fluid from your cycle.

Participating in injury prevention activities regularly (speed, agility, plyometrics, strength training…) will help support your body when it has a higher fluid load.

Phase 2 – The week after your period (Lasts 3-5 days)

This phase is very similar to Phase 1. You’re feeling good, strong, positive… Keep with it, you’ll see a lot of gains these two weeks and you can maintain them in the next two phases with a balanced diet and working with your body.

Phase 3 – Ovulation (Lasts 3-8 Days)

Your hormones start to shift and you notice that you can no longer eat everything in sight. At least that is what I notice. I usually also start to see a slight increase in my body weight because the shift of fuel for energy moves away from carbs and into proteins (muscle) and fat. It is important to change your diet as your body changes its fuel source.

Increase protein intake during this phase to protect the muscle you just built in the previous two phases. You’ll begin to have cravings, give in to them in moderation and balance them out with protein. Keep this up in phase 4 as well.

You’ll still feel pretty good in this phase as far as energy goes, but you might start to notice the slight creeping in of irritability, empathy, and sensitivity.

Your Cycle

Everyone’s body is different, special, and unique. So is your cycle. Much of what I talked about today is my personal journey and understanding of how my body works. Yours will be similar, but not identical. My favorite period tracking app is called FitrWoman. It tells you exactly what to expect in each phase, the best exercises for each phase, best foods and great tips to help you learn you!

I pray that all of you learn to love yourself, work with yourself and become the best version of yourself. You are and always will be growing and changing and learning… What is life without an adventure like that! You’re Amazing – Remember that!

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