We all have hormones and although it differs from person to person in the way that they affects us…there are 4 phases to our menstrual cycle which means different things for our mood and health within each of the phases (weeks).
If you take the pill or are on the coil, you still have 4 phases to your cycle - it is just harder to track and understand them so it may require more attention, time and conversations with your doctor if you're looking to get clued up on the matter.
Week 1 begins the day bleeding starts - many women feel good around this time and have lots of energy. Confidence is high, and one tends to generally feel in good shape, creative and in good health. If these feelings aren’t obvious on day 1 of your bleed, by day 3 they should be fully underway. Be patient, and make a note of the day that the good times do start so that you know when to expect it the following month!
Week 2 is Superhuman week... Testosterone and Oestrogen hormones are both high and this is when our skin looks best, energy is easily accessible, we feel flirty, great and excited about life. There is definitely an ‘I can take on the world’ attitude about this week, so take advantage of it and plan your schedule accordingly to make the most of this feeling. (It is said that people plan their weddings, big meetings or important events during this week of their cycle.)
We also tend to digest foods better during weeks 1 and 2 and can often tolerate alcohol/ junk foods better.
Week 3 is when a shift begins to happen and we tend to turn inward a little. We may feel more bloated / have slower bowel movements, and this often leads to feeling low because of our appearance. Our appetites also tend to increase in week 3 and it is common for women to try and suppress them out of fear of adding to the boated, puffy feeling we already have. However... it is important not to start starving oneself at this point, and instead increase healthy carbohydrates, fats and proteins in our diets. Our body needs all the help it can get to get through the next 2 weeks.
Week 4 is Serotonin depletion week and this tends to be the time when people feel most teary, demotivated, sluggish and emotional. During this week, it would be helpful to cut back on processed foods and alcohol because not only will your body process them much more slowly, but there will be more regret and time to mull over what you just ate because of the increased emotional state we tend to find ourselves in.
In the final week before we bleed , the female body needs more Magnesium, B Vitamins, Vitamin D and to concentrate on consuming nutrient rich foods. It is important to stop during this time, take a pause and think about what is going on internally. Your appetite is up because your body is working hard to create an organ... It needs the extra food it craves to do its natural thing. Tune into the feelings and allow them to run their course, it is a wonderful thing! Your natural biology is trying to say, “not now” to the diet… “I need fuel and I need you to be kind to me”. You’re not going to win by being more strict with yourself during this week.
So, now that we know what each week entails and why... How can one tune in and understand the different phases of a cycle? Track it!
There are numerous apps to download and help us easily keep track of our menstrual cycles + the symptom fluctuations that come with hormone changes. By doing this for a minimum of 3 months, you will have a firm understanding of your personal cycle, what it means for you and how to use that knowledge to your best advantage.
If with this new found information you know that week 3 is a no go period of time for meetings because you don’t like how puffy your face gets and have no energy - don’t schedule meetings for it. If you know that cardio helps get your lymph going and drain excess fluid, maybe up your runs in week 3/4 and leave the weight exercises for week 1 when you have more strength and a quicker recovery time. Once you play around and realise that by having knowledge of your phases and what they mean, You’re winning!