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Women are NOT small Men!

April 24, 2024

I’ve had a longstanding passion for health and fitness, which drove me to pursue a degree in health and physical education. Throughout my career, my primary focus has been on teaching, coaching, and motivating individuals to embrace safe and effective movement, and lately, I have been paying more attention to the simple and obvious fact: Women are NOT small Men.

While I’ve worked with diverse demographics, my most meaningful interactions have been with teenage girls and mothers. Whether in a classroom, fitness center, gym setting, or through workshops, my aim has always been to empower women to appreciate and nurture their bodies. Let’s remember, “Women are NOT small Men!” 

Recently, I’ve delved into the emerging field of female-centric physiology, particularly regarding cycle health. It’s fascinating to note that most of the fitness research we are encouraged to follow (diet, exercise, recovery) is centered around males aged 18-24, neglecting the unique hormonal fluctuations experienced by females. As a woman, have you ever noticed that men will get quick results with most health advice, while women following the same protocol will see little to no results?   This is frustrating and we need more answers…  

What’s intriguing is that while male hormones follow a 24-hour cycle (circadian rhythm) aligned with the sun, female bodies operate on a dual rhythm, synchronized not only with the sun but also with the moon’s phases. This infradian rhythm, consisting of four distinct phases—Follicular, Ovulatory, Luteal, and Menstrual—mirrors the lunar cycle’s four phases.  We are such fascinating beings and reflect that we are truly one with creation! 

I can appreciate the quote from leading expert Dr. Stacey Sims who says “Women are not small men.” Consequently, I’ve embarked on a journey of self-discovery, seeking to align my own fitness approach with my monthly hormonal cycle. This entails adopting a more nuanced approach, prioritizing self-care and gentleness, particularly during the Luteal and Menstrual phases when hormone levels decline. 

Based on the research I’ve delved into; it appears that tailoring the intensity and duration of your workouts according to your menstrual cycle phase can yield significant benefits. Reflecting on past experiences, I recall moments of heightened difficulty during workouts, where my body felt burdened, my endurance seemingly diminished, and certain exercises became daunting tasks compared to prior weeks. Now, understanding the cyclical nature of my body’s capabilities, these occurrences fall into a clearer perspective. 

I could talk endlessly about the fascinating insights into the female body, from how we should nourish ourselves to how we should engage in physical activity to how we should approach work and relationships, depending on the phase of our menstrual cycle. Let me offer some tips on how to tailor your workouts accordingly: 

During the Menstruation Phase (Days 1-7), when hormone levels are low and your body requires rest, opt for gentle, restorative exercises like yoga, walking, Pilates or even napping! This phase, which I affectionately call the “Flowcation,” prioritizes self-care and rejuvenation. 

In the Follicular Phase (Days 8-14), as hormones begin to rise and energy levels increase, focus on cardiovascular exercises such as running, biking, dance or HIIT workouts to capitalize on your growing vitality. 

The Ovulatory Phase (Days 15-19) is characterized by peak energy levels and confidence. Seize this moment with high-intensity exercises like HIIT, strength training, or group fitness classes. 

Moving into the Luteal Phase (Days 20-30), where hormonal shifts may lead to PMS symptoms, it’s time to dial back intensity. Emphasize slower strength training, paying attention to form and technique, and consider incorporating heavier weights. Prioritize rest days to support your body through this phase. 

If you found this information valuable, there’s so much more to explore about female cycle health. Our understanding of the intricacies of the female body is just beginning, reminding us of the beauty and complexity within.  Remember, you are fearfully and wonderfully made!  Let me know if you’re interested in delving deeper into this fascinating topic! and remember, “Women are NOT small Men!” 

 

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