As our body goes through its natural hormonal cycle, we will experience shifts within ourselves which will impact how much energy we have and what will benefit our overall health, at that time. As your cycle changes, so should you exercise and nutrition! So, how can you alter the expectations of yourself as you go through your cycle?
Understanding the female reproductive cycle is the key to knowing how to get the best from your body and how to best support it with good nutrition, movement and rest. Remember, all cycles vary, but you can track your hormones and bleeds with mobile apps!
Phase 1: First Day of Bleeding
From the first day to the third day of your bleed, your reproductive hormones (testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone) levels are all low. This can cause tiredness, make you bloated and impact your quality of sleep. It can also make your pelvic floor less reliable, which can cause leaks when you sneeze or cough.
Researchers suggest we should consider these days in your hormonal cycle as a recovery period*, so give yourself the time to rest and recharge. Taking part in Pilates or Yoga is great for this time period, as gentle movements will help you release stress and can help with bloating. This is not the time for HIIT or long periods of cardio!
Phase 2: Day 3 to Day 14
From day 3 to day 14, the three hormone levels will start to rise again and you will start to feel more energetic. This is the perfect period to be exercising harder, filling up your social calendar and focusing on big projects at work.
When exercising, try to push yourself a little harder (but safely!): increase the weights you are lifting, run a little faster and further. Nutritionally, make sure you feed your body with good fats and carbohydrates from colourful vegetables and fruit! We have a great recipe here, suggested from a nutritional expert, for you to enjoy.
Phase 3: Day 14 to Day 25
Two weeks from your first bleed, your oestrogen and testosterone levels will start to dip, but your progesterone hormone will rise, until day 25. The raising progesterone levels will help you sleep better and you will generally be feeling good and positive.
Make sure you carry on your exercise regime from phase two, staying mindful of any muscles soreness and having the required break days! You may be feeling hungrier than before, so feed your muscles and body with more protein, and making sure you incorporate as many different vegetables and fruit as you can to every meal.
Phase 4: Day 26 to Day 28
As your body gets ready to restart your cycle, your hormone levels will drop again and you will need to slow down as you enter back into the recovery phase. This is a great time to go on long walks and gentle runs.
You can rely on your body to tell you when it needs to rest and move. Listen to your body, never push yourself to the point of harm and make sure you fuel yourself with the right nutritional foods. Stay vigilant of your hormonal cycle and health – your cycle is a great indication of your overall wellness, so give yourself the time to understand your body. It is pretty incredible!