Cycle Syncing is something I’ve been doing for a couple of years now. I first learned about it when reading the book Womancode, which I raved about in this blog post about going off birth control, and also in this podcast episode about going off birth control.
In the simplest of terms: cycle syncing is the process of aligning what you eat, what type of exercise you get, and what type of work you are doing with the four phases of the menstrual cycle, which have an impact on your mood and energy.
I didn’t start experiencing all four phases until I had been off hormonal birth control for around 6 months. It was so enlightening that I have never once looked back, after nearly 5 years off the pill.
Jenna Kutcher recently did a podcast episode (#270) about menstrual cycles, and her episode goes super in-depth with one of my favorite experts, Claire Baker. If you want way more information about the 4-phases and what to expect in each of them, I highly recommend tuning in to that episode!
There’s a lot of information out there. Womancode, especially, is packed with great information. I recommend reading it for a more thorough explanation of any of this, but when I was first getting started with tracking and cycle syncing I found it really helpful to have this sort of “cheat sheet” along with using my vertical planner layout to track my phases and plan out work projects.
A super quick crash course in the menstrual cycle: the first day of your cycle is the day your period starts (not spotting, the first day of full blood), and progresses into each phase from there. Most menstruating people have a cycle that is around 28-31 days, so generally each phase will last 7 days. However, each phase can be unique and tracking is the only way to determine how your body operates.
I created this guide while reading Womancode, and it is somewhat customized to my preferences for food + exercise, but would work for anyone. You can download a PDF of this along with a blank one that you can fill out with your own WORK / NUTRITION / WELLNESS preferences for free by clicking here.
When I was starting to track my cycle I found my Vertical Monthly Planner (download it free, here) really helpful. In this updated design I added columns so that you can color-code each day according to your cycle phase, and then use the other two columns to track things like mood and symptoms or start planning out your goals and projects for the month. It’s great to see it laid out like this, and also gives you good insight into when you might want to plan other things such as vacation, dinner dates with friends, or a long weekend with a good book.
This design is available free for 2021 and has a monthly layout for each month of 2021. The free download includes the PDF file, which you can print out, or use on an iPad or Tablet using note-taking apps such as Goodnotes, Notability, Paper, or Procreate.
An important thing to note is that hormonal birth control can drastically interrupt and impact your natural cycle. So, if you are on birth control you might be reading this and thinking “What is she talking about?!” that’s totally valid, and as I said I didn’t start to experience the phases until at least 6 months off the pill.
You might also be thinking “I have a regular 9-5 job and there’s no way I can align my work with my cycle, you hippie.” Also valid. However, while you might not have control over when certain meetings are scheduled or when you have to give that big presentation, paying attention to your cycle might help you focus your energy in the right places, and might also give you some insight when things don’t go well. Keep in mind, our mood and energy levels impact a lot more than just our work — I’ve also found tracking phases to be super helpful with my relationship. There are weeks where I am more energetic and feel up to those 20 mile bike rides with Josh, and other weeks when I’d love for him to hit the rock climbing gym while I relax in a park with a book.
Cycle Syncing also helps us get to know ourselves a little better. There might be specific days each month where your body is really bloated and you can find yourself feeling really depressed and unhappy with how you look. This can result in really negative feelings about ourselves — but might also prompt us to sign up for a 12-month gym membership or go on a compulsive shopping spree for things that make us feel better about ourselves. Once you start tracking and realize that these days are happening at the exact same time every month, you can learn to anticipate and plan for them — which can really help alleviate any lasting impact.
Have I convinced you? If you’ve decided to give Cycle Syncing a try, or have done it before and are just looking for some new resources I hope this post will help ya out! Happy syncing, my friends.
Here’s a quick list of additional resources to make things easy:
Book Recommendation: Womancode by Alisa Vitti
Blog Post Recommendation: Four Years Off Birth Control by Thyme is Honey
Podcast Recommendation: Plan Podcast Episode 021 Planning to Quit Birth Control
Podcast Recommendation: Plan Podcast Episode 022 Ask Dani Anything About Quitting Birth Control
Podcast Recommendation: Goal Digger Podcast Episode 270 No One Ever Told You This About Your Period
Website Recommendation: This is Life Blood by Claire Baker (tons of resources!)
Resource Recommendation: Free Cycle Syncing Cheat Sheet by Thyme is Honey
Resource Recommendation: Vertical Planning Pages with Columns (FREE) by Thyme is Honey
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