Week of 1.3.22 Cardio, Core, & Mobility Challenge + Info on Training with Your Cycle (Cycle Synching
As we begin a new cycle of training, I will be emphasizing the importance of knowing your cycle and training and eating in accordance with it. If you don't track your cycle, I want to encourage you to do so. I use a free app called Flo but there are many others out there.
Before I dive in, please know that if none of this interests you, that's fine. Your workouts with me will still be fire. You can carry on as you were and ignore the information being presented. But I will ask this: I know that trying something new usually brings about some discomfort so if that's your reason for not wanting to try this new way of 'informed' training, then I ask that you sit with that and uncover your why...why not try something new that would ultimately benefit you? For myself, I never wanted to try out this method of informed training cause I saw the words "less intense" and thought "fuck no! I only train hard!!!!". Turns out, my body is responding very well to this new flow of going hard then pulling back. I took a chance and it's working for me, hence me sharing it with you all.
Here are the general deets:
Your cycle can be cut into two halves, 1st half and 2nd. In your first half, training can be more intense and lighter foods can be eaten, while in the second half of your cycle, specifically in your Luteal phase, training can be less intense and more calorie dense foods can be eaten. Knowing where you are in your cycle, you can modify your training efforts and nutrition to best support you.
Why are there differences in the 1st and 2nd halves of your cycle? Let's first discuss exercise and metabolism, then we will get into food in more detail below.
In the first half of your cycle (follicular and ovulation, days 6-19) your metabolism slows down, therefore this is a perfect time to:
eat lighter due to your metabolism slowing down aka your caloric needs are less
your body is more efficient at utilizing your calories, so again, less calories are needed
workout more intensely as energy is higher
body optimizes fat stores aka it more readily burns your stored fat
body can more efficiently build lean muscle
In the second half of your cycle (luteal and menstruation, days 20-5) your metabolism ramps up(Luteal Phase), hence the increase in hunger that always fucks with out heads!!!! There's also a need to focus on stabilizing blood sugar levels. More deets:
an average of 237 more calories are needed each day during the Luteal phase of your cycle (again, this is why you seem to want more food!!! You're not crazy!!)
cortisol is naturally higher in the 2nd half of your cycle which naturally lowers your immune system and also increases that 'softness' around the midline
if the immune system is already running less than optimal, you do not want to throw high intensity exercise (or stress in general) in to the mix, hence the need to perform lower intensity bouts of exercise and implementing more rest and relaxation along with working on nervous system regulation
Before we dive into the nutrition component, let's review what phases make up the 1st half and the 2nd half of your cycle.
Follicular Phase, days 6-11 of your cycle
energy is beginning to rise as estrogen levels increase post bleed
Ovulation, days 12-19 of your cycle
energy is at an all time high
Luteal Phase, days 20-28 of your cycle
hormones reach their peak levels, pms may occur here
Menstruation, days 1-5 of your cycle (your bleed)
hormones are the lowest and therefore energy may be at an all time low
*if this doesn't make sense, why things are ordered this way, it's because all of our original research/data was collected and interpreted by a man, who thought our cycle should start with our bleed but in reality, it actually ends with our bleed
Ok, now on to the nutrition component.
In the first half of your cycle, you now know that your metabolism slows down and your caloric needs are less. With that information, here are suggestions on how to eat during your follicular phase and ovulation.
Follicular Phase, days 6-11
lots of plants
sources of protein like eggs, chicken, fish, beans
Ovulation, days 12-19 (Estrogen is naturally higher)
raw, glutathione rich foods like spinach, avocados, asparagus and okra
the inclusion of the following micronutrients (sulfur, allium, vitamin c, selenium) will aid in glutathione production and levels
sulfur rich cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, watercress and mustard greens
allium vegetables like garlic, shallots, and onion
vitamin C rich foods like strawberries, citrus fruits, papayas, kiwis and bell peppers
selenium rich foods like beef, chicken, fish, organ meats, cottage cheese, brown rice and Brazil nuts (if you're not called to eat these richer meats at this time then don't and if you are, wonderful...do not place restrictions on these wholesome foods. Your body will tell you what it desires).
juices and smoothies
protein similar to follicular phase
In the 2nd half of your cycle, you now know that your metabolism ramps up during your Luteal phase, which demands more calories. Again, just want to stress here that you are not crazy for desiring more food during this time, nor are you lazy for wanting more rest or having less energy. It's important that we listen to our bodies AND we rewrite this internal narrative! When you begin your bleed, hormone levels drop and you may find yourself feeling not as hungry as you were in your Luteal phase- listen to that! Here is a bit of a breakdown to what foods can be helpful to include during your Luteal Phase and while bleeding.
foods that help stabilize blood sugar levels aka slow burning carbohydrates
spinach, kale, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, onions and asparagus, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, squashed
fruits like berries, melons, cherries, apples, plums and pears
steel cut oats & quinoa
herbal teas, caffeine free
if prone to bloating try to incorporate asparagus, dandelion tea, and cucumbers as these can all help with water retention
protein sources that are lean
Lean proteins, whatever it is that you are called to
healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, small amounts of nuts
continue to incorporate slow burning carbohydrates
keep foods easy to digest by cooking them or including fermented, activated, or sprouted foods
iron rich foods like lentils, kelp, pumpkin seeds, dried prunes, and spinach
heme rich foods like grass fed beef, eggs, and fish
So, based on all of the above, the following will be a focus of mine for the foreseeable future:
Week 1 of all programming will coincide with your Follicular Phase, Week 2 with Ovulation, Week 3 with your Luteal Phase, and Week 4 with Menstruation.
Expect Weeks 1 & 2 of Programming to be more intense as they coincide with the 1st half of your cycle. Week 2, Ovulation, will be the most intense week of training.
Expect Week 3 of Programming to have longer rest breaks but still a focus on challenging yourself through choice of weights. Programming for Week 4 will be less intense with more rest and no high intensity. Our full body strength class (Strong Body, Strong Mind) will still be very challenging, just no HIIT/VIIT.
Moving forward, all training programs will be designed in this way to facilitate your growth and to help you tune in better to your own natural rhythm. I am excited to see where we all go with this new focus!
CARDIO, CORE, & MOBILITY
(not to be done during your bleed! And if in Luteal Phase, don't kill yourself trying to hit 1 min targets...pull back a bit and BE OK WITH IT!!!)
Meant to be performed on a ski erg, but the equivalent would be any all out effort for about 1 min on any machine or out on a trail/road