In today’s episode, Jenny sits down with Jess Marshall, a women’s hormone health coach who helps women balance and support their hormones using sustainable habits. 

Join Jenny and Jess as they discuss ways to harness the power of cycle syncing for better productivity and overall well-being, diving deep into the different cycle phases and revealing how these phases impact our bodies and minds. Listen in for tips on how to incorporate exercise, nutrition, and syncing habits to optimize energy levels, balance hormones, and improve our lives. 

We discuss:

[02:32] The what and why of ‘cycle syncing’

[05:13] Postpartum, perimenopause, and irregular cycle syncing

[09:52] How to get started and the benefits of cycle syncing

[13:20] What to consider when picking an app to track your cycle

[15:35] The first distinct cycle phase plus nutrition and exercise tips

[21:06] How to find balance in life and business during the follicular phase

[28:13] Navigating the ovulation phase for better business moves and hormone health

[32:09] Preventing burnout and managing PMS symptoms in the luteal phase

[39:42] The benefits of running your own business while cycle syncing

[40:53] Jess’s number 1 tip for mom’s looking to start or grow their business

[42:31] Ways to connect with Jess Marshall

The what and why of ‘cycle syncing’

The simplest way to think of cycle syncing is to think of it as adjusting your habits in the areas of self-care activities such as nutrition and exercise as well as work tasks and social obligations. When you begin to adjust those habits according to the four distinct phases of your menstrual cycle, you start to feel the benefits: more energy, more effective workouts, less PMS symptoms, and more. You also start to feel less burn out because you are working with your body and hormones and not against them, like a lot of popular diets or super intense workout programs are actually doing. When you begin to sync your cycle and experience the benefits of practicing cycle syncing, it leads to a higher rate of consistency of your habits.

Postpartum, perimenopause, and irregular cycle syncing

If you’ve ever wondered who would benefit from cycle syncing, Jess makes it clear that she recommends the practice for any menstruating woman.

If you’re a new mom, you can begin to practice cycle syncing as you move out of your fourth trimester. If you don’t quite have your cycle back, Jess suggests syncing your habits with the moon phases. As a science-minded person, Jess mentions that this is as ‘woo-woo’ as she gets, but that she has actually personally reaped the benefits of syncing her own habits with moon phases during times her cycle was irregular. If you decide to try sinking with the moon phases, try treating each New Moon like day one of your menstrual cycle. An easy way to remember that is to think, New Moon, new cycle. Then, every full moon would signal your ovulation day. The timing works out really well, so moon cycles match up really well with the “average menstrual cycle.” If you have unpredictable cycles, either because of a hormone imbalance, perimenopause, or any other reason, and your cycles aren’t as predictable, you can use the moon phases for that as well. 

It’s important to mention that if you don’t know exactly why your cycles are irregular, that’s definitely something to get some help with and get checked out. Irregular cycles without an obvious cause is your body’s way of telling you that something is off with your hormones.

How to get started and the benefits of cycle syncing

The first step of cycle syncing is to start tracking your menstrual cycle. If you’re not tracking it yet, start tracking every single day and not just your period days. It’s important to track things like your energy levels, cravings, mood swings, sleep patterns, bathroom habits, brain fog, acne, bloating and gas, any sort of breast tenderness or pain, headaches, joint pain, and how you felt during your workouts that day. Your experience with those symptoms affect more than just your menstrual cycle, so being able to notice any ongoing patterns is extremely beneficial.

Once you start tracking and have a good feel for what your normal cycle is, because everyone is different, your next step would be to choose one or two small habits to start adjusting around your cycle. Keep in mind you don’t need to completely overhaul your life overnight.

You may begin to notice changes fairly quickly, even within your first cycle. You’ll begin to feel more energy, wake up more refreshed, or maybe your period was just a little bit easier. For most women, Jess states changes begin to become more apparent after the 3 month mark, since hormones are typically on a 90 day pattern.

What to consider when picking an app to track your cycle

There are quite a few apps out there that can help you track your cycle and it can become pretty overwhelming. Jess stresses that you shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about which app is the “best,” because different apps will work better for different women. For example, Jenny uses an app called Glow, which offers a free version to users. Jess uses an app called Wild AI, which is geared toward women who are actively exercising and offers a wide variety of tracking features and gives suggestions on how to adjust your exercise and nutrition through the cycle.

Search for an app on your phone, pick one that feels right for you, and then get started!

The first distinct cycle phase plus nutrition and exercise tips

Phase one of your cycle is called the menstruation phase, which is considered day one of your period, the first day of actual bleeding. If you’re one of the many women that tend to have spotting a few days before your actual flow starts, keep in mind that the days of spotting don’t count as the beginning of the menstruation phase. The phase begins the first day you have blood flow. This phase typically lasts between three to seven days. During this phase, estrogen and progesterone are at the lowest point of the whole cycle, so you might notice that you’re experiencing lower energy levels and don’t feel very social. Try not to over commit to a bunch of social obligations during this phase if you can help it. Instead, prioritize activities that really fill your cup up,

With exercise, try to keep it gentle during the menstruation phase, especially if symptoms bother you.

With nutrition in the menstruation phase, focus on getting an adequate amount of omega three fatty acids, zinc, iron, and protein. Some great foods to have during this phase include foods like walnuts, avocados, coconut oil, spinach, kale, fatty fish,  pumpkin seeds, eggs, beef, flax seeds, and lentils. Make sure that you are pairing those iron rich foods like spinach with foods with vitamin C to help with absorption, and avoid a lot of caffeine, alcohol, and anything with a lot of sugar because those can add to the inflammation and increase some of your symptoms like cramping.

For the business side of things, your menstruation phase is a really good time for reflection, inner work, and general self-improvement. Try some of the back end planning since you might not be feeling the most social or outgoing in this phase, and avoid front facing camera stuff or anything that puts you under the spotlight..

How to find balance in life and business during the follicular phase

Phase two is the follicular phase. The length of this phase can vary from woman to woman and is often what determines the length of your entire menstrual cycle. During this phase, estrogen starts to rise in preparation of ovulation. You’ll typically feel more energy, your body is more resilient to stress, and you can handle a little bit less sleep, although that doesn’t mean anyone is suggesting you use that as an excuse to purposely over-do anything. Women typically experience a decrease in metabolism during this phase and are more sensitive to insulin as well, which means you’re less prone to blood sugar swings.

For exercise during the follicular phase, your body can handle higher intensities due to the rising of estrogen. It’s a great time to lift heavier weights, and try higher intensity workouts. Your body is primed to build muscle and recover better during this phase.

For nutrition, you want to focus on what’s called cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, brussel sprouts, and kale. These vegetables have something in them called DIM, which helps remove excess estrogen from your body. Once your body is finished with the estrogen that it has used, you don’t want it to stick around in your body otherwise it can lead to something called estrogen dominance, which can lead to a whole slew of unwanted symptoms.

The follicular phase is a great time for being creative in your business. Make time for creating or brainstorming, like planning a new program, writing blog posts or social media content, or batch recording. You’re likely to feel more outgoing in this phase, so it’s a great phase to try new or more social things.

Navigating the ovulation phase for better business moves and hormone health

The third and shortest phase of your menstrual cycle is the ovulation phase. Although it’s the shortest, it’s actually the most important phase of the entire cycle. Ovulation is essential for your body to produce hormones, so if you’re not ovulating regularly, it’s really hard for your body to have optimal hormone health. During ovulation, you might experience having higher energy and libido levels and slightly lower immunity.

During the ovulation phase, try higher intensity workouts if that’s what you enjoy doing. It’s important to note that your joint laxity may also be increasing during this phase, which slightly increases your risk of injury, so pay extra attention to be sure you’re using proper form and that you’re warming up appropriately.

Similar to the follicular phase, be sure to eat cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, and foods high in fiber to help your body rid itself of that estrogen. Add in magnesium rich foods like dark leafy greens, seaweed, almonds, avocado, pumpkin and flax seeds and foods rich in zinc like dark chocolate.

You’re likely to feel more social and outgoing during this phase, so business-wise it’s a great time to  really focus on productivity, big projects, big launches, speaking engagements, or anything you need to record like videos or podcasts.

Preventing burnout and managing PMS symptoms in the luteal phase

The last phase of your menstrual cycle is called the luteal phase.This phase can be anywhere between 11 to 17 days long. During this phase, your energy might start to decrease, though your metabolism and appetite will begin to increase. You may also notice other PMS symptoms like fatigue or mood swings.

During the luteal phase for exercise, because of the higher levels of progesterone during this phase, it is a little bit harder for your body to make and maintain muscle. Pushing it super hard during this phase won’t really help you to move forward in any of your exercise or fitness goals, so focus on medium to lower intensity endurance cardio.

When it comes to nutrition during the luteal phase, focus on healthy fats to help with progesterone production, incorporating foods like avocado, fatty fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Also be sure to include foods that are high in Vitamin B6. With your body being more prone to blood sugar spikes and crashes, you want to pay extra attention to eating balanced meals.

When it comes to business, the luteal phase is a great time for cleaning and organizing some of those back-end business tasks. It’s the perfect time for planning, budgeting, and decision making, though Jess suggests not taking action on decisions during this phase. Delegate what you can and avoid large projects during this phase.

The benefits of running your own business while cycle syncing

When you run your own business, you’re in charge of your schedule, unlike in the corporate world where everything is typically dictated for you. When you have the power and flexibility to create and change the schedule, it makes developing different habits to support your hormones that much easier because there aren’t as many obstacles in your way.

Jess’s number 1 tip for mom’s looking to start or grow their business

When asked what her number 1 tip for mom’s growing a business would be, Jess wanted to stress the importance of building a business that works for you, your life, and your priorities. Understand that things may shift as you move through different chapters of your life, and don’t compare yourself to other business owners because none of them are experiencing the exact same life and situation as you.

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