ann@feminineproject.com

Don’t Forget Your Cycle: The Forgotten Key to a Woman’s Health

Written by Ann Burns

January 4, 2022

When the Villains are Beautiful

“I love it; I can eat whatever I want because I workout ALL the time and burn thousands of calories.” She boasted as she chewed on her sour gummies.

Another woman perked up saying she was trying to restore her health, and so there were certain times she actually took a break from workouts; her focus was on eating foods that were meant to heal and restore her body.

“Girl, you’ll never look the way you want doing that. Let me tell you, it’s about working out. Literally, I am addicted.” She popped another gummy into her mouth.

Unfortunately, lots of women view “health” through this lens. It’s about having a certain body, maintaining a particular weight, and at the end of the day, it boils down to vanity, but we call it “health.”

Unfortunately, focusing just on the external appearance means we may be ignoring tons of real health issues. Things we can do a lot more about than we realize.

So, if this year you decided to make health one of your priorities, here are some basic tips to get you started:

Get to Know Your Cycle

Seriously. Your cycle is key to your overall health. Think of it as part of your vitals.

Get familiar with the four seasons — or rather four phases— of your cycle: menstrual, follicular, ovulation, and luteal.One of the fantastic things about understanding your cycle is that you can use this information to help organize your schedule and make for a more productive lifestyle.

For example, understanding that during your menstrual phase you’ll feel more fatigue (estrogen and progesterone are dropping!) can encourage you to NOT schedule any big events that week. But then comes the follicular phase and your energy rises; it’s a great time to work on projects, begin new things, schedule in those events, and be active.

If you’re not sure where to begin, take a look into NFP/Fertility Awareness to give you the tools you need. Most likely your Diocese has all the resources you need.

Your Cycle & Your Fitness Life

When you become familiar with the rhythm of your body, you can figure out the best time for particular workouts so that you work WITH your body and not against it.

A quick overview would be something like this:

Your menstrual phase is a time of restoration. This is a time you can ease off the crazy workouts; instead, focus on stretching, breathing, and getting plenty of rest.

When your follicular phase enters the scene, your estrogen and testosterone levels rise which make this a great time for muscle growth/strength training.

Ovulation, the time an egg is released from the ovaries, and in comes lots of confidence: You are feeling great and have all the energy in the world. High Intensity workouts, anyone?

Luteal — estrogen and testosterone simmer down and progesterone plays a key role. Our body prepares for menstruation. Start easing it up again with lighter weights, lighter workouts,  and add a little more self-care into your routine (bubble baths and good books?).

Discover What Foods FUEL Your BODY

Oftentimes, we can get caught up in diet fads, calorie counting, obsessing over the cookie we ate after Christmas, and whatnot.

It’s an easy mind-trap to fall into, but instead of obsessing over these little things, it’s important for women to recognize that our cycle affects our weight. And that’s okay.

Your goal should be to honor and respect the body God gave you, and when we start to make this our goal, a lot of mental healing and beauty comes with it.

While I am no dietitian, I do recommend exploring books like Fix Your Period by Nicole Jardin, and diving a little deeper into the incredible bounty of foods that God has given to us.  You might find out that maybe you don’t have to buy all the “reduced-fat” products in the grocery store after all! 

In all honestly, food is amazing! The sentence makes me chuckle, but I don’t mean in a glutton sort of way. I mean, that when you know what foods are your friends you can learn how to naturally balance your hormones.  

It takes time and discipline but let’s be real… how cool is that?

So, this year, if you’re planning on getting healthy, make sure you do so by working with your cycle and not against it.

 

Cheers to 2022!

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