Three mistakes in cycle syncing during the Pre Menstrual phase
I always preach the gifts of having you period. I truly believe menstruation is a magical thing and a useful tool. We need to treat it more as a fifth vital sign than some monthly inconvenience. When we pay attention to our whole cycle, we can learn so much about our body, health and energy cycles.
We tend to think about the Pre Menstrual phase as “the worst” phase of our cycle. It most definitely is the most notable. There is some debate out there as to weather PMS is a Western cultural phenomenon, a product of advertising the ‘PMS Monster’, or if it’s a legitimate issue among women.
I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. We have a tendency in western culture to make an archetype of The Bitchy Woman About to get Her Period - but we also DO NOT have an archetype of a woman who is revered for her powers of destruction, strategy and battle (which I think is a very unrealistic view of women). We kind of expect women to be docile, pleasant creatures and anything that upsets this is made into a caricature and deemed unreasonable. That’s pretty unfair considering even Jesus got peeved and flipped a table. I feel like the world would be a different and more positive place in somewhere in the bible Mary got to tell Joseph he should apologize for being an ass.
Yes, your mood changes during the Pre Menstrual phase because your priorities change. Where we were social and outgoing in the first half of our cycle, we ovulate, turn the page, and go into the the withdrawn portion of our cycle. Where we are serving and accepting, we are not better able to pull back and evaluate our life and relationships from a more self centered point of view during the Pre Menstrual phase.
The vibration of the Menstrual cycle is Active & Withdrawn so it behooves you to plan accordingly. What most women tend to do it book a lot of feel good time during this period when they you best be served just embracing the tension and high energy that comes during this time. Some of the greatest mistake I see are the following:
Booking feel-good social events - You feel fat, bloated, irritable and grouchy. You know exactly what will make you feel better! A date night, going out with your girlfriends, or literally anything where you get dressed up, feel pretty, and have a good time...right? Big NOPE to that!
This time is best spent wring on projects and preparing for those few days off when your period comes. This is akin to the feeling you have right before a big trip where you want to go to bed, but you keep remembering all those things you have to do to prep for the trip and being gone a while. Yeah, lean into THAT. Stretch you attention and burn the midnight oil if you have to. You'll be happier knowing you got things done and earned your tired rather then being tired anyway and worrying about all the thing you haven't finished.
Talking out your problems with girlfriends may or may not be the answer right now either. If you do decide a gabfest is in order, go power walking or workout together. This is a much better use of your time. You can blow off steam, feel productive and not have to worry about how you are presenting yourself.
Take this time to put final touches on project. You will not want to be bogged down by anything this time next week so just keep working. Sensitivities and tension is high and people in general may annoy us more than usual - especially if they interrupt our work or projects.
Remember that your period isn't making things up. What you feel is a problem may legitimately be a problem - you are just FEELING that is is actually a problem during this time.
Stop working out - We are starting to feel tired, unmotivated and bloated. The best thing is rest...right? Another bad decision, right there. Our bodies are winding down, that means we have to wind down our workouts too.
Keep moving and trying to break a sweat. It is important that you release that tension in you. Don’t lift the the same volume or intensity of weight tho! Turn it down to a manageable effort - like 80%. Throttle back so you don't use all your energy on the workout. Prioritize aerobic workouts like cycling, running and longer MetCons. I like to do the same weight routine but at a lighter weight with bouts of assault bike or jump rope in between. Sometimes I even skip it in favor for a long hard walk or hike, just to come back to lifting the next day. This is also a great time for power yoga classes. Attend a class that is challenging but won't tax you like Norway. The more you can turn your brain off and just move, the better.
The point is keep putting effort into getting moving, but not too much effort into the movement itself.
Sticking to your diet - you want to lose weight or maintain so you have to stick to these macros/ calorie count/ diet...right? No, but don’t eat a tub of ice cream either.
America is really terrible about advertising to women that all emotional problem are solved with food and/or wine. But what is not a lie is the fact that we need more food during this time of our cycle.
During the luteal/Pre Menstrual phase, women burn on average 200 more calories a day. Those craving that you feel right before your period are not cravings as much as they are a caloric debt. We usually go about a week after ovulation eating the same as we did before. By the time that second week of the lutueal phase hits, we are missing 1000-1500 calories in the hole compared to our regular functioning.
If you want t o avoid eating donuts in the office or all the chips in the cupboard, you may want t o consider just adding more lean protein to your diet. Just purposely eat a bit more during this time and you wont have your will power betray you. If you are craving chocolate, you may have a magnesium deficiency so raw cacao, Epsom salt baths and magnesium lotions right before bed will be a great help to you.
If you want to know more about this topic, I suggest you check out my ebooks in The Cycle Stack. I go over fitness, nutrition and creative planning around your cycle in detail. Check out the ebook that is changing the lives of so many women.