I’m onto my second edition of A Day of FLO Living posts! If you missed my Luteal Phase post, then check it for all of the deets on that phase, what I did, and a peek into what I ate. The guide I’m using for cycle-syncing is WomanCode by Alisa Vitti. The book outlines different foods, exercises, and lifestyle choices we can make to support each phase of our cycle. The menstrual phase is just one of FOUR phases.
Menstrual Phase Expectations
Similar feelings and symptoms to those that come at the end of luteal phase carry on into menstruation. In between aches, fatigue, and cravings, there may be moments of calmness or relief due to ebbs and flows of estrogen. Vitti notes that “feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction during the menstrual phase are completely normal” (153). During this time, women can use the 3-7 days of menstruation phase to identify areas of life that could benefit from change. Most importantly, self-evaluation and listening to gut instincts can be significant to managing the thoughts and symptoms that come up.
I’m just starting out in cycle syncing but I could feel a dramatic change in my overall energy and mood during this week. Even though I do not currently get my period with regularity, I could feel the trademark symptoms Vitti mentioned appear in myself. I felt bored but without the motivation to do anything. Those days, I woke up feeling lifeless in the morning and was a stone’s throw away from what I would have called depression. Now, I’m realizing that the symptoms are to be expected during menstruation. I’m hoping to see improvements in my mood during menstruation as I continue to adjust additional factors to complement my cycle.
Exercise on Menstrual Phase
Furthermore, the way to cater to the needs of my body during that time can be accomplished through nourishing food and exercise. Menstruation is NOT the time to do HIIT or go running. Vitti recommends plain rest, yoga, or walking to allow the body to repair during heavy flow days (154). Towards the end of menstruation, as follicular phase approaches, exercise can be increased to suit energy levels.
I felt content with light movement during these days. Bodyweight workouts that I was doing toward the end of my luteal phase were more than I was interested in doing. On the first day of menstrual phase I tried a Power Yoga workout and the balancing moves were too much for me. So, interestingly enough, the WomanCode advice seems to be very true, at least for me.
Food on Menstrual Phase
As far as nutrition goes, water-rich food options are ideal. They are so beneficial when the uterine lining is being shed (which happens if you are not pregnant) and therefore the body is in need of vitamins and minerals. Vitti advises low-glycemic index foods, sea-based veggies, and seafood. They are filled with iron and zinc which are helpful for the blood and kidneys at this time (154).
The recommended list of Foods for Your Cycle involved all sorts of sea vegetables that I don’t have access to. Plus, I don’t really eat seafood. For the three days of my menstruation phase I followed some of the same meals from my luteal phase (post coming soon) and incorporated some menstrual specific foods.
Here’s what a day in my Menstrual Phase meals looked like:
Breakfast: Lee from America’s Seaweed Smoothie
Snack: a handful of grapes
Lunch: Chickpea Pasta with carrots, celery, cabbage, garlic, onion, and green onion, plus miso-tahini dressing and sesame seeds. (Admittedly, more of a luteal phase meal)
Snack: a cup and a half of cubed watermelon
Dinner: Green Vegetable Curry with Tofu and Brown Rice (from a Cookie and Kate recipe).
What do you guys think of these “A Day of FLO Living” posts? I hope it is informative and shows how there aren’t really too many big adjustments to make. I’d like to continue this series for future follicular and ovulatory phases soon!
Also, if any of you are even mildly interested in cycle-syncing for your hormones then definitely check out WomanCode. It is one of the best purchases I’ve made as of late. You can also follow along with me on Instagram to see real-time ideas for what’s going on in each phase.