Optimize your life around your cycle to do the right things at the right time for you. Make the most out of your cycle by maximizing the positive and minimizing the negative.
What is cycle-optimization?
Cycle-optimization means planning your life around your cycle in order to fit your plans to the right time of the cycle.
Cycle-optimization is based on two ideas:
- Your hormones have an important influence on the way you feel, behave and perform.
- By planning your life around your cycle, you can harness the positive symptoms and minimize the negative ones.
To understand more in depth the rationale behind cycle-optimization, click here
Getting started with cycle-optimization
Cycle-optimization is very simple !
All it requires is some consistency and easy tweaks to your lifestyle.
The basic steps of cycle-optimization are :
- Tracking your cycle
- Identifying your positive symptoms
- Identifying your negative symptoms
- Creating a cycle routine that maximizes the positive and minimizes the negative
Let’s dive deeper into each step !
Tracking your cycle
Tracking your cycle is the most important thing when it comes to cycle-optimization.
Since symptoms can vary a lot between women, there is no one size fits all in cycle-optimization. Tracking your cycle will enable you to get a clear picture of your own cycle.
Begin by logging:
- The time of your period
- The time of your ovulation (more on that later)
- Positive symptoms
- Negative symptoms
The rest is pretty simple: after you’ve identified patterns that recur each cycle, you can start using that information to make adjustments to your life.
For instance if you know that you get sweet cravings on days 20-28, you won’t be taken by surprise anymore. You can do things to keep your diet on track like baking healthy cookies, working out more, etc.
Or if you know that you are super self-confident on days 9-14, you can plan things you want to achieve during that time frame, like job interviews, self-challenges, asking for a raise etc.
So how to track your cycle? Just pick a period tracking app – there are dozens of them – and start logging your symptoms.
Which symptoms should you log?
As humans we get all kinds of sensations and emotions that come and go erratically. You don’t need to log them all !
A good rule of thumb is to track symptoms that last more than 2 days. That’s because your hormones don’t change so fast, so if a symptom is caused by your cycle, it should last at least a few days.
Also, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel: most common cycle symptoms are well documented. You can check this symptoms cheatsheet to know what to expect for the different cycle phases.
Keep it simple, logging symptoms shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes a week.
Summary: You need to track your symptoms consistently in order to have enough data about how the cycle affects you. Next you’re going to analyze the collected information to find your cycle patterns.
Analyzing the tracking data
After tracking your cycle for some time, you will likely see patterns. Those patterns will probably be a mix of positive/neutral/negative and psychological/somatic/physiological.
For instance, a positive pattern may be that you are more assertive during ovulation. A negative pattern may be that you are exhausted during PMS.
The positive patterns can be translated into “cycle opportunities”: if you know that during days 10-15 you feel invincible, seize that opportunity each cycle, and make the most out of it.
On the other hand, the negative patterns can be translated into “cycle pitfalls”: if you know that your irritability spikes during days 18-28, you can consciously counteract it by meditating, exercising, taking long silent walks etc. on those days.
Ultimately, those cycle opportunities and pitfalls will naturally form a set of guidelines you can apply to yourself to support your goals and wellbeing.
Let’s now talk more in detail about cycle opportunities.
Identifying your cycle opportunities
Cycle-opportunities are times of the cycle where you are more fit to do certain activities. This is generally due to a specific hormonal configuration, which influences in a certain way your mind or body.
For example, during the first half of your cycle, you are more insulin-sensitive, which means your body is more efficient at managing sugars. As a result, you will feel more satisfied from the food you eat, and will be less attracted to sweet stuff.
This time window of the cycle can be translated into a “cycle-opportunity”: since your appetite is naturally better regulated, it is a good time to start healthier eating habits.
Examples of cycle-opportunities
|positive symptom…||is an opportunity to…||is probably caused by…||during…|
|low attraction to sugar||improve eating habits||insulin sensitivity||1st half of cycle|
|sociability||network, have hard conversations, bond with your partner||high oxytocin||1st half of cycle|
|assertivity||ask for a raise, take risks||high testosterone||around ovulation|
|awareness of the bad||review your life situation||PMS||2nd half of cycle|
For a complete article on cycle opportunities, click here.
Summary: Cycle-opportunities are windows of time when you experience positive cycle symptoms. By finding their timing, you can begin planning ahead in order to use them to support your goals.
Identifying your cycle pitfalls
Like cycle-opportunities, cycle-pitfalls vary between women. It is important that you identify which problems you experience during your cycle in order to deal with them.
For most women, negative symptoms tend to occur during the second half of the cycle, around PMS. But they can also occur at other times of the cycle.
Examples of cycle-pitfalls
|negative symptom…||can cause…||is probably caused by…||during…|
|craving sugar||binge eating junk food||insulin resistance||2nd half of cycle|
|racing thoughts||inability to focus||high serotonin||around ovulation|
|irritability||relationship problems||low serotonin||2nd half of cycle|
|low libido||relationship problems||high progesterone||2nd half of cycle|
After identifying them, you can either try to treat them or just act in awareness of them.
For instance, if you know that you tend to be irritable during the second half of your cycle, avoid picking up fights with your partner during this time, or try exercising to let off some steam.
For a complete article on cycle pitfalls, click here.
Summary: Cycle pitfalls are negative symptoms that occur during certain times of the cycle. By identifying your cycle-pitfalls, you can consistently counteract them to avoid the negative influence they have on your life.
At this point, you have a deep knowledge of how you body and mind work across the cycle. You can now get to the best part : creating a unique routine that works for you. That routine will support your goals and health, cycle after cycle.
Creating your cycle routine
Having a cycle routine will help you maximizing the opportunities and avoiding the pitfalls along the cycle.
Basically it will wrap up all the positive and negative patterns you’ve identified into a set of “recommendations” that you can apply to yourself. With time, all those guidelines will become natural and automatic and you will apply them without even thinking.
As an example, if you noticed that you are constipated during the second half of your cycle, one of your “cycle guidelines” could be to eat lots of fibers and drink more water during this time.
Or if you feel unusually self-confident during ovulation, a good guideline for that time could be to consistently challenge yourself and take more high-benefit risks.
Does that mean that you must plan all your cycle in advance because of your routine? No ! Life is dynamic, and so must be your cycle routine. But you can definitely use it as a tool to decide what to do at a given moment.
To understand more how a cycle routine can help us, let’s check an example. Keep in mind that your own routine could be completely different, based on your personal cycle opportunities and pitfalls.
Example of a complete routine, phase by phase
Here’s a example of cycle routine, phase by phase. Keep in mind that each individual being different, so are cycle routines. Each routine is based on the specific symptoms, opportunities and pitfalls of the example we used in the previous paragraphs.
This routine will help you feel restored and nurtured after your period. Its main idea is to focus on yourself , and enjoy shameless resting and eating. Additionally, a supplement routine will make sure that your body gets what it needs to function best after period.
|Rest shamelessly on the first day of period||By making the first day of period a self-nurturing time, you will begin to see this day as a treat and not as a punishment|
|Eat whatever you want on the first day of period||Allowing yourself a cheat day every cycle will help you stay on track the rest of your cycle.|
|Take care of your period pain. Tips: hot water bottle, hot tub, orgasms, cuddling, sleep, exercise.||Period pain is a good opportunity to take care of yourself. This is a time where you just allow yourself to focus on your needs.|
|Drink lots of fluids during the heavy bleeding days||Menstruation bleeding and the diarrhea that usually follows dehydrate the body, so make sure to rehydrate yourself properly|
|Take an iron supplement from the first day of period until ovulation.||Bleeding depletes us from our iron stores, so taking supplements each cycle during 2 weeks will help replenish those stores.|
|Avoid scheduling stressful events on the first days of period.||As previously said, period is a time to focus on yourself and rest, keep those stressful things for later in the cycle.|
|Enjoy the natural endorphins||Period pain makes your body release endorphins that make you euphoric and increase your wellbeing.|
|On the first days of bleeding, review the last cycle and think of what you want less of in your life.||Part of focusing on yourself is taking out the garbage. Removing detrimental things from your life is just as powerful as adding beneficial things.|
|When your bleeding gets lighter, start thinking about your aspirations for the upcoming cycle.||After you’ve rested for a few days, use your cleared mind to set new goals and aspirations.|
The follicular phase is characterized by a natural burst of positivity and creativity. That’s because your estrogen, oxytocin and testosterone are rising. The follicular routine will thus take advantage of those characteristics. This phase is a great opportunity for new beginnings.
|Gradually increase workouts intensity. Try new types of workouts.||After the PMS and periods fatigue, you finally recover energy levels that allow you to push your training further.|
|Make a fresh start in ongoing projects||Your projects may have stagnated a bit during PMS and period. |
Use your follicular phase to get started again with a fresh perspective.
|Start healthier eating habits||High insulin sensitivity makes your appetite shrink. It’s time to cut back on sweets and junk food.|
|Keep taking your iron supplement||Even if you feel great, you are still depleted by your period. Take your iron to make sure you reach optimal levels back.|
|Try new things||Enrich your life by trying new things. Let your natural good mood lead you towards new experiences.|
|Bond with your loved ones||As your oxytocin rises, you will feel increasingly attached to the people close to you. Use this time to nurture your relationships.|
|Network||If you tend to isolate yourself during PMS, use the follicular phase to reconnect with your colleagues. Create meaningful connections at work to be happier in the long run.|
|Start planning challenges for the upcoming ovulation||Think of a few beneficial challenges you’d like to undertake : asking for a raise, confronting someone, holding a public presentation, etc…|
Although ovulation is a very short event, only a few days, its properties are so beneficial that it deserves its own routine.
At ovulation three key hormones are peaking: estrogen, testosterone and oxytocin. Those three hormones have a deeply positive influence on the brain. Since estrogen modulates serotonin levels in the brain, the “happy neurotransmitter” also peaks during ovulation.
That’s why during ovulation you will probably experience enhancements in:
- cognitive function
- social intelligence
- attractiveness (you look and smell irresistible)
This cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters creates ideal conditions to become the super-hero version of you.
So put on your imaginary cape and let’s achieve some serious stuff.
|Take some beneficial risks||The peak of testosterone makes you more self-confident. Ask for a raise, challenge yourself to do public speaking, confront someone you’re scared of.|
|Have lots of sex||Testosterone and estrogen raise your libido, and the increased blood flow to the genitals will improve your orgasms.|
|Allow your creativity to burst||As your serotonin and self confidence go high, you may start to get a flow of great ideas. Let that creativity flow freely, it may be the start of new awesome things.|
|Enjoy life||You heightened senses will make everything feel amazing. So enjoy the breeze on your cheek, laughter with a friend or the sensual gaze of a stranger.|
|Impress the world||You are charismatic and irresistible. Use that to your advantage and shine your light to the world.|
|Go on a date||Whether with your partner or a stranger if you’re single, this is a great time for seduction.|
|Be cautious who you flirt with||Your body just wants to get pregnant right now, and many men look attractive to you. If you are in a monogamous relationship be careful not to cross borders with other men. If you’re single, beware: your may settle for less than usual.|
|Be aware of your ovulation pain||If you have ovulation pain like 20% of women, it is a good additional way to track your ovulation. For some women, having sex can cause additional pain when ovulating so keep that in mind.|
|Make plans for the luteal phase||The shiny part of your cycle is coming to an end. It’s now time to plan ahead to make the best of your luteal phase.|
The luteal phase marks the start of the second part of your cycle. In contrast with the optimistic first part of the cycle, the luteal phase is more grounded in reality.
After ovulation, your mood and energy levels will begin to decrease gradually until your period. Nevertheless, in the early luteal phase, your mood and energy levels are still relatively high.
In the late luteal phase, most women experience some kind of PMS. If you have serious PMS, the Beat PMS path is for you
The main focus of the luteal phase routine is to keep high energy levels, stay productive and use our awareness of the bad to make an audit of our lives.
|In the early luteal phase, make plans for the rest of the cycle||Decide what you want to achieve until the end of the cycle during the early luteal phase. Commit to stick to the plan no matter how unmotivated you get during PMS.|
|Cut back on caffeine||We all love caffeine but it exacerbates anxiety, so keep your consumption low if you are prone to anxiety during the luteal phase.|
|Eat well||Our blood sugars are unstable during the luteal phase. We also burn slightly more calories. So make sure to eat well to keep high energy levels.|
|Eat lots of proteins combined with carbs||The combination of proteins and carbs helps produce serotonin, which we are lacking during the luteal phase.|
|Eat fibers and drink lots of water||High progesterone makes us constipated during the luteal phase, so extra fibers and fluids will be your friends during that phase.|
|Keep exercising even if you don’t feel like it.||Exercise is a key way to keep your mood elevated and regulate your appetite. Try 5 minutes no-excuses home workouts. Or just go for long walks.|
|Use sound-cancelling headphones at work to keep concentrated||Cultivating concentration is key during PMS, since the natural anxiety and dysphoria can take a toll on it.|
|Expose yourself to natural light||Natural light is a good way to elevate your serotonin levels, which are low during the luteal phase.|
|Meet friends who make you feel comfortable (even if you don’t feel like it at first)||Oxytocin levels tend to get low during the luteal phase, which can cause social anxiety. By keeping social, you can get your oxytocin back up again.|
|Set boundaries with the people that tend to cross them||The natural PMS grumpiness is a great help to set boundaries. Stop letting people take you for granted, and say “No” once in a while. You will be much more respected, and you life will become much easier.|
*Warning: if you have PMDD or rage spells, this is not a great time to set boundaries. Wait until after period.
|Allow yourself lots of me time||It’s perfectly fine to spend time with yourself, to reflect on your life and on the things you want. Or just to read a good book or chill.|
|Keep challenging yourself||By keeping doing things outside of your comfort zone, you will keep yourself motivated and self-confident. This can help counteract the luteal phase apathy and depression.|
|Be aware of your negativity||Being negative is an important part of PMS. Use that to make an audit of the things you’d like to improve in your life.|
|Don’t take irreversible decisions or do things you’d later regret||Sometimes the PMS negativity can lead us to do things we later regret. Take a deep breath and wait until after your period to take that decision.|
The bottom line
By living in sync with your cycle, you can maximize the resources you have at any given time. Using the properties of each phase, cycle after cycle, you can start a revolution in your world.
The different cycle phases, by emphasizing different aspects of your personality, help you grow into a more complex, stronger person.
Following the natural ebb and flow of your cycle, instead of ignoring it or fighting it, will create a state of easiness in your life. You will stop fighting invisible ghosts, and just realize that many emotions or symptoms you experience are due to the cycle.
For example you’ll realize sometimes you feel awful, not because you’re a deeply flawed person, but just because you’re in late luteal phase right now and your serotonin is low and that’s ok. Just knowing that everything is ok with you can instantly make 90% of your bad feelings dissolve.
You will learn to anticipate your feelings, plan ahead to take advantage of your cycle “superpowers” – may they be increased creativity, self-confidence, or even the ability to say “No” during PMS.
Ultimately the benefits of maximizing the good and minimizing the bad will accumulate over multiple cycles, creating a shift in your life.
What’s next? Becoming unstoppable.
After you’ve freed up your energy by syncing with your cycle, you can start achieving your goals cycle after cycle.
Whether those goals are related to fitness, career, relationships, self-improvement or anything else, you can use your cycle to make breakthroughs in your life.
First, by consistently planning ahead the way you are going to use your cycle-opportunities for growth.
Second, by using the cycle as the schedule of your growth. The cyclic nature of the cycle and its length of 4 weeks make it an ideal work timeframe.
The first two weeks, which are characterized by high-energy can be used for creativity, breakthroughs, networking and risk taking.
The second two weeks, which are steadier, more quiet, can be used to achieve big chunks of work that require silence and introspection.
The regular switching between the two helps keeping you interested and alert. The period shutdown makes sure your body and mind get a real break once in a while.
To learn more about power cycling, go to the Achieve your goals path