Ahhh, hormones! The ever-changing and complicated chemical messengers that live inside our bodies! They travel through our bloodstream assisting our tissues or organs in their daily functions and contribute to just about every process in our bodies like growth and development, metabolism, sexual function, menstrual cycle, reproduction, and even our mood. So, as you see, it’s pretty important that we keep them in balance!
How do we do that you ask? Well, hormones are affected by multiple factors like environmental toxins, blood sugar regulation, our diet, our sleeping habits, our stress levels, and even exercise. So, there’s many ways to keep them in balance but today we’ll talk about how choosing certain exercise depending on the phase of your cycle can help support your hormones and bodies’ natural processes.
Exercise can be a good thing but is also a form of stress and to your body: stress is stress. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing! Hormones need to be in balance in order to function properly and throwing them off balance with extra stress can sabotage a lot.
Let’s dig in to what the menstrual cycle looks like and what types of exercise we can do during each phase to keep our hormones (and mood) happy.
Click here to continue reading my full article at wellthoughts.org!
Let's take it back and first start with a little bit of my story...
I grew up a pretty active kid, I remember being outside playing a lot, riding bikes, (and my razor scooter - shout out to my 90's babies!), playing kickball, all that fun stuff. Around age 8, I got involved in sports and dance, eventually narrowing it down to just soccer because it's what I enjoyed most and was good at it. Let me note though: I hated (and still hate) running so I played goalie. Point is, I guess you can say movement was a regular part of my life.
Once I hit college and wasn't playing sports anymore, things changed. At that time, all I really thought was that running on the treadmill was the answer to staying in shape. Did I mention that I hate running? So, I'd miserably drag myself to the gym and do cardio when I could muster up the energy to do so. Ugh, the thought alone makes me bored!! My health habits didn't really exist at this time either, I lived on pop-tarts, ramen noodles, and special K. Working out was pretty much to burn off the calories I'd eaten or drank in booze and overall I had a shitty relationship with exercise, food, and my body.
Studying abroad in Australia my junior year of college was one of the most amazing experiences of my life but I also ate and drank, A LOT, for four months. I was at my heaviest weight and I remember just feeling awful about myself and uncomfortable in my own skin. And I wanted change, fast. I was still naive so I reached to all I knew, restricting calories and working out. Funny enough, I used to do Zumba videos between classes in my bedroom, LOL! Also, let me note, I do NOT believe now that restricting calories and over-exercising are the answer! I've grown a lot in my journey and I'll elaborate on that story another time. But here comes the part that changed my life...
Shortly after, I came home from my internship one day and my roommate asked me to go to a Pilates class with her. Little did I know, that Pilates class would change my life and set me on my career path. It was a Pilates Fusion class at North End Yoga with one of the best instructors I know, Jenn Phelan. The music was loud, the energy was high, and it was FUN! I woke up the next morning feeling sore in parts of my body I didn't even know existed and guess where my roommate and I went? Back to Pilates! I was hooked.
I found something I loved and I had an undeniable connection to right off the bat. It made me FEEL good, I started to see changes in my body that boosted my confidence. I enjoyed doing it and looked forward to going to classes. It really sparked my love for group fitness and movement, and it's been a part of my life since then.
Ok, ok....sooooo what does this have to do with shifting mindset?? Well now that you have a little of my back story that I'll refer to, let's chat mindset.
Why Mindset Matters:
Your body hears everything your brain says!! The conversation we have with ourselves affects how we feel physically and our perceptions. The beauty of that though? We can use that to our advantage!
Working out used to be a punishment, I would drag myself to the gym and do cardio because I felt like I had to burn off the calories. And it felt like a punishment, it was miserable! It was also really hard to be motivated, by myself, when I didn't want to be there in the first place. So, when I took my first Pilates class, had fun doing it, and was surrounded by positive energy, that sparked change! I suddenly didn't have to drag myself to class anymore because it was something I was looking forward to. My brain was telling my body that we were going to feel good during and after this class.
What Contributes To Mindset Shift:
1. Finding something YOU enjoy doing, that's fun, exciting, and pleasurable.
Everyone is different so you really have to find movement that works for YOU and YOU love the most. Because, if you feel good after a workout, you'll feel like you accomplished something and rewarded yourself. When I have a great workout, my energy shifts for the whole day!
2. Building community!
A huge part of what I love about group fitness is community. The energy that a group can create when they come together is amazing. Over the years, I have met so many cool a** people through fitness studios and made such strong connections. The people in the room with you (including the instructor) are going to be a big factor to your motivation! So, also find somewhere you feel at home and with your tribe.
3. Changing the conversation with yourself.
Like I already said, your body hears everything your mind says. The power of the conversation that we have about ourselves to ourselves is very strong, so use it wisely and positively! Over the years, this is something that I've had to work on and it's changed my relationship with not only fitness but also my overall well-being.
4. Becoming grateful.
Ever take a second to think about if you woke up tomorrow and the ability to move was taken away from you? Well, there are some people with that reality. So, becoming grateful that you have a body that's able to get out of bed and make it to the gym or workout class can change everything. How quickly the conversation can change in your mind to I "have" to workout to I "get" to workout. It becomes a privilege, and truly it is. When I find myself lost of motivation, I always come back to this reminder.
Why Movement Matters:
I'm a true believer that everything is connected....the way we move, the way we think, and the way we eat. So, if we can move more (and better), than everything else can fall into place along with it. Movement, to me, is part of living the best version of myself and shifting my mindset around it changed my life.
A little highlight of some of the incredible experiences and people over the years. <3
The whatcaitate Podcast - #7 Natural Grocers Love Your Gut Event
Meathead Hippie - #91 with Em: Understanding Gut Health, Bloating, and Digestion & #74 Supplements: the good, the bad, the ugly with Em
The Model Health Show - so many episodes surrounding gut health, check them all out
My Gut Healing Habits by yours truly
Top 10 Ways To Support Optimal Digestion by What Cait Ate
Check out Dr. Josh Axe's blog, posts for anything you need to know
Emily Schromm - Fat Digestion
Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe
The Chasing Joy Podcast - Ep. 94: Hormones, Post-Birth Control Syndrome & Being Your Own Health Advocate w/ Dr. Jolene Brighten
Meathead Hippie - #44 w/ Dr. Lara Briden: the Period Revolutionary on PCOS, Birth Control, & Empowerment
One Part Podcast - Season Finale! Episode 123: The Pill + Post-Birth Control Syndrome + Hormone Balancing w/ Dr. Jolene Brighten
That's So Maven by The Healthy Maven - Episode 37: Functional Medicine, Adrenal Fatigue and Supporting Your Hormonal Health w/ Dr. Will Cole
The Model Health Show - Sugar Addiction, Estrogen Dominance, And the Hormone Reset Diet w/ Dr. Sara Gottfried
Seed Cycling (& other blog posts) by Lee From America
Twist of Lemon's blog
Emily Schromm - Insulin: Your Roadblock to Weight Loss!?
Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten
Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life - Dr. Claudia Welch
My FLO Period Tracker
Share Your Story Series: Ep. 2 - Alyssa Boyd of APBP
Share Your Story Series: Ep. 4 - Michelle Kuda of @greensforgains
Untangle, the Podcast from Meditation Studio - Dr. Dean Ornish. How Stressing Less and Loving More Can Change Your Life.
The Model Health Show - The Truth About Enhancing Your Physical & Mental Stamina w/ Guest Alex Hutchinson
That's So Maven by The Healthy Maven - just about almost every episode, so many good ones on mindset, ED recovery, mental health, etc.
Meathead Hippie - also a ton of episodes but here are some of my recent favorites: #89 with Emily Fletcher on Stress, Meditation, and Manifestation, #90 with Nikki Eisenhaur: Being an emotional badass, empaths, & highly sensitive people, & #92 w/ Neghar Fonooni on magic, intuition, and boundaries
The whatcaitate Podcast - #10 Ali Bonar from @avokween: Disordered Eating, Social Media + Entrepreneurship
How to Find a Therapist by Twist of Lemons
How I'm Healing My Anxiety + Panic Disorder (And How You Can Too) by What Cait Ate
The Healthy Maven's blog
Made For More documentary by Rachel Hollis
Heal documentary on Netflix
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
Calm meditation app
Physical Health - Nutrition/Fitness
The Model Health Show
What Cait Ate's blog
Squat University's blog
Squat University YouTube
Emily Schromm YouTube
The C Word documentary on Netflix
The Paleo Way TV series on Netflix
The Squat Bible by Aaron Horschig
Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett
Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? by Dr. Mark Hyman
Kara Duval is a Boston fitness instructor but she's not just your average, run of the mill instructor! This girl knows her sh*t and will leave you feeling mind-blown and humbled. She's a special but spunky and hilarious human being.
In this episode, we chat about her story growing up as a dancer and how that transitioned her into finding her passion for Pilates and Barre. But, things get REAL as we also chat about some of the downfalls of the fitness industry and social media.
You can find Kara teaching at multiple studios around Boston and she also sees private clients.
Check out her website for her full schedule: www.karaduvalpilates.com/ & do yourself a favor by following her @karaduvalpilates on Instagram!
Michelle Kuda is an exercise physiologist, CSCS in training, and the lovely lady behind @greensforgains on Instagram. She tells us her story of finding a positive relationship with food, exercise, and her overall well-being. We chat intuitive eating, dealing with anxiety, and finding balance with all things wellness.
Follow along on Michelle's journey on Instagram @greensforgains. You'll also love her delicious recipes, plant/gardening tips, and adorable pup!
Garrett Kopp, owner of Birch Boys Adirondack Chaga shares his story of accidentally drinking a mushroom tea in his grandmothers fridge to now carrying on her legacy by owning and running his own chaga business at only age 20. He talks about not only his highs, but also the lows he's had to endure along the way. He gives his insight on how with staying true to your word, being passionate and optimistic, and working hard, anything is possible.
Check out Birch Boys Adirondack Chaga:
Facebook: Birch Boys Adirondack Chaga
Alyssa Boyd, instructor at REV'D Indoor Cycling and founder of APBP shares her story of transitioning from a life filled with anxiety and depression to a life she can honestly say she's in love with. Through cultivating positivity, working hard, and having patience she now wakes up everyday to a rewarding job and lives out her passion. She gives her insight and tips on how everyone can overcome their struggles and shift their mindset to be truly happy.
Follow Alyssa on Instagram for a daily dose of positivity & motivation! @alyssaboyd & @theapbpmovement
Nick Cosky of Nick Cosky Photography shares his story of quitting his full time corporate job and taking a leap of faith into his passion of photography.
Nick & I met back in 2016 & to see how far he’s come is nothing less than impressive. He’s not only one of the top fitness photographers in Boston but is expanding all over the US (and soon Canada)! Follow Nick on Instagram to read his hilarious and infamous captions! @ncoskyphoto
My Morning Routine
Nut Butter Tutorial
Here it is: Everything you need to know about making nut (or seed) butters! Your step-by-step how-to along with some tips on roasting your own nuts, personalizing your flavors, storing your butter, and sprouting.
Try out my Vanilla Roasted Coconut Cashew Butter! And feel free to comment below with your favorite butter combos or any other tutorials you want to see from me in the future. :)