How to Use Summer to Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals

How to Use Summer to Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals

Usually, when we think of weight loss, we think of work. We picture dumbbells, ellipticals, squat racks.

But – as most of our community knows – I am my most happiest when I am not slaving away at the gym everyday. It isn’t fun and it feels like work. To top it off, it is not the most efficient way to lose weight!

However, I am also my most happiest when I am engaging in physical activity. It makes me feel more energetic, confident, strong, and inspired. Over the years I have found a way to be really fit without being a total gym rat (balance!), and it is a huge reason I am able to maintain my weight management goals. In this post I show you how you can do it, too. The best way to achieve harmony with your body (and contribute to your weightloss goals) is by combining a low level activity that you love with a handful of high intensity exercises throughout the week. Balance! Summer is a perfect time to get in touch with outdoor activities that are actually fun but are also a workout.

How Much Should You Exercise?

I recommend that you try a low-level activity, like one mentioned in the list below, combined with one or two high intensity interval exercises and one strength training session a week to fully maximise your bodies potential. This will totally help you optimize your free time as well as health benefits, further contributing to a healthy balanced life!

It is important to give yourself the amount of exercise that your body needs. What does that look like? We really need to be intune with how much is too much, but we also need to not sell ourselves short. If you are obese, overweight, or ill, start as slowly as you need. The important part here is to just start. As you start slowly and continue, you will be able to achieve more weight and health goals overtime.

Best Summer Exercising Activities

There are literally a ton of ways to combine socialization, nature and its positive effects, and exercise with summer activities. You are capable of killing three health beneficial activities with one stone! This is why we all love warmer weather, right? I absolutely love doubling up on tasks by doing things like going on a walk with a friend to catch up, or getting competitive with some corn hole.

Any of the following would be considered at least a low impact activity that you can also do outside. These can definitely be modified to be a high intensity workout depending on the conditions.


Low-Impact

  • Biking
  • Kayaking or canoeing
  • Lawn games like cornhole or bocce ball
  • Walking
  • Outdoor yoga
  • Hiking
  • Climbing trees
  • Tossing a frisbee or ball
  • Swimming
  • Hula hooping

High Intensity Workouts

  • Interval Sprinting
  • Interval Biking
  • HIIT Classes
  • Spin Classes
  • Boxing
  • Crossfit

What to Eat

Seasonal produce is the best in the summer, there is a huge plethora of delicious fresh foods in season, not to mention it’s also grilling season.

Check out my post here on the best kabob recipes, and this post on what produce is in season right now.

I am a big fan of salads during the summer; they’re easy to throw together and you can combine so many different toppings to make it a superfood salad. My favorite right now is throwing arugula in a bowl with salmon, persian cucumbers, broccoli sprouts, seaweed and tahini for an asian style salad. The fat from the tahini combined with the protein from the salmon keeps me full and it’s super easy to throw this together.

If you are looking for more ways to reach your weight loss goals, check out my program, Weight Loss Unlocked here.

For more resources on healthy weight loss, check out my list of resources available here.

What the location of your breakouts really means

What the location of your breakouts really means

Our body uses its own particular language to communicate problems to us. This may be in the form of an ache, pain, or of all things, a pimple. Our body is literally trying to talk to us to tell us something is not  aligning with our physiology, and we need to learn that language.

It may be difficult to decipher this language, but no worries I’ve got your back!

We now have enough science and research behind us demonstrating that the locations of our breakouts can be caused by certain things.

For instance, if I eat dairy (an inflammatory food for me) I break out around my chin or jaw line. This is something that took me a decent amount of time to comprehend, but now that I have, it is a very reliable way to understand my skin.

So, what are the main things causing breakouts?

Acne primarily originates from two things, our diet and our hormones.

How Hormones Affect Our Skin

The most problematic hormones for your skin are the male sex hormones, called androgens a group. The two most prominent ones are testosterone and DHEA-S.​​Testosterone​​​ is a male sex hormone that you’ve probably heard about. It’s produced in reproductive organs in every body, though at much higher rates in men than in women. DHEA-S ​is not a sex hormone.  It is produced by the stress glands (adrenal glands) in the body. But it resembles male sex hormones so much that it has androgenizing effects in the body. The body has unusually high concentrations of androgen receptors in certain areas:  

  • around the mouth
  • the chin
  • the jaw
  • the forehead
  • the shoulders
  • upper back
  • glutes

So What Does This Mean?

Androgens or male sex hormones cause the body to do two things, make more sebum than what is normal, and boost skin cell growth rates. Too much male hormones means too much growth. Too much male hormone power in the blood means too much growth. When these growth processes occur with too much frequency or intensity, acne develops.

Check out my article here to learn more about whether you may have too much testosterone.

When we are able to eliminate hormones as the cause of our breakouts, (check out my program Clear Skin Unlocked if hormones could be the primary factor causing your breakouts.) we can then look at the next most inflammatory thing, our diet.

Dietary Factors Causing Acne

Unfortunately, there are a lot of dietary reasons we could be breaking out. A lot of them stem from causing inflammation in our bodies. The following are some of the main dietary reasons we develop breakouts :

  • A diet high in omega 6 fats
  • A diet high in deep fried and fried foods
  • A diet that includes trans fats
  • A diet low in omega 3 fats DHA and EPA relative to the amount of omega 6 in the diet
  • A diet high in refined and added sugars
  • A diet high in grains or dairy

I know this seems like a lot. If you have been following a paleo diet then most of these will not be an issue for you. If not, I recommend starting by eliminating processed foods, and go from there. I have more tips on how to do this, located in my program Clear Skin Unlocked, here.

So what do the locations of our breakouts mean?

  1. The Chin and Jaw & Neck : The highest concentration of testosterone receptors are found in the skin here. If you have a hormone imbalance you will likely see pimples in this area in a range of sizes. These can occur often around our menstrual cycles, when our hormones are fluctuating.
  2. Cheeks : We use our phones a lot, right? Make sure you are cleaning your phone often otherwise you are introducing loads of foreign bacteria to your face here. In addition, if you are smoking, this has a habit of showing in the cheeks because this area is believed to be linked to our respiratory system.  
  3. Chest : Our chest is a very sensitive area that we can sometimes forget about when it comes to washing and cleaning our face and other areas of the skin. Definitely take extra time to make sure you are washing your chest adequately. If that doesn’t do it, and your breakouts are happening in  the summer, check out this blog post on other things that may be causing the breakouts to occur.
  4. Forehead, upper back and glutes : There are also testosterone receptors found in these areas, not as potent as around the mouth. but they are real. This combined with natural sweat and dirt can cause serious breakouts.  


So – long story short, we should be looking to our hormones first to understand if we have any imbalances that could be causing breakouts, especially in the jaw, chin, forehead, upper back & glutes.

Here are a few more resources for understanding hormone imbalances and what your breakouts mean:

Hormone Balance and Inflammation

Cystic Acne and Hormones: Everything You Need to Know

The Ultimate Hormonal Acne Treatment Plan

5 Signs You Suffer From High Testosterone

Then, we look to our diet.

As we pay more attention to our skin and the contributing environmental and dietary factors in our life that may be influencing it, I promise it will become easier to understand and recognize where these breakouts are coming from and why. I am a big fan of journaling, especially to notice stress levels which could really be causing inflammation to spike.

Best of luck, and as always, I am always here.

 

<3

Sneaky Causes of Summer Breakouts

Sneaky Causes of Summer Breakouts

Here I am, thinking about how only a few months ago I had my winter skin regime down to a science. I had found the perfect combination of skin products to use and when to use them. Then, summer comes along and reminds me that our skin is a living changing organ and that we need to rotate our skin regimes throughout the year.

The changing of the seasons doesn’t usually mess with my skin, mainly because I have spent so much time testing a regime that works for me. However, the years that spring is non-existent and we leap into summer without warning can without warning, lead to unexpected breakouts.

This is one of those years. I have had several breakouts and have been trying to track all the things that could be contributing to this annoying part of my life.

Diet? Just fine.

Skin care products? Even better.

So what gives?!  I am sure there are a few things you can think of that could contribute to summer breakouts. Hotter weather means more sweat, etc. The following are the most common sneaky causes of summer breakouts.

Sneaky Causes of Summer Breakouts

 

  • Sweat : Sweat doesn’t necessarily clog your pores. It is only when sweat mixes with oil and bacteria on your face that these breakouts occur. If you are using a lot of product on your face and are sweating on top of that, all that goodness starts to mix up and get stuck in your pores. If you are in a situation where you need to wear product on your face and happen to be in a sweaty environment, then just make sure you are washing your face afterward with a gentle cleanser. This brings me to my next point:

 

  •  Overwashing : When we are sweating and moving all day we tend to feel stickier and like we need to shower more often. This can lead to over washing, which will strip the face of its natural oil causing it to overproduce oil. This reaction caused from unbalanced oil composition can result with more breakouts. Stick to washing your face in the morning or evening, and try to only spot treat after that. If you are curious about other tips for info on keeping your skin clear, check out my program, Clear Skin Unlocked.

 

  • Sunscreen : Sunscreen can be full of ingredients that clog your pores. There was a time as a teenager when I would break out constantly because of poor quality sunscreen. My skin burns very easily and I would grab whatever sunscreen was accessible to prevent this. Because the ingredients in sunscreen vary, the results it may have on your skin will vary. If you are looking for a safer sunscreen that won’t clog your pores, check out this one.

 

  • Sunburns : If you are foregoing the sunscreen all together, then you are probably getting burned or some type of mild sun damage. Sunburns are truly awful for our skins composition. The skin burns and dies and peels off, forcing it to regrow. This may sound like a rejuvenating thing, but it really is forcing your skin into overdrive, drying it out which can lead us back to point 2. If you do get a sunburn, apply aloe as a natural moisturizing remedy.

 

  • Other Foreign Products : Things like bug spray, artificial tanner, heavier moisturizers, and general environmental toxins will cause breakouts, especially with the increased amount of time we spend outside in the warmer months. Try sourcing safer products with non-toxic ingredients when possible, and if not possible, try to limit your exposure to these products.

 

  • Outliers : If none of these reasons add up, I highly recommend checking out my program, Clear Skin Unlocked. My no-strings-attached program can help you decipher whether hormone imbalance, autoimmune conditions, or even leaky gut amongst other things can be contributing to breakouts. Get it here.

 

 

My Summer Regime:

I think I may be suspect of overwashing this time around and have been careful to tread lightly around my washing regime. Currently, I have been using the following to keep breakouts at bay:

Lightweight Hydrating Moisturizer : I typically apply a thin layer of this in the morning and it allows breathable moisture all day. Get it here.

Countersun Sunscreen : Beautycounter’s sunscreen is well known for being free of chemicals and junk, and it also doesn’t make me break out which is rare for a sunscreen. Get it here.

Portable Face Wipes : These are great on the go for when you are traveling and may be extra sweaty. I keep these on hand to wipe off my back and chest when I am traveling. Get them here.

 

Do you get summer breakouts? Is it just me? Let me know what works for your pesky summer breakouts.

 

<3 Me!

Why You Should Be Putting Probiotics On Your Face

Why You Should Be Putting Probiotics On Your Face

It’s no secret that probiotics can have a positive impact on our happiness, health and wellbeing. Leading industry professionals advocate that a balanced gut microbiome can lead to a healthier life overall. And even more recently, balanced gut bacteria has been studied in cases revealing a reduction in insulin resistance,  better overall mental health, reducing effects of autoimmune conditions, and even weight loss.

These studies have been conducted using oral consumption of probiotic supplements or eating probiotic foods. Think kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, unpasteurized milk products and kombucha, or an actual probiotic supplement like this one.

I am no stranger to using probiotics to improve my gut health. I frequently use probiotics to improve my skin health too. I have been using topical probiotics for years as a way to combat my incessant acne.

I know it seems weird to use probiotics topically, but intradermal consumption is one of the fastest and most efficient ways for probiotics to penetrate our skin barriers.

Medical professionals argue that acne is caused by bacteria. If you have ever experimented with an elimination diet or eliminated foods like dairy (or any other inflammatory food) for a period of time and immediately been the victim of a breakout shortly after, you know that facial bacteria may not be the sole cause.

And usually we have a gut feeling about what is causing our acne, at least to a certain extent. If you are still unsure what may be the root cause of your acne, check out my program, Clear Skin Unlocked for additional ways to narrow down the acne causing culprits, like a true detective.

If you already have a clear idea of what may be causing your acne, and you have eliminated the culprit but are still having breakouts, then an imbalance of facial bacteria could be in effect.

And that’s where topical probiotics come in.

Are They Necessary?

If you are consistently struggling with breakouts but have had absolutely no luck in treating them, I really recommend giving topical probiotics a try. We already know about the insanely amazing benefits that probiotics have on our gut, and these benefits occur because a balance is being restored. Which points to an important clue to why we may be having breakouts.

Everyday we are frequently being subjected to toxins and bacteria and a combination of external things that shouldn’t be on our face. This is well known amongst my city dwelling friends who experience pollution particles, often on a much broader scale. All of these foreign particles can cause an imbalance of bacteria on our face.

It’s pretty disgusting to think about so I try not to stress myself out obsessing over it. One thing I changed was correcting my habit of touching my face frequently.

To bring it all in – Topical probiotics allow our skin to continue to cultivate its natural microbiome and remain balanced.

Added Benefits of Topical Probiotics

I know from my own personal testing that probiotics can have a positive impact on my skin. I am able to maintain a healthier glow and a better grasp on keeping my skin acne free almost all of the time. Topical probiotics can have the following additional effects according to one of our favorite, no-nonsense beauty scientists at AnnMarie:

—Naturally calm skin that is reactive to environmental stressors

—Strengthen the skin’s lipid barrier, combating dryness

—Balance skin pH, restoring a healthy complexion

—Improve overall skin hydration, enhancing skin suppleness

—Eliminate harmful impurities that disrupt the skin’s defense mechanisms

—Reduces the appearance of temporary redness and other skin burdens

Bonus Ingredients

I recently have been using this probiotic serum from AnnMarie, and it has been stabilizing any acne on my face while also not being harsh on my skin (Y’all know I have very sensitive skin, so this was a great relief knowing that it worked well for me). This particular topical probiotic has only a few ingredients, including Tremella mushrooms. Tremella is known for its medicinal properties, and its use dates back centuries. Read more on everything awesome Tremella Mushrooms can do for us, here.

We recently discussed the properties of adaptogenic herbs including mushrooms. It is enthralling how a fungi has existed for so long and continues to benefit us in so many various, unexpected ways.

A few other bonus ingredients in the Probiotic Serum with Tremella include:

Bio-ferments – Biofermentation means that fermentation occured to increase the stability and nutrient availability. Basically, it is mimicking the fermentation process in nature.

Plankton Extract- this extract has been thought to delay the aging process (Yay!)) Plankton is an excellent moisturizer and humectant to boot.

Natural Herbs – this probiotic contains a medley of herbs to provide a natural scent and powerhouse of nutrients. Ingredients include plantain, dandelion, comfrey and nettle.

I also want to note that AnnMarie advocates that the product is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. I obviously only have the skin I have, so let me know if you try it and have similar or different results. I have tested a few different kinds of topical probiotics and would love to get feedback on the types that are working for different skin types.

How to Use Topical Probiotics

I typically use this serum after I have washed my face and before I apply moisturizer. It carries a scent that I like to think it the AnnMarie signature scent…It is woodsy and almost slightly smoky but in a refreshing, satisfying way.

 

So, do I have you convinced that topical probiotics could really benefit you? If not, check out this bonus blog post discussing in more depth the reasons why topical probiotics are here to stay.

 

Surviving the Flu 2018: Starter Kit

Surviving the Flu 2018: Starter Kit

Today I am writing from the confines of my cozy apartment, wrapped in a blanket, where I haven’t really moved much in the past week. I recently got hit with what I have dubbed so appropriately as the“hammer flu”.

Since focusing on a more paleo, whole food nutritional approach and being in sync with what my physical and mental needs are, I really haven’t gotten sick more than usual. My immune system typically does an okay job keeping me on my feet, which is quite lovely with the workload I like to maintain.

This time of year I usually have a cold or something less intense, but the flu penetrated my immune system, and I was not ready. I never get flu shots or vaccinations – I am pretty concerned about how ineffective they can be.

It is so important to know- I am not a child or elderly person who tend to be at higher risks for the more severe flu symptoms. (Definitely consult with your doctor if you are debating getting the flu shot and remember, I am not a medical doctor and my comments on the flu shot are just that, my comments.)

I have no idea how I got it, but considering the heightened levels of the flu outbreak this year, it isn’t surprising I did. Especially because I really got hit after a few nights of restless sleep.

The flu is scary thing, you guys!

I was out for a total of five days, and am currently on day seven of recovery and am still getting slightly winded and experiencing pretty intense fatigue regularly. And yes, you read that right, FIVE DAYS. Luckily, I had a dear friend who was around during the scariest and hardest days of the flu, who brazenly took care of me, unafraid of this epidemic. He also made frequent trips to the grocery store for things that really made this flu “trip” less unbearable.

I know everyone’s flu experience is different, especially with the strain that you get, but I wanted to share a few of the things that saved me.

1. Pure Cranberry Juice

My throat hurt so bad that I was risking dehydration daily; water was difficult to drink. Because my throat hurt I was also drinking everything out of a straw. (I just purchased these stainless steel straws that are amazing). For some reason, which I am attributing to my bodies need for nutrients and sugar, the only thing I could find appetizing enough to drink was cranberry juice. This was super weird as I am not a frequent juice drinker but I went through a liter or two of this throughout the last week.

2. White Rice

NO, WHITE RICE ISN’T PALEO. Again, this was one of the only things I could manage eating with the amount of nausea I was experiencing. My friend made a really elaborate, amazing, hearty veggie stew, so I poured some broth over the rice and tried to eat as much as I could.

3. Frozen Fruit Bars:

Everything in me wanted one of those slushies you get from the gas station, mainly because my body was craving sugar and I knew it would feel amazing on my throat. But honestly, I always feel like crap after eating these and I didn’t even want to risk is. So I got some amazing rozen strawberry bars with real fruit.

Pro Tip: Throw a bar in a glass with a straw paired with cranberry juice and smoosh it up, and there you go, you have your own slushy.

4. Saltines

These crackers never fail. I had been taking some Tamaflu to reduce my flu symptoms and it made me so incredibly nauseous. I would eat a few of these and they would make my nausea disappear. This may not sound like a lot, but to be able to eliminate one of the negative symptoms I was feeling was totally worth it.

5. Water

Need I say anymore?

6. Vix Vapor Rub

I am not kidding when I say I would rather do ANYTHING than rub this disgusting, overpowering, awful rub on my body. Getting forcefully rubbed down as a child when sick has left me with some awful memories of this smell. However, I caved –  my mom would be so proud. There was one day in particular, day II, that was incredibly awful where I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and I pulled this awful (read: fantastic, magical) rub out the closet and covered myself and sat in the shower. And it helped, so incredibly much. This stuff is so overpowering, but it works.

7. Cough Drops

I wasn’t really coughing as much as I was looking for something to make my throat stop burning. I had a couple of these little nuggets and they did the momentary trick.

8. Air Purifier

Something about being sick really makes everything smells and taste awful. Whether it is an air purifier or a humidifier, just getting some air circulating throughout the space helped my congestion and throat-ache.

9. Netflix, Hulu, HBOGo

The worst part about having the flu is the days after the fever breaks when you have to be patient with your body and rest, even though your mind may be read to get back to regularly scheduled programming. Big kudos to the streaming services that helped me stay resting even when I didn’t want to.

Overall, the flu messed with my regular schedule for about a week. By day five I was experiencing mad cabin fever but with maximum fatigue. It is so annoying, especially as someone who is Type A, to be not able to work and forced to rest for so long, but it is what I had to do to get well. I have heard horror stories of people picking themselves up by the bootstraps and going to work or exercising after a few days, and that is SO DANGEROUS! Not only are you putting others at risk, but most likely you will fall into a relapse sickness, especially with a weakened immune system.

One of the most important things that helped me get through this flu was rest and knowing everything is temporary. It was awful and extremely uncomfortable, but as long as you remember everything is temporary you can push through. BUT ALSO if your fever won’t break, or your flu is extended, please please see your doctor immediately. This flu has been killing people. I went to my doctor on the first day, so I felt safer not returning to the doctor after that, although I was tempted on day II.

Please take care of yourself, get lots of rest and wash your hands lovelies! I hope the flu does not find its way into your home.

<3

What No One Told You About Your Period

What No One Told You About Your Period

I was talking to a friend the other day about carb cycling for women, specifically regarding the luteal phase and the best workouts to do while in the luteal phase versus the remainder of the month. She asked me to elaborate, as this was something she had never heard before. She was aware of the 28 day cycle that women experience with their menstrual cycles, but had no idea there were phases inside the 28 day cycle.

For a monthly process that happens internally, it seems a little curious that we as women don’t know as much about our menstrual cycles, but not surprising based on the negative attribution society gives our periods. I hope to elaborate and explain the phases so you can learn the benefits, hormonally, mentally, and physically below.

I am going to take a second and shed a little shade on the patriarchy for not allowing women to feel positive curiosity towards their menstrual cycle. It is often still considered a “gross” or “unattractive” to even discuss menstrual cycles. I am here to declare that now, and in the new year, we will be moving forward in our society and eliminating the taboo regarding our periods.

They happen, and often, and health issues can occur, SO WE ARE GOING TO DISCUSS THEM.

🙂

The Phases of the Menstrual Cycle:

1) Menstrual or Bleeding Phase:

Day 1 of bleeding is considered day 1 of your cycle. Typically, a woman’s cycle is around 28 days long. This can vary women to women though.

The menstrual phase can be the most exhausting part of your month, as your body is on overdrive working to shed the inner lining of your uterus. This is the discharge and blood flow we experience during our period.  Often menstrual cramps occur as the uterine and your abdomen contracts and releases to help facilitate the passing of the blood and discharge. These cramps can be experienced before the menstrual phase, too, as the uterus prepares for the shedding. More on that below.

Because this phase tends to consume a lot of our energy, we subconsciously move towards introspection and time alone to restore and nourish our mental and physical health. This is not to say a women NEEDS to stay inside and restore during her bleeding phase; I know most women do not have the opportunity to do so.  Our body is signaling us to rest, however.

If you are looking for exercise activities that may be best for you during this phase, think gentle but brisk. VInyasa yoga or power walks can be restorative, and there is science behind using exercising as a way to eliminate cramps. This can also be beneficial and balancing to our mood during this phase (and all phases, really.)

 

2) Follicular Phase:

This phase overlaps with the Bleeding phase. Follicular phase initiates on day one but continues through until day thirteen. During this phase, the pituitary gland promotes egg growth by releasing FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) to your ovaries. In the ovary, the egg growth continues while inside a follicle. The follicle must be strong enough and ready to release the egg, a process that takes thirteen days, hence the thirteen days of this cycle. Blood vessels and other soft tissue are now growing in the uterus due to more hormone secretion caused by the follicle. LH or “Luteinizing Hormone” is also produced at this time. LH basically tells the uterus to start thickening its lining that was once shed during the Menstrual/Bleeding phase.

The female body is naturally more insulin-sensitive in the follicular phase when estrogen levels are highest and progesterone levels are at their lowest. This means the body tolerates carbohydrates in these two weeks better than the rest of the time.

Since insulin sensitivity is at its highest in the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle, and carb intake is free to be at its highest because we tolerate them best, exercise can be more aerobic (long, moderate heart-rate-elevating cardio exercises). It is at this time that you can do your best high performance cardio training. Here you can challenge yourself with longer-term exercises that may be more “stressful” for your body, like long bike rides, tabata sprints, night-long dance sessions, and the like. It is at this time in your cycle that your body can handle the most aerobic stress.

 

3) Ovulatory Phase:

On the 14th day, the pituitary gland releases enough hormones to encourage the egg to be released. The egg is then ushered through the fallopian tubes via cilia found in the fimbria.

Hormone levels, specifically estrogen and testosterone, are peaking during this time. This can result in higher confidence and libido, a natural process of our body to externally guide us towards finding a partner to reproduce.

 

4) Luteal Phase:

The luteal phase begins on the 15th and lasts until the end of the cycle. During this phase, the egg cell stays in the fallopian for the first 12-24 hours. It is during this time that the egg cell must be impregnated by a sperm cell or the egg disintegrates. By the end of the cycle the endometrium (the mucous membrane in the uterus that prepares the uterus for pregnancy)  is used up, causing the initiation of the new menstrual cycle.

The estrogen and testosterone that was prominent in the ovulatory phase starts to decline. This is when progesterone starts to peak.

In addition, the female body is naturally slightly less insulin sensitive when progesterone levels are higher in the luteal phase (after ovulation, in the last two weeks of the cycle). This means the body does not tolerate carbohydrate as well in these weeks. Women who are diabetic know this well. I’ve read many studies and heard from many women who increase their insulin injections in the second half of their cycle because their blood sugar levels are inordinately high.

Since insulin sensitivity is at its lowest in the final two weeks of the cycle, and carb intake is also at its lowest, exercise should be more anaerobic (this means hard and fast, really getting your heart pumping). It should be focused more on high-intensity interval training, with short bursts of high intensity work, either from brief sprint exercises or from weight lifting. This is an excellent way to sharpen insulin sensitivity while simultaneously burning fat, increasing muscle mass, and spending calories. It also helps the body stay healthy and as stress-free as possible during this time in which the body is gearing up to menstruate and the least capable of handling stress.

A Few Important Things to Note Regarding Our Cycles:

  • Estrogen and progesterone are elevated at different points in the menstrual cycle. Estrogen levels tend to be the most dominant in the first and second weeks of the cycle (especially the second week). Progesterone levels are at their highest in the third and fourth week of the cycle. This can affect on our energy levels.
  • Period symptoms including blood shed, cramp types and amount, and hormonal effects can vary person to person.
  • Birth control is regulating our periods, so if you have been on birth control since you started your period, you may have a different flow then if you were to get off birth control.

Factors that Can Change Your Menstrual Cycle:

  • Stress:
    We have covered this quite a bit on the PfW blog. But just to remind you- stress causes our bodies to choose which functions are most necessary and appropriate in the moment of stress or danger. More than not, if your body is going through a period of distress, you will not menstruate – as it does not see this period of time as a safe time to reproduce. If you are looking to reproduce, this can be one of the primary things to concentrate on that will assist in conceiving.
  • Sleep :
    Irregular sleeping patterns will cause disruptive hormone secretion which can cause a lapse or change with your menstrual cycle. It is seriously so important to give your body an appropriate amount of rest!
  • Medical Conditions like PCOS or HA:
    Both of these conditions can affect hormone levels in the body, in turn affecting our periods. For women with HA (Hypothalamic Amenorrhea), the woman’s body believes it is starving so the body shuts down hormone production. The body does this based on our instincts. Being pregnant while starving is considered life threatening by the body, so the body does not allow reproduction to be a choice. Women with PCOS have an excess of hormone production resulting in inflammation, weight gain, high insulin levels, and more. Read more on PCOS here, and HA here.
  • Diet :
    This can most definitely affect your cycle. When I was vegetarian for 4+ years, I did not have a single period. I attribute this to the lack of nutrients I was giving my body. If your body is feeling deprived or missing crucial nutrients, it will stop producing the hormones needed to menstruate.
  • Routine Changes:
    Our body is cyclatory. We see this in our circadian rhythm and our menstrual cycle. If you switch positions at a job, or you move to the night shift, this disruption in your normal schedule can cause your menstrual cycle to shift resulting in longer or shorter cycles, or even missed cycles. This is usually not permanent.

Further Reading:

I know this is a lot of information, but I hope it’s useful for you. I really do notice a difference in my aerobic vs. anaerobic activity throughout my different phases, as well as my carbohydrate tolerance and overall energy levels. There are so many factors surrounding our menstrual cycles, especially because women can be so incredibly different. I have included a few extra links to further reading on PCOS and HA below for your reference.

I am always very curious as to how other women adjust to their different phases, or if any of their physiological or emotional responses vary from what I have researched. Drop me a comment with your feedback!

Hypothalamic Amenorhhea further reading:

PCOS further reading: