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Some days you are busting out of bed first thing in the morning, you don’t need that coffee and are paying compliments to strangers whilst patting their dogs, in the rain (what rain?). Other days, you can’t even muster the energy to walk to the vending machine for that chocky that you need to function.
It’s no wonder we are labelled as such crazy, random and *sometimes* wonderful creatures. So, what’s going on with us? It all comes down to menstrual mapping…
I’m not talking about howling at the moon or flow rituals, rather simply learning what is happening to you throughout your cycle. With this information we can nurture, plan and understand energy levels, mood, skills and hunger because of it.
Let’s start at the beginning:
Days 1-5 (approx).
Geek Speak: Your hormone levels are dramatically reduced to instruct your uterus walls to shed. This also means you are not pregnant. Your period can last anywhere up to 7 days. Day 1 is marked as the first day you start bleeding. Your oestrogen levels are at their lowest. This means your brain’s natural painkiller system, endorphins, is rather dim, resulting in you feeling more pain. Cramps anyone?
Energy: This is at its lowest, so take care of yourself. Exercise should be kept at a minimum unless you’re feeling up to it. Opt for yoga and walking instead. Your boobs may start to feel normal again. Get some good rest and allow your body to restore. Exercise they say, actually combats that sinking feeling of fatigue during this stage, but you may not feel like doing much. Hmm, catch 22.
Foods: Get some good rest and try to eat nourishing foods that are high in good quality protein such as eggs, beans, oily fish and grass fed beef to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Sweet cravings are due to your body searching for energy to burn because of the low levels of hormones. If you want to avoid the sugar crash, opt for dark chocolate for a slow release of that sweet stuff.
Things will start to pick up shortly, don’t worry. Grab a cup of tea, slow down, evaluate your month past and think of the month ahead.
What tasks were realistic for you?
What could you have done better or differently?
Did you upset someone?
Were you reactive to a certain situation?
What made you laugh?
Your creative levels will start to pick up as your body is relaxing and processing information and ideas better. Now is also a good time to think about the bigger decisions as you’re more likely to be logical about choices.
This phase lasts 10-22 days from the beginning of your period until ovulation begins.
Geek Speak: Your oestrogen levels will rise in order to stimulate your ovaries to produce follicles that contain eggs, and your uterine wall thickens for possible pregnancy.
Energy: Your energy is boosted and you feel more confident. You have more muscle strength during this stage so if you’re feeling up to it,now’s the time to add a few more km to that run or a weight to that bar. But be warned — because of your high oestrogen, you’re more likely to injure yourself too so take extra care to warm up and cool down properly before wrestling your coach.
Brain: Creativity is at its peak during this stage. Get writing, get drawing, rearrange your desk at work or in your room. Tackle those tasks that need creative juices to be flowing, because boy oh boy they are.
Plan ahead — if you’ve got team meetings or bathroom renovations to do, plan them during this phase.
Food: You won’t need as much food during this stage, so make sure the foods you are eating are rich in nutrients and iron. Cravings will be at a minimum so opt for leafy green vegetables and try not to skip those important meals, even though you may not feel like them. Keep your brain functioning well with some ginkgo and B12 for added bonus points.
Duration: 2-3 days.
Geek Speak: This is the shortest phase, and occurs approximately halfway through your cycle. An egg is released hoping to be fertilised. Oestrogen and progesterone are high, as is your basal body temperature. Rock on.
Physical Changes: The pitch of your voice is higher to make you seem more appealing to a mate. You look and feel prettier, too, as the puffiness in your face goes down, making it appear more oval. Your body odour is more attractive to males, as it’s emitting saucy pheromones to let them know you’ve got an egg to fertilise. Sucks that this phase is the shortest.
Energy: Peak stamina during this phase so you can, um, go all night long. Muscles will take their longest to fatigue. Take advantage of these by busting your PBs at the gym. Don’t hold back as your pain receptors are also at their lowest too. Did someone say “encore”?
Food: Because you’re feeling so energised naturally, you don’t need carbs for energy, so you can reduce these without craving them (winning). Focus on good quality proteins and fats to sustain your energy and positive vibes without the sugar crash. Make sure you keep up the fibre to keep you naturally detoxified and your digestion humming along.
Brain: Due to increased hormone levels, you are more likely to be extroverted during this time. Do a dare, take a risk, ask for that payrise and close that deal during this stage. Encourage people around you, as well, because they could use a bit of the magic you’ve got going on during this phase. Remember that you’re not invincible and there are consequences to your actions, so don’t go too overboard with promises that you may not be able to fulfill when you’re not in your rock star phase.
This phase lasts between 9 and 16 days, and begins after ovulation.
Geek Speak: After ovulation occurs, oestrogen levels decrease and progesterone gradually increases halfway though. Oestrogen will (after a week or so) start to rise in preparation for pregnancy. If there’s no fertilisation, these levels drop so the uterine lining will shed (your period). The fluctuation of hormones later in this phase are responsible for PMS — erratic moods, headaches, bloating (yay), tiredness, cravings, and not to mention sore, swollen and sensitive breasts.
Energy: In the beginning of the phase your oestrogen will still be high, so keep up with the high intensity workouts, but keep in mind that these levels will drop off mid-luteal phase. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself. You could focus on lighter impact options such as walking, cycling or rollerblading (monotonous too). Towards the end of this phase is where you’ll need more sleep, rest and rejuvenation, getting ready for your period where you will feel that sense of release.
Food: Thanks to our mate progesterone, you’re needing more food to burn through this phase. You’re going to feel hungrier, but please don’t be too hard on yourself because you’re naturally burning more calories, so you can afford to have a little extra each day. Eat good quality low glycemic carbs such as sweet potato, chickpeas and brown rice to help combat the cravings.
If you aren’t eating enough in this phase, our friend progesterone can make your body more sensitive to changes in blood sugar, which may trigger dramatic mood shifts for that lovely PMS emotional rollercoaster.
Add some zinc, magnesium and B12, too, as these are great for keeping progesterone’s effects at bay.
Hot Tip: Don’t try to start a new diet regime this week.
Brain: Higher levels of progesterone is actually calming for your body and mind, causing your energy levels to drop. Your attention to detail will be at its peak, so now is the time to do that filing, paint your nails and focus on those repetitive tasks that don’t require hefty decisions.
Did you know that some intuitive and highly functioning businesses also menstrual map their executives to enhance their work flow and strategies? Elite athletes’ coaches are also mapping their cycles to optimise performance, recovery and prevent injuries.
We already know that hormones are responsible for our boobs, babies and brains, but now we’re understanding more and more the impact our hormones have on our mood, decision making and overall sense of wellbeing.
It’s about bloody time we started talking about it.
Disclaimer: SugarCandy does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.