How to Sync Your Cycle with The Moon


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What’s the Point of Working with Your Menstrual Cycle?

Every month your hormone fluctuate and this can make eating right and getting a workout in kinda rough. Most women beat themselves up over it and think that it’s something wrong with them.. they’re not good enough, they’re losing strength, they’re not losing weight while in a deficit, etc.. WE NEED TO REALIZE THIS IS NORMAL and part of  NORMAL MONTHLY CYCLE.

A note about birth control: hormonal birth control can change your natural cycle by adding different levels of hormones throughout the month.  The hormones that are in birth control are hormonal withdrawal bleeds and not true periods because they suppress ovulation. Some birth controls can even allow you to not have a period. I’m not saying any of this is bad, because when I first got the Depo Shot and didn’t have a period, I couldn’t jump high enough with joy. But.. I digress..

Women are inherently lunar and are already more in touch with the moon and her energies. Knowing how to sync your cycle with the moon’s cycles of ebb and flow will only put you more in touch with your inner Goddess.

This article is for:

  • Women who have a natural cycle already
  • Women who want to get more in touch with their bodies
  • Women who want to get more in touch with nature and natural cycles


Flow Problems in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Let's start at the beginning: what is a normal flow? A normal healthy cycle should consist of red blood with little clots. Brown blood is sometimes called "old blood" because it lacks oxygen. It’s normal to start and end the flow with a little bit of brown blood, though it is a sign of stagnation to see brown blood in the middle of your flow. It should take three-to-five days of shedding the “old blood” to make way for the new lining.

So What if you’re cycle doesn’t look normal? Here are some common problems that women have with their flow and how Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends their resolved.

1. Clotted Flow
Problem:  Excessive clots in the flow which symbolizes stagnation. Stagnation occurs when things are not flowing as they should be. Stagnation can also be caused by certain birth controls (don’t stop taking without consulting your doctor!)
Remedy: Enzymes like serrapeptase and increasing Omega 3 fatty acids (like salmon or flax seed oil) are great to help thin the blood and break up clots.  Peaches, ginger and safflower are a warming food nutritionally and can help with the circulation of blood and energy throughout the body.
Our menstrual cycles are highly sensitive to stress and change in response to stress, leading to imbalances in the flow when other areas of our life are imbalanced. Where can you move some energy around to create more balance and flow in your life?
2. Light Flow
For flow to occur, the endometrial lining has to thicken- a process regulated by pituitary and hypothalamus hormone releases which tell the reproductive organs what to do.
Problem: Light flow can occur when things get stressful. Stress can come in many different flavors and can include malnourishment (aka new “fad” stavation diet), lack of sleep, going ham on your workout before your body is ready for that type of intensity. Think about how you can reduce stress and where you can go a little easier to increase flow.
Remedy: Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends including “blood-building” foods which are rich in iron like leafy greens, but also including some extra protein-rich foods like grass-fed organic meat. Consuming brown rice, whole wheat bread, potatoes and yams can also help to build stronger blood.
3. Heavy Flow
Problem: a super heavy flow can mean there is too much heat in the body. A heavy flow is defined as flow that lasts more than 6 days and/or more than 16 soaked “regular” size menstrual products [6] Fibroids or polyps in the uterus can sometimes be a cause of excessive bleeding. Please check with your gynecologist if you think this may be a concern.
Remedy:  increase activities and foods that are cooling in the body. Foods that are cooling are typically raw foods and foods that are unprocessed. You want to make sure that you are consuming these types of foods prior to your flow starting to reduce the heat in your body and slow the flow down.
If you are interested in further reading to fix your flow check out The Period Repair Manual
Now that we have discovered if our flow is normal and healthy, we can look into how to work with it. This is where cycle syncing comes in.

What is Cycle Syncing


Cycle syncing is when you sync your diet and exercise to your natural period cycle. This allows you to take care of your body and provide it with what it needs at specific times during the month. Instead of the idea that you command your body and it shall do what you wish, listen to it and work with your body and it will reward  you with energy and feeling good.
You can even take cycle syncing a step further and sync your cycle with the moon cycles. This can add powerful energy to your everyday energy.
So how do you sync with cycle? Starting with the first day of your flow, incorporate the below information into your lifestyle so that you can work with your body. Over time, when you support your body by giving it what it needs, you can slowly start syncing your cycle to that of the moon.
To give you a quick summary of your cycle: the first half of your cycle is marked by increased estrogen. The second half is when estrogen is lower and progesterone increases.
Day 1-14 = higher estrogen
Day 15-28 = higher progesterone
  

MENSTRUAL PHASE (DAYS 1 TO 7) New Moon

The first day of your flow is the first day that you see blood. Over the course of your cycle, your uterine lining gets thicker with blood, tissue and nutrients to support a potential baby. If you don’t get pregnant that month, your hormones- progestogen and estrogen begin to drop. This drop causes the built-up lining to shed, which is known as your period or flow.
What your body is doing:  You are shedding the lining that you have spent all month building up. Your hormones are at an all-time low in the beginning of your cycle and then increase to a more stable level by the end of your period. Increased blood and iron loss which can cause cramping.

How you feel:  During this time, you are going to feel drawn inward. You should take some time and slow down and focus on you for a few days. Examine things that are no longer serving you and release them. Both of the lobes of your brain are highly engaged with each other and this creates a good time for self-reflection.
Tune in to what your body is asking for and find healthy ways to provide for it. Take this time to get some rest. This is also a time of creativity and flow, so use this to your advantage, but go easy.
How to best support it: Increase foods that add iron as this helps replace what you are losing as well as helps to fight cramps. This is the time to really focus on getting enough water. You should be drinking more water than normal to replace what you are losing. Honor your body and carve out some time for some self-care, like a reading a good (witchy) book or taking  a nap.

NUTRITION DURING THIS PHASE
What to eat: Focus on warm and nourishing foods like stews, soups, lightly cooked dark leafy greens, and iron-rich foods like grass-fed meat. Eating iron and B-vitamin-rich foods to support blood loss and energy. Make sure to include foods with omega 3 fatty acids, like fish or krill oil if you don’t eat fish. Research has shown that omega 3 fatty acids can help to reduce PMS symptoms like depression, tender breasts, and bloating.[3] I prefer Krill oil over fish oil because it’s more effective at treating PMS symptoms because the fats in krill oil are more easily absorbed by the body.[4]
For those of you who track their macros- and even if you don’t- you will want to eat a higher percentage of carbohydrates during the first half (15 days or so) of your cycle. This is the time when your body is better able to utilize the carbohydrates instead of storing them as fat.
NOTE: higher carb does not mean that you can eat all of the cookies and cakes that you want until your stomach hurts. It means that you want to aim for more healthy carb sources that contain fiber like sweet potato, oats, brown rice, quinoa, legumes, beetroot, fruits etc. Maybe even the *occasional* piece of dark chocolate. These foods will go a lot farther in supporting your body than a most processed foods that are high in fat and sugar.
Try to aim for at least 2 liters of water a day or half your body weight, if not more to offset what you may be losing along with blood.

Animal Sources: Beef, fish and poultry, duck, pork, catfish, clam, crab, lobster, mussel, octopus, oyster, sardine, scallop, squid, liver

Anti-Inflammatory Spices + Herbs: Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, cardamom, cumin, garlic, parsley, curry, bancha tea, miso, sea salt, Liquid Aminos

Plant Sources:  kale, collard greens, mushrooms, beets, kelp, water chestnut,  kidney beans, cherries, pineapple, mango, papaya, blackberry, blueberry, concord grape, cranberry, watermelon, adzuki beans, black soybeans

Grains: Buckwheat, wild rice

Nuts + Seeds: Chestnut, pumpkin, flax


EXERCISE DURING THIS PHASE
How to exercise: During your period, your energy is at its lowest at the start of your period.  Aim for gentle things like yin or restorative yoga, Pilates, or walking. Avoid high impact workouts during your flow as it can stress your uterine ligaments and you are more sensitive to pain at this time.5]
Cardio Is Better Than Strength Training
 When it comes to reducing PMS symptoms, cardio is queen. Research has shown that when your aerobic capacity goes up, your PMS symptoms go down. Although this is just a correlation, the opposite correlation was not found when they looked at strength training.
In addition, due to the drop in hormones, your body temperature is actually lower while you are on your period which can increase the amount of time it takes you to get tired. Cardio is the clear winner during your flow, if you choose to exercise at all during this period.





FOLLICULAR PHASE (DAYS 8 TO 13) Waxing Moon

The timing and length of this phase varies from women to women.
During this phase, your hormone levels slowly start to rise which means that your energy and mental alertness are also increasing. YAY!
The pituitary gland in the brain releases hormones which helps grow up to 30 follicles (small sacs of fluid in the ovaries). Each follicle can hold an egg. Only one of which will continue to grow and produce estrogen to thicken the uterine lining to prepare for implantation of the fertilized egg.
What your body is doing: As the egg is being prepared to be released, hormones estrogen and testosterone are peaking. You will feel the most confident and full of energy as well as think and move quickly here.

How to best support it: Use the energy that you have and put it to good use- get in some hard workouts and be at your most active during this time. Support your increased activity with foods that are packed with vitamins and nutrients. Continue to drink plenty of water because now you are losing it through sweat (sweat is fat crying- just in case you didn’t know 😊)

How you feel:  You are ready to tackle things- whether it’s problems or being a social butterfly. Out with the procrastination and in with the world domination. Try new things or get working towards other goals that you’ve put on the back burner.
NUTRITION DURING THIS PHASE
What to eat: Fill up on protein and vegetables which keep your estrogen levels in check. Choose pasture-raised eggs and wild-caught fish when you can. Add in foods high in vitamin E like sweet potatoes and leafy greens to nourish the growing follicles.
This phase is also when your insulin sensitivity is at its highest, which means your body will utilize glycogen (carbs) a lot better. It’s a good idea to keep carbs higher during this phase, reducing fat intake a bit and keeping protein consistent. Just make sure that you are choosing healthy carb choices and not just junk food.  Continue with at least 2 Liters of water (or half your body weight).
Animal Sources: Chicken, eggs, dairy products (if you can), fresh water clam, soft shell crab, trout

Plant Sources: artichoke, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, parsley, green peas, rhubarb, strong bean, zucchini, avocado, citrus fruits, plum, pomegranate, sour cherries, black eyed peas, green lentils, lima beans, mung beans, split peas, olives, pickles, sauerkraut

Grains: Barley, oats

Nuts + Seeds: brazil nut, cashew, lychee, pumpkin, flax, nut butters


EXERCISE DURING THIS PHASE

How to exercise: It’s time to focus on progressive training and training hard. This is the time to strength train and lift heavy and maybe even set a few PR’s. Due to the elevated testosterone and oestrogen levels you’ll find you’re a lot more tolerant to pain and have better endurance and power output.


OVULATORY PHASE (DAYS 14 TO 21) Full moon
Ovulation begins with a surge of hormones, which causes the follicle to rupture and release the mature egg from the ovary. Once released, the egg travels down the fallopian tube, where it may meet with passing sperm and become fertilized.
You know you’re ovulating, aka fertile, when you notice a change in your vaginal discharge (or cervical mucus). It becomes clear and stretchy, like raw egg whites. Increasing estrogen levels cause you to release more mucus, which helps protect the sperm as it travels to meet the egg. Testosterone also starts to increase, putting you in the mood for sex.
What your body is doing: The release of the egg begins with high levels of estrogen and testosterone giving you lots of flirty feels. Then immediately after ovulation, progesterone is on the rise, causing you to feel a bit more sluggish, introverted, snuggly and more protective than normal.
Water weight is easy to put on here and constipation, crampiness, or nausea is not uncommon with ovulation.

How you feel: Your beta brainwave activity is high, increasing alertness and enhancing learning, creating an ideal time in your cycle for networking, public speaking, and starting new projects. You’ll also be in the mood for more sexy fun around this time.

How to best support it:  Prepare for the lower energy that’s coming by doing things that boost your energy (aside from caffeine). Avoiding salty foods will help to reduce bloating.  Hydrating, eating fiber rich foods and staying consistent with movement and exercise can help decrease constipation. Foods that are high in water content help with hydration.


NUTRITION DURING THIS PHASE
What to eat: Load up on cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and bok choy. They’re rich in glutathione, an antioxidant that can help your body detox and flush out excess estrogen. Also reach for magnesium-rich foods like spinach and dark chocolate to help balance estrogen and progesterone. Foods high in vitamin B like eggs and pasture-raised meat help support the release of your egg and can aid implantation, if you’re trying to get pregnant.
Hunger, especially cravings for sugar and carbs, will also be higher during ovulation – this is due to the slight increase in metabolic rate. Make sure to consume enough protein during this period for satiety and balance your carb and fat intake.
If you find that your sugar and carb cravings are higher than normal this can be a good time to reduce protein intake slightly while increasing carb intake to compensate for the cravings and reduce the chance of overeating. Again, this is not a free for all on carbs or sugar. Make sure your carb choices are healthy options.
Animal Sources: Lamb, salmon, shrimp, tuna

Plant Sources: Asaparagus, red bell pepper, brussels sprouts, chard, chicory, chive, dandelion, eggplant, endive, escarole, okra, scallion, spinach, tomato, apricot, cantaloupe, coconut, fig, guava, persimmon, raspberry, strawberry, red lentils

Nuts + Seeds: Almond, pecan, pistachio, sesame, sunflower

Anti-inflammatory Herbs + Spices: Tumeric

Grains: Amaranth, quinoa


EXERCISE DURING THIS PHASE

How to exercise: high impact workouts that are challenging are great here. You may also be feeling more social, so maybe add in a group class during this time.
During ovulation (around day 14) you’ll be at your strongest physically.  You may want to take advantage of this, but beware that you are also more prone to injury during this time too due to the elevated oestrogen levels. Pay attention to your form.




LUTEAL PHASE (DAYS 22 TO 28) Waning moon
If a sperm has fertilized an egg (known as conception), the egg will head down to the uterus, where it will implant in the uterine lining. Progesterone and estrogen levels are at their peak during most of this phase because they help thicken the uterine lining to prepare for implantation. If the egg isn’t fertilized, progesterone and estrogen levels drop, and your uterus will shed the lining (aka your period).
What your body is doing: The egg has either attached to your uterine lining (you’re pregnant) or it will disintegrate back into the body. You energy and moods will stay normal for the first 4-7 days before it slowly declines over the rest of the two weeks. If you’re not pregnancy, your hormones take a big drop and can cause you to feel super crappy, like PMS symptoms crappy. As estrogen drops, serotonin (the happy hormone) follows causing some less happy feels. The high progesterone may cause cravings for fatty, high carb foods and an increased appetite in general. Hello, period cravings, anyone?
How you feel: You finishing up the cycle in the same way it began.. Wanting to feel more cozy and more focus inward. It’s a good time to spend some time at home and relax. Get some things done around the house. It’s also a great time for some major manifesting.
How to best support it:  Begin to slowly cut back on the intensity of the workouts throughout this phase. Don’t stop working out altogether because this is the time where your body is primed to burn the most calories from fat.  Make sure to help prepare it for flow by eating high iron, nutrient dense foods. Maybe even a *few* indulgences. Warm, soft and comforting foods are good here.
NUTRITION DURING THIS PHASE
What to eat: Choose earthy, grounding foods like soups and root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and yams. Berries are rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, flushing out some excess estrogen which can help to reduce cravings without spiking blood sugar.  Continue with proteins and whole food meals that are balanced with veggies and healthy fats to keep PMS at bay.
A higher fat, moderate or low carb diet will work well here. Please note I am not talking bacon and butter ‘high fat’. I am talking about including nutrient dense fats such as avocado, virgin oils including olive, coconut and macadamia; nuts and seeds, eggs, and grass-fed organic meats. As hard as it may be during this time, try to reduce caffeine as it can be dehydrating and make you feel worse.
Animal Sources: Beef, turkey, cod, flounder, halibut
Plant Sources: cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, cucumber, daikon, leek, mustard green, onion, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, squash, sweet potato, watercress, apple, date peach, pear, raisin, chickpea, navy beans

Grains: Brown rice, millet

Nuts + Seeds: Hickory, pine nut, walnut, sesame, sunflower

Anti-Inflammatory Herbs + Spices: garlic, ginger, mint, peppermint, spirulina


EXERCISE DURING THIS PHASE
How to exercise: As mentioned above, you want to start cutting back on the intensity of your workouts, but you don’t want to stop moving altogether. The more movement you can do the better your mood and less bloating you will have.
Work with your energy flows here and don’t feel guilty if your energy doesn’t go as planned.
Aim for some yoga or stretching right before your period starts. Anything that involves jumping may not feel too good right now because your womb has just doubled in size and weight.
You may still have normal energy levels during the beginning of this phase, so keep with what you are doing. Doing high interval training or some form of metabolic conditioning can still be good. You can always aim for lower weights and higher reps if you’re not feeling your strongest. Studies have shown that women can burn about 5-10% more calories in this phase versus other phases so it’s important to keep the momentum going for as long as possible.

To Summarize Syncing with Your Menstrual Cycle

I hope that you are able to put this information into practice and live in flow with your cycle and learn to love it.  Periods aren’t something that should cause us stress and frustration, it should be a way to enhance the way we interact with ourselves and our surroundings.

·         There are two main halves of the menstrual cycle: the follicular phase where estrogen rises and the luteal phase where estrogen is lower and progesterone rises.
·         Your most likely going to be stronger in the follicular phase and slightly weaker in the luteal phase- don’t’ fret! This is normal and expected.
·         Choose harder workouts like heavy lifting and crossfit in the follicular phase. Swap them for lighter lifts, HIIT, cardio, or after dinner walks, especially in the last week of the luteal phase.




HOW DO I SYNC MY CYCLE WITH THE MOON PHASES?

Now that you have become in tune with your own cycle and are able to work with it, you can begin to see your own patterns. These patterns may change with diet and exercise changes that you implement and your cycle may automatically sync with that of the moon. If it doesn’t do it without effort, there are a few things that you can do to help push it in that direction.
SPEND TIME OUTSIDE DURING THE DAY AND AT NIGHT
This almost goes without saying, but if you are trying to sync your cycle with the moon, you need to reduce your stress levels so that stress is not impacting your cycle.
Spending time outside during the day can allow the sunlight to help to reduce stress and brighten your mood.
Spending time outside at night can be as simple as going for an after dinner walk or TAKING A MOON BATH, which is when you sit quietly outside in direct moonlight with as little other light as possible. You want to aim for at least 15 minutes a few times a week. Exposing your body and eyes to the moonlight helps it regulate to the different cycles of the moon.
HACK YOUR INSIDE MOONLIGHT
When trying to sync your cycle with he moon you need to have access to the moonlight. For most of us who live in cities and not in areas where there is little light pollution, this can be challenging, but it can be done.
Starting at the NEW MOON: sleep in complete darkness. No light whatsoever. No bathroom light in the middle of the night or anything.
One day BEFORE, the day OF and 1 day AFTER the FULL MOON: leave a small light on in the bedroom or the hallway to simulate the light of the full moon.
*You don’t need much light as our bodies are very sensitive to light. A nightlight will do.
After the 3 days around the FULL MOON, continue to sleep with NO LIGHT for at least 3-6 months, if not indefinitely to continue the regulation of your body with the moon’s cycles.


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