Period Story Podcast, Episode 2: Fiona Grayson, Periods Don’t Have To Be Painful

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For the second episode of the Period Story podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Fiona Grayson, the founder of She can. She Did. We talked about periods as a sign of good health, the way Fiona looks at her health holistically, stress and how it can affect female entrepreneurs. Fiona says periods don’t have to be painful and that’s definitely a message I agree with!

She can. She did. is a platform that puts the spotlight on women in their teens, twenties and thirties who’ve dared to go solo and launch their own businesses throughout the UK. Praised for its honest, raw and often amusing account of what it takes to launch a business as a female founder in the UK today, She can. She did. champions female business owners and encourages aspiring female entrepreneurs through a combination of down to earth interviews, the candid She can. She did. podcast and its informal event series, She can. She did. – The Midweek Mingle! which takes place in cities around the UK.

Find She can. She did on Instagram @shecanshedid and Twitter @shecanshedid

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SHOW NOTES

Dame Tampon Applicator

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Le’Nise: Welcome to the Period Story podcast. Today we have Fiona Grayson, the Founder of She Can. She Did., a platform that puts a spotlight on women in their teens, 20s and 30s who have dared to go solo and launched their own businesses throughout the UK. 

She Can.She Did. champions female business owners and encourages aspiring female entrepreneurs through a combination of down to earth interviews, the candid She Can.She Did. podcast, and its informal event series She Can.She Did. the midweek mingle which takes place in cities around the UK. Welcome to the show. 

Fiona: Thank you for having me, I’m so excited to chat! It’s so weird hearing that little intro back, I love it. 

Le’Nise: Well you’ve done so many amazing things so it’s nice to remind yourself of it sometimes isn’t it? So let’s start off by getting into the story of your first period. Can you share with us what happened?

Fiona: Of course, yeah so I’m an August baby so obviously in schools that meant I was the youngest in the year. So all of my friends and close friends, they were all about 7-8 months older than me so they were September/October babies and I remember being in Year 8, in secondary school, and all the girls started coming on their periods. 

I remember just feeling that that whole time, they all kind of dropped like flies and everyone started their periods and it was this big thing. I was panicking, genuinely so worried that something was wrong with me because I was 12 and I still hadn’t come on my period. I remember my Mum being like “Fiona, its normal, everyone’s different” and all of this. At 12, I remember just lying awake worrying about the fact that I was abnormal. I remember I had my first holiday abroad, like first school trip abroad, in like 2004 and I needed a passport for the first time and also remember being a 12 year old worrier, panicking that my passport wouldn’t arrive in time for this school trip and I remember for a good few weeks there was all these worries and I remember on a Friday I got home from school, my passport had arrived, I went to the toilet and I came on my period. I remember the two came on the same day and I was like “this is a miracle”. 

I remember Mum was out and I’ve got such close family and I remember coming out of the bathroom and being like “Dad, I think I’ve just come on my period” and Dad being like “oh, uh uh” so yeah that was it and I remember literally then for a good few months being so proud every time I came on my period but never had any pain or anything for a good few years and I remember some of my girlfriends got really properly hit by it and I remember thinking through my teenage years, “God, I must be so lucky” because to me it came and went, quite light, regular, just off we went. 

Le’Nise: So you said that you come from an open family. How did your Mum teach you about your period and was she having that conversation with you before you got your period? 

Fiona: I have a big sister, she’s 2.5 years older than me so I knew it was coming; I think my sister started her periods a bit younger. For a good few years wed been talking about it and also it was at that time where at school we were learning about it and it was just, Mum would kind of bring it up if Caroline was on her period. I was so aware of I, I think having a big sister forces you to learn about these things probably sooner than if you were the older sibling. I’ve always had a close relationship with Mum and Carrie so we always talk about that kind of stuff, it was never secretive, I never felt uncomfortable asking her any questions, and I think I got really lucky.

Le’Nise: It’s really interesting, the women I have interviewed, generally speaking the conversation have been quite open and actually I’m a bit surprised, I was expecting more kind of learning about your period from the leaflet and the Tampon pack.

Fiona: Really? Is that your experience?

Le’Nise: Yeah pretty much I kind of cobbled things together and I really suffered. So you said you were really open with your sister and your Mum, what about your friends? They all got their periods before you so…

Fiona: There was one friend that hadn’t yet and I remember we were in it together and then I remember when I came on my period, she was just panicking even more. It’s crazy what we worry about, I think she got her period maybe 8-9 months after me but she was so upset during that time that she was abnormal and it’s just one of these where you just don’t know when you’re going to start, there’s no kind of give away. We used to talk about it; at sleepovers we used to talk about periods like we were growing up, it was just boys and periods, that was pretty much the conversation. They are still my best friends today so we still kind of chat about that kind of stuff. 

Le’Nise: You said when you got your period it was kind of smooth and easy until you went to university and then you started to change.

Fiona: Yeah definitely, I don’t know what it was, whether it was stress related or what is was. My periods changed within a few months and I was getting severe back pain, my boobs were always a tell-tale sign of when I was about to come on because I remember they’d get so swollen. I mean I still get that but my back pain was excruciating, it was always the day before I came on and the day I came on, my back was horrendous and it was one of those things where you just couldn’t get comfortable, you’d want to lean back but then you’d cramp and you’d want to learn forward and I’d never feel comfortable. 

I remember I used to work in retail in my summer holidays off uni and I remember working at John Lewis on the shop floor having to stand up all day and my back, my period, I’d have to be fighting back tears. Funny story, my sister came and visited me on the shop floor and she had some Cocodamol because she had a really dodgy injury at the time and she was like “I’ve got some really strong pain killers if you want” and I was like “I’ll take anything” and she gave me this cocodamol but there was no water and I remember putting it in my mouth and then a customer came up and asked for some help so I had this horrendous cocodamol taste in my mouth like burning my mouth whilst I tried to serve this customer. Basically, that went on for a few months but I’ve always been brought up homoeopathically so I was treated homoeopathically for my period and al the stress at the time and everything and over the course of a few moths it’s kind of got it back to normal. 

Le’Nise: So you had a few months and then it just stopped?

Fiona: Yeah so I say stopped, obviously I get treated every couple of months just generally I see my homeopath, that’s the thing with homoeopathy it’s not like a quick fix because its holistic, they treat everything going on. I wouldn’t be able to give you an exact timeframe but I’ve been okay for a good few years. 

Le’Nise: Having gone through that gradual shift of the quality of your period and lessening the pain, did it change the way you felt about your period?

Fiona: Yeah because I remember during that time I used to dread coming on my period and it was so weird because it was only really that concentrated time and then once my first day was over, I didn’t even know I was on. The next few days, it was like you just deal with it but the pain in that first 24 hours, I dreaded each month and I’ve always been pretty much clockwork, it would be odd for me not to be 28 days now, sometimes 1 day over or under but I am 28 days. At the time I really did, because I’d gone from not caring about my periods or not noticing it, it was just part of life, to having that thing a month it was just so painful and now its gone back to, I mean to me it’s a sign of good health, it’s a big relief every time I come on like “that’s good, I’m not pregnant” so it’s good. 

Le’Nise: You said it’s a sign of health so that’s really interesting and it’s the first time I’ve heard someone say that on this podcast.  Can you say more about that and what that means for you?

Fiona: My Mum worked in the NHS for 30 years and she had endometriosis so she turned to homoeopathy just before my sister was born so about 32-33 years ago, turned to homeopathy and she was treated homoeopathically and she worked her way up in the NHS and became a homeopath herself about 10 years ago. I’ve grown up with the notion, she’s just enforced that it is a healthy thing to have so I’ve never been on the pill, not because I’m anti the pill but just because I’ve chosen not to and so to me, when I come on after 28 days, I’m not suppressing anything in my body, it’s showing that everything in my body is working properly and I generally feel really grateful for that so to me it’s my body doing what it’s supposed to be doing and I’m grateful its plodding on the way it should. 

I think when I was having all that pain, at the time of my life it was just a really stressful period for a number of different reasons and that’s when my periods were more painful and they weren’t as regular and because everything was a bit up and down and I think now they’re stable and that’s because I’m ok, I feel good and I feel healthy and I’m just very aware of what’s going on in my body and I try and link things up quite holistically so if all of sudden my periods were really early or really late, my immediate reaction would to “ok, what’s going in my body, what’s going on in my mind” that kind of thing. I know it sound woo woo to some people but to me it’s like, that is the first tell-tale sign to know something is up.

Le’Nise: I don’t think it sounds woo woo at all. You said it’s a sign of good health and actually it’s a sign for women or for people who have periods, it’s one of our vital signs so when it’s really early or when it’s really late or when it’s really heavy or painful, that’s a sign that something isn’t going as it should. I think it’s really important that you have that connection with your body. When you notice something has gone a miss so it’s either a day early or a day late and you say you check in with your body, what sort of things do you do to course correct?

Fiona: I mean a day either side I’d be like ahh that’s give or take. For instance, if for some reason I had a 3 week cycle, I’d be like “oh, somethings up” and everything from stress, eating, sleep, what’s going on work-wise, relationships, everything, like am I pushing my body too hard, am I feeding it the right foods, everything. In general, I feel I’ve always had a good relationship with healthy eating, like balanced eating and exercise so that’s not normally it, it’s normally, if anything was to go amiss, it would be stress related from work or a relationship thing or something. So yeah, all of that.

Le’Nise: That’s so interesting because we know now that stress is a driver for so many different diseases in our society, in western society and I see that a lot in my practice where women, they’re coming to me with terrible period problems and when we kind of unpick what’s going on with their health, they’re under huge amounts of different kinds of stress, whether it’s work stress, relationship stress or even the physical stress they’re putting on their body through excessive exercise or restrictive diets.

Fiona: It’s interesting you said that because I was interviewing a female founder a few weeks ago and she regularly promotes how much exercise she does to her audience each morning and every day she gets up at the crack of dawn and heads straight into a high intensity workout and then works out afterwards and she was getting really ill, she had a cold but a really heavy cold that just wasn’t shifting for about 3 months and then went and checked in with her doctor, basically he said “well, are you exercising?” and she proudly said “yes I exercise every single day and I do XYZ” and he said “well that’s the issue, that’s such high intense workouts that your body can’t distinguish between good adrenalin and bad adrenalin and it just sees stress, it just sees 17-18 hours of constant stress and you can’t cope with it, that’s why your body…” and to me that’s so interesting, like to me that’s just a given but to some people don’t connect those dots.

Le’Nise: I think that’s really interesting but it’s a kind of symptom of this high intensity culture that we live in and you’ll know this from interviewing female entrepreneurs that go go go and this idea that we need to be on all the time and we need to behave like men and be on all the time when actually our bodies don’t work like that. 

Fiona: Yeah definitely, it’s so so true. Don’t get me wrong, there’s times where I notice that I’m working harder than sometimes but there the ties when I notice my energies dipping and that’s when I’m like “whoa, step back, just take the night off, look after yourself” and run a bath and just chill. Sleep in, don’t work out the next day, and just give yourself that time. I do get it, it’s so easier said than done, I’m so lucky that I’ve been bought up to connect all those dots but it’s so hard and life is busy sometimes, it’s just making sure that you prioritise yourself and I think that  can be so much easier to say but can be so much harder in reality sometimes.

Le’Nise: So what are the ways that you prioritise yourself?

Fiona: Well tonight for instance, it’s been a really busy couple of months and I’m so looking forward to tonight.  I love my own company and I’m quite happy, I don’t need to go out all the time and I know full well tonight is pyjamas, I’ll make myself a hot water bottle and I plan to just chill and put on a face mask and just have a Friday night to myself. I do exercise but to me exercise is my switch off, I love it. I exercise about 5 times a week and I really check in so if I do feel that I’ve got a lot of energy, to me, running is everything, I’ll quite happily go for a big run but equally if I know I just need to clear my head I’ll do some Pilates or something, to me that’s an hour in a day that I just love, just for everything, not just for body but to clear my head. 

I love cooking, to me, it’s my ultimate good food, all my friends and family have said since I’ve been little I’ve had a really big appetite but I don’t ever crave rubbish, I crave really hearty, good food so to me a night in the kitchen chopping away is just perfect. Just seeing friends and family, as I said I’ve got a really close family, they live 10-15 minutes down the road, friends, we are all quite similar in the sense that we all love going out and letting our hair down but mostly girls nights in are our favourite. 

Le’Nise: We talked a little bit about culture earlier and around female entrepreneurs. What about culturally, kind of the cultural narratives around periods, what would you change about that?

Fiona: It’s such a hard one because it’s such a sensitive topic for a lot of people. I think that it’s not spoken enough that you don’t have to go on the pill, for me I think that’s something that’s really pushed. Every single one of my friends, without fail, went on the pill straight away. It was kind of a next step, GP said, let’s go.  I’m conscious about talking about all the things why I believe in, I just think that it’s doesn’t have to be that way. There are other ways to manage different symptoms, period pain for instance. 

I do think that in general I love all the movement going on with different business cropping up trying to tackle all the period plastic waste, I love that that’s up and coming. I interviewed the founder of Dame, which is the world’s first ethical tampon applicator and they do ethical tampons and stuff because I had no idea, I didn’t know why I didn’t know because when you think about it, of course period creates so much pollution when you think about all the different wrapping and how many women there are in the world. That movement, I could not be more behind it, I think that needs more focus and kind of educating women about the different types of menstrual products, all the different alternatives to just going to your bog standard Tampax and whatever brand sanitary towels that you use that are wrapped in plastic and plastic everything. 

So I definitely think more can be done for that but in general I do think that, I don’t know but from my own experience, my school was so good at talking about it in a practical and non-intimidating way and I can only imagine that, I mean I was at school in 2003, secondary school so I imagine its only come of further since then for UK schools. I think as a society we’ve got quite an open approach, you know when you don’t know if I’m just living in a bubble and your like “yeah my school was really good, it’s just matter of fact, it is what it is”.

Le’Nise: I think that I wish more school and more parents would be more matter of fact because we use so many euphemisms and there’s so many things that we don’t say about what’s normal and what isn’t. I just want to go back to what you said about so many of your friends were on the pill and that was sort of pushed on them, why do you think that was?

Fiona: Well I don’t know if it was pushed on them it was just like they came on their periods, they had pains, they went to the Doctor, the Doctor put them on the pill I don’t know what the conversation was but that’s basically what happened with every single one of them and I think that’s for the most part every single women in the UK that’s how it goes. I don’t want to get into why I believe in homoeopathy but it’s so subjective, everyone has different beliefs in what’s right and wrong but it gets so much stick and always say I have never been to the GP for any symptoms or for anything in my life, I’m still here, I still feel like I’m healthy and I’ve only ever been treated homoeopathically so to me it works.  I think it’s detrimental to wash any idea, any alternative medicine, to just rule it out completely. We’ve all got our own lives, we can all use our brains to research and I think there could be more done in the UK to promote other options, that’s all it is. 

Le’Nise: Really interesting what you said about alternatives and promoting other options. I had an interesting conversation with a female focused technology company yesterday and they were saying in the user research that they’ve done, the majority of the people that they’ve spoken to, do not want to go onto the pill and they are looking for alternatives. They’ve spoken to thousands of women and I found that really interesting, and I see this a lot in my practice where, generally speaking, women generally don’t want to be on hormones and kind of say “I don’t want to put artificial hormones into my body” so I think the times are changing, gradually, through the movements that you mentioned earlier and its really positive. 

Fiona: Yeah I hope so. To me it’s just a case of being handed a box of pills with a list of side effects: weight gain, or bad skin, or depression, they can mess with your head, can’t they and I think that’s there’s other options basically and it doesn’t have to be like that. I think periods in general, when you’re healthy they don’t have to be something that you dread or cause you so much pain. You know what, going back to your question, that as well, I wish there was something to be done in the mainstream media that you don’t have to dread your period, like it doesn’t have to be this scary thing, it’s such a natural cycle in your body, just embrace it. I do think there’s so much about them being this “uh, it’s that time of the month” or “uh, here we go again”. It’s so crazy! 

And was it Heather Watson the tennis player that when she finished the match and she lost and she was being interviewed and she was like “you know, I didn’t play my best today, it that time of the month” and the amount of uproar that caused, like this sports woman had admitted to being on her period and it’s like of course, exercise is horrendous when you’re on your period like of course she’s allowed a bad day, like God forbid this women had voiced the fact that she was feeling off because she’d come on her period. So many women have their periods, it’s just mad that it’s such a taboo subject sometimes.

Le’Nise: Yeah it is and I think conversations like this and statements like that help normalise it. We have to know that 50% of the planet gets a period so why don’t we talk about it? Why don’t we learn what’s normal and what isn’t normal? You said periods don’t have to be painful and I think that’s such an important message, its normalised this idea that you have to be really uncomfortable, in pain or a moody cow and it doesn’t have to be like that. 

Fiona: I mean sometimes I can be a moody cow if I’m on but yeah you don’t have to be. Exactly, it doesn’t have to be like that. 

Le’Nise: If you think about your period now and everything we have talked about. What do you wish you knew back then that you know now?

Fiona: It’s so hard. If I could go back to that time at uni, I’d let myself know that it’s not going to be a forever thing because I honestly thought I had plummeted, I think this is karma for having such easy periods as a teenager and suddenly being I so much pain. I’d probably go back and be like “no, just have a look at what’s going on around you, you’ll be alright, I’ll just sort that out and it’ll go back to normal”. Other than that I do think that’s I’ve been really lucky with my Mum being there to just normalise it and let me know that’s it’s a healthy, I’ve always had quite a healthy relationship with it. 

Le’Nise: If our listeners could get one message from our interview today about their periods, their menstrual health, what would you want them to take away with them?

Fiona: That message that they don’t have to be painful, you don’t have to dread them and to really look at all of the different things if they are that way and assess all the things in your life that’s going on, all the different factors and just take that holistic approach and view all the different things going on in your life and maybe see if the dots connect there because I have sneaky suspicion that they will.

Le’Nise: Where can our listeners find out more about you and what you’re up to?

Fiona: There’s obviously the website so shecanshedid.com, I’ve got the She Can.She Did. podcast where I interview any your female founders in the UK about everything that they’ve been through the ups and downs, of launching, running and growing their businesses and then just on Instagram and Twitter @SheCanSheDid. I didn’t realise I’d get to plug that, thanks Le’Nise.

Le’Nise: Thank you so much for coming on the show; it’s been so nice to speak to you and thank you for sharing your story.

Fiona: No, thanks for having me it’s been a kind of therapy, it’s been good to chat about it all. 

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Period Story Podcast, Episode 1: Ateh Jewel – Women Are Superheroes

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Ateh Jewel for the first episode of the Period Story podcast. We talked about Ateh’s very dramatic first periods, how she developed a healthy attitude towards menstruation and why she thinks women are superheroes.

Ateh is a multi award winning beauty journalist, blogger, director and producer has been in the industry for 18 years writing and styling for titles such as Vogue, Tatler, Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Allure, Guardian Weekend Magazine, Glamour, Grazia, Red Magazine, Stylist and Get The Gloss. She was also a Marie Claire UK columnist for 2 years with her column Colour Counter, celebrating beauty for all skin tones and a columnist for darker skin tones on Feel Unique.

Find Ateh on Instagram @AtehJewel, and Twitter @AtehJewel and check out her website, Jewel Tones Beauty.

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Show Notes

Beauty Banks by Sali Hughes

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Show Transcript

Le’Nise: On today’s episode, we have Ateh Jewel, the multi award winning beauty journalist, blogger, director and producer. She’s been in the industry for 18 years writing for titles such as Vogue, Tatler, Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Allure, Guardian Weekend Magazine, Glamour, Grazia, Red Magazine Stylist and Get The Gloss. She was also a Marie Clare UK columnist for 2 years with a column, Colour Counter, celebrating beauty for all skin tones. Welcome to the show.

Ateh: Thank you so much for having me, it’s great to be here!

Le’Nise: So let’s start off by getting into the story of your first period, can you share with us what happened?

Ateh: Well it was quite dramatic, I’m not going lie. So I was about 13 or 14, I remember being one of the last people in my class to get my period. I went to an all-girls school so everyone was like all up in everyone’s business and I was one of the last. I was like Oh God when is it going to happen for me! I remember one of my friends started at 9 in primary school, so by 14 it felt like a long time and it was in the middle of the night, I woke up with stabbing pains and I thought I was going to die, I thought I had appendicitis and I remember screaming. 

It was a screaming hysterical pain and my mum was so concerned, she rushed me to the emergency room and I was in there moaning with like a dull ache and remember my mum saying scream louder, come on, it’s the middle night come on be more dramatic you’ll get seen and I was like AHHH so it was a lot of drama and the doctors were like oh have you started your period and I said no and they quickly worked out it was probably the beginning. 

The only way I can describe it was like a gas station coming on and all the machinery powering up and the imagery I had in my head was the machinery is turning on and it is not pleasant or comfortable. And it was literally like the cranking of gears which manifested in a stabbing, aching pain and I thought oh if I’ve got 40 or 30 more years of this, this is not going to be cute. It was a painful experience but at the same time, you know, I did feel a huge amount of responsibility, like oh my God, now you’re a woman and it’s a girl to woman moment so a lot of confusing, conflicting, interesting feelings going on but from me my first feeling was pain, a lot of pain. 

Le’Nise: So you said you felt a great responsibility as you kind of transitioned from girl to woman, it’s really interesting that you use the word responsibility.

Ateh: Yes, I mean, I had a very chaotic childhood, very dysfunctional and I think as a child I often felt and I’m also a recovering perfectionist so I always felt a lot of responsibility and so for me, getting my period was another responsibility, like the responsibility of not only my body but I can have a child now, like I’m not going to at 13 but suddenly your body is a vessel, its transitioned into something else and I think that really effected my mindset, that now I could technically be a mother. 

My grandmother had my dad at 13. She was Nigerian and I wasn’t close to her at all but I have this story of this little girl having a kid at 13 which was completely wrong in every sense of the word and very damaging but I suddenly felt my god, it’s not a million miles away for a 13 year old to have a baby so I also did think about things like that. 

Le’Nise: Wow, so you got your period and you were also carrying this weight of what happened to ancestors, your grandmother’s story. That word responsibility really hit me because I’ve never heard a woman describe her first period like that, so that’s really fascinating.

Ateh: Well you know at 13 I was a 145 year old woman so I’m kind of Benjamin Button, I’m aging backwards. I’m 41 now and kind of evening up, like yeah I did think about things like that. 

Le’Nise: So you went to the emergency room and told you were having your first period and you knew you had your period. How did you learn about menstrual health, what to use and how to take care of yourself? 

Ateh: So, I mean, that was my mum. She gave me a book “Your Changing Body” and all these things and we had discussions. My mum is an amazing woman, she’s kind of a hippy free spirit but at the same time she can be really conservative about other things, you know like, I straddle two generations so I grew up with BodyForm, like run around skateboarding, your period will never get you down or hold you back but also my mum was born in 1946 you know and she’s like ladies never use tampons, don’t stick anything up yourself. 

So it really terrified me you know, girls should only use sanitary towels because you shouldn’t be putting things inside of yourself and so I had these very conflicting images and ideals of menstrual health. Also you talk to your girl friends but my mum was the one, she was responsible and she said this is what’s going on, use sanitary towels, here’s a book, have a chat but you know there was never shame in my house which was very good and I really appreciate my mother, she’s never been into shame in that sense, shame in other things but not with your body which is good.

Le’Nise: That’s really interesting because other women that I’ve spoken to, they have described the sense of shame coming from their mothers or their grandmothers where they were taught shame around menstruation and it being something that they needed to hide or something that was taboo so I think it’s wonderful that you didn’t have that. So you got given sanitary towels and was that something you thought you know I just have to get on with it?

Ateh: Yeah I think there was a sense of ok this is how it is. Also I should mention I had huge boobs, I’ve always had a huge boobs so in a funny way, I had a woman’s body from 11 so that also changes you because men and the male gaze, I was probably ready and mentally prepared to get on with it in that sense so by the time I was 13/14 I was like this is how it is, my body is changing, I have to look after myself and this is how you look after yourself. 

In primary school one of my closest friends had a period at 9 and I knew she had to run off to the bathroom, was all very mysterious, but I had a sense that’s what you did a few times a day. You go to the bathroom and you change but the shame part is really interesting, I always felt that because my mums a bit of a hippy, she would take us out of bed at midnight and we would howl at the moon on a full moon and she’s always hugging trees and for me, periods were always linked into the divine, it was like the power of creation so yes I always felt there was this old fashioned ‘you don’t discuss it’. 

You know I was born in ’78, I’m a child of the 80’s and I wouldn’t go at a dinner table and discuss my periods growing up like the way I am discussing it with you now because we are in a different time, it’s something you don’t discuss but it’s nothing to be ashamed of and I’ve been somebody like I can make a person now, that makes me a god damn superhero. So that’s how I felt, I felt the power and the divinity and that’s probably from my hippy mum but I felt yeah that’s why there’s responsibility, you can make people now, that’s insane. A super power. 

Le’Nise: Yeah super power, it’s amazing what we can do. You know, yesterday I went to a baby ceremony for one of my friends, she’s about to give birth and so instead of a shower she had a baby ceremony. She was talking about these ideas about the divine and how she made this person and how this person is inside of her and it’s so interesting that you brought that up today. So what about the conversations you are having with your daughters about periods and menstrual health?

Ateh: I mean they’re 8, I have twin daughters and it’s very difficult because you don’t want to burden them with too much information, how much information, it’s a different age, it’s a different time. I wasn’t going to mention anything but you know how children are, they burst in when I’m on the toilet and they were like “mum why is there strawberry jam in the toilet” I was like “can you please leave” and I was like do I say yes there’s strawberry jam in the toilet or do I say that’s blood and I just, you know what, let’s keep it real and I said once a month a woman and I explained it in a matter of fact way and one of my daughters was like ahh I don’t believe that, that’s crazy, she thought I was trying to pull her leg. 

I was like that’s how you know it’s a gift and I try to use positive words  like it’s a gift, the power of creation and this is how babies are made because once a month this is what happens and the payoff is you get babies, once a month there’s an opportunity to have a baby and I just said it in a matter of fact way and I thought, God are they too young, but I think kids just, they can roll with any information, it’s the way you present it and they were like ok whatever, when does this start to happen to you? I said 13/14 and like do you think it will happen for us at the same time? And I was like yeah probably and they were like okay bye we are going outside running around, and I think that is how it should be, the kind of matter of fact, there’s no big taboo or shame, it’s just part of who you are, your health, your body and so yes, 8, I don’t know if that’s too young or old I don’t know but that’s what happened. 

Le’Nise: I think they should have conversations, it’s so nice when they have been organically and it’s not a massive surprise when all of sudden they see something in their underwear that’s like “oh my god what’s this blood?

Ateh: The trauma of that, can you imagine? My best girl friend also has twins and her 11 year old daughters have just started secondary school and my friend is so honoured. She’s like my heartbeat, we just copy her, like when the girls are 11, I’m going to do what my friend does because she’s such a good mum and she’s like, “I’ve got a kit ready for her, I sat her down and I said if you’re in school and it happens and she’s bought her like a silk pouch with clean underwear, sanitary towels and wet wipes and she has it in her school bag ready so whenever it comes and she’s told her when you get your period in the middle of school just throw you underwear away, get the pouch, da da da” and I thought god that is so healthy so you will not have that shock or I don’t have any clean underwear! So my friend, God bless her has got a kid primed and ready with this little first period pack in her school bag which I think is really healthy. 

Le’Nise: Absolutely amazing. And how did her daughter react to that?

Ateh: Ok thanks mum that’s cool and it’s that no shame or embarrassment, this is how it is, you are responsible for yourself, you know, this is a form of responsibility and I think that will transition really well into sexual health in her teens. 

I think when you approach it properly you take care of yourself with your period, you take care of yourself with sexual health, you take care of yourself with breast exams, as a woman there’s women’s health. Why would you be embarrassed about doing a breast exam? Embarrassed about having condoms or any kind of protection, it’s ridiculous. I feel it as a form of empowerment you know.

Le’Nise: Absolutely. I think just going back to this word shame, I think you connected it to having your period and this ability to having a baby and I think that’s where this shame comes in because a lot of people don’t like to talk about sex and they find it embarrassing and then so having that conversation about periods is connected to having that conversation about sex. People use euphemisms about their genitalia and so…

Ateh: Makes no sense to me. Yeah, really odd. 

Le’Nise: I think for some people it just takes them a long time to get to where you are now where you are just so open to having this conversation. Everyone is on their own journey.

Ateh: I mean, I have to thank my mother she is very open and liberal, she is from Trinidad, I don’t know if that makes a difference but she is very warm, open and I remember watching G String Divas with her as a trashy channel 5 movie as a teenager, grossly inappropriate but my home was an open, happy, hippy home so it doesn’t really register that kind of shame about your periods or about your body so it’s interesting but I mean what does that serve you? It doesn’t serve anything or anyone I don’t think. It’s dangerous.

Le’Nise: It is dangerous because you don’t understand what’s going on with your period, can’t have open conversations or you think that things like pain and heavy bleeding is normal because you haven’t had the conversation about it. 

Ateh: It’s true. Because what is normal? Because until you speak to people, what’s a light period? What’s a medium period and heavy period? Unless you have a conversation, when is there a real problem? When do I need to see someone? When they go to the doctor I think women’s health is so, it’s not respected in a funny way, when you speak to a GP often as a woman and as a black woman, I find sometimes I have to speak louder and louder like “there is a problem, hear me” and I’m very empowered when it comes to that but if you’re bought up in shame then there’s going to be problems and you could really suffer. There are so many people’s grandmas who literally died of shame because they had cervical cancer, they never went to their doctor and they died of shame because they didn’t have it looked at and that’s dying of shame. 

Le’Nise: Wow, I mean it’s so needless. 

Ateh: Yeah, it’s a different generation. 

Le’Nise: Yeah absolutely, different generation. So how do you feel about your period now?

Ateh: Basically, I had my twins. One and done and my periods have been very, very fertile and like the day, hours and minutes my period is on. I’d been told by my acupuncturist that my womb’s on fire, be careful when you want to get pregnant and I never believed in acupuncture and then I got pregnant first go, I never timed it or anything when I got pregnant with my girls and I was like damn he was right. 

So, it feels really odd that I’ve had all these years for one go, the shop is closed , I’m not having any more kids. My two ladies and so 13 to 41 I’ve had all these periods and it was for one shot which is very wasteful but interesting and now I’m 41 and I’m thinking to myself, I’m not having any more kids, it can be quite uncomfortable, it can be quite bloating and all the rest of it but also my body has done its job in terms of, I wanted children and if you don’t want children then that’s fine but I wanted babies, I’ve had my babies, I know that having a period keeps my skin and my body juicy and the hormones and so I respect it for that. I think when I hit the menopause I’ll be nostalgic and be like “oh, bye!” you know what I mean? I feel like a friend going or they say flow comes to town it’s a very old expression and when flow leaves town in a very nostalgic way like “oh bye, thank you” but it’s a very weird one, it’s no longer necessary in a funny way but it’s doing its job of hormones and all the rest of it. Also, it triggers your role as a woman, if you don’t have children you are still a woman, still capable, still amazing. If you choose not to have children it doesn’t make you any less powerful or potent or anything but then there is a side of you where that chapter is closed and the next baby I have in my arms will be my grandchildren and I think ahead like that so it makes you think of nature and cycles. It will be a closing of a chapter but not the whole book. Mixed emotions. 

Le’Nise: It sounds like you have a very healthy relationship with your period in the sense that I don’t hear that you have fought with your period in the sense that you hated it or it is what it is.

Ateh: It is what it is and I think it’s like a beautiful metaphor for life, its messy, its life-giving and I think in a funny way woman are very tough, if you compare a 13 year old boy and a 13 year old girl and I’m being very general here but I think a lot of 13 year old girls are women because they have to deal with this messy, bloody thing that happens once a month. You literally have to get your hands dirty and feel the life and your body and oh my God this is happening because I could have a baby. 

I think you mind is blown and my husband tells this funny story when he was 13, his best friend was a girl and literally one summer she turned into a woman and it’s probably the time she had a first period. He didn’t see her for a whole summer and they went strawberry picking because their mums set it up and he was like picking strawberries and skipping around and she was like my God this is boring and embarrassing. He said he lost her because she was this woman and he felt like a little kid wanting to go strawberry picking and talk about comics and stuff and she like whatever I’m going off with my boyfriend or something and he said he remembers then, thinking my God we are the same age but you are a woman and I think periods are the same way, its helps you to deal with life in a funny way. It helps you psychologically. I choose to see the empowering side to it. 

Le’Nise: You have such a healthy attitude and I think it’s amazing how you’re speaking to your daughters about it and I wish more women could have those open, matter of fact conversations because it is life-giving and it happens every day, not every day but you know…

Ateh: I’d be concerned *laughs*. I think it also comes down to misogyny. I studied history at university and all the church fathers, there’s such a suspicion about the female body, the fact that for centuries people have been very suspicious, you can make people, you’re clever, you can do everything a guy can do and you can make people, it’s really scary. I’m not going to be self-hating, I’m not going to add to that conversation, I’m not going to have centuries of suspicion cast upon me, I’m going to see it for the divine thing that it is, that it’s life-giving. 

Also I think with technology and nature, we have moved to the countryside and tapped in more to nature, it’s really interesting like its autumn now and the colours are changing and you see road kill. When we first came her my daughter was like, “is that a dead bunny on the road?!” and I was like “yes, that is life love” and you get tapped into the rhythm of life and your body has a rhythm and I think we are so cut off from nature, so cut off with technology you know you can swipe, you can click, you can do everything so quickly but your body is on a biological clock, it’s on a rhythm and it reminds me of that, that I’m not master and commander of the universe, I am part of the universe. 

I feel in a spiritual way as well and it enforces you to remember you are part of something and you know what I have no control over my period. I can’t say can you start to tomorrow because I have a photoshoot or can you start next week because I have this, you have no control and I am a control freak and in a funny way you have to just surrender. Surrender is my new word. Surrender.

Le’Nise: I think that’s really nice when you think about the idea of rhythm, nature and even connecting with the idea of periods being linked to the moon and knowing that we are coming up that harvest moon and it’s the autumn equinox today and so a lot of woman will be on their periods or are coming onto their periods or ovulating and there’s kind of a nice synergy with that idea that our rhythm and nature and this kind of connection to the divine.

Ateh: Definitely I see it as that. That’s why people are shameful and scared because people are often scared of what they don’t understand. I am a very spiritual person, there are all these invisible things around us and this mysterious thing that you bleed and can have babies with. It’s really weird, I’m sorry. If an alien came to earth and you explained sex and periods they’d be like, “get out of here”, it’s weird, okay. If we break it down for an alien, it’s weird and it is mystical and it’s strange and I think a lot of fear and shame is built around things you don’t understand. Why is this happening? Why are babies made this way? Why do we have periods? No one knows really and that’s really scary. I just roll with it and I think that’s what freaks people out. We are just part of something. It comes and goes just like you and I one day and it’s just what you do in between that matters. 

Le’Nise: We’ve got really deep now! 

Ateh: Sorry but yeah that’s why it doesn’t freak me out. It came when it was ready to come, it’s going to go when it’s ready to go. I’m thankful to the women that don’t have periods and can’t have children and are desperate, are you kidding me? So there’s a sense of gratitude. Thank you that my body works really well and that I don’t have any problems, I have a lot of problems in other areas of my life that I can’t control, my weight, this and that but whatever my body did its job, I made two healthy huge full term twins. My girls were 6 and half pounds each, they were 38 weeks, and they were full term. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So I see just gratitude you know. 

Le’Nise: It’s so powerful; I actually have a chill just hearing you talk about it. Knowing everything that you know now and thinking about what you know now versus back then when you first had your period. What would you change, what would you tell your 13 year old self?

Ateh: I’d say you’re not going to die, chill out. Maybe you don’t have to go to the emergency room in the middle of the night with your mum. I’d give her a hug, she needed a hug at 13, and I’d give a proper hug and tell her it’s going to be okay. I don’t know if I’d change anything, I think I had a healthy attitude thanks to my mum towards my period and I’d say you know what you’re going to have two beautiful babies, it’s worth it, it’s messy, it can be inconvenient and can be all of these things which periods are, but you know all those years are worth it for that one shot, you’re going to have your babies and for the 10 years on the other side of it and that’s just life, I’m really grateful, I have a lot of cousins and family which have had a lot of problems with their periods and I’m very grateful that I’ve never been in crippling pain. 

The girl that created ‘Girls’ [Lena Dunham] had an elective hysterectomy because her periods were crippling, my God, to make that decision as a woman in your early 30s! I can’t complain I’ve been very very lucky that my body has done its job and it’s like clockwork and I’m just grateful, it’s part of being a woman. I love being a woman, that’s the problem, I’m not self-hating in any way, I love being a woman and I find it very powerful, I find it very lucky to be a woman and very lucky to be a mum. I tell my girls you can be anything you want but please breed, I want to be a grandma. Which probably isn’t the healthiest and they will probably do the opposite of what I say so I see it as a huge gift and again a huge responsibility. Responsibility can be positive and negative but this is a positive responsibility. 

Le’Nise: Just to wrap up, are there any last words that you would leave the listeners with about periods and how they should shift their thinking around their period?

Ateh: See it as a divine. See it as you are a creature, we are just animals, we are part of nature and it’s part of a rhythm. Also, please go and support Beauty Banks for my lovely friend Sali Hughes, she’s helping menstrual poverty and I think that’s something as woman we need to give back and understand that they’re many women in this country and around the world that do not have access to sanitary towels, tampons and that we need to be a sisterhood and look after each other. 

Just know that you are powerful and that wherever you are with your period, whether it’s painful, whether it’s this or that, you’re regular, you’re irregular, just respect your body in every sense and that’s part of your body and that’s part of who you are.

Le’Nise: Thank you so much. Where can listeners find out more about you and what you’re up to?

Ateh: I am on Instagram @AtehJewel, I’m launching a foundation for darker skin tones which I’m very excited about, I’m developing it. Please check out my website, Jewel Tones Beauty, and just say hi. Reach out and say hi, I’m on Twitter everything and thanks for chatting. It’s been really really stimulating and interesting. We are lucky. 

Le’Nise: Thank you so much for coming on the show. 

Introducing Period Story Podcast

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Introducing the Period Story Podcast!

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Period Story is a podcast that features women talking about periods, breaking taboos and getting behind the menstrual health myths that hold us back.

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Each episode features a notable and interesting woman talking about her first period, the way she learned about periods and menstrual health, what she knows now that she wishes she knew back then and everything in between.

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The podcast will launch next week! I hope you’ll be listening!

How To Eat Healthy On Holiday

Photo by Mohau Mannathoko

I get a lot of questions from my clients about how to stay healthy and maintain their routines while they’re on holiday, so this was something I was thinking about for myself and my family while I was away, so here are some tips I’ve put together for you. 

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1. Plan, plan, plan. 

Don’t hate me for saying this, but failing to plan is planning to fail. If you want to have a little more control over what you eat while you’re away and while you’re travelling, a little pre-travel research (Google is your best friend here!) will go a long way.  

Plan what you’re going to eat on your travel day. Can you eat breakfast and lunch before you travel to the airport? If you’re not a fan of eating at the airport, prepare some food and bring it with you in portable food storage boxes too much on at the airport. 

Do a little internet research on Tripadvisor and Yelp to discover the closest supermarkets and restaurants to where you’re staying so you have lots of options when you get there.  If you have dietary restrictions, email the restaurants in advance to ask if they can accommodate for your needs. 

When you arrive, plan a stop at the local supermarket to pick up fruit, veg and easy food to snack on, so you always have options available. 

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2. Bring some of your favourite portable food with you.

If you have a favourite food and it’s portable, bring it with you! On my most recent holiday, I packed my matcha powder, a few containers of Oatly (my favourite oat milk!), a bag of pumpkin and flaxseed and my family’s favourite snacks. This means if you’re ever stuck, especially on the first day when you’re still getting your bearings, you have a few bits to keep you going. 

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3. Pack your NutriBullet / hand blender. 

Yes, really! I’ve done this on holidays when I’ve been staying with my family in a villa / AirBnB and I’ve never regretted it. In fact, I decided against bringing it on my most recent holiday and let me tell you, by the end of the trip, I really missed my morning smoothie. 

If you’re comfortable eating the local fruit and veg, a smoothie is a great healthy breakfast that lets you get your greens in too. If you have kids, get them involved in some smoothie making fun! 

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4. Let go a little. 

Holidays are a time for a break from the everyday grind. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a few more drinks than usual or if a daily cup of gelato starts to feel like an essential. You don’t need to let all of your healthy habits go while you’re on holiday, but in the long term, a few treats won’t hurt. 

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5. Explore the local cuisine. 

Make a point to eat the local cuisine and have fun trying new foods. While I was away in the Bahamas, I made a point to get into all the amazing fresh seafood and lots of conch salads, which felt like a huge treat. 

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6. When eating out, prioritise eating vegetables as much as possible. 

When you do eat out,  especially at lunch and dinner, explore the local cuisine and put an emphasis on eating vegetables. Are there any locally prepared vegetables you could try? Could you order lots of the vegetable sides or a big salad to share along with your main course? Doing this will help you come back from your trip without a desperate desire to eat something green. 

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7. Make breakfast or lunch the biggest meal of the day. 

Choose a meal where you know you’ll be able to get in lots of healthy options and make that your biggest of the day. If you’re on holiday in a hotter climate, the heat can restrict your appetite, so there’s the temptation to graze. Having a larger meal first thing sets you up well for the day, especially if something unexpected crops up, i.e. a long beach trip that saps your appetite and energy! 

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8. Bring snacks in your bag when you’re out for the day.

On holidays our days can be a bit more free-formed and we might not eat our meals at our usual times. Packing healthy snacks in your bag can stop you from getting hangry when lunch or dinner gets delayed. 

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9. Have fun!

Whether you go away often or you have one big trip every few years, while you’re away, allow yourself to let go a little and have a little fun. Try new food, have a few treats and let yourself relax. 

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Are you ready to make a positive change to your health? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone and menstrual health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!


The Third Phase of The Menstrual Cycle: Ovulation

Photo by Rodrigo Borges de Jesus

For the last two posts, we’ve been talking about the first two phases of the menstrual cycle, the menstrual and the follicular phases.

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Are you finding that having this information is helping you understand better about what’s happening in your body? 

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I really feel empowered when I know what’s going on and I don’t have to guess. Do you? 

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Let’s move on to talking about the ovulatory phase, otherwise known as ovulation!

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So what’s actually happening when you ovulate?  

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Simply put, one of your ovaries releases a mature egg!  This is the big moment of your menstrual cycle and what the follicular phase has been building up to! 

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Your luteinising and follicle stimulating hormones are at their highest points, as is your oestrogen, which has risen to help thicken the endometrium, the lining of the uterus (the place where a fertilised egg will implant!). 

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For most women, their energy will be at its highest point and they’ll be raring to go! 

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Communication skills are at their peak during ovulation, so this is the time to schedule in that big presentation or important meeting with a boss or client. 

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Here’s a question I get asked a lot: how do I know when I’m ovulating? 

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There are two major signs to look for: 

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  1. Discharge: this tends to become more of an egg white consistency and can be whitish in colour 
  2. Temperature:if you track your cycle using the fertility awareness method (FAM), then you will see your temperature rising during this phase of your cycle

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Food wise, do you notice that you tend to crave fresh fruits and vegetables during this phase of your menstrual cycle? There’s a reason for this! 

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Eating a rainbow of fruit and veg helps support your immune system and keeps you as healthy as possible – your body wants to have the healthiest possible environment to fertilise the mature egg it’s just released!  

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Do you notice a boost in your energy levels and communication skills when you’re ovulating?  

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What do you think? Is there anything else you want to learn more about this phase of your menstrual cycle? 

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Next up: the final phase – luteal! 

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Are your hormones up and down? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

The Second Phase of The Menstrual Cycle: The Follicular Phase

Photo by Diana Simumpande

In my last post, I took you through an overview of what happens during the first phase of the menstrual cycle, aptly called, the menstrual phase.  

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Did it help you understand a bit more about what’s happening during that time of your cycle? 

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Let’s talk about what happens next! 

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As you all know by now, I used to be be blissfully unaware of what happened in my cycle after my period ended.  All I cared about was that the terrible week of my period was over and I could get on with my life (and put the horrible period underwear away!).

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What I didn’t know is that what happens in the next phase sets up the groundwork for the rest of the menstrual cycle. 

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When we enter into the follicular phase (phase two of the menstrual cycle), our estrogen, testosterone and follicular stimulating hormone  (FSH) begin to increase again in preparation for ovulation (i.e. your body is getting ready to release an egg). 

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Do you feel an increase in your energy levels around this point?

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That increase in energy is connected to  rising hormones, preparing us to get out of the house, get social and look & feel our best! You might find that you get quite horny around this time too! Yeah!

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For many women, this is the time of their cycle when they feel their most vibrant, energetic and like their best selves. 

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Your confidence is at all time high so if there’s anything you’ve been hesitant about, try it now

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You also may feel more creative and the rising testosterone also means that you’ll be up for more risk taking and trying new things.

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Have you noticed this come up for you? 

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There’s a lot going on in your body during this phase of your cycle, so nourishing your hormones with lots of dark leafy greens and brassicas really helps (and the fibre keeps you regular!).

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Grass-fed beef & lamb are also superstar foods during this phase – they help replace the iron that has been lost during menstruation and can keep your energy levels high too! 

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What do you think? Is there anything else you want to learn more about this phase of your menstrual cycle? 

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Share your questions about the follicular phase of your cycle in the comments below!

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Next up: ovulation, or when one of our ovaries releases an egg! 

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Are your hormones up and down? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

The First Phase of the Menstrual Cycle: The Menstrual Phase

The Menstrual Phase of The Menstrual Cycle
Photo by Erol Ahmed

I didn’t learn much about my menstrual cycle when I was in school. Anyone else in a similar position?

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What I did learn about my cycle, I cobbled together from books, magazines (shout out to Sassy magazine!), chats with my girlfriends and eventually, some pretty serious googling when I was trying to get pregnant. 

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I often think about how great it would have been to learn about all of this much earlier. To learn that there are four phases to the menstrual cycle. Or that the menstrual cycle isn’t just about getting a period.  Or that ovulation is a hugely important part of it. Or that what you do in the 60 -90 days before your current menstrual cycle will have an effect on it. 

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Over the next few posts, I want to breakdown each of the four phases for you. 

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Are you with me? 

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Let’s start with the menstrual phase, which starts on day one of your period.

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During this phase, if you haven’t fertilised an egg in the previous cycle, your body takes this time to shed the lining of the uterus.  This is the menstrual bleed and typically can last between 4 – 7 days. 

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What’s happening with your hormones during this phase, because let’s face it: there’s always something happening in this area! 

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Estrogen (the hormone that controls the menstrual cycle) and progesterone (the hormone that is released after ovulation) are at their lowest points, so you might feel a bit low with not a lot of energy. 

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You might feel discomfort, pain, a lack of energy, a bit moody or that your emotional responses are a bit more heightened., i.e. you might get teary at a random TV advert. 

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Socially, you might find that you withdraw a little bit from activities or you want to stay at home, especially on day 1 & 2 of your period.  

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All of this is completely normal and part of the ebb and flow of our menstrual cycle.  

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What’s not normal is having lows that are too low, excessive bleeding or pain that is too much.If you feel like this, I would encourage you to explore what’s going on and work with a professional (like me!)to get to the bottom of it. 

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Interestingly, research shows that evaluation and analytical skills are at their strongest during this part of the menstrual cycle, so it’s a great time to take a step back, take stock and reflect on where you are in your life / career / etc. This would be a great time to schedule a call with a mentor or coach if you feel emotionally up to it. 

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It’s so fascinating to see that once you understand what’s going on during your period, you can start to listen to your body and connect more, rather than fighting it. 

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So many of us have negative feelings about our periods and I would love to encourage you to let go of that and find ways to be positive. If positivity is a step too far, then at least try a little bit less negativity. 

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Food, breathwork and movement  (I had to talk about this –  I’m a nutritionist & yoga teacher!) are incredible ways to support your body during this phase of your menstrual cycle.

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Listening to your body, remembering to breathe acknowledging the type of movement & food you crave and nourishing it with nutrient packed fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, complex carbohydrates and good fats will have only positive effects. 

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What do you think? Is there anything you want to learn more about this phase of your menstrual cycle?

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Look out for my post about the next phase of the menstrual cycle!

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Are your hormones up and down? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

The 2018 Eat Love Move Happy Hormone Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2: To Help Balance Your Hormones

We’re a week away from Christmas. Are you ready?  I’m still getting those last minute gifts and hoping for a little gift inspiration for a few of my loved ones that are a little bit more difficult to buy for. 

The 2018 Eat Love Move happy hormone health holiday gift guide

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Part one of my happy hormone holiday gift guide was dedicated to a few different products that will help you or your loved ones go plastic-free (or just use a little less).  Have a look if you need a little inspiration! 

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This gift guide is dedicated to gifts that help support hormone balance and help reduce that amount of harmful chemicals going into the body through makeup, cleaning products, skin care or cooking utensils. 

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Happy shopping! 

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Lodge Cast Iron Pan 

I adore my Lodge cast iron pan and cook most things in it, from ragu sauce to pancakes to chilli. The trick is make sure to oil the pan and clean it properly. Do this and it will last for ages (and food won’t stick!). My cousin uses a cast-iron pan she inherited from our grandfather – he bought it at least 50 years ago! 

The other benefit of a cast iron pan? You avoid the hormone disrupting chemicals that make non-stick pans not stick. 

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Intey HEPA Air Purifier

This air filter is a lovely gift for the winter months when most of us don’t open the windows in our home as often as the summer, so the air gets stale and potential allergens like animal hair and mould hang around longer than they should, putting extra strain on the body’s various detoxification functions. 

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RMS ‘Un’ Cover Up


This is the perfect way to introduce a loved one to non-toxic, natural makeup. The RMS range, designed by Rose-Marie Swift, a make-up artist is made from non-allergenic, environmentally friendly ingredients and avoids the ones that are likely to disrupt hormones. I use this cover-up everyday and it goes on beautifully and the coconut oil in it makes it very moisturising. 

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Living Nature Natural Lipstick

Did you know that many lipsticks contain high levels of lead and other heavy metals? And because it’s applied on the lips, a lot of it is often swallowed. Happily, there are many natural, non-toxic alternatives on the market, including this fabulous lipstick by Living Nature, a New Zealand based natural beauty brand. 

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Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil 


I had to include my favourite coconut oil brand on this list. This coconut oil is a beautiful moisturiser for the skin and hair and absorbs very well, which is one of my biggest issues with coconut oil. Some brands leave the skin looking very shiny! This one doesn’t and smells great too. 

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Afro Skin and Beauty Natural Hair and Skincare

This is a wonderful brand, selling high quality natural hair and skin care.  It’s always nice to support small businesses, especially at this time of year, so definitely check out this company! 

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Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Natural Cleaning Soap


Have you considered making the shift to natural cleaning products? Dr. Bronner’s are a great brand that make very versatile natural cleaning and body care products. And their labels are chockfull of instructions on exactly how to make your own cleaning spray. 

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Amber Glass Cleaning Bottles


These amber glass spray bottles are a lovely way to store a homemade cleaning spray. You could make up a few bottles and give them a Christmas gifts! 

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Are your hormones up and down? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your hormone health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

The 2018 Eat Love Move Happy Hormone Holiday Gift Guide, Part 1: To Go Plastic Free (Or Just Use A Little Bit Less)

Two weeks until Christmas! Are you ready? I’m not… at all. I’m going to be doing a lot of last minute shopping this year! 

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For those of you that are on the last minute shopping vibe like me, I’ve put together a few gift guides with lots of ideas that will arrive in time for Christmas and will help your loved ones support their hormone health.  

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Part one of this gift guide has lots of gift ideas to help reduce plastic or even begin to go plastic-free. 

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Happy shopping! 

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Redecker Dishwashing Brush 

Ditch the disposable dishwashing sponges and make the switch to these sturdy dishwashing brushes, made from wood and natural plant fibres. 

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Bee’s Wrap Beeswax Wraps 

I’ve been using this clingfilm alternative for the past year and I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical at first. I didn’t see how they would be able to replace the durability of clingfilm. But then I started tracking how much clingfilm we were using and reminding myself how little of it gets recycled. Once you get the hang of these wraps and the different sizes, you’ll never go back to clingfilm! 

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Diva Cup Menstrual Cup

I made the switch to menstrual cups a few years ago and now, I would never go back to using tampons or menstrual pads. I wrote about my experience here, if you’d like to know more about the ins and outs of using a menstrual cup. From an environmental view, making the switch to a menstrual cup reduces your environmental footprint (the average woman throws away over 200kg of menstrual products in their lifetime!)

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Reusable Metal Straw

Many restaurants, bars and coffee shops have started to make the switch from plastic to paper straws, which is a positive step. By carrying around your own metal straw you help reduce waste and avoid the need for a disposable straw at all! 

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Reusable Bamboo Cutlery Set

If you have the metal straw, you might as well go all the way and get a full reusable bamboo cutlery set, complete with fork, knife, spoon, chopsticks and a bamboo straw. This would be a great gift for a friend that eats many lunches ‘al desko’ 😀

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Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle


These are such a lovely, thoughtful gift. So many of us want to increase the amount of water we drink (and rightly so!), but it can be easy to forget to fill up your water glass in the morning. These stylish water bottles take up to 800ml at a time and are light enough to slip into a rucksack when you’re out and about. 

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Lock and Lock Glass Food Storage Containers 

Over the last two years, I’ve gradually replaced all of our old hand me down plastic tupperware with these brilliant glass food storage containers. Yes, they’re glass, so you have to be careful with them, i.e. don’t just fling them into the sink like me, because they break 🤔

Acne? But I’m not a teenager!

Adult acne. An oxymoron? No, unfortunately not.

 

It’s something that afflicts more and more adult women as we move from our teens and 20s into our 30s and 40s. In the UK, nearly 90% of teenagers have acne and half of them continue to as adults. Are you one of them?

 

If so, don’t despair. From personal experience, I know that adult acne can have an effect on self-esteem and confidence, feeling like people are looking at your spots, rather than at you. Let me assure you that most people get a few spots from time to time. They seem to be a by-product of our hectic lifestyles and the food and drink we use to keep us going.

 

Why do we get acne and how can we can rid of those pesky spots?

 

Acne can be caused by a number of factors, from too much coffee, alcohol, sugar and stress, to poor gut health to an imbalance of sex hormones. It’s hard to generalise because the causes vary so widely.

 

Here’s another way to look at acne: it’s a symptom of something else going on in your body. Yes, you may get spots, but that’s your body’s way of telling you that there’s something else happening that you need to address.

 

Here are four things that can help improve the health of your skin.

 

1. Think about what you’re putting on your skin.

Everything we put on our skin gets absorbed by our blood stream. This is why some medications are more powerful when they’re applied as creams, sprays or gels, rather than taken as a pill. Make-up, skincare and household cleaning products are all absorbed by your skin and can disrupt the way your body makes oestrogen, which can lead to hormone imbalance, which can then lead to acne.

 

2. Introduce more fermented food and drink into your diet.

Fermented food and drink such as kombucha, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut have many good bacteria, which support the health of your gut. Positive changes to the health of your gut have positive effects on the health of your skin, by affecting the skin microbiome (the balance between good and bad bacteria on your skin).

 

3. Eat more good fats.

Foods with good fats such as oily fish, avocado, nuts and seeds, olive and coconut oils help support the health of the skin by reducing the inflammation that can create acne.

 

4. Work on reducing your stress levels.

Stress can contribute to blood sugar imbalance, inflammation and sex hormone imbalance. Find something you can do everyday that helps you manage day to day stress. Anything from taking a deep breath from your belly to being outside in nature to finding ways to saying no can all help manage stress, which can then have a positive effect on skin health.

 

Do you have acne? Do you want to talk more about ways to improve your skin health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Six ways to improve your health and wellbeing for free (or close to it!)

 

Fancy powders and expensive exercise classes are great, but you don’t need these to be feel or be healthy. I worry that people feel like they can’t be healthy unless they have a lot of money. It doesn’t have to be this way!

 

Here’s the thing: there are loads of things that can be done for free or not that much money that can contribute to your health and well-being.

 

Here are six things you can do to improve your health and wellbeing that are free (or close to it!)

 

  1. Eat more vegetables. Farmers markets and market stalls have a variety of veg that doesn’t need to cost the earth.
  2. Get more and better sleep
  3. Move your body everyday
  4. Breathe
  5. Get rid of emotional vampires
  6. Drink water

 

How many of these do you do each day? Check out my IGTV video where I go into detail about each point. 

 

Do you want to talk more about your health and wellbeing? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

 

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Is wellness for everyone?

I worry that many people feel health and wellbeing isn’t for them because they don’t have a lot of money for expensive ingredients, classes, crystals or workout gear. Or they don’t see anyone that looks like them speaking about health and wellbeing topics that are relevant to them.

 

This is why I believe it’s so important to have voices in the health and wellbeing industry that have a different cultural point of view and come from different backgrounds, be it race, age, body shape or ability.

 

By opening up the conversation to other people from different backgrounds, we widen the scope of what wellness means and the tools to achieve this. 

 

This means acknowledging that not everyone can afford expensive ingredients or has the luxury of time to make long and complicated recipes. 

 

It means acknowledging the history and cultural context of the wellness trends such as yoga, meditation, matcha and Ayurveda. 

 

It means acknowledging that certain health topics such as menstruation, fertility and childbirth have different cultural and religious contexts that must be addressed in order to move the conversation forward. 

 

It means acknowledging that some might be intimidated by going into a fitness class, feeling as though they don’t have the right body / skin colour / brand of leggings / etc. 

 

It means acknowledging the racial disparities in health outcomes, especially in the UK and the US. 

 

What do you think about diversity in wellness? What else needs to be discussed? 

 

Do you want to talk more about your health and wellbeing? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

 

Photo by Nick Grant on Unsplash

Happy gut, happy hormones!

How much do you know about what’s going in your gut?

 

We have millions of microbes there, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. All of them have a good and bad element and they have an impact on our physical and mental health.

 

Our gut health, far from being something to be forgotten about, has a major impact on our hormone health.

 

That means that the gut microbiome, the collection of microbes, including bacteria, in our large intestine, has an effect on how you feel throughout your menstrual cycle.

 

Interesting, isn’t it?

 

The gut microbiome is connected to the estrobolome, the collection of bacteria that helps us metabolise estrogen. Or in a nutshell: good gut health can support good hormone health.

 

So how do you improve the health of your gut?

 

Eat more vegetables!

 

Fibrous vegetables and fruit support gut health, as do fermented food and drink, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir,  kimchi and picked vegetables.

 

What do you do to support your gut health?

 

Do you want to talk more about your hormones and gut health? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

Do you have a normal period?

Who knows a normal period feels like?

 

In my work with women of different walks of life, I see a general perception that periods are supposed to be painful, emotional and annoying.
It’s frustrating because periods don’t have to be this way!

 

A healthy period should be relatively pain-free, apart from a few aches, non-disruptive and generally an event that you notice every month, but one that doesn’t cause a huge amount of upheaval.

 

So what is a normal period?

 

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself to figure out what’s going with your period.

 

1. Am I in a lot of pain?

A painful period is a sign that something else is going on, especially debilitating pain.

 

2. Am I bleeding heavily for my whole period?

Generally speaking, the first and second days of a period are the heaviest.

 

3. Am I bleeding for more than 7 days or less than 3 days?

Menstrual bleeds are generally between 3 – 7 days long. Anything shorter or longer can be a sign of hormonal imbalance, nutrient deficiency or a symptom of another issue.

 

4. Do I have heavy clotting?

Heavy clotting is generally associated with heavy bleeding and can be linked with another issues such as endometriosis, fibroids, polyps, PCOS, ovarian cysts or hormone imbalance.

 

5. Do I get very, very tired and lethargic for my entire period?

It’s normal for energy levels to dip in the first few days of a period. They’ll start to rise again towards the end of a period as the body moves into the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. If energy levels stay low, with a feeling of lethargy and sluggishness, that can be a sign of nutrient deficiency or hormonal imbalance.

 

Do you want to talk more about what’s going on with your period? Get in touch for a free 30 minute hormone & menstrual health review to talk about what’s going on with your menstrual cycle.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating.

 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause. 

 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle!

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

How does yoga help balance hormones?

How do you feel after you go to a yoga class?

 

Calmer? A bit more chilled out? 

 

Many studies have shown that yoga has calming effects on our nervous systems, hormones and psychological wellbeing, creating a blissed out feeling that lasts well past the end of a 45 minute class. 

 

That calming effect reduces the levels of cortisol in our bodies and takes us out of the flight or flight, stressed state. You know, that frenzied feeling where your never ending to-do list keeps cycling around in your head and you’re doing too many things at the same time. 

 

For women especially, studies show that yoga can improve the pre-menstrual luteal phase, reducing feelings of anxiety, depression and increasing feelings of relaxation and calm.

 

Because yoga is so beneficial in reducing cortisol levels, it can have a positive effect on reducing how we cope with stress on an ongoing basis. 

 

When we can get stressed, our cortisol levels increase, we go into a fight or flight state (think clammy hands, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat and sweating) and this gives our brains a signal that it should make less progesterone and estrogen. 

 

When you’re in the fight or flight state, your brain is thinking – she’s stressed, she’s making loads of cortisol, she’s not going to be procreating any time soon, so I don’t need to make as much estrogen and progesterone. And this leads to hormone imbalance because your body isn’t making the right levels of estrogen and progesterone to keep the reproductive system, moods, energy, bones and skin in balance. 

 

Our bodies desperately want to be in equilibrium and want to get us back to a calm, restful state as much as possible. Modern life makes this hard, so this is where yoga comes in. The combination of dynamic movement and breathing regulates the breath, calms the mind and take the nervous system back to a state where you feel on an even keel. 

 

Breathing helps and there are quite a few specific poses that have a positive effect on the endocrine system – these are the organs that make hormones; the thyroid, the adrenals, the reproductive hormones and of course, the brain. 

 

Watch out for upcoming posts where I break down specific poses that support hormone balance. 

 

What’s your favourite calming yoga pose?

 

Do you want support to balance your hormones, reduce stress and stop mood swings?  Get in touch for a free 30 minute nutrition, hormone & menstrual health review to help clear the confusion.

 

Le’Nise Brothers is a nutritional therapist, women’s health coach, trainee yoga teacher and founder of Eat Love Move.

 

Le’Nise works primarily with women who feel like they’re being ruled by their sugar cravings, mood swings and hormonal acne & bloating. 
 

They want to get to grips with heavy, missing, irregular & painful periods, fibroids, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, post-natal depletion and perimenopause.  
 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! 

 

Research sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24298457
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25965108 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24138994 

 

Photo by Yayan Sopian on Unsplash