American society is built on the ideal that MORE = MORE.
You can see it everywhere you look. In the way people view how to get results in work (“work harder, rest later”), exercise (“just do it”), and dieting (“do more of this diet to look this way”).
But, if you zoom out and look around it’s clear that this method of doing things is NOT working. Especially for the biological females who experience a menstrual cycle.
Burnout from work is at an all time high, especially for women.
Exercise and nutritional sciences often fail to include menstruating women and instead focus on having their test subjects be males or post menopausal women (to avoid the variability that can happen due to the shifts in the menstrual cycle).
Autoimmune disorders are increasing, with majority of cases being seen in women compared to men.
I also see the crumbling effects of this mindset in the real world on a regular basis.
When I was a full time Personal Trainer I would see women following the advice of various trendy diets and fitness programs, only to be left with little results and a TON of fatigue.
With my current work helping women with hormonal health utilizing Nutritional Therapy, teaching body wisdom, and living more in harmony with their menstrual cycle and supporting their nervous system, I see women struggling.
Struggling with their relationship with food, exercise, nervous system overwhelm, and this complete disconnect between with their body.
These women come to me completely in fight or flight mode, battling energy fluctuations, having digestive discomfort, and all around not feeling like themselves.
When we peel back the layers there’s these common themes:
-Over exercising / Lack of adequate rest
-Food fear/ not eating enough
-Pushing past their body’s needs time and time again, because that’s what society tells them to do.
It’s a recipe for hormone issues, gut issues, mood irregularities, fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, and a poor body image.
Thankfully you’re here… so let’s go over these to help you establish that clarity and allow this to be the permission for you to deeply nourish and support yourself!
Food fear/ not eating enough: Women, for some reason, are expected to eat like a bird. You can be the most active person in the world, and there will still be someone who will make a passive aggressive comment about the food on your plate.
Personally I can recall many, many times when I’ve had people comment on how much I eat, even though they know how active I am, even though all the stuff on my plate is deeply nourishing, and even though they know I struggled with my relationship with food in the past. It’s wild.
WE NEED FOOD. We all need food to support our metabolism. If you’re chronically dieting, you are going to eventually slow your metabolism as you continue to signal to your body that food is scarce, so it better preserve any food you eat in the form of fat, in order to use it later.
When menstruating women are not eating enough it can lead to problems with nutrient deficiencies, add fuel to the fight or flight nervous system reaction, and be a large contributor to lack of results in the gym, and in turn poor body image.
These lack of results in the gym will happen because exercise, while supportive when done with adequate rest (more on this later), is a stress, which is catabolic. Meaning, you are breaking down your muscles and using reserves in your body. This, in turn, allows for muscle growth and endurance ONLY IF there is adequate replenishment of food, nutrients, hydration, and rest.
Adequate food can also help signal to the body that IT’S OKAY, and can help support your metabolism.
Of course, the type of food you eat matters! I always suggest as much of your food from nature as possible! Getting adequate protein, healthy fat, and a natural carb at each meal can help optimize your blood sugar, further supporting your hormones, energy levels, and mental health!
Over exercise/ Lack of rest: Overtraining is a very real, physiological reaction that causes the body to break down. People who experience overtraining often get injured, cannot sleep, develop mood issues, lose strength, and often will either lose a significant amount of weight in a short period of time, or gain. The symptoms can be very similar to hypo or hyperthyroidism so it’s important to get blood work done to check it out!
Remember, exercise is catabolic/ a stressor. If done in a way that is not supportive, progressive, and in alignment with your goals and needs, it can be counter productive. Example: if I’m already at an 8/10 of stress, hardly slept, and didn’t eat much food, then go to knock out an hour long Orange Theory workout, that workout isn’t doing what I want it to do. Instead, it’s adding fuel to my fight or flight nervous system, leaving me more depleted and in energetic debt then when I started.
You may be thinking “yea, but that’s how I relieve my stress, is by doing a really intense work out”. To that I would say, let’s stay curious about that. Often people who have issues with their ability to produce cortisol look for an energy uplift and that adrenaline type rush through exercise. But, that’s another story.
I would also say, look for ways to relieve that stress outside of something physical. As a physically active person, I totally get how being in motion can be supportive to stress. However, what happens if you go on vacation? What about when you’re not feeling well? It’s good to have other outlets that can help bring you more in that parasympathetic state without much physical effort. This parasympathetic state is where a lot of beautiful healing can occur!
Still not convinced? Go look up your favorite athletes training programs. I guarantee you’ll see progressive overload followed by de-load/ rest, and a LOT of emphasis on recovery.
If you’re constantly increasing intensity you are not giving your body adequate time to build the result that you are looking for (endurance or strength), and you can easily fall into that overtraining state.
What I’d recommend for the person looking to improve their relationship with exercise/ ensure that they are in a balanced program is to work with a personal trainer who can teach them the ropes & read the book “ROAR” by Dr. Stacy Simms which talks about fitness and cycle syncing!
(BTW to learn more about your energetic needs within your cycle watch my Free Master Class on How to Use your Cycle for More Energy!)
And don’t forget about that mental rest…
Lack of Adequate Rest for the BRAIN: This has everything to do with nervous system health! You not only need adequate rest for your physical body, but also for your brain. Modern society is great in so many ways! The fact that people from all over the world could read this at anytime and then meet with me virtually through zoom, no matter their location, always amazes me. But, there are some downsides to this high tech, modern world.
The biggest being that people have easy access to their work, especially if working from home, are getting flooded with notifications every few minutes, and are just one scroll away from seeing something triggering that sends them right into fight or flight mode.
To prove my point of how things like notifications can send you into fight or flight, I want you to take your phone off silent and let all your notification sounds be on. I bet there’s some kind of reaction happening within your body whenever that sound dings! (This is why I’ve had my phone on silent for the last 10 years… no joke).
All this technology is new, and something that our species did not evolve with.
Therefore, even though logically we might know it’s just a sound or an email, our brain may pick it up as an emergency. Responding similarly to if it was running from a dangerous animal, like a lion.
We need the opportunity to remove these stimuli, or as I like to say “put the lions away”, so our brain knows it’s safe and can allow for that relaxation and parasympathetic nervous system to do it’s job of deep healing!
Example of how to implement this: put your work computer in a different room or desk when you’re done with work and walk around the block to signal to your brain that work is over. Put your phone notifications on silent and stick to some sort of boundary around when you look at your devices and when you shut them down for the night. The more you get into this habit of being without, the more your brain can “cool off” and relax.
And now for the last one, that so many of my female clients are guilty of…
Pushing Past Energetic Needs: This is a HUGE one! Especially for menstruating women. The reason why is because at each phase of your cycle you will have different energetic needs that require you to tap in, and support.
When you constantly push past these energetic needs you can feel exhausted, burned out, and all around not yourself by the time menstruation comes around.
We obviously don’t want that. Instead, watch this Master Class to discover what your needs are and learn how to live more in harmony!
Pay attention to what gives you energy and what drains you of energy. It’s not to say that every day/ all day will be filled with energy providing tasks and work, however, the things that light you up are worth following and doing.
You may decide to develop a business centered around that thing you’re passionate about, or you can simply just prioritize having it be a part of your regular life outside of work in order to keep you inspired and fulfilled. This can cultivate a certain energy that allows for nourishment of your soul and deep healing!
Your body deserves to be nourished and supported mentally, physically, and energetically. This means you need adequate nutrition, balanced exercise, rest for your brain and body, and using those energetic shifts as a guide! Each person will be different, and will have different needs depending on their lifestyle, biology, and resources. Doing more, and constantly being in this catabolic state is not supportive to your overall health.
For support on all of the above and finding your body’s unique needs- apply to work with me 1:1! I’d love to have you!