Hack Your Productivity – The Power of the Menstrual Cycle
Written by Tina Popadak
We all have the same 24 hours in a day.
Throughout our entire lives, we strive to create the most productive routines to master each day. Whether that be our career, work, friends, family, exercise, hobbies, self-care, and the list goes on.
It doesn’t really matter at what stage of life we are, as women, we all have one thing in common – we try to give our 100% every day at everything we do, or at least we expect it from ourselves.
You all know that feeling when you just can’t keep up with everything sometimes. So we beat ourselves with negative feelings for being lazy, unproductive, and unmotivated. But what if, just for one moment, instead of guilting ourselves, we try to listen to what our body is actually trying to tell us?
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It’s time to acknowledge the changes in our mood, energy, and motivation that we all go through each month and start using those bodily changes to our advantage. Your female body has a unique power to help you become a thriving, healthy, and flourishing woman if you treat it with the right approach.
This article is about how we, as women, still function in a man’s world and how our menstrual cycles have been not included in almost anything – from fitness programs, diet protocols, healthcare, and productivity hacks.
Your menstrual cycle is a powerful machine, but it has been neglected and treated for centuries as something we need to “get used to it and suffer through”. But there is more to our menstrual cycles than blood, cramps, and mood swings.
Meet your 28-day Menstrual Cycle (your secondary clock!)
All men and women, old and young have a 24-hour biological rhythm called the circadian clock. It is our internal timekeeper that controls many of the body´s internal processes, from when we get our deepest sleep (around 2:00 am) and when we’re at our most alert (around 10:00 am) to when we’re the most coordinated (2:30 pm) and when we have the fastest reaction time (3:30pm). Men’s testosterone hormone production is organized around this circadian rhythm and so is the majority of nutrition, health, and fitness research, advice, and programs that we follow.
But women who menstruate have to follow the 28-day cycle, infradian rhythm, which is linked to the menstrual cycle. The infradian rhythm hugely affects these 6 systems in our bodies: brain, metabolism, immune system, stress response, microbiome and reproductive system. Women who eat, exercise and work in ways that support their infradian rhythm become healthier, calmer and happier, as well as more productive and satisfied in their work and relationships.
So many women try to follow the “same-thing-everyday” plans that work for men and 50% of women suffer from hormonal imbalances that affect their mood, energy and health each month.
Break free from 24-hour clock
Our bodies and brains are different during each phase of our cycle, so our food, exercise, and self-care should be different each week, too.
We are living in a “same-thing-everyday” ritual every 24 hours – we have the same morning routine or we exercise the same way each week. But this predictable pattern every day works and benefits only men’s hormonal biological rhythm. This is the only 24- hour circadian clock and hormonal cycle that men have. So when men for example exercise 4 times a week, every single day a week in each month, they benefit from it.
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What happens to women doing the same thing in the same way? Remember that we have shifting hormones all month long based on the menstrual phase we are:
- Phase 1: Follicular (the 7 to 10 days after your period)
- Phase 2: Ovulatory (the to 4 days in the middle of your cycle)
- Phase 3: Luteal (the 10 to 14 days between ovulation and your period)
- Phase 4: Menstrual (the 3 to 7 days of your period)
Let’s continue with the exercise example perfectly explained and researched backed by the book It the Flo: “During your follicular and ovulatory phase, your metabolism is slower and cortisol (stress hormone) levels are lower. As such, you need fewer calories during these two phases, and when you couple that lower caloric intake with cardio and HIIT workouts—30 minutes is sufficient, but you can go longer if you are healthy—it creates a metabolic situation in which you use your glucose stores for energy, fat burning, and building more lean muscle without disrupting blood sugar or increasing cortisol, which would trigger inflammation and fat gain—the exact opposite of what you want to happen.
You don’t have to avoid any specific workouts during this phase, but the ones that will net you the results are cardio and HIIT. During the luteal and menstrual phases, your metabolism is faster and cortisol levels are higher. So you’ll need MORE overall calories each day (around 250 extra calories) and when you eat carbs they must be complex carbs to keep blood sugar levels stable. If you don’t increase your calories during this time, it will interfere with hormone balance and trigger fat storage. What’s more, because your cortisol levels are higher, you need to limit workouts to 30 minutes only and stick to simple strength training, pilates, or yoga without a high-intensity cardio component.”
Investing time to learn and understand how your woman’s body works.
The exercise was just an example of how women need to adjust physical activity to the 4- cycle phases in order to get the best health benefits and keep the hormones in balance. Now, imagine applying the same approach when you work, socialize, create and take care of yourself. I’d like to encourage all of you to try to understand the power of your menstrual cycle and start using it as your new tool to achieve a healthier, happier and calmer life.
The Flo book will help you understand how your body works and achieve healthier and happier life for yourself. I 100% recommend investing your time in re-educating yourself and using cycling in every area of your life: work, self-care, fitness, diet and socializing.
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The Book In the Flo will teach you how to take care of yourself in each unique phase and use strengths around your energy, creativity, emotions and also sexuality. The book will introduce you to the concept of a female-centered form of time management that works with your hormonal phases to help you get more done with fewer stress and get more enjoyment out of everything you do.
Check out this power tool: In the Flo
“If you’re ready to harness the power of your unique female biochemistry to look and feel your best, grab a copy of In the Flo and get to look, feel and perform your best.