Some age-old traditions say that men’s energy follows the sun, while women’s energy follows the moon. What they mean is, men are awake and energetic during the day and resting at night, while women’s energy follows a four-week rise and fall.
There may be something to that, having less to do with the sun and moon and more to do with the menstrual cycle. Paying attention to how you feel during each of the four week-long phases could help you make decisions that make your cycle work for you. It’s called cycle syncing, which means lining up your lifestyle with your menstrual cycle phases.
Sound crazy? Maybe, but if you pay attention, you might notice that certain activities just work much better and you feel more productive when you’re understanding your body and what it’s primed to do during each phase.
What is Cycle Syncing?
You might be onto something if you feel like your energy, focus, and creativity follows a pattern throughout your menstrual cycle. Studies show that women’s strength, energy, feelings, and abilities are tied to their menstrual cycle.
While women can absolutely accomplish anything they set out to do at any time, there are certain phases of the month when you’re primed for certain activities—and you can use that information as an unfair advantage.
When you begin cycle syncing, you learn your body’s phases, and what you’re best at and when. Suddenly, you’re in charge of your body, mind, and energy rather than the other way around.
The Cycle Phases
To take advantage of cycle syncing, you must understand your body's various monthly phases:
Each phase has its own set of superpowers. Here’s more information about optimal activities during each phase.
Most women think of their menstrual period as the end of their cycle, but it’s actually the start. Days 1 – 5, or however long your period lasts, are the beginning of your cycle. During this phase, hormone levels are low, and your body sheds its lining.
This is a time to be kind to your body. Limit your workouts to those that are kind to your body, such as yoga or light walking, and eat foods that are kind to your body. Avoid excessive fatty or salty foods and limit caffeine and alcohol. Instead, stick to water, teas, and foods that feel good, like yogurt, seeds, nuts, fish, and eggs.
You might find that you come out of a restful stage and start to feel ready for anything before menstruation ends, around days 4-5. If that’s the case, consider yourself in the follicular phase once your energy starts to rise.
The Follicular Phase
During the follicular phase, your hormones increase. This is a good time to increase physical activity, working yourself up to more intense workouts, such as jogging, kickboxing, or swimming.
Use this time to feed your body foods that work with your higher estrogen levels, such as leafy greens, broccoli sprouts, cruciferous vegetables, omega-3 foods like salmon or walnuts, avocado, and olive oil.
During this phase, you’ll likely feel productive, creative, and outgoing, so use this as a great time for brainstorming, meeting new friends, and even going on first dates.
The Ovulatory Phase
The ovulatory phase is the middle of your cycle, usually days 15 – 17, but it can vary.
During this phase, your estrogen is at its highest, and testosterone and progesterone are high too. This time of intense energy is a great time to maximize your workouts, doing things like interval training, strength training, or trying something new. You’re also primed to put on muscle around this time, so you can aim for some personal records around ovulation time.
During this phase, your body needs anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables. You can also enjoy whole grains and leafy green vegetables. This is also a great time to consume almonds, pecans, and pistachios, as they have anti-inflammatory potential.
During ovulation, you will likely feel your most confident, so use this time to tackle any overwhelming projects or tasks, or even schedule job interviews. You’ll feel energetic and able to tackle anything during these short few days, so take advantage.
The Luteal Phase
The luteal phase is when your body either prepares for a baby or releases everything, and your hormones drop. It can be as long as the last ten days of your cycle before your period begins, hence the term PMS.
During this time, be kind to your body with gentle workouts and rest. You may not have a lot of energy, and your body will need help keeping up your serotonin levels and ability to focus. Eat magnesium-rich foods, including dark leafy greens, legumes, and yogurt, to feel your best.
The luteal phase is a good time to chill at home, meditate, and take care of small tasks at home that don’t require a lot of energy or socialization.
As far as work and productivity goes, the luteal phase is a great time for administrative tasks and planning for the month ahead.
Cycle syncing can be a great way to make the most of your time and abilities. Knowing how your body reacts and what it needs can help you time the most important tasks when you know you can do them. As a result, you’ll feel more empowered, happier, and better able to handle what life throws your way.