Every once in a while, I get on Instagram and mention this magical thing called Cycle-Synching and talk about what phase I’m in and then don’t bring it up again for a while. I really want to talk more about this because it’s how I’ve been living for over two years now and I love it and wouldn’t go back to living "normally" if you paid me.
So, what is Cycle-Synching?
Cycle-Synching is a concept either coined by or made popular by Alisa Vitti. She is an Holistic Health Coach and when she came face to face with her own hormonal breakdown, she began diving into what was going on. She discovered that she had PCOS after going a long time without a diagnosis and was told she’d never have a baby and would live with this her entire life.
That wasn’t acceptable to her, so she dove into how to heal her own body. She tried many natural healing methods and finally uncovered Cycle-Synching. The female body runs on a 28 day cycle [on average], yet almost ALL health advice out there is based on a man’s body [shocker] that runs on a 24 hour cycle - QUITE a difference.
She learned about the various hormones in the female body and what they are naturally doing over the course of a woman’s 28 day cycle. The 28 day cycle breaks down into 4 phases - Follicular, Ovulatory, Luteal & Menstrual. We’re all VERY familiar with the Menstrual Phase, but the other 3 phases don’t get a lot of attention.
Cycle-Synching means getting in tune with the natural rhythms of your body. It means eating the foods that are filled with the nutrients you need that will aid your hormones in their natural processes. When you eat this way and live this way, because Cycle-Synching goes beyond food, you can cure your body of so many ailments that plague the female body.
Alisa went on to cure her disease and was even able to conceive her baby naturally. She did what the doctors said was impossible all from fully understanding what the female body does and wants to do naturally.
We live in a male-focused world - hello, is this thing on? - and thankfully there’s a huge shift happening [I'm not anti-man but I am SERIOUSLY pro-women having equal opportunity, pay, respect, representation, etc], waking women up to who they are, what their bodies do and their own feminine energy. It’s truly amazing and very empowering!
Previously, roughly half of the population was being ignored when it came to health and were told to adhere to medical regimes that were tested on and created for the opposite sex - the opposite body of their own. This is why cycle-synching is SO powerful!
It synchs you up with your OWN body. It’s a way of living that let’s you take advantage of what your body was naturally designed to do and to flourish and celebrate every aspect of it. It moves you from surviving to thriving and honestly, I can’t speak enough goodness about it.
For anyone out there thinking this is woo-woo, this is not something made up. This is not something you just “feel” and meditate on. [Not hating on that, just trying to clear it up for the skeptics out there.] This is hard science. Female bodies do not operate the same as male bodies and therefore should and DO have different ways of operating in order to be in their most optimal health.
Cycle-synching involves eating specific foods, exercising in specific ways, participating in certain activities and behaviors all depending on which phase you are in.
So, how do you get started?
The easiest way is to first read Woman Code by Alisa to get all of the background info - she dives into so much more than I can possibly explain in one blog post.
Then start tracking the day after your period. It might take you a few cycles to get the hang of things. For instance, my cycle is not on a 28 day cycle - it’s more like a 30 - 31 day cycle - so my phases are a tad longer than other people’s. I also use Alisa’s app MyFLO to track my phases. The app isn’t 100% accurate but it’s VERY close.
Track how long your period is. Then on the first day after your period, that’s Day 01 and you’re in your Follicular phase. Then you can start tracking from there.
Follicular is 7-10 days long, then you enter Ovulatory which is 3-4 days long, then Luteal which is 10-14 days long and finally Menstrual which is 3-7 days long.
For me, my cycle more or less breaks down into 7 days Follicular, 4 days Ovulatory, 14 days Luteal and 6 days Menstrual. Ovulatory and Menstrual fluctuate by a day, so sometimes it’s 4 and 6, 3 and 6, 3 and 5 or 4 and 5. That’s where the 30-31 days aspect comes in - but Follicular and Luteal are pretty much always 7 and 14.
How can you tell what phase you're in?
Once you start, the craziest thing happens. I remember my very first time aligning my food with my cycle. I started in Follicular [Phase 1] and then a couple weeks later, I was like… I want cabbage.
Never in my life have I EVER craved cabbage and here I was wanting cabbage. I checked the food chart and saw that cabbage was under Luteal [Phase 3] and I knew I was definitely in Luteal, not only from the timing but also because my body had already started to crave the kinds of foods it needed in each phase.
The longer you do it, the more you can start to feel what phase you’re in. You’ll know what foods to eat and you’ll understand your energy levels and what you are innately drawn to and instead of fighting it, you’ll embrace it and your life will feel a lot smoother!
The Phases In A Nut Shell
This is your most energetic phase. It’s also perfect for creativity and problem-solving because your mind is the most clear during this phase. Follicular is the perfect time to try new experiences because you’re more open during this phase.
Eating fresh, vibrant and light foods, sautéing and steaming them are very beneficial in this phase. Things like cardio or trying out Zumba for the first time are perfect ways to exercise.
Your energy is still pretty high in this phase. This is also when you feel the horniest - it’s your body's way of saying, “Hey, I’m ready for babies - let’s do this thing.” This is the phase when your communication skills are heightened - it’s perfect for having important conversations with your significant other, your boss or your mom. It’s also good for first dates because of your heightened communication skills and you naturally put more effort into your appearance because you’re most fertile during this phase.
For foods - stick to light grains like corn or quinoa and fill up on veggies like spinach, asparagus and tomatoes. These kinds of foods will keep acne and bloating at bay during this time. For exercise, keep high-impact and group classes in mind. Remember, this phase is all about community. So running with friends or taking a spin class is perfect.
Your energy starts to decline and turn inward. During the second half of Luteal is when PMS can start to happen [although when you cycle-synch these symptoms decrease.] This phase is all about awareness, attention and comfort.
Cut your social time down during this phase. This is also referred to as the nesting phase because you’ll want to do things like grocery shop / meal-prep, comb through your online banking, do tons of laundry, clean the house, etc. The ratio of estrogen to progesterone makes you notice things you didn’t see before.
This explains why you’ll ignore certain household chores, or they won’t bother you and then all of a sudden you’re like, "Oh my God, I have to CLEAN, this house is a wreck!" Certainly this can happen at anytime, especially if you lean more towards the slob side of things, but chances are, you’re probably in Luteal when these desires creep up.
Your self-care regimen is also important during this phase as well as taking the time to just slow down in general. Foods rich in B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and fiber are crucial for this phase. Combined, these foods stave off sugar cravings, mitigate fluid retention and help you flush estrogen. Focus on roasting or baking veggies during this phase.
During the first half of Luteal you might still have a lot of energy and can continue the exercises from Ovulatory but during the second half focus on activities like walking, Pilates and vinyasa yoga.
During your menstrual phase the communication between your left and right hemispheres is more powerful than any other time so self-analysis and course correction are perfect for this phase. Take this time to check in with yourself. How is your life going? Do you need to go in a new direction? This time will give you clear gut-reactions [for men reading this, you don’t even know the power of the woman’s intuition…]
Listen to these messages, especially if the same ones keep coming up time and time again. Journaling helps a lot during this phase. Feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction are normal during this phase because that’s your body’s way of telling you that you need to course correct. Take advantage of these messages you’re getting during this phase and then use the other phases to implement them.
For foods, focus on ones that add a lot of nutrients. Seafood and sea-based veggies will help remineralize your body with iron and zinc, which you lose during menstruation. For exercise, use this time for rest and recovery. Take time to walk or do some yoga. As you move into Follicular, amp up your activity depending on how your body feels.
Since eating a more vegan / plant-based diet, I’ve fallen off of my meal-plan that I’ve had established for two years and have begun to experiment with new recipes depending on what phase I’m in. I definitely don’t have this mastered yet, but I’m still buying and eating mostly the right foods, I’m just not prepping and planning my meals out like I used to - yet.
I’ve also been heavily diving into how to synch my lifestyle activities, events, chores, etc. up with my cycle and so far it’s been going very well. For instance, Luteal is perfect for administrative tasks and “adulting” so, I’ve been holding off on things like major budgeting, taxes or reworking my mailing list until I reach Luteal and it’s making it SO much easier.
Because when I’m in Follicular - I want to be creating, I don’t want to waste that precious time worried about vacuuming and laundry, I want to be learning new things, writing and brainstorming.
Obviously, you can’t perfectly cycle-synch because you’re also interacting with the rest of the world that isn’t on the same cycle as you - so even if running a meeting at work is best suited for your Ovulatory phase, you might HAVE to do it during your Menstrual phase. Things like that can’t always be avoided.
The point of all of this is to not make it a stringent system - that actually negates the purpose of cycle-synching which is to operate in the natural flow of your body. It’s not written in stone during each cycle. If you want to begin this process, take your time and give yourself grace.
If you’re in your Luteal phase and you eat chicken [more beneficial during Follicular] you’re going to be fine. Also, if you start eating this way and preparing food this way for your family - eating this way DOES NOT negatively affect the male body, it only POSITIVELY enhances the female body, because remember, the male body is on a 24 hour cycle whereas we are on a 28 day cycle - VERY different.
You can eat and do things outside of the phase you’re in - the point is to focus on those foods and activities and eat / do more of them during their corresponding phase so you get the nutrients you need and are taking advantage of what your brain and body are doing naturally.
This post is just scratching the surface. If you're interested in learning more - I cannot recommended Alisa's book Woman Code enough - it's life changing!
Do you cycle-synch? Are you totally confused? Intrigued? If you have any questions, please leave them below! I’d love to hear your thoughts and start having more conversations around this because it’s SO beneficial to women to be in tune with their bodies.
That’s all for now - I plan on sharing more about how I cycle-synch and diving further into recipes I make and how I take advantage of the phases moving forward. Can't wait!
Love & Blessings,