Many internet trends are quite fleeting, even for their strongest supporters, but one trend that helps women align lifestyle choices with the various phases of their menstrual cycle could be a keeper.
Nicknamed “cycle syncing,” the technique helps people make choices about everything from workout types to food choices to balancing the body’s hormones and optimizing energy levels. Essentially, it invites them to “investigate what’s happening underneath it all,” said Ness Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was placed on hormonal birth control as medical treatment when she was 17. She had a cyst on her left ovary that had morphed into a benign tumor, weighing in at 6 pounds and obstructing the ovary and fallopian tube.
“I’ve never even been taught anything more than menstruation and ovulation; I thought that was basically it,” said Rodriguez.
That was until she came across someone on TikTok about phases in the female cycle, “and I was like what? Slow down,” she said.
Slow down she did and she hopes everyone will understand more about the menstrual cycle. There are four phases of the cycle, Rodriguez explained:
- The menstruation phase, which is often marked by menstrual bleeding where the shedding of the uterine wall takes place – colloquially called the period;
- The follicular phase, which begins immediately after bleeding concludes, in response to changing hormone levels. Energy increases from what it was during the period;
- The ovulatory phase, marked internally by the release of an egg into the fallopian tubes. This is a time of high energy;
- The luteal phase, where the body is navigating the impacts of the ovulatory phase and energy begins to decrease. This is the time when one might experience the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Like Rodriguez, people should learn to appreciate and be empowered by the “magic” of the cycles, she said. They will notice that the different phases link to how they feel.
“If there’s a way I could work with my body by understanding its phases and giving the nutrients and things that it needs during those phases, then maybe I can transition off of my birth control, and and I can also strengthen the relationship between my mind and my body.”
And so began her personal mission to be more in tune with what her body is doing and how she is feeling and making choices to align the nutrients she prioritizes and the behaviors she partakes in with the phases of her cycle.
“The idea here is just to be intentional with what you do with your body and how you treat it,” she said, citing this practice of mind-body check-ins as a foundation for the self. “I have to believe there is a huge connection between self-love and cycle syncing. You can’t do cycle syncing without loving your body for what it is.”
As a dance fitness instructor, Rodriguez can’t always follow the movements suggested for each phase of her cycle. For example, the menstruation phase calls for slower movement such as yin yoga, pilates and low-weight training.
“It’s not like I cancel class when I have my period,” said Rodriguez. “On those days, I also offer my mind and body movements of chill and rest.”
The scientific research in this area of women’s health is growing, but many people are not aware of it. Experts also note that the practice needs more exploration.
“Regular aerobic exercise along with strength training – which can also be in the form of high-intensity interval training – has been proven to promote women’s health throughout the menstrual cycle,” said Alicia O’Connor, director of personal training at the Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center.
Rodriguez looks forward to cardio and HIIT-style workouts, especially during her follicular phase.
To those sparked to begin their journey into deeper understanding of their body and self, Rodriguez says: “Don’t give up and congratulations.”
For additional information and infographics that break down phases and aligned body movements, see linktr.ee in her bio on Instagram @processingtheprocesswithness.
By Molly Sherman