Ever wondered why some days you feel like you could change the world and other days you don’t know why you got out of bed? How about why you have so much energy when you wake up in the morning but by 2:00 PM you’re not sure if you’ll make it without a nap? When it comes to our energy levels, our hormones have a huge say in the matter, both for men and women. By understanding how your hormones affect your energy levels you can make intentional decisions on when you schedule meetings or an intense workout and know that you won’t be overloading your body.
Women who are still menstruating are roughly on a 28-day cycle. This means that over the course of 4-weeks you’ll enter into 4 different phases that provide different energy levels for you and make you think a little differently. Each phase of the cycle can be supported by different energy levels of movement and different nutrients. Figure out which phase you’re in and start to take note of how it affects how much energy you have.
The Follicular phase begins the day after you stop bleeding and lasts 7-10 days of your cycle. During this time you will have the most energy. You’ll feel creative, outgoing, and ready to take on the world. Plan to have as many of your monthly meetings during this time as you can. You’ll also want to meet up with friends and choose high-intensity workouts with lots of cardio to burn off your energy. Choose fresh foods that are light during this phase.
After your Follicular phase, you reach the ovulatory phase which lasts 3-4 days. This is when you ovulate dropping your egg into the fallopian tube. As your estrogen rises and your testosterone takes a quick surge you’ll feel a change in your energy and mindset. During this phase community and conversation become extremely important to you. You’re looking to connect. Make time for you and your partner or schedule more 1:1 time with your friends. Your energy is still stable and along with your emotions but choose to each fewer carbs during this time and opt-in for lots of fiber to help flush out the estrogen you are building up. You will still have plenty of energy for workouts so keep up with those.
The third phase of your 4-week cycle is the luteal phase. This phase is the longest phase and a lot will happen to your body over the course of the next 10-14 days. Progesterone is now rising along with more estrogen. If the body doesn’t become pregnant the progesterone will stop toward the end of this phase signaling your period to start and one last surge of testosterone will take place at the end of this phase.
While progesterone is rising at the beginning of this phase you’ll have plenty of energy and find that your calorie intake might be higher than usual, that’s normal. This is also the time that you can feel more mood swings coming on, headaches, irritability, bloating, and cravings (all signs of PMS). Most of these symptoms will form during the 2nd half of this phase which is when you need to start slowing down. Choose low-energy workout classes like a Restorative Yoga class or going for walks during the 2nd half of this phase. Because of the hormonal activity during this phase, you’re more in-tune to notice new things, brainstorm, and process information. Make time to journal or meditate so that you can fully take in all the things you’re thinking about.
The last phase of your cycle is the menstrual phase lasting 3-7 days. During this time your progesterone has stopped producing and your estrogen has reached its peak and is now also dropping. This time was made for self-analysis. It’s also a time to move slowly and to not over-exert yourself. Go for walks, do some stretches, and find restful, slow-moving yoga classes. While you might be craving sugars, try to stick to a low glycemic diet and prioritize seafood that will help you remineralize your body. This is one week during the month that you should try to avoid attending meetings as much as possible. Use this time to brainstorm new ideas and get creative.
Working With Your Cycle
By understanding what your energy will be like based on your hormones you can better plan out your months and know when you’ll be the most productive. High energy and lots of time with people will occur at the beginning of your cycle while more rest and tuning-in will be at the end of your cycle. We can’t always control when we have meetings or when projects are due so just be aware of how you’re feeling and do your best to take steps to support yourself when you can’t control your calendar.
Our entire society is built around the men’s hormonal cycle. The way the workday is shaped, drug test trials, even workout regimens are all based on male bodies. This means that you have more than enough resources to help support you in your energy cycles and leaves no excuses for not taking care of yourself. The Male hormonal cycle (Also that of women post-menopause) is based on a 24-hour cycle.
In the morning men’s testosterone is the highest. This creates more energy to get moving, be focused, and have confidence for the day. Testosterone can also make you competitive and aggressive so this isn’t the best time to get bad news, to be asked favors, or to go into stressful meetings. Instead focus on independent work, competitions, or working on problem-solving projects.
Testosterone is starting to drop and your energy is leveling out along with your emotions. This is when they feel the most driven, are emotionally stable, and play best with others. Afternoons would be a great time to schedule meetings or work on team projects.
In the late afternoon to evening, your testosterone is hitting its base. You’ll start to feel tired and need some time to recharge–whether that’s a quick nap, meditating, or going for a walk. Use this time to go slow and allow yourself time for self-care. Working late into the evening will only make you feel more tired and make work the next day even harder. Have a hard stop for the end of your day and put away the email, meetings, and thoughts of work. Instead, focus on family and taking care of yourself so that you can perform at your best the next day.
Working with Your Energy
The way our energy fluctuates from day to day or week to week is a part of our hormonal cycles that need to be recognized. When you know where you are in your cycle you can better have control over your calendar and to-do lists, but most importantly you’ll know how to optimize your time to serve you and your business. Pay attention to your energy over the next few days and discover what drains you and what energizes you. What times of day/month do you perform your best and what tools can you use to support you during your low energy times? Everyone is different, so it’s important to pay attention to how you run. Once you know when and how you work best, you’ll be able to make intentional decisions about when to set meetings, what workouts to do, and how to spend time with your community.