How to Use The Fertility Awareness Method as Your Form of Birth Control

The Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) has a 99.4% efficacy rate, and a 99.6% efficacy rate if you abstain from sex on the 6-8 days (that’s right, as women we are only fertile a 24-48 hours each month, but men are fertile 365 days a year) a month you are in your fertile window.

These percentages are the same as hormonal birth control options!

If you are currently taking a form of hormonal birth control, I encourage you to look into your other options; The Fertility Awareness Method and the Daysy Thermometer being a few of them.

By exploring your options you are empowered with the ability to make the best decisions for your body.

Charting with Period Apps

The best period apps are the ones that ask you for your waking body temperature. Apps that do not ask for this are simply predicting when you ovulate, which is impossible because there is no way to predict when you will ovulate.

If you are relying on ovulation prediction this is using the Rhythm Method, NOT Fertility Awareness Method.

While the luteal phase (post ovulatory) in women tends to stay consistent for each woman, the follicular phase (pre-ovulatory) can change due to factors like stress, illness, and travel. These variables can throw off your ovulation by days or weeks! So ditch the apps that “predict” your cycle, and instead download one that uses your daily temperature recording to pin-point when you ovulated. My favorite is app is Kindara.

3 Fertility Indicators:

1. Cervical Fluid
2. Temperature
3. Cervical Position (optional)

1.Temperature

When taking temperature make sure to do first thing in the morning before getting out of bed or drinking water. If your temperature is taken later in the day, or if it is unusually high, mark it as “questionable”.

Ovulation– after ovulation your temperature will spike by at least 2/10 of a degree than the highest of the previous six recorded temperatures and WILL REMAIN ELEVETED until you menstruate. Ex: on your temperature spike day, count back six temperature recordings and draw your coverline over the highest of the six.

Coverline– the line drawn over the highest of the six temperature recordings before ovulation. All of your post-ovulation (luteal phase) temperature recordings will be above this line. Within 16 days of ovulating you will start your period. If you have 18 consecutive high temperatures, you are pregnant.

Wait to have unprotected sex until you have at least 3-4 high temperature recordings to make sure you actually did ovulate. It’s better to play it safe.

Example Graph:

2. Cervical Fluid

Your cervical fluid will increase leading up to ovulation. This is due to increased ovulation levels. When you have fertile cervical fluid have protected sex. Over time you will find your cervical fluid pattern.

Raw egg white that stretches between fingers means you are fertile. Avoid sex or use a condom.

Cervical fluid tends to increase as you get closer to ovulation and dries up after ovulation.

Peak Day- the last day of fertile cervical fluid. You will ovulate the day of or within 2 days of your Peak Day. Peak Day is only known by hindsight.

3. Cervical Position (optional)

The opening of your cervix is hard like the tip of the nose, but leading up to ovulation it drops and gets softer as it opens.

You are fertile on the days leading up to ovulation. Once you start getting fertile cervical fluid, assume you are fertile. This can be anywhere from 8-10 days for you. After ovulation you can not get pregnant for that particular cycle.

FAM is 99.4%-99.6% effective which is the same as hormonal birth control options.

Further Resources:

Daysy Fertility Monitor

“Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler

“Fertility Friday” Podcast

“The 5th Vital Sign” by Lisa Hendrickson-Jack

Seed Cycling Pudding

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Seed cycling is one of the simplest and most effective holistic remedies for balancing hormones.

This ancient technique helps restore the balance of  the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone by rotating certain seeds into your diet during the two different phases of your menstrual cycle (follicular and luteal phase).

Added bonus is the lignans in the seed hulls bind to your excess hormones, and the seed oils contain essential fatty acids that are building blocks to hormones.

So you’re essentially getting two for one in benefits!

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I’ve created this Seed Cycling Pudding because not only is it the perfect meal for creating healthy hormones as it’s full of healthy fats, fiber, magnesium, and protein, but it also is a way to incorporate seed cycling into your diet.

Seed Cycling Pudding

(Serving Size 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 BPA free can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 8 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 6 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 packets Sweet Leaf stevia
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (this depends on where you are in your cycle)

Method:

  • Mix ingredients into bowl
  • Pour evenly in 4 mason jars
  • Put in fridge overnight
  • When ready to eat top with pumpkin seeds (when in follicular phase/ first 14 days of cycle) or sunflower seeds (luteal phase/last 14 days)
  • Optional toppings, berries, Lily’s chocolate chips, and/or almond butter. Sometimes I do all three! YUM!

Why Your Period is Not the Most Important Part of Your Menstrual Cycle

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Don’t get me wrong, periods are amazing. As a women’s health coach specializing in hormonal health, I’m a huge fan. But sometimes, we get so caught up with our monthly bleed that we forget about the most important aspect of our cycle.

Ovulation.

We only experience a true menstrual cycle after ovulation, and this is only possible when our endocrine and reproductive systems are working properly. This is why anovulatory cycles (a bleed that occurs without ovulation) are an early warning sign of an underlying health problem.

Ovulation usually happens mid-cycle, except for ladies on hormonal birth control. Women on birth control do not ovulate nor have a period; instead they experience what is called a “withdrawal bleed.” The exception to this is sometimes the Mirena IUD, as 85% of women using the Mirena will ovulate by the second year.

Some women who do not take hormonal birth control can still experience anovulatory cycles due to various hormone imbalances caused by factors such as diet, lifestyle, and stress.

Side Note: If your cycle is longer than 36 days, you likely either experienced delayed ovulation, or did not ovulate at all.


3 Reasons Why Ovulation is Critical

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1. Fertility:

You can’t get pregnant if you don’t ovulate, so if pregnancy is on your agenda, ovulation microis a necessity! Even if you aren’t planning for a family now (or maybe ever), you should still want to be fertile because it’s an indicator of good health.

Side Note: I recommend the Fertility Awareness Method (no it’s not the Rhythm Method!) for both pregnancy planning or avoidance. The Daysy thermometer is an excellent device for women not yet fully confident in their charting skills. If you’d like to learn more about charting, then pick up Lisa Hendrickson-Jack’s new book “The Fifth Vital Sign.”

2. Healthy Periods

Each month when you ovulate, a corpus luteum is created and it grows on the surface of your ovary. This is where all of your progesterone is produced.

Cool, huh?!

Progesterone is responsible for lightening your periods, as it counteracts the effects of estrogen. If you are not ovulating, you won’t experience this surge in progesterone, and will most likely be in a state of estrogen dominance, which is a big culprit of heavy and painful periods.

Adequate levels of progesterone are also needed for a healthy luteal phase, and low levels can result in a Luteal Phase Defect (a luteal phase of 10 days or less). Oftentimes, this phenomenon is caused by stress and/or nutrient deficiencies. Stay tuned for some ways to boost progesterone later in the article!

3Healthy Body and Mind

Progesterone is the calming hormone that helps us stay resilient against stress and also healthy1helps us sleep well. This is why women who don’t ovulate (especially women with PCOS) can often suffer from anxiety.

Progesterone is literally nature’s chill pill, so trust me, you want this!

Calming you down is not all that this super hormone can do! Progesterone nourishes our hair and nails by reducing androgens (male hormones), as well as boosts energy by stimulating the thyroid and the metabolism. And recent research has found that women who don’t ovulate experience bone loss at a faster rate than women who do ovulate, so progesterone is also a crucial component of preventing osteoporosis.

Signs of a Progesterone Deficiency

  • PCOS
  • Infertility
  • Endometriosis
  • PMS
  • Hair loss
  • Premenstrual migraines
  • Heavy periods
  • Fibroids
  • Acne
  • Osteoporosis

So how can we boost progesterone?

First of all, by ovulating! But in the meantime, read on for some effective strategies to boost progesterone naturally.

5 Tips to Boost Progesterone

1. Vitamin C

I usually recommend 1,000 mg a day to my clients. Not only has Vitamin C been shown to increase progesterone levels, but it has also been shown to reduce stress, which lowers cortisol. High cortisol will rob the body’s ability to make progesterone, so we really want to keep cortisol and stress levels balanced.

2. Healthy Fats

We need adequate amounts of healthy fats in our diets because all steroid hormones are formed from pregnenolone, which is made from cholesterol. Ideal sources are pasturedavo eggs, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, wild caught salmon, and grass-fed animal protein.

Healthy fats also decrease inflammation, which in turn decreases the release of harmful chemicals in our bodies which can increase cortisol levels and inhibit ovulation.

Bonus: Healthy fats will make your hair and skin glow!

3. Eat Your Greens

We need B-complex vitamins as they are essential for hormone regulation. Leafy greens are high in these B-complex vitamins, so aim to get 2-4 cups of cooked and raw greens into your diet daily. Great options include spinach, watercress, broccoli sprouts, kale, dandelion greens, bok choy and arugula.

4. Vitex (Chasteberry)

Vitex is an herb that promotes ovulation by protecting your hypothalamus gland from stress and preventing your pituitary gland from making too much prolactin. Basically, it increases your levels of dopamine, which lowers your levels of prolactin. This ultimately makes your luteinizing hormone go up, which then makes you ovulate and produce progesterone!

A note of caution about Vitex: Please do not use vitex until you’ve been off of hormonal birth control for at least three months. I recommend 1,000mg a day as a single dose first thing in the morning before breakfast. Stop taking it on days 1-5 of your cycle, and then start again. Discontinue use after six months.

5. Seed Syncing (Seed Cycling)

Seed syncing is an ancient technique that can be used to bring back the balance of estrogen and progesterone. This method of seed rotation works by boosting estrogen levels in the first part of the cycle and progesterone levels in the second part.

The high contents of zinc in sesame seeds and vitamin E in sunflower seeds have been shown to stimulate progesterone production. By adding two tablespoons of sesame and sunflower seeds per day  in the luteal phase, we can naturally support our body’s ability to produce more progesterone.


 

 

Harmful Chemicals are Destroying Your Hormones. Here’s What You Can Do.

Pensive woman in bed

What we eat is crucial to building balanced hormones, but what’s equally important are our beauty products, toiletries and household cleansers!

Our toiletries and cleansers tend to get overlooked, yet the play a crucial part in causing painful periods and serious hormonal imbalances because of the harmful chemicals they contain called endocrine disrupters.

Endocrine disrupters are chemicals that interfere with the production, release, transport, metabolism, or elimination of the body’s natural hormones, and they’re seriously bad news bears for all of human kind. These endocrine disruptors mimic your hormones, and cause you to be estrogen dominant.

About 90% of the clients I see are estrogen dominant, and this is due to the increasingly toxic world we live in.

(This is why it’s imperative to do at least one cleanse a year to get rid of built up toxins like glyphosate in the body.)

Signs of estrogen dominance are painful periods, bloating, breast tenderness, irritability, moodiness, PMS, fatigue, weight gain, short luteal phase, infertility.

The majority of toiletries and household cleansing products on the shelves today contain xenoestrogens. These xenoestrogens mimic the functions of our natural estrogens and interrupt our hormone balance creating symptoms such as heavy periods, PMS, estrogen dominance, fibroids, etc.

Our skin has tiny pores all over the body, which are like tiny mouths after all! So it’s important to use natural and chemical free products! It’s also important to use household cleansers that do not have harmful chemicals as well.

Balance Your Hormones by Avoiding these Chemicals:

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Glyphosate

Glyphosate has been shown to cause cancer, research is linking it to autism, and the EU deemed it so dangerous they banned it for use in crops. My hope is that one day soon it will be banned in the U.S., but for now as consumers we must be proactive to avoid ingesting it.

Most tampons and pads are made from GMO cotton, so they contain glyphosate, and you do not want this stuff inside your vagina! Instead, opt for a menstrual cup like SAALT, or period panties like THINX, or organic, non-bleached tampons or pads.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

To avoid BPA we must avoid foods packaged in aluminum and plastic (BPA free is okay but aim for glass or stainless steel when possible). Always opt for glass Tupperware, and only drink out of stainless steel, glass, or BPA free plastic water bottles.

Phthalates and Parabens

The products you use to clean your bathroom and household are potential stressors to your health. New scientific research shows that many of the chemicals found in everyday house-cleaning products are bio-accumulative and very toxic, which means that once in your system, they stay in your system and allow for increased free radical damage, which makes you more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases and cancers.

Ready to throw things out now?

Find your bleach products, Comet, Ajax, Windex, Lysol, air fresheners, Glade Plug- Ins, cute toilet bowl cleaners, and talc-based baby power. Throw them in a garbage bag and toss them out!

Safe Household Cleansing Alternatives:

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  • Seventh Generation line of cleaning products. You can find this at some grocery stores, Target, and any Whole Foods.
  • DoTerra On Guard house cleanser
  • Arm and Hammer baking powder in replacement of Ajax or Comet
  • Hydrogen peroxide in place of Windex
  • White vinegar instead of bleach (it’s a great grease cutter)
  • Dr. Bronner’s

White Vinegar All Purpose Cleaning Recipe:

  1. In a spray bottle fill with half white vinegar and half water
  2. Put in 15 drops essential orange oil and 10 drops tea tree oil

Safe Toiletry and Beauty Product Alternatives

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  • Makeup: the average women puts 5 pounds of makeup on her face in a year so it’s crucial that you’re using a chemical free brand such as Beauty Counter.
  • Lotions: Throw them away! Instead try extra virgin coconut oil with essential oils.
  • Toothpaste: swap for natural brands like Earthpaste and Jason’s.
  • Deodorant with antiperspirant: ditch the antiperspirant and switch to a natural deodorant such as Oars and Alps. Their deodorant offers excellent coverage, and I love their Deep Sea Glacier scent!
  • Bodywash- I’m a fan of Oars and Alps activated charcoal soap in peppermint. It also contains spirulina and shea butter so it leaves your skin feeling smooth. It also makes for a great face wash as the activated charcoal is exfoliating.

As you can see, one must be proactive to reducing exposure to these hormone disrupting chemicals. But the good news is if you support your body, it will support you!

 

 

 

 

10 Reasons to Add Turmeric Into Your Diet

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From curing the common cold to preventing or fighting against cancer, turmeric is an essential spice that you should become familiar with. With a long history of being used in traditional medicines such as ancient India’s Ayurveda, it has lately become more recognized in western practices – it’s really no surprise that it is currently the most studied spice on the planet.

Turmeric is one of my favorite natural remedies for treating PMS, painful periods, PCOS, endometriosis, and basically any type of inflammation.

I try to drink a warm cup of turmeric milk (aka “Golden Milk”) everyday. I especially make sure I get my cup in when studying yoga in India, as it’s nature’s best anti-inflammatory, helping relieve any general aches and pains. Plus, it’s really delicious – making it a nice treat before bed. I also put it in my warm lemon water in the mornings.

Healing Properties of Turmeric:

1. Cancer fighter.

2. Reduces symptoms of depression.

3. Cures the common cold.

4. Relieves arthritis pain.

5. Balances Hormones.

6. Relieves general aches and pains in the body.

7. Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

8. Lowers cholesterol.

9. Alleviates allergies.

10. Helps wounds heal faster.

And these are just a tip of the iceberg of all the healing properties of turmeric.

Alright, so now that you know how AMAZING turmeric is, are you ready to get more of this amazing spice into your diet?

(Pssst…if you don’t think you’re gonna eat it everyday you can also take this magical stuff in capsule form!)

One of my favorite ways to get turmeric daily is with turmeric milk, also known as “Golden Milk”.

Turmeric Milk Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of coconut milk (or your dairy-free milk of choice) 
  • 1 teaspoon dried turmeric powder OR one half-inch fresh turmeric thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger powder OR one half-inch piece of peeled, fresh ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon.
  • A dash of freshly ground black pepper
  • Honey to taste (use local if possible – this will also help with allergies and do not add to the milk when it is HOT, as this turns the honey toxic. Wait until it is warm.)

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients (except the honey) into a blender.
  2. Blend for 30 seconds to a minute.
  3. Pour mixture into saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Bring to boil.
  5. Turn off heat, cover, and allow mixture to cool for a few minutes.
  6. Add honey.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Alternatively, if you do not have a blender, skip steps one and two and combine all ingredients in a saucepan. If you are using fresh ginger and turmeric, use a strainer to filter them out before serving.

In addition to drinking turmeric milk, I also cook with turmeric as much as possible. There are tons of delicious recipes out there ranging from coconut curries to lentil soups. Here is a list of some goodies:

Curry Cream of Carrot Soup 

Turmeric Spiced Rice 

Spiced Kale Scramble 

Creamy Pumpkin Curry 

However you choose to get your daily dose of turmeric, make sure to ingest it after it has been heated. This is why drinking it in a warm beverage or cooking with it is best, as the heat activates the turmeric. Also, adding freshly ground black pepper boosts turmeric absorption by 2,000%! You can also increase turmeric’s healing properties by mixing it with a healthy fat such as ghee or coconut oil.

And guess what? Turmeric milk checks off all of the above!

Enjoy!

Health Coach Jenna

5 Ways Stress is Messing with Your Hormones+ How to Manage It

Pensive woman in bedGuest post by Kayla Cluett, CHN

The adrenal glands are amazing. They are small but incredibly mighty and critical for the health of our entire organism. Unfortunately, they are often overlooked when it comes to many of the health conditions we are faced with today.

Adrenal hormones are the major response of the body to stress or trauma from outside or within. The 5 main stressors are mental, emotional, spiritual, chemical, and physical and the body cannot decipher between them. The body sees all stress equally and often we are responding to multiple threats at once. This causes our bucket to spill over and symptoms to occur.

These symptoms show up in the form of reproductive problems, digestive disturbances, cardiovascular and metabolic issues.

The adrenals take priority above all the other hormones in the body.

When the adrenals are needed to respond to stress, other areas of the endocrine system take a back seat. When this becomes chronic, hormone imbalances occur.

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Here are 5 ways stress throws our hormones out of whack:

1. When stress in high progesterone is low. Low progesterone means estrogen dominance. Estrogen is pro-growth which leaves us susceptible to problems such as endometriosis, breast cysts, fibroids, and even breast cancer.

2. Cortisol stimulates an elevation in blood sugar, which over time can create insulin resistance.

3. It stimulates fat deposits. This is what gives us that spare tire and midsection squish that we could live without. Fat is metabolically active and this puts more demands on our hormones.

4. The adrenals become very important during menopause as they become the primary producer of the sex hormones. If the adrenals are fatigued prior menopause, this could leave us prone to menopausal symptoms and susceptible to things like osteoporosis and hormonal cancers later in life.

5. Cortisol slows the conversion of T4 to T3 (thyroid hormones). T3 affects almost every physiological function in the body.

So how do we take care of our adrenal health?

Managing stress is of the upmost importance, and we can do this through dietary and lifestyle strategies.

Here are some dietary and lifestyle strategies to consider:

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Dietary

• Avoiding blood sugar swings by limiting coffee and caffeine products. Switch to green tea instead. Green tea contains L-theanine which provides a calming effect and helps balance moods.

• Limit alcohol. Like caffeine, alcohol is a stimulant and not helpful for the adrenals.

• Get plenty of omega 3 in the form of seeds and cold-water fish. Omega 3 is needed to protect against the effects of stress. Omega 3 has been shown to be effective at decreasing epinephrine, cortisol and energy expenditure.

• Get plenty of prebiotic and probiotic foods. These foods help the adrenals by helping to lower cortisol and anxiety.

• B Vitamin-rich foods such as whole grains and legumes. This helps to regulate blood sugar and neurotransmitters. They also nourish the gut which plays a huge role in adrenal function.

• Vitamin C-rich foods such as orange and red vegetables and fruits. Vitamin C has been shown to lower blood serum levels of cortisol and improve cortisol recovery.

• Magnesium-rich foods such as dark leafy green vegetables and almonds. Low magnesium increases the release of stress hormones and further depletes it, especially under stress.

• Eat chocolate! Eating 40g of dark chocolate over a two week period was shown to reduce the urinary excretion of cortisol and partially normalized stress-related differences in energy metabolism.

• Keeping blood sugar balanced by getting plenty of protein, fat and fiber at each meal. This keeps us fuller longer and prevents the hypoglycemic episodes that put pressure on the adrenals.

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Lifestyle:

• Implementing calming rituals as a daily practice (yoga, massage, deep breathing, connecting to self through movement or meditation).

• Reducing toxin exposures through switching to cleaner cosmetics and household cleaning products.

• Removing emotional and mental stressors.

• Getting plenty of good quality sleep.

• Nurturing relationships and connection.

• Creating space to work on personal development and a sense of accomplishment.

• Having a positive outlook.

• Learning to say no to the things that add stress to your life.

Although it’s not possible to avoid stress entirely, and in fact some stress can be beneficial, there’s many things we can do to be mindful of it and manage it. It’s a matter of creating a daily practice that works for you.

Bottom line though, if we keep trying to pour from an empty cup we leave ourselves susceptible to burn-out and unwanted symptoms. Making dietary and lifestyle adjustments that promote peace and relaxation is a critical step in prevention.

About the author:

E5R5A42991Kayla Cluett is a Certified Holistic Nutritional Practitioner helping women to balance their hormones, so they can reduce the pesky symptoms that come with the demands and stressors of everyday life. She’ll teach you strategic dietary and lifestyle strategies that will help support and balance key body systems to help your body thrive. You’ll lose weight, kick our cravings, improve your energy and mental clarity without feeling like you’re on a diet, deprived or hungry. You can find her at kaylacluettnutrition.com and follow her on Instagram @kaylacluettnutrition.

 

Is the Keto Diet Right for PCOS?

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Diet is the most crucial component of putting PCOS into remission.

That’s right- having PCOS does not mean you’re doomed!

PCOS is a metabolic syndrome, so women with PCOS must balance their blood sugar in order to put their symptoms into remission, this is why many women find success (at a cost) with diabetic medications such as Metformin. However, Metformin depletes B vitamins and has unpleasant gastrointestinal effects so it’s not the ideal option. It’s best to adapt our diets first, and most times (in addition to certain supplements) this is all it takes.

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PCOS and the Keto Diet

For women with PCOS, I’m a huge fan of the Keto diet, but only as a therapeutic diet observed for about 4-12 weeks.  This is because the Keto diet can be harmful if practiced too long.

There was a small study in 2005 that tested the ability of the keto diet to help manage PCOS and even put it in remission, and it showed promising results. However, the trial groups only practiced the keto diet for 12 weeks.

You see, although the keto diet is excellent for reversing PCOS, diabetes, and balancing blood sugar, if practiced over a long period of time, women can stop menstruating.

This is because women need a certain amount of carbohydrates (somewhere around 150 grams daily) to ovulate and have a period. The keto diet calls for less than 50 grams a day, so women who practice this diet very often stop having periods a few months later.

My solution?

Keto for 4-12 weeks (in tandem with working with a health practitioner) and then practice intermittent fasting while observing a “ketoish” diet that includes healthy carbs like a serving of white rice or sweet potatoes once a day, ideally taken in the evening. As women we need to aim at about 150 grams daily. This number could be 100 grams for some, or higher or lower for others.

Intermittent Fasting

A great form of Intermittent Fasting for women with PCOS is what’s called “Time Restricted Eating”. This means one goes 12-16 hours without eating, and eats all of their food for the day within a certain window. Starting at 12 hours is best (for example stopping eating at 8PM and then having breakfast at 8AM) and then working up to 14 or 16.

It’s best to limit your extended fasts of 14-16 hours to 3-4 times a week, but 12 hours should be your daily baseline.

It’s very important to note that you must listen to your body and let it tell you how long of a fast is right for you. Personally, I find that 14-16 hours is my magic spot! But it took some trial and error.

Intermittent fasting is an excellent tool to balance blood sugar levels, increase mental clarity, boost energy levels, repair our DNA, and reset our digestive system. Basically, the more time you let pass between your dinner and your first meal of the next day, the more of an advantage you are giving your body to regenerate and replenish.

This is all due to ketones.

When you go 12 hours or more without eating, our body switches from using glycogen for fuel to fat. When the fat is burned for fuel it produces ketones. Ketones are a more efficient source of fuel for the body, as they promote weight loss as well as lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and insulin resistance.

An example schedule of how you can practice IF:

-8PM Dinner

-Wake Up: Bulletproof Matcha or Coffee

-8AM Breakfast (12 hours fasting)

or

-10AM Breakfast (14 hours fasting)

Remember, PCOS is not a curse. No it can’t be cured, but with the right diet and lifestyle hacks, along with the correct supplements, you can be symptom free and be a #PCOSTHRIVER just like me!

With Gratitude,

Health Coach Jenna

Should We Practice Yoga While Menstruating?

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Many period advice books out there recommend yoga as a nourishing physical activity to do during menstruation, but this is not always the best advice.

As both a women’s health coach specializing in reproductive health and a KPJAYI-authorized Ashtanga teacher, the subject of menstruation and yoga practice is of great interest and importance to me.

This is why I often find it frustrating when reading guides on women’s health that suggest yoga as the ideal activity to practice while bleeding.

My teacher, R. Sharath Jois, advises female practitioners to take a full three days of rest during menstruation. Some female practitioners disregard this instruction as they feel it is an outdated guideline based on a male-dominated culture (perhaps you have seen the hashtag #ICanDoAnythingYouCanDoBleeding), but I encourage us to look at this advice from a different perspective.

Yes, we can do yoga while bleeding, but why should we?

The female reproductive system is an extraordinary mechanism of beauty and amazement.

As females, it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to bleed, cleanse, and replenish each month. Our periods are also an invaluable tool to gauge our overall health and well-being, so much so that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists deemed periods as a fifth vital sign.

It’s not just the traditional lineage of Ashtanga that advises women to stop asana (yoga pose) practice for three days, but the tradition of Iyengar yoga recommends to rest or take a modified practice on days of bleeding as well.

Dr. Geeta Iyengar, the daughter of B.K.S. Iyengar, writes “A healthy menstruation is a significant indication of a healthy state of body and mind. We have to respect our womanhood, we have to respect our bodies which have got this very important function to perform. Obviously, we need to adjust our practice. If we do not respect this fact, then we are disrespecting our own existence as well as that of the future generation.”

In yoga, we call energy prana. There is both apanic (downward) and pranic (upward) 05_AlessiaCampostrini©JennaLONGORIA_IMG_8019.jpgenergy. During the time of our period, we want the energy to move downward in order to cleanse the body, not only on a subtle body level but on a physical level.

Subtly, there is powerful energetic work at play that could negatively affect our system overall and prevent the natural cleansing process of our cycle. Physically, we need to encourage the uterine lining to shed, and twists and inversions can arrest this flow, as well as cause cramping.

Essentially, when we practice during our period, we are working against the natural downward energy taking place in our bodies.

Interestingly, in Chinese medicine this energy is referred to as Qi, and similar principles apply, as practitioners of Chinese medicine are also taught to take a rest for three full days during menstruation.

In the West, people tend to practice yoga in big group classes, making it impossible for the teacher to give individual attention to each student.

It is a common practice for people to frequent classes at many different studios, never establishing a strong teacher/student connection. In this scenario, it is doubtful a student will approach a teacher they’ve never met to disclose that they are on their period. Without this disclosure, the teacher will not know to modify the practice for this student.

Additionally, if a female on their cycle is taking advice from her period wellness guide to slow down, she might end up in a dynamic type of yoga class such as Vinyasa or power yoga. In these classes, there will most likely be some twists and inversions. Not only will this type of yoga increase heat (which we absolutely do not need while menstruating as our body is already heated in this phase of our cycle), but the twists and inversions can aggravate our uterus.

However, the period guides aren’t all wrong! There are some types of yoga that do jive well with our menstrual cycle.

If opting for a group class, look for a restorative yoga or Yin yoga class, but if practicing at home, try these asanas:

>> Baddha Konasana (butterfly)
>> Supta Baddha Konasana (reclined butterfly)
>> Legs up the wall
>> Balasana (child’s pose)
>> Sukhasana (final rest)

Hold each one for at least five minutes. A pillow or bolster can be used for support.

If you are currently suffering from amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), I encourage you to take a few days of rest over the new moon. Invite your monthly bleed to return by creating the time and space for her. Perhaps sit in seated meditation during these days and reconnect with your womb by placing your hands on this sacred space and visualizing your flow beginning.

If we continue to practice for months without rest because we have not had a period, the chances of bringing it back gets smaller; it’s a vicious cycle.

We must nurture our bodies and invite our feminine, yin energy to enter, in order to balance out the type A, yang energy, that in today’s world of unprecedented stress, is all too easy to dominate.

Remember, our goal for this time of the month is to nurture our bodies. Females are cyclical beings, and we must remember this. We weren’t designed to go hard every day of the year. The time of our menstruation is an opportunity to slow down and give gratitude to our body for all of its hard work.

It is not a sign of weakness to take a break from our asana routine. A wise woman knows she must take care of her temple—she knows the practice will still be there when she stops bleeding.

This article was written by Jenna Longoria for The Elephant Journal, and was originally published on July 23, 2018.

5 Tips For Balancing Your Blood Sugar (and Why This is Crucial for Women with PCOS)

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Let’s talk PCOS and blood sugar.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition of insulin resistance and ovulatory dysfunction. This is why keeping  blood sugar balanced is CRUCIAL for managing PCOS and putting it into remission.

For women with PCOS (and everyone else as well!) it’s imperative to design meals with the number one goal of making sure they will balance your blood sugar and give you the nutrients you need.

Your meal should keep you full for at least 3-6 hours, and if you’re hungry 1-2 hours after eating, then this is an indicator that your meal did not promote balanced blood sugar levels.

The link between high blood sugar and PCOS is due to the hormone called insulin.

When the insulin level is elevated due to high blood sugar levels, it will block the receptors on the ovaries that are designed to receive ovarian hormones, and this can stop ovulation. Also, when excess insulin attaches to the receptors, it stimulates the ovaries to produce excess androgens (male hormones). So the overall effect of eating lots of sugar and processed carbs is progression towards infertility and hormonal imbalance (such as manifests with PCOS).

This is why the journey to hormonal balance (not just for women with PCOS but for ALL women) starts with balancing blood sugar levels.

5 Tips for Balancing Blood Sugar: 

  1. Eat healthy fats with every meal (you can read more about these in chapter 3 of “7 Steps to a Healthier You
  2. Stay away from sugar, processed carbs, and high glycemic index fruits (you can find the list in chapter 7 of “7 Steps to a Healthier You”.
  3. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables
  4. Include a lean protein from a clean source.
  5. Avoid snacking. The advice to eat five small meals throughout the day is simply bad advice (the only scenario where this is acceptable is for someone with severe blood sugar instability, but it’s not a permanent solution). Research is now showing that snacking is not the best advice because every time you eat, insulin is released, and insulin is a fat storage hormone! So when you are snacking every two hours you will not lose weight because you are inhibiting the growth hormone that promotes lean muscle mass. This is why you shouldn’t eat right after you exercise! Wait at least an hour.

Signs of blood sugar instability:

  1. Hungry all the time-If you are hungry 1-2 hours after eating your blood sugar has crashed
  2. Food coma- If you get very tired after eating your blood sugar has crashed.
  3. Hangry- if you get “hangry” this means your blood sugar has crashed. You should never get hangry. This is a sign the food you ate spiked you blood sugar and then it crashed.

If you need more support then I encourage you to sign up for a consultation with me!

xxxx

Health Coach Jenna

How to Banish the PMS Blues

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As women we are vulnerable to the “PMS Blues”. This is a time when we’re prone to mood swings, bloating, swollen breasts, irritability, acne, headaches, and cramps.

But this can be avoided!

PMS and PMDD happens in our luteal phase (post-ovulation) because our estrogen drops during this time, and it brings serotonin down with it.

Serotonin makes us feel happy and keeps our mood balanced. This is the reason SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are used to treat PMS and PMDD.

But there are better solutions!

During the approximate two weeks of our luteal phase, we need to be extra careful to eat less or no sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and reduce or exposure to stress, or more importantly control our reaction to stress (I know HA! but where there is a will there is a way!).

What you eat in the last two weeks of your cycle makes or breaks you girls! 

In your Follicular Phase (pre-ovulatory) you can get away with more alcohol, caffeine and salty foods because your high estrogen levels keep you more insulin sensitive which regulates your blood sugar.

In your Luteal Phase you are more insulin resistant and need to be careful with the sugar and carbs, and if you don’t want to feel like the Goodyear Blimp leading up to our during your period, you must dramatically cut your salt intake.

2 Steps to work towards beating PMS in your Luteal phase:

1.Stress Reduction

Schedule in time for an Epsom salt bath, get a massage (or whatever type of self-care you enjoy) as much as you can during the Luteal Phase, especially in the week leading up to menstruation.

2. Eat clean

Your diet will make or break you during this phase. Focus on higher protein and healthy fats (to reduce cravings), and make sure your carbs are coming from complex sources such as sweet potatoes or potatoes instead of breads and pastas. Eliminate sugar, alcohol and salty foods, and keep caffeine intake low.

And if you feel like your period is just one crazy roller coaster ride of PMS, pain, headaches, and mood swings, then let’s put an end to that NOW.  Sign up for my 20-Day Hormone Reboot online program, so you achieve glowing skin, and abundance of energy, healthy digestion, and the hormonal balance YOU deserve!

With Gratitude,

Health Coach Jenna

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