Have you experienced going Keto or Paleo and feeling great for one week, but feeling terrible the next? Have you lost weight one week and then gained it the next while staying on the same nutrition plan? Have you wondered why that is happening when all the studies and expertise are saying that if you follow the rules of their nutrition and fitness regimes, you will lose fat and gain muscle? If you’re partnered with a man, do you wonder why he feels great doing HIIT, Cross Fit, or weightlifting all month long, but you don’t? Do you feel like you lack willpower when he wants to do the same exercises you did together last week, but this week you aren’t motivated to do it or just can’t keep up?
The truth is that the majority of medical, nutrition, and fitness studies are designed for men, and their findings are helpful for men. Women are biochemically different from men. The same fitness and nutrition protocols that are good for men are actually harming women. If women want to improve body composition, lose weight, gain energy, stabilize mood, and remedy menstrual issues, we have to take into consideration that due to hormonal fluctuations, our metabolism, cortisol, and calorie needs shift throughout the month while men’s stay the same. Women have often been left out of scientific studies precisely because they are harder to track and more variable. The result is that tailored nutrition and fitness plans for women are hard to come by.
Here’s a start, women! Metabolism is slower in the first half of our cycles during the follicular and ovulatory phases. Estrogen and testosterone are high, and we tire less easily. This is the time to do high-intensity workouts like HIIT, Bootcamp, Hawt Pilates, Power Yoga, and sprinting or long-distance running. This is also the time to follow methods like Keto or Paleo. In the second half of our cycle, during the luteal and menstrual phases, our metabolism increases. Testosterone and estrogen drop while progesterone rises. We tire more easily. This is the time for restorative practices like Slow Flow Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Meditation, and light walking. During this phase, we should eat more calories (because we are burning more) and healthy comfort food like sweet potatoes, rice, and quinoa.
Our adrenals become overworked and we dive into exhaustion. Generally, in the first 30 minutes of exercise, all the glucose in our bloodstream is used. After that, our adrenals release cortisol to shift our metabolism so that we burn sugar instead of fat to sustain our energy levels. If a woman’s estrogen levels are too high, the sugar will get converted to fat instead of supplying more energy. Most women are hormonally imbalanced and estrogen dominant due to environmental toxins that mimic hormones. If you are experiencing symptoms such as acne, bloating, cramping, heavy, irregular, or missing periods, it is likely that you are hormonally imbalanced and need to be extra careful about when and how you exercise as well as what and when you eat. If you don’t mind your body, you will be caught in a vicious cycle of weight gain and energy depletion. If you are pregnant or have just had a baby, follow the guidance for the second half of your cycle as outlined above. Listen to your body and nourish yourself with plenty of bone broth, restorative relaxation, and sleep.
This summer Mind the Mat is compiling, recording, and producing a series of 30-minute virtual workout sessions for women for each phase of your cycle along with other recommendations for that phase. These sessions will include workouts for women of all ages, including women who are pregnant, post-pregnant, peri-menopausal, or menopausal. Stay tuned!
COVID Update: We are continuing to add more Outdoor Classes every week, including HIIT, stretch, and more. Right now, nature is our studio and will continue to be throughout the fall. We are still providing an abundance of Virtual Classes as well.
Check out our New Client Deals for Virtual and Outdoor Classes!
Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga was founded in 2008 by Megan Brown, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Polestar Certified Practitioner of Pilates for Rehabilitation and Sara VanderGoot, Nationally Certified Massage Therapist and Registered Yoga Teacher (e-RYT 200, RYT 500). In their private practices as physical therapist and massage therapist respectively Megan and Sara observed that many of their clients were coming in with similar needs: relief for neck and shoulder tension and low back pain as well as a desire for more flexibility in hips and legs, stability in joints, and core strength.
Together Megan and Sara carefully crafted a curriculum of Pilates and yoga classes to address needs for clients who are pregnant, postpartum, have injuries or limitations, who are new to Pilates and yoga, and for those who are advanced students and are looking for an extra challenge.