Periods & PRs: Lets Talk LADY Parts

“Where you are at in your menstrual cycle has a massive impact on your metabolic state, strength, training, results and recovery. Work with your body, not against it” -Nicola Joyce

In 2016 Nicola wrote a great article for liftbigeatbig.com and to this day it is one of my most favorite! I learned an incredible amount of information about the female body and how to work around my crazy hormones. I base my meet prep and  competition dates off what I’ve learned…so I figured why not write a little review on this topic to help a girl out!  Let’s get right into it!

Your cycle is broken down into two 14 day phases, follicular & luteal. 

Day 0-14 is the Follicular Phase or the low hormone phase. During this time your estrogen levels are making a comeback post menstruation and progesterone levels have normalized. Your bodies sensitivity to insulin is increased and you are able to intake higher amounts of carbs and use them more efficiently. You will also feel less fatigued and able to endure longer and harder workouts!

TRANSLATION: EAT ALL THE CARBS & HIT PR's (during this phase).  

Day 14 is when Ovulation begins (about mid way through your cycle). Typically strength and power is increased as well as estrogen levels…watch out for injuries! I like competing right around my period ending because my hormones are on my side…for once! 

Day 15-28 is the Luteal Phase also known as the high hormone phase. This is where we experience the “sleepies” or fatigue much quicker than usual. Your estrogen and progesterone levels are at their highest point about 5 days before menstruation, let the PMS begin. Feeling lethargic and bloated is normal, I suggest planning a deload or integrated HIIT, focusing on low weight and higher reps. 

Take note that estrogen reduces carbohydrate oxidation and increases free fatty acid availability. This simply means your body will be using fat as fuel and not your glycogen stores. Carb cravings will be higher, but keep in  mind your body is not using them the same way as it would during the follicular phase (your sensitivity is low). 

Menstruation Phase: After you’ve survived a ride on a hormonal roller coaster your body goes back to normal and you start all over again. 

During different phases of our cycle we will battle higher amounts of fatigue, make sure to focus on recovery during both phases but especially during your high hormone phase.  Remember, women’s recovery window is a lot smaller than men’s so make sure to eat at least 45min-60min post training. Nutrition timing  is important in order to give your body the building blocks to recover properly. The female body is so dang complex! If we educate ourselves on how our fine machinery works, we will have better training session and more effective nutrition approaches.

 

Sources: 

Nakamura, Y. et al. (2011) “Hormonal Response to Resistance Excercise During Different Menstration Cycle States”. Medicine & Science in Sports & Excercise, Vol. 43 (6) p. 967-973 

Joyce, N. (2016) “Training & Recovery During Your Menstrual Cycle” p.1-18

Odell, N. (2006) “The Female Athlete: Understanding your cycle and performance” p.1-3

 

Q+A with Natalie

I want you all to get to know my strong friend Natalie because she’s a huge inspiration to me and this brand...so what better way than a Q+A?! Keep reading! 

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Q: What word best describes you & your strength journey? 

Persistent! I can't exactly say it's been consistent due to the many changing variables throughout the entire process, like an 8 month deployment out to sea for example, but regardless of all the obstacles I've always kept my eyes on the goal and did my best to progress in whatever way my circumstances allowed.

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Q: What do you want to be when you grow up? 

A coach! And I don't mean I'm going to start selling programs on my IG and offer nutrition advice. I mean I want to be the coach you had growing up that really made a difference for you. The coach that helped you build not only your talent but your confidence as well. Growing up my coaches were one of my biggest influencers. Good coaches make us realize good things about ourselves. Bad coaches do the opposite. I want to be that good coach.

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Q: What is your favorite food? 

Oh boy, I really love food haha so a lot of stuff comes to my mind. But if there was one thing I could eat a large quantity of in one sitting it would definitely be ice cream. Give me a gallon of Bluebell rocky road ice cream without supervision and it will be gone!

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Q: Do you have a favorite lift? If yes, which one? 

YES. DEADLIFTZ FOR LYFE.

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Q: Who or what is your biggest inspiration & motivation? 

My biggest motivation when it comes to powerlifting is all of the other strong women that have made huge waves. People like Stefanie Cohen, Quiana Welch, Stacy Burr and C.C. Holcomb(deadlift goals) come to my mind when I think of this. These women through their strength have given strength to others and they truly inspire me! Plus, watching them lift is just insane!!!

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Q: If you could change one thing about the world what would it be? 

Well this is a loaded question and probably the hardest one for me since there's just so many things that need changing. I want to live in a world where everyone is without need and taken care of, where everyone is loved and cherished. There's a lot of things that could be done or changed to try to achieve a world like this. But if we are real with ourselves this not a tangible matter, it is a matter of the heart. And if we all regarded each other as equals I believe MANY problems would be solved. So if we could change the worldly mindset into a mindset of equality, that's what I would change.

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Q: What does strength mean to you? 

Strength is who I am. In all areas of life it's what I've been blessed with and I truly believe that. But at the same time strength is something that is within reach for every person. It's the reason we get out of bed, the reason we make it through hard times. Strength is power! And when used right it has the ability to change lives and make a positive impact. I will always be chasing strength wether it be physically, mentally, professionally, you name it. Because strength can overcome any weakness.

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Q: What areas of your life do you find strength & empowerment? 

My faith! God has moved mountains in my life time and time again and simply believing that he will do it again brings me strength. I find strength in my loved ones, my husband, the women who have helped shape me and in myself.

My empowerment comes from all the women who have gone before me and made the way, the women who stepped outside of the norm. I LOVE abnormal women as funny as it sounds, the women who don't conform and aren't sorry about it. Women like that build my confidence and inspire me and it's very much the type of woman I want to become!