How to Use Your Menstrual Cycle to Be More Productive and Stop Fighting Yourself
Welcome to this episode of The Determined Mom Show. I have the amazing Tara McCann with me from Tara McCann Wellness, and she is a menstrual health coach. She is going to share her wisdom today. There’s gonna be a lot of different things.
However, our topic today is going to be how to use your menstrual cycle to be more productive and stop fighting yourself.
Tell us about you and what you do. What does a menstrual health coach do?
I am trained as a health coach, and so I do a lot of work helping people to find the best ways to nurture themselves by using food and nutrition, and lifestyle. And my focus is using the menstrual cycle. And what I love to do is I love to help.
In the transformation from women enduring their menstrual cycle to really using it as a nurturing tool for their health as a tool for their business to stop fighting with themselves to get things done, and just as a way to tap into their inner wisdom and their guidance about what they’re doing. That’s really what I do.
That’s awesome. I love how you said going from enduring to using it as a tool that’s incredibly powerful. If we could all do that, I think that’s amazing.
Yeah, it is. And I think for so many of us, we’re taught from young children that, if you are a woman, this is part of it.You just endure it. There’s nothing you can do. Even our healthcare system treats it that way, where it is. Years and years for women to get diagnoses of pain or endometriosis or anything like that. So we’re not believed in, all of the systems are set up to.
Do not believe us and take away that power. And yeah, I’m working really hard to bring that back and teach each woman how powerful she is and that we have this creative magic within us that can be used for babies and it can be used for so many other things in our lives.
Okay. That’s awesome. I love it. So how can we use our menstrual cycle to be more productive?
Part of the way we’ve been taught to. In this world we get up, we go to work, and we work really hard all day. We do all the things, and then we come home and we crash after we’ve taken care of all the other things that we do after our workday. And then you get up, washrooms repeat you, right? You get up and you do it again and again and again, and.
That just doesn’t work for women’s bodies because women’s bodies have this amazing cycle, and our cycle is a month long. Anywhere from 24, 25 to 32 days. This whole month-long cycle is where our hormones are shifting and changing each and every. And based on the way that our hormones are changing, we’re actually primed.
The way it works in our brain, the way those hormones are working in our brain, we’re actually primed to do different tasks. So there are tasks that feel a sense of ease at different parts of our cycle. And when we. Move with our cycle.
When we work in that cyclical way, we’re not fighting with ourselves because we’re using that sense of ease to do those tasks and then we move on to the next task. Things just flow within that cycle.
But it’s not the everyday grind. It’s a longer cycle and it takes some getting used to understanding how. Longer rhythm works, but it’s so powerful because you stop fighting with yourself. You stop doubting yourself. You hear your inner wisdom and you’re like, Oh, what to do next.And there’s just this ease that happens and things just flow.
I love the word flow because that is obviously what we want, all of our lives to be like. Just everything just flows and it goes smoothly and all of that stuff.
So I love that. Now what are those different phases, and what is the benefit I guess you said there are certain things that we do well during each phase, right? What are the things that we do well In each of those phases?
Yes. So the way that I break down the cycle, and the way I understand the cycle is I break it down into four phases, which I also talk about as four seasons because sometimes, the metaphor of the seasons can be really helpful for us when we think.
Day one of our cycle is the first day of our bleeding, and so that is that first menstrual phase, that five to seven days when we’re bleeding, our hormones that are moving throughout the whole month are really actually fairly low at this time, and that’s what has initiated the bleed, and that is part of the process of our body shifting to a new cycle.
And so during this time in our cycle, it’s a really great time to rest. This is a really wonderful time to rest our bodies and allow ourselves to rest and create space to rest because of the hormones at that low level. Work in our brain, the right side of the brain, and the left side of our brain work together really well, so we can hear both sides.
It’s a wonderful time to do an evaluation of what happened last month. So you can look at it from a very critical side and be like, Oh, what didn’t work? But also from an intuitive side, and set new intentions for what you want the next month. To be like, but that takes quiet and that takes stepping back.
At this time, what we really wanna do is create that space where we can step back and really hear that intuition. So that’s the first phase. And probably we will also have to avoid our kids for that week. No, I’m just kidding. Yes. I recommend avoiding, no, avoiding renting a hotel room for five to seven days every month.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could? And how can we create a little bit more space? And our bodies really do respond to small shifts and changes and the intention behind them. So even if it’s half an hour, or maybe you get to cart out two hours to go take a nap and sleep and cuddle up under a blanket with your hot water bottle.
Our bodies really do respond. To that, and so just trying to figure out how to carve out that time. We’ll talk about that when we get to the phase right before it as we’re moving through the cycle about how we set up our systems so that we can do that. But so we’re in the menstrual phase right now, which is like our inner winter, so that’s like wintertime quiet.
Things are happening underneath right? Our inter intuition is working. We’re doing that evaluation. It’s like all the things that happen under the snow that you don’t see, but are incredibly important for that new growth cycle. So as we move into spring into the vicular phase, that is when the egg is starting to mature and grow and get ready to ovulate.
Thinking about this as spring and the new shoots coming up and things like that, this is really a time for creativity. And playfulness and just playing with your ideas and coming up with new ideas. And so brainstorming is really great during this time. Not necessarily all the details, like it’s really a big picture playing with the ideas that you’ve got.
This is also a time when writing can be easier. So if you write a newsletter, if you write a blog or do any kind of writing for your work, this can be a time when your written words just flow more easily. So thinking about how I can use this time to batch some content if you’re a content writer or to, take care of that big project that has all that writing that you need to do, this can be a really wonderful time to take advantage of that piece of it.
And so just like in spring, our energy is starting to grow during this time. What I’ve noticed in working with lots of women is that when they start to take that time of rest during menstruation, during their bleed, and then they move into this springtime, when they feel their energy come back, they’re like, Nope, gotta go.
Right out the gates. And they’re just like moving fast because they feel guilty that they rested, they feel behind, and so they’re like, Nope. Gotta go. And then they burn out really fast. Yeah. Because springtime, if you think about it, you don’t wanna blast those brand new shoots with August Sun, right?
That’ll just try things. And so really moving slowly through this vicular phase is a big lesson. That women are learning when they’re tracking with me, is that okay, I feel this energy coming. I feel this energy building and . I need to be mindful of that and I need to cherish that energy and still stay, try as I’m, as I can to stay connected to that inner wisdom and that really deep connection to yourself that you created.
So it’s, there’s a balance and a, it’s that flow, it’s that movement, and not all or nothing. So that’s the inner spring and the follicular phase, and then moving next to ovulation, which is the time when the egg is released. And so the egg is released and then it. It is viable for about 12 to 24 hours.
But the phase of ovulation that time around ovulation is when our estrogen is highest and our testosterone is peaking. And so we have a lot of energy during this time. And so this is really a time when we can put ourselves out in the world. With more ease.
So doing a podcast or a project at work, or a presentation at work, or if you are, going to ask for a raise or something like that, or if you need to have a conversation with your partner, this is a great time to have those conversations because the way that our hormones are balanced, we are very.
Open to other people’s ideas, but we’re also very receptive and our verbal skills are really good and received well during this time. Taking advantage of that, doing your live videos during, around the time of ovulation or scheduling things specifically where you’re gonna be up on a stage or out in the world during this time.Can you really, there’s just that sense of ease with. During this time.
I love that. And I wonder, you’re making me crack up inside when I’m thinking these things, but you’re talking about having a conversation with your spouse and are there, do men have a cycle? I don’t think they do. There’s no hormonal cycle for men.
It’s just different.So men’s testosterone moves in a very similar pattern to our cortisol. Waking response. But our cortisol wakes us up in the morning, goes high in the morning, and then gradually throughout the day goes down so that we can go to sleep at night.
That’s a typical cortisol response, which not all of us have because sometimes we peak at night and then get a second wind, which is. Disruptive in lots of different ways, but so men’s testosterone does a similar type thing. It rises in the morning and then decreases throughout the day.
So when we think about that kind of culture that we’ve all grown up in, get up, go to work, do your work, go home, go to sleep, it’s more based on that cyclical rhythm, that 24 hour cycle of cortisol and of testosterone. Ok. And not that longer. That longer space that we’re in.
That’s interesting. I was just curious about that when you were talking about having a conversation with your spouse. I’m like one would be good, and then I’m like, Okay. So it’s only once a month for women and then like anytime is fine for men.
Once a month, but there’s four or five days there.That you’re open and receptive to conversation. With men, maybe not at the peak of their testosterone, maybe later in the day, afternoon when you can get their focus. Still, they’re not so tired. Their cortisol and their testosterone is still in a space where their brain is firing.
They’re not so exhausted from their day. But maybe not at the peak of testosterone when they’re, or cortisol when they’re like, driven to get tasks done.
Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay. That was just a totally random aside.
No, it’s a great question cuz I do get that question quite a bit.Okay, so if I’m gonna have a guest talk with my partner. Do that or with your kids or with anyone, So it’s just good to, it’s good to have that information. So as we move out of ovulation after the egg has been released, the hormone. Comes in after ovulation is progesterone, and that’s our main hormone for the second.
It’s about two weeks since that very last phase called the moodal phase. It’s 12 to 14 days and it depends on each person. Each person has their own timeframe, but generally 12 to 14 days. So the first five or six of those days are usually really high energy. Still feel a lot of that kind of inner summer being out in the world, like all of that energy.
And with progesterone, you also get a lot of get things done, check things off the list movement during that time. So it’s a great time to think about detail work that you have to do if you have to do accounting work where it’s very detail focused. All of those big plans you made in the vicular phase, like bringing them into the lal phase and being like, Okay, let’s fill out all the details of the way I want to present this to the world.
So thinking of it as a season, this is like early fall, so thinking about you still having the bright sunshine of summertime, but you’re starting to move towards winter. And so starting to think about how we get ready for. Our next bleed.
How do we start moving towards that time where we have, where we’re wanting to take a step back from the outside world because our energy is starting to be more internally focused, so around ovulation, like our energy and our thoughts are more outside in the world.
Then menstruation, we’re internally focused, so we’re moving towards that internal focus. Thinking about using that energy to get stuff done too. Maybe do some meal planning or meal prep so that you have things in the freezer so that you don’t necessarily have to cook while you’re bleeding or lining up childcare so that you can have that two hour time to lay down with your blanket and hot water bottle and take a step back
Having a conversation with your partner about whether you can take the kids to the zoo or someplace so that I can have this time. And so this getting ready for winter as. L phase progresses is really about preparation and creating the support structure that you need to be able to do that for yourself.
When we also think about that late L phase, second week, that second six or seven days, we think of PMs, and so that’s what that’s known for, right? And so how do we. Flow through that piece of it as well. Part of that is understanding what your hormones are doing and understanding how to support your hormones as your progesterone decreases, as your estrogen starts to decrease.
And noticing what you need and noticing how to get more rest or how to take some more time for yourself. And one of the shifts that I try to do. Bringing to the groups that I work with is a lot of the information that comes up for us in that late lal phase. The irritation of the socks on the floor, or that one person who always says that one thing all the time, or that one person who did something and why won’t they stop doing that?
All of those things that get brought up to the surface during that time. It’s really information for us too. Notice what’s underneath that, because maybe there’s a boundary that got crossed. Maybe there’s another conversation that needs to be had, and we can take all of that information that we’re getting in that late phase, take it into our quiet inner winter, our time of connection with our inner wisdom.
Think about it, okay, so this person always does the same thing. What is the conversation I need to have with them? And what is the boundary I need to set with them? And in two weeks when I’m ovulating, how do I have that conversation? But really tapping into your wisdom about what it is that is so frustrating or irritating.
Because those emotions come really close to the surface. Especially during that time. So most of the time we’re like, we can keep this veil in front of us. Okay, yeah, okay, I feel that, but it’s okay.But during that time, the way that our hormones are set up, those the, it’s just closer to the surface and sometimes it bursts through.
And part of that is us standing in our own power. And sometimes maybe that bursts through in not the most receptive way. Like it may not be heard at that moment, but if you can use that information in your cycle and then find another time to have that conversation, then that can be a really productive way to move through.
That’s interesting. And it makes sense because it’s like you’re short tempered, at least I know. I get short tempered and impatient and all of the things that lead to grumpiness and yelling at kids and all of that fun stuff. Yeah. So that makes complete sense that it would happen during that phase.
Yeah and it’s just, it’s also our bodies. Call to rest more. You’re getting ready to bleed and how do you start to take that time? How do you step away? Because your focus is more internal. You’re less focused on the outside world. And so those things in the outside world, Maybe just aren’t tolerated as easily as they were prior to that.
So yeah, thinking about how you can set up those systems to rest during that time too, and give yourself grace. That’s one of the things that so many women have said about learning about this part of their, these parts of their cycles.
And the way the cycle moves is just giving themselves grace so that if one day they sit down and they’ve written half a blog and it went so smoothly, and then two days later they come back to it and they’re like, Why can’t I even think. I have no idea what I’m writing about, it may be a change in phase, it may be a change in hormones and it’s just understanding that ease is gonna come back again.
Can be so helpful in just being like, Oh, okay, this is where I am. This is what’s going on. Let’s see what else I could maybe focus on. That would be really,that would feel like a sense of ease right now. So not fighting with yourself to get something done at a specific time.
It takes some planning and it takes some understanding and understanding what’s true for you, because even as I explain all of these things, each and every person, Who Menstruates is gonna experience them completely differently.
And so understanding how you move through all of these phases is what’s really important. Not, cuz maybe you do your detail work better. Closer to ovulation or at the time of ovulation, or maybe you, when you’re standing in your power, in your lal phase, that’s when you wanna speak.
Like you feel confident to speak in those times. So for each and every person it may be different. And so just thinking about and understanding what’s true for you is the part that I want to teach people.
So how do we? Get started doing that. Obviously we need to track our cycle. Is there any app or anything that you, How do we track it?Like what is the best way to track it?
I’ve actually created a menstrual cycle tracker, which is paper and pencil cuz I’m old school and I love paper and pencil. But what I love about the paper is that you can take the tracker and take two or three months. And put them next to each other and you can line up the days on the tracker.
And so it really helps you to pull out the trends. Oh, so I had one woman who had an increase in pain in her hip that happened during her cycle. And as we were working together one on one and she was tracking, she’s Oh, it’s always day eight through 10 of my. Like consistently eating through 10 of her cycles.
So she knew that she needed to plan for more rest, different movement, more baths, because that was soothing for her hip. So helping you understand or understanding that, for me it’s two days before my bleed I get a migraine. Okay, what do I need to do to support my hormones and see if I can decrease that?
But also, how do I know that two days before my bleed, I’m gonna maybe. Be at my best to write this week’s blog, or maybe I’m gonna need a little bit more support from my husband to make dinner that night, or take the kids out for dinner that night, or something like that. And so the tracker that I’ve created, you can track making notes for yourself.
You can track those little icons that you know, how did you feel? What was your pain like? How did you sleep? How are you nourishing yourself? Do you have food cravings and things like that? How did your movement feel? Cuz different times in our cycle movement practices feel different and so you can choose how to track those things.
And I like it. Paper and pencil so that you can. It’s easier, but there are good apps. The thing that I find with them is I can’t go back and pick out the pieces. And data the trends as easily, it’s harder to see the data. So that’s why I like the paper one. But yeah. that’s available on my website that people can download that tracker if that’s something they want or just noticing.
I think any way you do it, if you have a calendar, just make a couple notes on your calendar, whatever calendar you use, if it’s paper and pencil, or if it’s in, whatever platform you’re using on your computer. I think the important thing is to just. Have that time that you check in with yourself every day and just start to notice how you’re feeling each day and not necessarily tracking all the things.
Like for one person it might be, how is my sleep impacted by these hormonal shifts or how is my writing impacted by these hormonal shifts? And so you don’t have to track everything all at once. Pick the one or two things that are really important to you to start. , and then as you learn those things after three or four or six cycles and learn what that trend is.
Important pieces, then you can add another layer in and it becomes intuitive. It becomes something that you just live and not something that you’re like, Oh, it has to be this on this day. It’s just that sense and that feeling of understanding what’s going on in your body.
Yeah. I love that you must be very in tune after teaching everyone else to do this. Yeah, that’s awesome. That you’re probably very into your own cycle and understand it, and I think that’s amazing.
Thank you. I do, and someone asked me this, they’re like how do you track? I was like I don’t track as much as I used to. I like when I started tracking, like my first introduction was for fertility and so I was tracking my ovulation, I was tracking my daily temperature changes.
I was, all the things really detailed for a long time. And then I used it after my kids were little and those types of things. So I’ve used it in different ways and now I know. Where I am. I know what day Ivan generally is.I have it written down, but I’m not as precise about it. But had I not been as precise, then it would not have become this intuitive practice.
It can become a practice for you and you get to make it true for you as you move through it. But I think it has some structure. To start with, having some accountability, having some other people around to help you out can be a really great way because I know that a lot of women have come to me and said, I love this idea.
It’s so amazing. And then they’ll come back a month later and they’re like I tracked for a couple of days, then it fell off because it’s something new and it’s a new habit, and it’s a new way of thinking about things. So finding some support can be really helpful.
I love that. Awesome. So this all sounds very doable. First of all, it doesn’t sound like it’s very hard. Just track, track and pay attention to how you’re feeling. That’s basically what you can do in order to get. Guess stop fighting yourself, right? Stop getting in your own way and be more productive, and all of those things.
So I truly appreciate you sharing all of this information with us. Where is the best place for everyone to find you online?
There’s probably two spots, so I’m pretty active on Instagram. Okay. So on Instagram, you can find me at Tara McCann Wellness, and so there’s lots of things going on there. And then the other space would be my website.
There’s so much information on my website and I have a blog. And that’s tara McCann wellness.com. And that’s where you can download the free tracker too, so that you can get yourself started on that.
And I have groups and individual coaching and things like that. So I have groups where we track together if that’s something of interest to anyone.There’s lots of opportunities.
Yeah, definitely. And I know I’m in this phase where I don’t have any other menstruation. Women in my house, but I’m about to probably soon. So I know that you have a very interesting course for Preteens and teens, Is that right?
I do, yeah. So my, my signature program is called Tracking with Friends, and so that’s the one that I created and developed for women to come together in community and to track their cycle.
And that’s 30 days where we’re together in that community. I tried to create something like that for teens too, but I found out that teens’ schedules are all over the place. And so what I’ve created now is a program that is self-paced, that is, there’s six modules and it’s really meant for caregivers and teens.
To take together whether they watch the videos together or not. , it gives a jumping off board for all of this information about the seasons and about the hormones and about tracking and how you track. And so cuz so many women I have talked to have been like, Why didn’t I learn this earlier?
Why didn’t I learn this as a teenager? Why didn’t I learn this before I even started? Bleeding. And so really this course is meant for that and it’s, I really want, mothers and daughters or caregivers and teens in whatever. Iteration that is to be able to take this together so they have a common language, they have a common understanding where they can say, I’m day 26, which would be late lu phase, right?
It’s day 26, which means I need some space, and that’s all they have to say is I’m day 26. They don’t have to go into this long explanation.That’s kind of short. Give and take and the grace that appears and the understanding that can happen when we talk about it. And then empowering young people to be powerful in their bodies.
To have that understanding that they don’t have to fight with themselves all the time. So yeah, that’s online. It’s an online program that there’s six modules and you can work through them, and then you also get a one-on-one coaching session with me so that you can take that information and we can really implement it into your own lives.
That’s awesome. I love it. Yeah. So I am, I’ve enjoyed this so much and I really enjoy your seasons. Like you explaining it as seasons means that I’m actually going to remember it now before, like just knowing the names of the phases. I’m like, I don’t know. Something with an l , I don’t know. But now knowing those seasons and things, it’s true. Helpful.
There is and if you really like the seasons that I’ve studied with the women who wrote Wild Power and the seasons, the inner seasons come from their work. And so the book Wild Power is an amazing empowering book about the energetics of the cycle.
So that energy shifting, not so much the hormonal piece of it, like the hormonal piece of it is another part. But the way. I have combined them together. The inner season piece of it comes from the work with wild power and the women who created that, who wrote that book and created red school.
I love it. I love it. So thank you so much for being here with us and sharing all of your knowledge, and we definitely appreciate you. Thank you. I’ve enjoyed being.