Everything I’ve learned about cycle syncing in 2 years

As a teenager and young adult, I barely experienced the severe symptoms that can come with menstrual cycles. Honestly, at the time, I felt there were some exaggerations in these symptoms. But as I entered my late 20s, I realised how wrong I was. My menstrual phase was riddled with severe cramps and diarrhoea. Coupled with clinical depression, the days before my period were bleak and the worst days of the month. Then, one random video on TikTok changed everything. Two years later, I am in a semi-consistent relationship with cycle syncing.

What is cycle syncing?

When I preach the gospel of cycle syncing to the ladies who share their growing symptoms, I describe it as working out and eating according to the phase of your cycle.

The term “cycle syncing” was coined by Alisa Vitti, an integrative nutritionist and women’s hormone expert, in her book “Woman Code“. This approach is all about tweaking parts of your daily life, like your diet and exercise routine, to match the different phases of your menstrual cycle. The goal is to help balance your hormones and reduce those annoying hormonal symptoms.

@simplysyncd I know sometimes cycle syncing can feel overwhelming… but lets make it simple and start with the basics! #cyclesyncing #howtocyclesync #cyclesyncingmethod #cyclesyncingguide ♬ original sound – Taylor | Hormone Health Coach

Understanding the menstrual cycle

If you’ve been indifferent about your period, you might be raising an eyebrow right now, wondering what other phases there could possibly be. Surprise! There are actually four phases in your menstrual cycle that you should be paying attention to:

1. Menstrual phase (Your period)

  • Timeline: 3-5 days
  • Hormonal changes: Oestrogen and progesterone are low. The uterus begins to shed its lining, and normal vaginal bleeding occurs.

2. Follicular phase (Pre-egg release)

  •  Timeline: 11-16 days
  •   Hormonal changes: Oestrogen climbs and peaks later on. This is also called the “proliferative phase” because oestrogen causes the uterine lining to thicken.

3. Ovulation phase (Release of the egg)

  • Timeline: 1-3 days
  • Hormonal changes: The LH surge happens, meaning luteinising and follicle-stimulating hormones reach their highest levels as the egg is released mid-cycle.

4. Luteal phase (Post-egg release)

  •  Timeline: 11-17 days
  • Hormonal changes: Oestrogen rises again, progesterone peaks, then decreases as the body prepares to move into the menstrual phase once again.

How to cycle sync

Step 1: Track your cycle

The first step towards cycle syncing is tracking your cycle. By doing this, you’ll become familiar with each phase of your menstrual cycle and be able to identify which phase your body is currently in. Knowing where you are in your cycle is crucial for making informed decisions about your diet, exercise, and self-care. I use the Flo app for detailed cycle tracking and sync it with my Google Calendar to keep everything organised and in one place. These tools help me stay on top of my cycle and plan accordingly.

Step 2: Set a flexible guideline

Once you have a clear understanding of your cycle phases, it’s time to set a flexible guideline for supporting your body through each phase. This means adjusting your diet and exercise routines to align with your body’s changing needs. For example, you might focus on nutrient-dense foods and gentle exercises during your menstrual phase while incorporating more intense workouts and energy-boosting meals during the follicular and ovulatory phases. The key is to listen to your body and be adaptable, making necessary changes to optimise your well-being.

 

How I cycle sync

Menstrual phase

Diet: My diet during this period focuses on lean proteins, healthy fats, and root vegetables or whole grains to support the energy-intensive menstruation period. Fermented foods are also a good option as they are easier to digest and good for gut health.

Exercise recommendations: Flow-based exercise routines are great for this phase. I take light walks and do flow-based yoga, which I find restorative and keeps me active, sometimes helping with cramps.

Self-care tips: Listen to your body in this phase and rest as much as possible. Focus on mindful practices and stress reduction.

Fitness playlist: 

 

Follicular phase

Diet: My diet includes healthy fats like avocado, chia-based meals, and peanut butter, as well as cruciferous vegetables and high-fibre carbs. This helps support my body as it gets ready to release an egg and reduces cortisol levels.

Exercise recommendations: Take advantage of this energy-boosting phase with weight training and HIIT exercises. I do more Pilates, weight training, and dynamic yoga workouts.

Self-care tips:  Utilise the energy boost for more planning and goal-setting activities.

 

Fitness playlist: 

 

Ovulatory phase

Diet: I increase my intake of healthy fats, vitamin B6, and anti-inflammatory foods that support the liver and protect against environmental toxins.

Exercise recommendations: Strength-based exercises like HIIT, cardio, and strength training are ideal. I do cardio or HIIT dance sessions as I predominantly workout from home.

Self-care tips: This boost in energy makes you feel like a social butterfly, so schedule social activities and networking events around this time.

Fitness playlist: 

Luteal phase

Diet: Focus on foods rich in magnesium to lower anxiety and water retention and promote better sleep. Calcium-rich foods and vitamin-rich whole foods, especially those packed with vitamins B6, B12, D, and C, help ward off PMS symptoms. Protein-packed and high-fibre foods help you feel fuller longer and reduce cravings.

Exercise recommendations: Align with your body and partake in moderate exercise routines like jogging and slow yoga.

Self-care tips: Focus on self-care and relaxation. Work towards managing workload and expectations.

Fitness playlist: 

Practical tips for cycle syncing

The most critical challenge I face with cycle syncing is a change in routine, which could affect my meal plans or workout routine. My solution is built into the practical tips I implement to ensure my cycle is always top of mind in my lifestyle choices.

Track your cycle: Efficiently track your cycle for a couple of months. Use apps like Flo and Google Calendar to create an accurate schedule.

Create a monthly plan: Grocery shop according to your cycle and meal prep to avoid going out of plan. Create workout playlists according to the phases to ensure you have a pre-planned fitness routine that aligns with your fitness goals.

 

Women who cycle sync

Speaking to women who have become conscious about their cycles and plan around them, the critical factor is being informed and working with your body to support each phase.

Acahlugo schedules her wins toward the luteal phase to boost her confidence. “I basically create little highs for myself, as well as a lot of meditation because I realised that when I’m grounded, it’s harder for those thoughts to take footing.”

Amanda says, “I’ve noticed that during this specific (follicular) phase of the cycle, I experience a surge in energy immediately after my period. I have a lot of energy around the ovulation phase. My energy slowly decreases in my luteal phase until my period. I’ve learned what kind of exercise works for me at different times. I’m lifting the first two weeks after my period. In the third week of my period, I’m running because I can run, no matter how weak my body is.”

 

Benefits of cycle syncing

The benefits of cycle syncing are truly transformative and can make a huge difference in our lives as women.  Imagine feeling more energised and having an easier time managing those pesky menstrual symptoms. That’s what cycle syncing offers for your physical health. Emotionally and mentally, you’ll experience fewer mood swings and a significant boost in productivity. Plus, your overall lifestyle gets a major upgrade with better sleep patterns and a more balanced diet and nutrition. It’s like unlocking a new, improved version of yourself!

After two years of practice, here are some of the improvements I’ve noticed in my life:

  • Enhanced overall well-being: In the months when my schedule allows me to flourish, cycle syncing helps with my physical health. I see significant improvements in my overall well-being, can exercise frequently, and feel better mentally.
  • Improved energy levels: I improve my energy levels by taking advantage of the boosts certain workouts and foods give me during specific phases of my cycle.
  • Better management of menstrual symptoms: I feel less bloated and less inclined to emotional/mental symptoms when I cycle actively. This is particularly true for bloating and the emotional/mental symptoms that come in my luteal phase. I’m also less inclined to emotional/mental symptoms due to the holistic approach the lifestyle offers.

 

Cycle syncing has completely transformed my approach to my menstrual cycle, turning what used to be a dreaded time of the month into a manageable and even empowering experience. By aligning my diet, exercise, and self-care routines with my body’s natural rhythms, I’ve achieved a level of balance and well-being I never thought possible. This holistic approach has alleviated my symptoms and enhanced my overall quality of life, making me feel more in tune with and in control of my body.

Author

  • Chidera Muoka

    Chidera Muoka has worked as a creative director and journalist for a range of media platforms. She has created, directed and produced integrated media campaigns for traditional and digital marketing strategies for clients in the culture, lifestyle and media industries. She specialises in investigating and platforming a broad spectrum of stories that affect people and has directed and produced stories on gender-based violence and the rights of sex workers in Nigeria.

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