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Category: Menstrual Health

Let’s Talk About Irregular Periods!

Let’s talk about irregular periods and menstrual cycles.  

We ideally want our menstrual cycles to come every 21 – 35 days.  

If yours isn’t always 28 days and the number of days in your menstrual month (your menstrual month = the day your period starts all the way through to the day before your next period starts) varies each time, that’s totally normal. 

A variation of up to 5-6 days each menstrual cycle is fine, so if one menstrual cycle is 25 days, the next is 28, then the next is 26, there’s nothing wrong with you.  

Remember: your menstrual cycle (and period) is a vital sign from your body that gives you information about what’s going on with your health. Variations in cycle length could mean more stress, illness, changes in medication, the effects of jet lag or life changes such as starting a new job, a breakup or a bereavement.  But what if your menstrual cycle is much longer than 35 days or shorter than 21 days?

Here are a few suggestions: 

1. Track your menstrual cycle for 4 – 6 months to understand what the variations in cycle length look like for you.  

2. Look at what other symptoms you’re experiencing. What’s your body temperature like? Do you crave sugar? Do you have dark, coarse body hair on your face, chest and abdomen? Are you in your mid-40s? 

3. Are your menstrual cycles really long or have your periods completely stopped (and you’re not post-menopausal, pregnant, breastfeeding or undergoing treatment that has triggered medical menopause)? Are you taking hormonal contraception?  

4. Look at what’s going on in the rest of your life. Are you under a significant amount of stress? Have you rapidly lost or gained a significant amount of weight? Are you exercising excessively? Are you dealing with significant current or past unresolved trauma?  

All of this information will help you understand what’s behind the irregular menstrual cycles you’re experiencing. It might be PCOS (and one of the 4 types), it might be a thyroid issue, it might be hypothalamic amenorrhea, it might be perimenopause or it could be another issue. 

Is your period irregular? Tell me more in the comments.

Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Boden, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period was released in March 2022. 

Let’s Talk About Period Pain!

We’ve spent the last four weeks talking about each of the menstrual cycle.

I hope it’s clearer to you now and you can use this information to get a better understanding of what’s going on for you during each phase.  

Let’s move on to talking about period pain.

If you’ve been following my work for a while, you will have heard me say that period pain is common, but it’s not normal.  I recently read an Instagram post that challenged this idea, saying that period pain is indeed normal and when we say it’s not normal, we diminish the pain that people experience due to chronic conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids and adenomyosis, as well as period pain caused by inflammation due to systemic stressors such as racial and sexual discrimination, healthcare and economic inequalities and more.

I’m interested to know your perceptive on this.  

I’ll say right away that I don’t agree this perspective.

When we understand that we don’t have to live with terrible period pain, we stop normalising a sign from our body that something is wrong.

Even with conditions like fibroids, adenomyosis and endometriosis, when we understand that period pain is, although common, but not normal, it can empower us to take charge of our health outcomes.  

Some might say that I’m advocating healthism. This places the problem of health and disease in the hands of the individual, rather than acknowledging there are also systemic and political issues – such as the lack of consistent and equitable access to health services, or lack of research into women’s health – that contribute to menstrual and hormone health issues. 

Again I go back to knowledge.

Pain is a signal from the body that something’s amiss.

Our periods and menstrual cycles are our body’s fifth vital sign, a measure of how important parts of our health are functioning. Chronic menstrual pain tells us that an important part of our health needs attention.

This knowledge can help you find the support you need in order to change your health outcomes. This might simply start with a conversation with a friend or relative. It might be pushing your GP a little harder for a referral, diagnosis or a better explanation. It simply might give you comfort that you’re not alone and you don’t need to endure the pain you experience.  

Let me know what you think.

This might be a new perspective for some of you. If you disagree, let me know – I want to hear your thoughts! 

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Boden, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in March 2022. 

Let’s Talk About Our Inner Autumn!

Let’s get into the final phase of our menstrual cycle, the inner autumn, otherwise known as the luteal phase. Click these links if you want to learn more about the menstrual / inner winter, follicular / inner spring and ovulatory / inner summer phases.

I like to think of the luteal phase as having two parts – early and late. Think of it like early autumn, September to mid-October. There’s still a bright energy in the air, with the leaves changing colours. Then we move to late autumn, mid-October to November. The nights are starting to draw in, there’s a cold crispness and all you want to do is stay warm and cosy inside. 

In our early luteal phase, we still have lots of energy and our moods are still balanced. Then we move into our late luteal phase: estrogen and progesterone naturally start to gradually decline and we might find that we move a little slower. We also might get super focused on working through our to do lists as a way of getting as much as possible done as we move towards the end our menstrual cycle and get ready to start anew. 

Let’s talk about our expectations for ourselves during this time. 

You’ve heard of a little something called PMS, right? That’s premenstrual syndrome, a collection of over 150 different symptoms. I often hear women referring to how they feel as ‘their PMS’ or that they’re ‘PMSing’. If you simply chalk up how you feel to ‘PMS’, then you miss the opportunity to identify what’s really going on for you. 

Is it premenstrual anxiety? Premenstrual bloating? Premenstrual headaches?  Diving a little deeper into how you’re feeling instead of using a broad term like PMS gives you the chance to reframe the time before your period. It also helps us shift this cultural expectation that we’re supposed to put up with two weeks of feeling  like crap (a week before our periods and the week of our periods). 

If you’ve never heard anything like this before, explore how this new idea makes you feel. It can be hard to shrug off long-held views about how we’re supposed to feel, especially ones that have permeated the cultural landscape.

Before you say I’m being Pollyannaish, remember that it’s normal for our moods to change.

We can’t always chalk changing moods up to our hormones. We can have normal reactions to events, people and situations all throughout our menstrual cycle. They might be a bit heightened before our period (we have less estrogen and less serotonin and dopamine).

Here’s another way to look at it. Estrogen, being our feminising hormone, is also our hormone of tolerance. When it naturally declines in our late luteal phase, we may have less tolerance to things that we’ve been putting up with. I know I don’t want to deal with any nonsense right before my period and I don’t. Or I bite my tongue a little harder because I know what I say might be a little harsher.

How you do feel about the time before your period? Tell me more in the comments. 

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Boden, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in March 2022. 

Let’s Talk About Our Inner Spring

In my last post, we talked about the first phase of the menstrual cycle, menstruation, which most of us are very, very familiar with.

Let’s talk about what happens after our periods finish when we move into the follicular phase, or our inner spring. 

A lot of us look forward to this time in our menstrual cycles, because we know as we move further into our inner spring we’ll start to feel like our best selves. Our estrogen levels are rising and with this comes more energy, an outward focus, a need to try new things or take more risks, more creativity and a feeling that things are more likely to go our way.

With more estrogen comes more serotonin (our happy hormone), more dopamine (the neurotransmitter associated with reward) and more acetylcholine (the neurotransmitter that helps us think and come up with ideas). 

Do you notice changes in your libido after you finish your period? Does it come roaring in again? Or do you find yourself feeling more aware of yourself, even by 1%, as a sexual being? That’s the effect of more energy from estrogen and rising testosterone, the hormone that is associated with libido.

Testosterone is also the reason why we may feel more confident and stronger when we exercise or it simply feels easier to lift something heavy. If you’re exercising and moving your body according to where you are in your cycle, this is the time when muscle becomes easier to put on. And this is really important because after the age of 30, we lose about 3 – 8% of our muscle mass each year. Supporting muscle also means healthy bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, or decreased bone density. 

There are physical signs we can look for to show us that we’re moving into our inner spring.

After our periods finish, you may notice that your cervical fluid (what you see after you wipe your vulva in the loo or in your underwear) starts to change. This is a good thing.

On a personal note, I didn’t learn about changing cervical fluid until my early 30s and actually went to the doctor at one point because I was baffled by the changes, thinking I might have a yeast infection. I didn’t. Your cervical fluid will change from very clear to a similar texture to egg white. If you were to pick it up in your fingers right before ovulation, it might feel viscous and sticky – we want this, because this is a sign that estrogen levels have risen to their peak and we’re about to release an egg from one of our ovaries. 

What’s normal during the follicular phase? More energy, a feeling of wanting to rejoin the world again, more confidence and creativity, increased libido, better skin, improved mood, better sleep, a smaller appetite. 

What isn’t normal? Sustained low energy, pre-ovulatory anxiety, lack of libido, no changes to cervical fluid or excess cervical fluid, constipation. 

How does this phase of the menstrual cycle feel for you? Tell me more in the comments. 

Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Boden, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in March 2022. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.

Period Story Podcast, Episode 47: Erin Holt, We Have A Innate Ability To Heal Ourselves

The podcast is back! Welcome to season 5! We went on an unexpected hiatus last year when I realised that I was running myself ragged trying to do too many things – see clients, write a book, homeschool and sell a house. I have more breathing space again so Period Story podcast is back! 

Today’s podcast is such a good one. I’m so pleased to share my conversation with Erin Holt. Erin is a board-certified integrative and functional nutritionist with a feisty attitude and over a decade of clinical experience. She blends evidence-based practices, functional lab testing, energy medicine, boundary setting & humor for a unique and customized approach to women’s health. She dives deep with women to get to the root cause of their health issues and finally get answers to their mystery symptoms.

A quick note on today’s show – we recorded this early last year, so please check Erin’s website for her most up to date programmes and courses!

Erin and I had a fantastic conversation about boundaries, diet dogma, how to recognise intuition and of course the story of her first period. I can’t wait for you to hear this episode – Erin is a fountain of knowledge and a great person to follow on Instagram! 

Thank you, Erin!

Get in touch with Erin:

Website

Instagram


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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Le’Nise: Hi, everyone, I’m so excited for you to meet Erin Holt on today’s episode, so, yes, enjoy the show. And let’s start off with a question that I always ask my guests, which is tell me the story of your, your first period. 

Erin: OK, so this is really not something that I’ve thought a lot about. So when you sent over the the questions ahead of time or just, you know, things to ponder for this show, it really, really made me think and not just about the actual story, but sort of the whys behind it and what did that tell me? And so I just want to say that this is really the first time that I’ve thought about this. But I got my period when I was in sixth grade. And you can tell that I’m like a kid of the 80s and 90s because in sixth grade we just like would walk to our friend’s house after school. Like no parental supervision. No, like nothing. I have a first grader and the thought of her doing that in five years, like I would never I would never. So I was at my friend’s house. It was a boys house. And there was just a bunch of us there watching MTV back when they actually had music videos. And I remember having to put on a pair of his sweatpants because it was very muddy out. So I was wearing his pants at a boy’s house with my friends and I got my period. So it luckily it wasn’t like a big, huge thing. I was able to go home. But what happened when I went home, as I told my mom and she asked me, were you having sex over there? I’m in sixth grade. I’m 12 years old at this point, maybe even 11 and. I saw right out of the gate I got this impression or this message that this is wrong, right? This what just happened to you is actually like because you did something you potentially did something bad and holy smokes. Now, my mom, I have to say, she had me really young, but we were really open and she was hip. You know, she that was I think that kind of just came from a place of like fear and like nervousness within herself. And probably if she could go back in time, she probably would have done it a little differently. But that that is really my takeaway from the first time I got my period was feeling like, oh, this this this is something that that that happened. 

Le’Nise: So when you got your period at your friend’s house, what did you do? Like you actually like in the moment you’re wearing his sweatpants. So like for the Brits listening, like, they’re like just sweat sweat bottoms, tracky bottoms. And then you felt like you felt your period come. What did you do? Like take us through that actual time at your friend’s house? 

Erin: I didn’t feel it. I went to the bathroom and noticed, like, oh, my gosh, this is something. And of course, I said nothing. I didn’t say anything to anybody and was like, oh, my God, I can I just going to get home as fast as possible. My mom has to come pick me up and got to get out of there because how mortifying to get your first period at a boy’s house while you’re wearing his pants. So it wasn’t a very you know, there wasn’t much of a story to tell because I just hightailed it out of there after that. 

Le’Nise: And did you know what it was? 

Erin: I did. I did know. I did know what it was. And I’m trying to think of how I knew because I had not really had a conversation about this is going to happen. And here’s what we do. I mean, my mom got her period and like I said, she was really open. So I was aware of what menstruation was, what it looked like, all of that. But as far as I knew what it was, but I didn’t know, like, where do you go from here? 

Le’Nise: And so then you got home. Your mom asked you that question, which she said that she probably regrets. And then what did you do? Like, did she give you pads? Did she give you tampons? 

Erin: No, she gave me, we got pads. I remember that. But we I spent the summer times with my with my grandparents. And I remember the very first time I had to use a tampon because my mom hadn’t taught me how to use a tampon. She got me pads and that was sort of it. And the summer, like I said, we were with my grandparents. I was meeting my friends at a water slide and I got my period. So I’m like, oh, I have to figure this out. I have to figure this out like really fast. How do I use a tampon? Because I can’t go in a bathing suit on a water slide with a pad. And so I remember, I totally remember the exact bathroom I was in. I remember it was so uncomfortable. I had no idea what I was doing, but I just went for it and figured out how to use a tampon through my bathing suit. But I there was no there was no guidance. There was nobody walking me through the steps. And in fact, I went I was the first one in the group to get my, in my group of girlfriends to get my period. And so when another one of my friends got it and wanted to start using tampons, I was the one that had to teach her. And I taught her by drawing a diagram because that was easier than actually like teaching, you know, like going into the bathroom with her. So I drew a diagram and then gave her the notebook. I remember the journal that she wrote it in and she took it in and figured out how to do it because we really just didn’t have parents swooping in and saying, OK, here’s what’s going to happen. Here’s the next steps. Here’s how to use this. It was like a total, like, magical mystery tour. 

Le’Nise: And so you became the kind of educator in your group of friends, so then after you figured out how to use a tampon at that, the moment of the water slide, how did you then further and learn about what was happening to your body? 

Erin: Well, I’m thirty seven in two days, and I’m just now learning about it, so that gives you any insight I. I didn’t I mean, of course, we had like. One course in in like middle school, you know, like talking about the birds and the bees type of vibe, but outside of that, there really wasn’t any education around. Why this is happening, like the actual physiological reason it’s happening, what to expect, what the different phases of your cycle might mean, what’s normal, what’s not normal. I’m pretty fortunate in that I have  dealt with a lot of health issues, but none of them really, I didn’t I’ve never had really hard periods. Let’s let’s just say that. And so I just kind of like when went through the motions, really. 

Le’Nise: So then you kind of kind of figured it out on your own and then you never had any hard periods, so no period pain, heavy period or any other issues with your menstrual cycle. 

Erin: The I was I did battle eating disorders for over a decade. And so there was a time when I was in my my early teens and I had lost a really significant amount of weight. I was overtraining, under eating, significantly restricting my food source. And I lost my cycle for a while and didn’t even know that that was. And for a while I would say under a year, not not several years. But I didn’t know that was a problem. I didn’t communicate that to people knowing what I know. Now, looking back, I was like, oh, my goodness, that was a big deal, but had no idea that that that that was a thing. And like I said, didn’t didn’t even talk about it. Never told anybody. But outside of that, no, I didn’t have really horrible cramping or heavy bleeds or big issues surrounding menstruation. 

Le’Nise: Yeah. It’s interesting you say as a student athlete, when you lost your period, I spoke to someone else on the show last year and she was saying that something happened to her, the similar thing happened to her. And she was actually really happy when she lost her period because her and her friends, they always saw their period as a hassle as as athletes. And that was a kind of. Kind of common theme throughout high school and university for her, doing sports, period was, having a period was always a hassle. If you think about you as a student athlete and then your friends who also played sports, did you said that you didn’t notice that you lost your period, but did you, were you getting any other messages, if you think back about it, around periods being a bit of a hassle as an athlete? 

Erin: Totally. And so let me just clarify that. I wasn’t an athlete. I think I was like self-inflicted. So I ran a lot. I joke if my husband could hear you call me an athlete, it would be like the joke of the week. But so I wasn’t really in the athletic group, so I can’t really speak to that. But I absolutely got the message that a period is is not. It’s not something to revere, right, it’s something it’s our cross to bear, it’s this thing that it’s kind of cloaked in shame. You don’t really discuss it with anybody. It’s embarrassing when it happens. And, yeah, it would be it’s a great thing to not have to deal with it. Like I said, like not having a period. I was never like, OK, something something is off here. I was like, cool, you know, like one less thing to have to deal with in this, you know, crazy body of mine. 

Le’Nise:  If you think back to how you learnt about your period and or you’re still learning about your period and your menstrual cycle, what can you take from that into the way that you teach your daughter when she eventually gets her period? 

Erin: Well, there’s going to be a conversation leading up to it first and foremost, and it’s a we even have conversations now because she sees we’re definitely an open parent. And so she sees the fact that I menstruate every month and we have conversations about that. And so there’ll be more conversation leading up to it. But what I really hope to instil in her is this appreciation for what her body’s actually doing every single month, because it took me well into adulthood for me to understand that. And if she can go into it understanding that this is more of a superpower than it is a cross to bear, I feel like, what a gift. And my my my job will be well done if she she can if she can take that away from it. 

Le’Nise: So you mentioned to see it as a superpower. What does that mean for you? 

Erin: Well. Just the the. Miracle that our body essentially creates a new gland every month. I mean, I think as as this is a generalisation, but as a woman, I’ve been extremely hard on myself and on my body. And I tend to look for the broken places and I tend to look for the places that aren’t meeting some arbitrary ideal. And I tend to beat myself up for all of those places rather than the more I study the human body, the more I work with a lot more women, the more I’m like, oh my God, this body truly is a miracle in what it can do every single day, every single week, every single month, over and over and over again. So this the fact that this was a big aha moment, the fact that we’re just creating these things within our body every month is is so significant. And then once we can really get in touch with the phases of our cycle and understand that they each hold a purpose, like a really big significant purpose is is huge. I think that for me, understanding the luteal cycle and what’s happening there. Was a really big eye opener for me, because I tend to be my husband calls it my outrageous temper. I tend I have I’m a hot tempered person, right. And I beat myself up for that a lot. Like, why am I like this? What’s wrong with me? You know, why is this happening? And understanding that there is that we become so much more discerning in the week or the weeks leading up to our menstruation that we’re able to look around and assess, hey, what in my life isn’t working? You know what’s not really like feeding my soul anymore and being able to understand that and harness that? That’s not a problem. I’m not a I’m not a bitch. I’m not broken. I’m not awful. It’s just that I’m more in tune to different aspects of my life. And to me that that’s a real gift. And if we can if we can just teach women that versus telling them why they’re so awful all the time, you know, I think that just creates such a different environment.

Le’Nise: And how have those learnings that you gained about how you behave differently or think differently in different parts of your cycle, have you taken those into the way that you work and the way that you run your business? 

Erin: I won’t say that I’ve gotten to the point where I create my schedule around different parts of my cycle. However, I give myself a lot more grace around how I interact with people. I understand that, you know, in the follicular phase, I really enjoy interacting with people and I have a lot more patience for folks, whereas on the other half of my cycle, not so much. I tend to be a lot more introverted and communicating with people feels like a lot for me energetically. And so I think this really applies especially to social media and my interactions on social media, on that Instagram is the one where I spend my most time. So whether it’s DMs or interacting with people that way, I give myself a lot of grace because I would get really frustrated that I felt like people needed me all of the time and were asking so much of me. And now I just understand that, like, there are times in my, in the month where I’m excited about that and then there are times in the month where I am not. And so that I would say, is how I’ve harnessed that the most in my work currently. 

Le’Nise: I really love that because you you saying that I have never thought about it, but that actually Has connected a lot with me. There would be times where I could be like you. I get a ton of DMs and there are times where I just like why? Why are you DMing me? And even though I say to me, like, you know, and then other times I’ll just be tip tapping away. I love responding and I never really thought about it like that. But I actually want to ask you that now that we’re talking about social media, I love what you say about boundaries on social media. Can you share your stance on boundaries for listeners who may not be familiar with you and don’t follow you on Instagram? 

Erin: Oh, my goodness. Of course I am. Boundaries are is one of my most favourite things to talk about. And I view boundaries as a form of self care. And self care is a term that I don’t really vibe with. I don’t really align with that term. But it’s a good catchall term. People know what you mean when you say it. And I work with a lot of women in my in my work who are really struggling with some chronic stuff. It might be GI, it might be ongoing hormones. It might be just utter extreme burnout, autoimmunity. And what I found over the years is that so much of it comes from our inability to just set and hold boundaries, whether that’s in our life with our family or in-laws or friends or our work. It’s, you know, I think, again, generalisation, but a lot of us are brought up to believe that we have to be the peacekeepers, that we have to walk into a room and make sure everybody’s comfortable. It’s, we’re responsible for everybody else’s comfort level above our own. And we’ve been taught this lie that if we start to take a step forward and say, hey, I matter, though, right? My my energy matters, my health matters, then we’re selfish. Right. And so and the more I talk about about boundaries publicly, the more I get gaslit into thinking that, like, oh, well, you’re just selfish or. Or greedy or your money hungry or you don’t care enough about people. And so this happens like this. Our society teaches us that in doubles down in that message, often infrequently. And so I get why people are nervous to step forward and create boundaries. But it is arguably one of the most important things that we can do. I joke that like Boundaries is my favourite adaptogen because all it’s doing is saying I need to take care of my energy. Right. We are walking around, burnt out, strung out, exhausted, like dragging the limbs all over the place. Just really, really, really tired. And what nobody is going to swoop in and give you an extra few hours of the day to take care of yourself. That will literally never happen. And if it did happen, I’m sure you’d be really good about filling up that space with doing things for other people anyway. So we have to kind of stake a claim on our own lives and say here’s like evaluate our energy and be radically honest with energy leaks, like where’s my energy going in? Does that feel good to me? And if it doesn’t, that’s where we have to create a boundary. That’s where we have to say, I’m unwilling to do this. And I think it’s really challenging when it’s something that we used to be available for and to all of a sudden say, I am no longer available for this. You know, we can use DMS as an example. Maybe now you’re saying, DM me, I love it. I love to chat on DMs and then perhaps your business might shift in restructure to the point where you can no longer DM people back and forth all day. And so you would have to create a boundary and say, I used to be available for this. I am no longer available for this because I took stock of my energy and I realised that it doesn’t feel good any longer to do that or I don’t have the bandwidth for it. And so I think a boundary boundaries is is a must. I think we’re hearing a lot more about them and I’m really glad for that because it’s hard. I think it’s very hard to have a good handle on mental health, emotional health and physical health if you are unable to create boundaries in your life. 

Le’Nise: I I am just nodding along with what you’re saying, because I’m a big believer in boundaries. I like I don’t like it when people behave in an unboundried way. And I always push back against that. I mean, I’ve I think social media is, because you have access to so many people or you feel like you have access to so many people because you can just send them a message. It makes people feel like, well, you know, I have access to you all the time so I can just send you what I want. But and people don’t necessarily think before they send you, you know, their like whole page long health issue. And I love that people feel open and able to share that. But I think there’s a kind of energetic exchange that happens. And what I love about what you said is it relates quite nicely to people who work in healing professions. There is a boundary issue that happens because you are giving so much of yourself when you’re working with people. And there is a kind of, it’s a it’s a challenge to be able to say no, because you’re so used to giving and giving and giving, and that’s certainly something that I’ve learnt in my time as a practitioner that I have to have boundaries like I don’t let people contact me on certain platforms anymore, I just I don’t like it and I need to have my own space to be able to know that I can be there as Le’Nise Brothers, the person rather than Le’Nise Brothers, the practitioner. So, yeah, that’s kind of I’m really connecting with what you’re saying, 

Erin: I think that social media can be the biggest boundary breach if we let it, because to your point, we’ve created this this false expectation that people should be entitled to our time, our expertise, our brain, our energy at any moment in the day. And so I do think there has to be a little bit of a resistance and a little bit of a kickback, because at the end of the day, we’re all human beings with a finite energy source. Many of us have families and other obligations outside of of the app. And we show up because we like to interact. We like to create content. We like to help people. But I think what also some people fail to understand is that a lot of that, especially for for practitioners, is that that a lot of that is content marketing. So we’re willing to show up and to give in the hope that that message will resonate with somebody and then they’ll end up working with us because there has to be a monetary exchange. I am the primary provider for my family. So if I don’t get paid, the lights don’t go on. I don’t have Internet to provide free content. We don’t eat. So I have to get paid. And that is a boundary in and of itself is that that energy exchange of receiving compensation for the energy that I put out in the world. And we have to we have to understand that, too. And a big thing that I get asked a lot by other business owners are like, aren’t you so afraid to set boundaries on, publicly like you do, like aren’t you afraid you’re going to lose clients? A lot of people are afraid to say no because they they they need clients. Right. Understandably. But I look at it a completely different way, because if somebody is going to overstep my boundaries on a on a free platform, then they’re surely going to do it when they’re paying clients. Surely. And so I almost use that as a screening tool to assess who who is a good fit for me, who can work with me. If you can’t respect me here, then you don’t get past this check point. You don’t get access to to my one on one work. And it has been really quite tremendous and helpful for me to to hone my clientele, because by the time somebody is paying to work with me, they’re so respectful, they’re so understanding of my boundaries, they’re so respectful of them that I love the work that I do. And I’m not hitting that that burnout that so many of us practitioners or business owners hit when we’re just saying yes to everybody. 

Le’Nise: So someone’s listening to this and they’re thinking, yes, I just have a huge issue with boundaries, whether they’re a practitioner or whether they’re just a person in this world. What was, what would one tip for them to start with? What would that one tip be? 

Erin: I think it’s putting the responsibility on yourself to understand, because it’s hard to know where where we need to set boundaries if we don’t if we don’t know what’s triggering us. So really, really pay attention to those trigger moments. You know, when I for me, when I get triggered, I get really hot. Like, I physically feel a sensation in my body where I’m like, I have to get up and like, pace my house. I’m just like, walk around because I get this, like, big visceral sensation. So I would like understand what your kind of trigger, you know, clues are and then really think about what’s happening in this moment in time. And then is there a pattern here? Does this happen every single time, X, Y, Z happens? I think pulling it in, if you are somebody who menstruates and has a cycle, pulling it into that luteal phase, because, again, we’re going to be a lot more attenuated to like, oh, these are the things that are driving me nuts, you know, and maybe kind of utilise that. I always say, and I’m sure you say the same like that that period is not the best or that phase of the cycle is not the best time to act on your decisions. Like if you if you have clarity, you don’t necessarily have to take action, because at least for me, that action is usually a little too aggressive. But you can pull it into your menstruation and like think about it meditate on it come from a clear headed spot. But that, I think, is the very first step is to pay attention to where you get bothered in rather than say, oh, there’s something wrong with me for getting bothered, like, why am I like this? Why do we react this way, use it as information. Because there’s probably a boundary that needs to be set. 

Le’Nise: And this actually segues nicely into this. You’re talking about tuning in and understanding what you need. It segues nicely into what I wanted to talk about around your work and intuitive eating. And on your website, you talk about ditching diet dogma and you talk a little bit more about what that means. So ditching diet dogma. 

Erin: So I want to first say, because I’m, transparency and integrity are like the two bedrocks of my business. And so there’s a lot of intuitive eating terminology being thrown around. I do not, have not received training and intuitive eating. And I just say that because that is a trademarked framework. Right. So I don’t want to co-opt that or make it sound like I’m doing something that I’m not doing. I, in my eating disorder recovery, intuitive eating came into play. And I did work with a registered dietitian who is trained in intuitive eating. So I’ve had exposure to it. Ditching the diet dogma means stop living as though your diet is your religion, right, we can get, tribalism is so huge right now, we can see it play out in politics, especially here in the U.S. pretty keenly, but it’s also infiltrated so many other systems like our food. Right. And so we have different camps. We’ve got the paleo, we’ve got the keto, we’ve got the intermittent fasters. We’ve got the vegan, the plant based diet. We you know, there’s so many different camps and everybody shouting from the rooftops, why this is the one way. This is the end all be all this is the thing to finally fix your broken pieces, to finally save you. And so we can get really locked into that. And I just see it do such a massive disservice long term to be so locked in and so rigid. And it’s like, you know, I recently said it’s like when when your food plan, your way of eating becomes more like religion. Right. More like like doctrine than that usually creates problems in the long run because there’s no wiggle room for you to say, oh, jeez, this isn’t working for me anymore. There’s no space for your intuition to come through and say, you know what, this actually doesn’t feel good in my body. Right. So I would say that ditching the diet dogma is more about embracing the idea, because this is a lot easier said than done, but embracing the idea that our own body’s communication and our own intuition should guide the way that we eat versus somebody else’s set of rules. 

Le’Nise: Now, I know we talked a little bit about this over over DMs. And you have recently released a very interesting podcast episode about intuitive eating, intuitive fasting, where you you position this as a position, as an opinion piece. But I just want to go back to what you just said about tuning in and understanding your intuition. What would you say to someone who says, well, I don’t even know what the word intuition means, like what I don’t get I don’t connect. I know that this is something I need to ditch diet dogma, but I don’t get that.

Erin: That is a really, really good question, because that is that’s sort of my the rub for me with any type of intuitive eating approach, whether it’s the trademarked intuitive eating or something similar, because we can’t just turn on our intuition when it comes to food. You don’t just walk into the kitchen, open the cupboard and say, my intuitions on now. It is really something that we have to practise throughout our entire, the rest of our life, not just with food. And so where do you begin? I mean, what is intuition? It’s like the sort of like the quiet whispers that you might hear that you’re like that that can’t be real or even like the gut sense that you’ve got. What I always say is like, has there ever been a time where you just knew something? You didn’t know how you knew it, you just knew it and you acted on it. In looking back, you were like, oh, my gosh, thank God I listened to that. That that that was a big thing. That’s your intuition speaking to you. And where does it come from? I don’t know. I think it probably depends on what kind of spirituality or philosophy or religion you align with. So I won’t go there. But it’s coming from it’s either your higher self or it’s coming from something bigger than you. And I think that the only way that we can access this is by creating space to do it, like having the desire and the willingness to say, you know what, I really want to really want to check in with my intuition. I really want to figure out what these messages mean or where they’re coming from. And I think we have to practise it. And I think we have to create space for it. I call it like mental white space, almost. If if our heads and our bodies and our days are so filled up to the brim with stuff, with noise, with information all day, every day, there’s really not a whole lot of space for your intuition to come in. Right. Whereas with what’s the entry point? And so I think that’s why having a meditation practise or having a mindfulness practise can be really good because it creates that white space in your day. Now, for some people to just sit down, you know, quietly for ten minutes to listen to their intuition, it’s not going to happen. It’s like being hit by a Mack truck. All of a sudden, you know, you’re going, going, going, going. And then they sit down. They’re like, I got to get out of here. I can’t do this right. So I also think that we can access it. One of the ways that I do it is through nature. We live in the woods. So I will go I call it my forest medicine. I will just go into the woods. I think nature has this ability to connect us to something bigger than ourselves. It’s that that sense of all that sense of wonder that we’ve sort of been disconnected from. I think we all have it as children and then we move away from it the older we get. But you go into a wide open space of nature, whether it’s green space or blue space, and you just see if you’re able to feel into this sense that there’s something bigger than me, doesn’t make all your problems go away. But it kind of gives you perspective on your problems a little bit. And for me, that creates a little bit of a pocket in my day. A quiet moment. A pause, if you will, from all of the noise and the chatter and I find that my I can connect with my intuition really, really well there, but I think we all have to find what works best for us. But it really is about one being willing to go into creating a pocket of time for yourself to listen. 

Le’Nise: I I think what you’re saying is so interesting, and it reminds me of one of my yoga teachers, she would always say that you need to listen, listen to the whispers before they become screams and if you take that principle beyond the physical body. When you’re doing kind of asana movement to kind of what’s happening internally and related to your hunger and what you’re what your what your body needs, it’s really interesting. And it’s almost like a muscle that you have to build. But if you give yourself that small space weather is, as you say, a walk in nature or even like just five minutes away from your phone, just kind of looking at your candle, whatever it is, you know, it’s that little kind of white space. I love that, that white space that gives your brain a chance to focus on something else. I, I just think, I love that. I think that’s so interesting. 

Erin: That quote is so I love that quote so much. And I think that’s sometimes for some people my myself, definitely. So I’ll use myself as an example. If we’re not listening to our intuition or we’re not heeding the message, sometimes those messages can come through our physical body. And I use that that quote in relation to physical health, because I’ve I’ve really struggled with I was diagnosed with an autoimmune illness six years ago. And so I’ve had some some battles with with my physical health. And I think looking back, that’s exactly what was happening. I was not heeding my intuitive messages. I was I had kind of gone dark on myself a little bit where I was like, I can’t even listen right now. And so those those whispers started to come through my body and I didn’t pay attention. And then those whispers slowly became screams in the form of a really serious health condition. And so I think it is. And I want I want to just make sure that everybody listening is not hearing me say that if you are struggling with a health condition, you caused it. I’m not saying that, I’m not saying that, but I do think that our bodies try to communicate to us and we’re not really great at listening to those to those signs and those symptoms. And so there’s multiple ways that our, our intuition can communicate with us. And some for some of us we’re like more I don’t know, like I get a lot of messages through my body, some of us are like, that’s how messages come in. Some people are more clairsentient, I think it’s called. So you can hear it’s like somebody speaking to you or something. Speaking to some people are more clairvoyant where they see different energy. I feel like I’m I think it’s clairsentient maybe. I feel people’s stuff. So I think that that’s an important thing, too, is that if there’s if there’s this repetitive message coming through, like whether you go through any of those channels, it’s really important that you listen to it because your intuition usually doesn’t just turn off. Right. It’s going to try to get your attention in there. If it’s not, it’s not getting your attention in a gentle way, then it might ramp it up in a different way. 

Le’Nise: Yeah, absolutely. And in terms of the work that you do with your clients beyond what you’ve said about ditching dogma. So you mentioned that you you have an autoimmune condition yourself and you do work with people who have autoimmune conditions. Talk a little bit about how, because they tend to be more complicated as a practitioner, a little bit about the work that you do with those types of conditions and what you’ve learnt perhaps from what you’ve experienced yourself. 

Erin: So I do a lot of functional medicine, works with a lot of lab testing to assess, to get the data to assess for what could be contributing to the overall imbalanced immune system. So I do that. From a food perspective, it’s interesting because the functional medicine space loves a good elimination diet, right? It is its restriction. It’s a whole new form of restriction where it’s not necessarily restricting calories in order to lose weight, but you’re restricting food as a safety mechanism to keep yourself safe so your disease does not progress, which is equally as stressful. I will say that. So I’ve found I’ve sort of found this weird little pocket of the Internet where I’m deep in the functional medicine world. But I’m also kind of kicking back against the fact that they prescribe these very restrictive diets as a way to cure or treat an illness. Because what that tells me is that you’ve taken the humanity out of it, you’re not looking at the human, you’re looking at the diagnosis and you’re saying, here’s the template, here’s the protocol. Here’s what you do. And you forget that there’s a human being sitting on the other end of that and that human being might have their own restrictive past. That’s certainly what happened to me. I had put myself into remission of 13 years of disordered eating. And I was like, I’m living the dream. I’m feeling good. I’m not dieting anymore. I love my body. And then I got smacked upside the head with this really scary diagnosis. And of course, in the blogosphere back then, it was all autoimmune paleo protocol, AIP, which is extremely restrictive. If no if you haven’t heard of it, I know that you have. But listeners, you remove all gluten, all dairy, all grains, you remove eggs, you remove all nitrates, you remove all spices that have nitrates, you remove all nuts, you remove all seeds. It’s intense. But if you have a doctor saying, hey, this disease could kill you, you’re pretty highly motivated to do whatever it takes. And so a lot of these people are on these really restrictive diets scared, saying I have to do this or something really bad could happen. So it creates the safety structure. And I just find that. When we take you know, there’s a lot of practicality with with removing certain foods, for example, with an autoimmune illness like a Hashimoto’s, for example, it makes sense. It makes practical sense to remove gluten. Right. But if it if it crosses over from practicality to restriction for the sake of saving my life, there’s a whole soup of emotions that go with that. And I just feel like that’s kind of where we’re missing the mark is that we’re not honouring that emotional aspect to these healing therapeutic strategies, and that’s kind of where where I’m at right now in my work is saying like, don’t just don’t just slap a template on somebody, don’t just slap a protocol on somebody, treat them like a human being. And you have to work within within their own emotional situation. Does that makes sense? 

Le’Nise: Yeah, that makes total sense. And where is the balance that you find with someone with with Hashi’s, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, for example? Who they, you know, that they are taking gluten out would be beneficial for them based on what you see in their labs, their antibodies, et cetera, what you know, that there is a history of restriction or disordered eating there. How do you find the balance there with that, with a patient or client like that? 

Erin: So that’s an awesome question. I will say that I have one client right now that we just discovered the presence of Hashimoto’s antibodies, which explains a lot. We’re not just looking at lab data. We’re also we’re looking at lab data and saying, does this explain what this human being behind the data is actually experiencing? And in this case, absolutely. So with the Hashimoto’s. My one of my first things is to say, OK, because of the way that gliadin, in the protein within gluten can cross react with certain tissues in the body. Right. We want to pull out gluten. But you’re saying, OK, that makes sense from a practical standpoint. But what happens if if that doesn’t make sense from an emotional standpoint for her? She, her entire world, her entire identity is gluten because her business. She’s an entrepreneur and her business is making bread. So, I mean, holy smokes, it’s not the same thing as having a history of restriction, but this is a big deal, right? So in these cases, what I do is I say I think this is where it makes sense to invest in doing a test. The one that I run is called the Vibrant Wellness Wheat Zoomer, Wheat Zoomer from Vibrant Wellness in that shows, as is your immune system, actually reacting to these peptides within week, because what if the answer’s no and then we just restrict unnecessarily just based on theory. So for her for a situation like that, I think it’s really makes sense to invest in proper testing to say, is this your bag? Is this something that we have to focus on? And if it is what the next step is, it’s not to just smash her into a gluten free diet, but it’s to assess how does this make you feel? So I just told you that you have a gluten free diet is a practical way to support your health condition. How does that make you feel? And I’m looking for two things. One, does it feel expansive in your body? Or does it feel like contraction in your body because some people are like, oh my God, I feel so much better knowing this. I’ve wondered about this. I’ve thought about this for years now. I have the data. I feel good. I’m excited to get started. I want to support my body in this way, like let’s go and some people get that data and they’re like, how am I going to do this? My kids eat gluten. What if I want to go to Italy? Can I never eat pasta again? I can never eat bread again. This this girl is like, do I quit my business? Like, well, what do I do? And so we want to, I never want people to make a choice, a decision from a place of constriction and contraction if it feels hard, scary, rigid, bad for lack of a better term in your physical body, that’s information. And we’re not going to make a decision from that place. We’re going to wait. We’re going to give ourselves some breathing room. We’re going to talk through it. We’re going to talk about your biggest fears. We’re going to do all of that before we run into this potentially restrictive diet. 

Le’Nise: That is just like music to my ears, because, you know, we’ve talked about diet dogma and we see a lot in this space, we talked about restriction. But what’s interesting is that what you just explained is a very nuanced approach. And that’s something that we’ve talked about before, this lack of nuance and the lack of seeing, even though we get trained to see the person for who they are, the whole whole person, physical and emotional, there is this kind of default of going back to templates and protocol. And this nuance is really important because that’s where the healing really begins, because you’re seeing all elements of the person and what they will actually respond to rather than take out gluten, take out dairy, you know, take it all out. It’s well, actually, how does this fit into my life and where I’m at emotionally, professionally, personally, all of that. 

Erin: And I think the longer that you do this work, the more people that you work with. And this is why I always want to talk to practitioners, not just researchers, because the research is really important. It’s really important. But how that research applies to actual human bodies is the work that I’m most interested in. Right. It’s that is the big stuff and. That’s where we learn about the nuance, that’s where we learn that context matters, is working with lots of people and that’s where we can have compassion for that piece into say, like, I know this is hard. I know this is really hard. Right. I can’t tell you how many people have come to me that have been put on like a leaky gut protocol or like a leaky gut diet or a ketogenic diet or, you know, all of these things. And they’re they’re pulling their hair out because they’re so stressed about it. But they’ve never had anyone say. Does this feel manageable for you? Are you OK with this and what is understood discussed because it’s not as sexy as diet and it’s not as sexy as protocols, but what is under discussed is the role that any type of stressor can have on the gut, on antibody production, on autoimmunity, on any of the things that we’re talking about, on food sensitivities, even. Right. And so if every single time we sit down to our plate to eat, we’re locked into this stressed out, hyper vigilant state that’s going to impact your physical body, too. Right. And so we have to make space for all of those things to exist. It is not just as simple as do this diet. All your problems go away. If it was, none of us would have any problems. It’s not that simple. 

Le’Nise: I yeah, I’m just I’m just nodding my head. I just I’m just agreeing with everything you’re saying. I know that listeners who will be connecting with what you’re saying. Can you tell them about what you’ve got coming up in your business, how they can get in touch with you if they want to find out more? 

Erin: I think the best place to start is with my podcast. I’ve been podcasting for three and a half years now, and I really do a lot to put a lot of good information and well researched and well thought out information there. So that’s the Funk’tional Nutrition podcast. That’s a really good starting place to just get your feet wet, you know, understand who I am, whether or not we would even be a good fit. And then from there, I run different nutrition programmes and then also functional medicine programmes. So the next one coming up would be my carb compatibility project, which is going to be in May. And that is a four week process to explore doing a lower carbohydrate template, because for some people that can be really health healthy or really helpful to manage GI issues or other things that are going on, blood sugar regulation. And so we talk a lot about that. But we do it from a place of compassion and we also do it from a place of there’s a template, there’s a framework, but we do it from a place of accessing your own intuition so you can keep coming back to your body and saying, but does this work for me? And every single time you have a question, I’m going to remind you to do that same thing. People are like, yeah, OK, OK. I know, I know, I know. You’re just going to tell me, like, listens to my intuition, but many cups of blueberries should I eat in a week? You know, it’s like still I totally get it. We want the easy answer because it it makes it less work. But if we choose the path of more resistance, we choose to really listen to ourselves and kind of do the working and like what we are talking about practise that it helps us in so many more ways than just food. So that is the next thing that I have on the horizon. But lots of different programmes. And then there’s always the option of working with me one on one as well. 

Le’Nise: Great. And all of all of Erin’s links will be in the show notes so you can check out her website, check out her podcast, her Instagram. Now, if you could leave listeners with one thing, one thought based on all of the amazing things that you’ve shared on the show today, what would you want that to be? 

Erin: I would say that and this is right off the cuff. I really want people to understand that our bodies are like Wolverine. My, my daughter and my husband are really into like superhero movies right now and Marvel and all of the things. And my daughter was like, if you could have one one superpower, what would it be? And I’m like, I would be Wolverine, because he has the ability to self heal. And I’m like, I am Wolverine. I do have the ability to self feel like our bodies truly, truly do. We’ve never been taught that. We’ve never been taught that that’s an option for us that’s available to us. And because of that, we don’t know that it is. And so my mission is to help people understand that we have this innate capacity to heal ourselves. And once we understand that, that it’s available to us, we like unlock this massive superpower. 

Le’Nise: Wow. Again, I’m just nodding my head as you’re speaking. Thank you so much for coming on the show today, Erin. It’s been fantastic speaking to you.

Erin: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure to be here. 

Let’s Talk About The Menstrual Phase

With the new year comes a new start or a fresh impetus to look at what’s working and what isn’t. Is this the year you get on top of any menstrual or hormone health issues you’ve been experiencing? 

Understanding what’s really normal and what isn’t can help you understand what you’ve been accepting and what you can change when it comes to your menstrual health.

In my next four posts, I’ll talk about each of the four phases of the menstrual cycle – what’s normal and what isn’t. My hope is that you can use this information to make the shift towards understanding how to work with your entire cycle and how to make the connection with your energy, mood, cognitive state, desire to exercise and more. 

Let’s start with the first phase – menstruation. 

The menstrual phase or inner winter is typically 3 – 7 days or the duration of your period. 

This is the time in our cycle when we may feel at our lowest ebb.

Our estrogen (the feminising hormone that supports our energy levels) and progesterone (our calming hormone that we produce after we ovulate) are at their lowest points and this can have an effect on our mood, causing us to turn inward and become more introspective and analytical. These changes in our hormones also mean that we may feel more tired and want to go a little slower, even if it’s just by 1%. 

During this phase, we’ll be shedding the lining of our uterus (which is made of more than blood – it’s also cells, bacteria, mucus and more!) – a very energetic process. This also why we may feel called to slow down and hibernate, especially on the first 2 days of our periods. For many of us, this shedding can be painful to varying degrees, especially with an existing condition such as endometriosis, fibroids or adenomyosis. 

In terms of what you see during your bleed, this can vary as well. We ideally want to see bright red blood, with very few clots, although dark red blood is also normal. If you see brown ‘blood’, this can be a sign of old oxidised blood that wasn’t pushed out of the uterus during the last period, or a sign of low progesterone levels. Grey or orange blood can be a sign of bacterial vaginosis, a type of infection and very pink blood can be a sign of low estrogen levels. 

When it comes to movement, this is a great time to really tune into what your body needs. You shouldn’t necessarily expect to lift your heaviest or run your fastest, but if you have the energy to move your body, it always helps, especially if you’re doing it in a really intentional way. 

What’s normal during the menstrual phase? Lower energy, a feeling of turning inward, slight discomfort, changes in your appetite, feeling more reflective.

What isn’t normal? A very light period that last less than 3 days or more than 2 weeks, a heavy period that lasts longer than 7 days, losing more than 80mL of menstrual blood per cycle, flooding (changing your pad / cup / tampon / underwear every 1 – 2 hours of more), very painful periods, large blood clots, headaches, migraines, nausea, mood swings, a complete loss of appetite. 

Looking at this list, what have you accepted as normal during your period that isn’t? Tell me more in the comments. 

Photo by Jaanus Jagomägi on Unsplash


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Boden, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in March 2022. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.

Let’s Talk About Advocating For Yourself With Medical Professionals

This week, let’s talk about how to prepare for appointments with medical professionals. I know for many, this can be a source of trepidation because of negative experiences in the past. 

Maybe you’ve had a doctor who dismissed your concerns. Maybe it was a nurse who made you feel like everything was all in your head. Maybe you’ve been intimidated by the experience of sharing intimate health concerns. Hopefully what I’ll share here will help you navigate your next appointment with a little more ease.

  • If you can, choose the type of appointment that makes you feel most at ease. You might feel most comfortable with a virtual appointment over Zoom or your doctor’s digital service. 

  • Prepare for every appointment: write down your symptom(s), when they happen (including when in your menstrual cycle), any pain you experience, including the levels and description and your questions. Remember to focus on one problem per appointment. 

  • Know all your key information: menstrual cycle length and variations, length of period, what ovulation and menstruation feel like for you. 

  • Know your desired outcome from the appointment / consultation. Is it a referral? Is it a diagnosis? Is it a blood test? Is it a certain type of examination? Is it to have a discussion about what you’ve been experiencing? Whatever it is, be really clear about your desired next steps.

  • During the appointment, write everything down so you can refer back to it later. Don’t rely on your memory, especially if you’re going to be discussing something complicated. You might go further by asking if you can record the consultation, as a voice memo or a screen recording. 

  • Make sure everything is written in your file. Sometimes you might not reach your desired outcome in an individual appointment. If you’ve been refused a referral, examination or medication, make sure this is noted on your file. This will help if you switch doctors and you need to show proof that what you asked for was declined. 

  • Make sure you leave the consultation feeling really clear about what’s been said to you and the next steps. Even though each appointment is for a limited amount of time, you’re allowed to ask questions. Make sure you don’t leave feeling confused or uncertain. 

If all of this feels really overwhelming, bring someone with you that can advocate on your behalf. Here’s a link to find out more about patient advocacy options in the UK.

I’d love to know: do you feel able to advocate for yourself when speaking to healthcare professionals? Tell me more in the comments. 

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in March 2022. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.

Let’s Talk About Lunar Tracking

If you read last week’s post and thought, ‘okay, cool, menstrual cycle tracking is interesting, but I have a very irregular period / I’m on hormonal contraception / I’m perimenopausal / My periods have gone AWOL / I have PCOS / I’m menopausal’, then this week’s post is for you. 

Menstrual cycle tracking isn’t for everyone. For a number of reasons, you might have an irregular period or even have a period at all. Enter lunar cycle tracking.   

At its heart, lunar cycle tracking uses the different phases of the moon to help us understand how we feel physically or energetically and find patterns.

There are 4 phases to the moon: new moon, waxing moon, full moon and waning moon. 

You might find that your physical and mental energy peaks during the full moon, with less sleep and more powerful and lucid dreams. This is akin to how you might feel during ovulation. 

Then we have the new moon – many use this as a time to evaluate different parts of their lives and understand what’s working and what isn’t. This is akin to the self-reflection we might feel when we menstruate. 

Lunar cycle tracking can give us something to anchor our energy and moods to. This is helpful during the uncertainty of an irregular or missing period, during perimenopause or menopause or when you’re coming off hormonal contraception and waiting for a regular menstrual cycle to return. 

And of course, you can tie in lunar cycle tracking with menstrual cycle tracking. If you get your period during the full moon and ovulate around the new moon, this is a red moon cycle. 

If it’s vice versa, this is a white moon cycle.

There are also variations: a pink moon cycle is when you get your period during the waxing moon (when the moon is moving to a full moon) and ovulate during the waning moon (when the moon is returning a new moon). If it’s versa, this is a purple moon cycle.

This type of tracking has links with many ancient cultures, with the white moon cycle linked to fertility and the red moon cycle linked to healing and healers. 

You might think all of this is nonsense and that’s your prerogative! 

If you want to learn more about this, I highly recommend Tamara Driessen’s book Luna.

Have you ever noticed the connection with the moon and your energy, mood, motivation or sleep? Tell me more in the comments. 

Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in March 2022. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.

Let’s Talk About Menstrual Cycle Tracking

This week, let’s talk about tracking our menstrual cycles.

I recently read an article that claimed that tracking your menstrual cycle fed into a narcissistic obsession with diagnosis. The article’s author claims this is part of a self-obsession, ‘the constant monitoring of ourselves and our lives’.

I beg to differ.

Understanding your menstrual cycle, where you are in it and what you experience during this time can help you tune into patterns, especially if you’ve been struggling to get on top of something particular, such as premenstrual mood changes or painful periods. 

When we have a deeper understanding of what our entire menstrual cycle feels like and we remember that it is our 5th vital sign, then we can connect what’s really normal and what needs further investigation.

For example, as I’ve been talking about Instagram over the last two weeks, many of us have accepted premenstrual bloating, anxiety and pain as just a normal part of having a period and menstrual cycle. When you realise that these don’t need to be a permanent feature of your menstrual years, it can change your perspective on your expectations of your pre-menstrual phase. 

So how exactly do you track your menstrual cycle?

The most important part is making it work for you. If the method you chose starts to feel onerous or like yet another task on your to-do list, then try something different. I typically suggest that my clients pick a few methods in the beginning while they’re narrowing down to the one works best. You might download a few apps (I like Moody and Flo) or use your Apple Watch or Fitbit or even just use your calendar. There are also some beautiful journals, if you prefer a pen and paper format.

You might start by simply noting the beginning and end of your period, marking the length and how you feel. You might also note when you ovulate. Remember, it’s important not to rely on an app to tell you when you’re ovulating. Just as our menstrual cycle might not always be the same number of days, we might not always ovulate on the same day each cycle! Rely on the physical signs of ovulation instead, such as changes in cervical fluid, change in cervical position and changes in energy, mood and libido. 

Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can start to add in more detail. For example, during your period, you might note:

  • The colour
  • How heavy it is
  • Any clots and their size
  • Your energy levels
  • Any pain and what it feels like 
  • Your mood
  • Anything else 

If you experience changes before your period, you might note when they start and how long they last.

For example, if you experience premenstrual mood changes, notice when they start, whether they’re intermittent or constant, whether you’re aware when they’re happening and whether they’re an actual reaction to something you’ve experienced or if they’re an exacerbation of existing depression or anxiety. 

If at any point, it feels overwhelming, put back and return to the basics. 

Eventually, you’ll get to a point when you’ll know what to expect from your menstrual cycle and your period and can pinpoint when things start to change. 

Do you track your period and / or menstrual cycle? Tell me more in the comments. 


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in spring 2022. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.

Let’s Talk About The Inner Seasons

spring blooms

This week, let’s talk about the four phases of the menstrual cycle.

We have four phases: menstruation, follicular, ovulation and luteal. For some of us, using those terms to describe the phases can feel really clinical and nowhere near the emotional and physical feelings each can bring. Using the analogy of the outer seasons is another way to think about the four phases. I find it easier to connect with, because we already know what each outer season is supposed to bring and can connect this to our inner menstrual seasons, giving us a rough guide of what to expect.

The analogy of the seasons was originated by Alexandra Pope and Sjanie Hugo Wurlitzer in their book Wild Power: Discover The Magic of Your Menstrual Cycle and Awaken the Feminine Path to Power. They say that throughout your menstrual month, you move through an inner winter (menstruation), spring (follicular), summer (ovulation), autumn (luteal) and back again. Each phase brings a set of specific resources and psychological challenges that help you grow into yourself and your power. 

If we think about how we might feel during our inner winter, there’s likely to be a sense of slowness and a call to hibernation or at least staying closer to home. We’re shedding the lining of our uterus, an energy intensive process that can see us turning inward. 

After winter, comes spring, a time for growth and renewal. We feel this in our inner spring as estrogen and testosterone start rising and with it so does our energy, mood, libido and confidence. 

Then we come to summer, where we’re at the peak of our powers, fizzing with energy and vitality. 

Finally, we get to autumn, which we can split into two parts. We have early autumn when progesterone is still high and estrogen has reached its second smaller peak. There is a bright, calm feeling, similar to September and October. Then we have late autumn, where the leaves fall off the tree in earnest, the clocks go back, and the nights draw in, similar to November and December. 

Do you connect with the analogy of the seasons as a way to understand your menstrual month? Let me know if the comments. 


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in spring 2022. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.

Let’s Talk About Period Pain

walpole picture theatre

In my last post, we talked about what a normal period looks like. This week, I want to dive deep into period pain. If you’ve been following my work for a while, you will have heard me say that period pain is unfortunately is very common, but just because it’s common, that doesn’t mean it’s normal.

Think about it this way: we’ve normalised being in pain for at least 2 – 3 days every time you have your period, or just over 3 years of the 40-odd years you’ll menstruate. To me, that’s completely unacceptable. If you’re one of the many who experience period pain, I’d like you to think about your attitude towards this pain. Have you accepted this as something you just need to get on with? Have you ever thought your period could be different? Have a little think about this: what have you accepted? Is it because you thought this was normal and something you couldn’t change? Is it because you’ve been taught that this is the way it’s supposed to be?

There are two types of period pain we need to consider: primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is pain that is the result of having a period, secondary dysmenorrhea is period pain that is the result of another condition such as fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis or pelvis inflammatory disease. 

No matter what the cause of the pain, it’s important that you get support and that it’s taken seriously. The International Association for the Study of Pain has redefined pain and these two points are of great interest to me: Pain is always a personal experience that is influenced to varying degrees by biological, psychological, and social factors. A person’s report of an experience as pain should be respected.  

Something I hear time and again from my clients is that their pain hasn’t been taken seriously and that they’ve heard some variation of the following comments: “it’s all in your head”, “it’s a normal part of having a period”, “just take some painkillers and get on with it”. If you experience period pain or any kind of pain, you deserve to be taken seriously and your experience respected.

Here are my top tips for making sure the pain you experience is taken seriously when speaking to healthcare professionals:

  1. Make sure you have at least 3 menstrual cycles worth of information about the pain you’re experiencing
  2. Note down when in your cycle the pain takes place and how long it lasts
  3. Rate the pain from 1 – 10, 1 being no pain and 10 being the worst
  4. Describe the pain: is it sharp, twisting, intermittent, burning?
  5. Note any accompanying symptoms, such as diarrhoea, vomiting, headaches / migraines, fainting, fatigue 
  6. Note the location(s) of the pain 

All of this will help you begin or continue to have a vocabulary to describe the pain you’re experience and have tangible and constructive conversations about it. 

Do you experience period pain? Tell me more in the comments. 


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCHNC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in spring 2022. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.

What’s A Normal Period?

Let’s talk about what a normal period is. The word normal is a bit loaded these days. What’s normal has changed and there has rightly been a lot of pushback against outdated norms in many areas of society.

But when I talk about what a normal period is, I’m talking about what is biologically normal, rather than what is culturally normal. The cultural norm for our periods is the expectation of pain, maybe heavy bleeding and definitely emotional upheaval. It boggles my mind that we’ve normalised period pain. Pain isn’t normal and if we think about the period (and menstrual cycle) as a vital sign, it’s a message from our bodies that something is going on that we need to investigate. 

So what is a normal period? We want it to be between 3 – 7 days: less than that means the endometrium has not grown thick enough and longer than that means that we’re losing too much iron and can be a sign of another condition such as fibroids.

The colour of the blood matters too. We want to see bright red (think cranberry) for the majority of the flow. Brown blood can be a sign of not enough progesterone, a lack of ovulation in the last cycle or can be old blood that wasn’t released during the last period. We also don’t want to see large blood clots. A few very small ones are okay, but too many can be a sign of an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. 

What about pain? A few light twinges and aches are normal. Remember: the uterus needs to contract to shed its lining. It’s when the pain is excessive, stops you from doing what you need to do or has you relying on painkillers to get through the day, you need to investigate further. Think of it this way: if you have 2 days of pain every period and have around 12 periods each year, that’s 24 days you’re potentially losing or not enjoying to the fullest. Nearly a month! 

From an energetic perspective, it’s normal for energy to be a bit lower during your period. Our bodies are shedding something it’s spent 3+ weeks building up. What’s not normal is for energy to be completely depleted. You need to be able to do live your life, perhaps more slowly than normal. And you might have a more muted mood – less estrogen in the book means less serotonin and dopamine, but again, if you’re on emotional rollercoaster right before or during your period, that’s a sign that needs to be investigated. 

What’s your period like? Was there anything in this article that surprised you? Tell me more in the comments. 


Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCHNC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in spring 2022. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.

What’s A Normal Menstrual Cycle?

Because periods are still unfortunately such a taboo topic, many of us don’t know what’s normal and what isn’t. And we end up accepting things that we necessarily shouldn’t because we’re taught they’re culturally normal.

Before we get into what a normal period looks like next week, I want to back up and talk about what a normal menstrual cycle is. Firstly, our menstrual cycle and our period are two very different things. Our menstrual cycle can be anywhere from 21 to 35 days, and starts on day 1 of our period and lasts until the day before our next period starts. Our menstrual cycle includes our period, and the three other phases: follicular, ovulatory and luteal.

During each of these four phases, we see changes in:

  • internal body temperature
  • energy
  • libido
  • mood
  • motivation
  • attitudes to risk
  • willingness to try new things
  • cervical fluid
  • the type of exercise we favour
  • digestion
  • cravings
  • hormones
  • the strength of our immune system

If you’re cycling naturally, that is, not using hormonal contraception, then it’s perfectly normal to not feel the same every day of your menstrual cycle. There are days where you’ll be full of energy and enthusiasm and then there are days where you may find yourself wanting to turn inward and go slower. I feel that when we embrace these cyclical changes, we change our expectations about ourselves, moving from a 24 hour cycle to a longer cycle of 21 – 35 days.

You’ll notice that I’ve written 21 – 35 days, not 28 days. Only a small percentage of us have 28 day menstrual cycles. It’s perfectly normal for your cycle to vary by 1 – 3 days each time. Our menstrual cycle is one of our vital signs and when it changes, it’s a reflection of what’s going on in our inner and outer worlds. For example, stress has a huge impact on our menstrual cycle and either shortens or lengthens it. Illness, travel, including across multiple time zones, lack of quality sleep and nutrient deficiencies can all have an impact of our menstrual cycle.

Do you know what a normal menstrual cycle is for you?

Knowing more about your menstrual cycle and embracing it can benefit you in so many ways.

Firstly, I encourage you to download one of the many period tracker apps out there and start tracking your menstrual cycle and symptoms. At the very least, you won’t be surprised when your period arrives every month #whitejeansallyear

After a few months, you’ll start to get a sense of the length of your cycle. Once you know when your period is scheduled to arrive, you can then start to understand what’s going on for you during the other three phases.

Knowledge is power. Knowing the ins and outs of your menstrual cycle can help you manage it better.

Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCHNC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story Podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones. 

Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page. 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 first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released in spring 2022. 

Her mission is for women to understand and embrace their hormones & menstrual cycle! If you’re looking for support with your hormone and menstrual health, click this link to book a 30 minute health review to talk about working together.

Period Story Podcast, Episode 46: Lola Ross, Moods Are What Make Us Human

For the last episode in season 4 of Period Story podcast, I’m so excited for you to hear my conversation with Lola Ross, a fellow nutritionist and the co-founder of the amazing menstrual cycle and mood tracking app, Moody Month. If you haven’t downloaded the app already, I definitely suggest that you check it out!

Lola and I talked about her work as a nutritionist, female entrepreneurship, starting the app and of course, she shared the story of her first period.

Lola comes from a really big family of women, so she says the conversations around periods and bodily changes were always free and open. She says that after having her son at 23, she started to notice changes in her period, which she managed through eating in a different way.

It was this journey that led her to go on to study for a degree in nutritional therapy and health sciences. She says that working with patients in student clinic brought home the the impact of diet and lifestyle in helping to modify and improve menstrual and reproductive health symptoms.

We talked about the emotional shifts that can occur across the menstrual cycle, which led us nicely into a conversation about Moody Month, the menstrual cycle and mood tracking app that Lola co-founded. Lola says they wanted to reclaim the word moody.

Lola says that moods are what make us human. Moods can be reflective and positive and they can equally be negative. Lola says that we need to delve deeper into our moods and why we experience them and move away from negative associations around being moody. Thank you, Lola!

Get in touch with Lola:

Website

Instagram

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LOLA’S BIO

Lola Ross (BSc Hons NT, mBANT, CNHC) is a registered nutritional therapist based in London with a specialisation in women’s health, and a personal interest in female reproductive health issues, including those that disproportionately affect black women. Lola works with women, and all female identities on concerns such as menstrual cycle health, weight management, fertility, skin imbalances, to sleep and mood disorders. She is a passionate advocate for health education in harder-to-reach groups and has managed and delivered nutrition initiatives for children at-risk programmes, NHS nutrition initiatives and a women’s health charity offering low cost treatment to vulnerable women.

In recent years, Lola has been integral in the building of the Apple ‘health pick of the day’ app Moody Month. Moody Month is a tracking app that provides daily wellness for women, tailored to their cycle, co-founded in 2017 alongside Amy Thompson (former Seen Presents CEO) and Karla Vitrone (NY).

Lola is an expert contributor to publications such as The Times, ELLE, Red, Shape, Brit + Co, Forbes, Dazed & Confused, and has contributed to the 2021 Penguin title – ‘Moody’, authored by Amy Thompson. Lola has also led workshops for brands including Adidas Women, Matchesfashion.com, and run period health sessions for secondary schools and female health events in London. Lola is also a brand consultant, and recently advised on formulations for the luxury CBD brand Apothem Labs.

Lola runs a clinical practice online, and in Notting Hill, West London. She works on the principles of functional medicine – treating system imbalances by addressing the underlying causes of disease using nutritious foods, supplements, and simple lifestyle changes. Using tools such as in-depth, patient-centred consultations, functional testing, genetic testing, behaviour and symptom tracking, Lola is able to personalised nutrition protocols and help to optimise patient’s health. Lola is starting an MA in Food Anthropology exploring culture and diet, medical anthropology, gender and the impact of climate change on food systems and communities.

A north London native, Lola is a mother of two, and has previously lived and worked in Trinidad and Tobago. She spends quality time with her family and soul sisters, loves yoga, her Peloton, and live music and festivals are a big love.

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Le’Nise: So on today’s show, we have Lola Ross, so I’m really excited to interview. Lola is a registered nutritionist like me, and she’s founded an amazing period and menstrual cycle tracker Moody Month. Welcome to the show.

Lola: Le’Nise, thank you for having me. 

Le’Nise: Let’s get into the first question I ask all of my guests, which is tell me the story of your very first period. 

Lola: Well, it’s actually funny because I was thinking about that quite recently, just because I was having a conversation with somebody else about about their first period, and actually I took my first period really in my stride. I was, I think 12, maybe 13. And I already have, I’d already kind of experience it through my older sister, who’s only 18 months older than me. So she kind of had her period. We were talking about it and really excited. And then I was just kind of waiting for mine to arrive. And so when it did, I was just happy to kind of join the club, so to speak. And yeah. And so, so the reason why I’m laughing is because I was quite geeky when I was young. I used to archive lots of things, collections of like laces and, you know, stinky stickers and, you know, all these kinds of like collectable things. I even had like stamps at one point. And I remember and I used to write a diary avidly when I was younger. And I remember cutting up, taking my first period stained knickers.

And I actually cut them and stuck inside my diary. And I covered it with, like plastic.

And that was like the moment. And I had it in my diary. So I kept this diary for years and years and years. But for some reason it’s disappeared. So I’m hoping that it hasn’t ended up in some random book sellers, the second hand store. And someone’s going to be like, what is this period stain about? Yeah, so that was my my first period. 

Le’Nise: Well, so you you saved your knickers for posterity. Do you remember what you felt around that time and what perhaps you wrote in the diary?

Lola: You know, I can’t remember what I read from the diary, but as I said, I felt good about having the period. I felt like I joined the club with my big sister, kept bonded. And I guess I probably wrapped up in that, I felt more mature and more grown up, and, you know, I could have those conversations with the other girls in the, you know, in our locker room about that kind of thing.

Yeah. 

Le’Nise: And you said you felt grown up. So you had the conversations with your friends at school. How did you learn about, apart from the conversations with your sister? How else did you learn about what was happening to you and beyond just getting your period?

Lola: So I come from a really big family of women. I have lots of aunties, some of them are not with us, but I had aunties who were very close female cousins, similar age to me, my sister. And so when we spent a lot of time together in my childhood, so those conversations around periods and kind of changes, bodily changes and adolescence and stuff were very free and open. So I guess I learnt a lot from within my family setting. But again, at school, you know, the standard, standard menstrual health, education that was churned out, go I got a bit of that which that end of the day is biology.

And, you know, it was informative. I mean, even if now we look at that kind of teaching as so kind of bizarre that, you know, I need the girls were allowed to learn about, you know, it was treated in a very hush hush, kind of like, “OK, well, this is what happens to you each month. So get on with it, girls, but keep it quiet.” Now, that is changing, obviously. But but yeah, obviously, I found it useful at the time, for sure. And then we got, we got free tampons at the end of the session.

Le’Nise: So when you got your period, you said you felt like you were part of a club. Did you continue to have a positive experience with your period as you went through your teenage years? 

Lola: I think so, yeah, I mean, I never kind of, I didn’t ever really go on any hormonal contraceptive in my teenage years, so I didn’t ever have that kind of, so I never I never sort of was advised to take that because I was managing menstrual health problems or even being that starting to be sexually active. You know, I wasn’t using hormonal contraception, so I was very kind of in tune with my period. And I don’t recall it being a problem until actually I got into my 20s. When I noticed it starts to get a bit heavier. I noticed issues around sort of mood changes, you know, each month. So, yeah, but on the whole, not really a problematic thing. I think my experience of periods were pretty good. However, I got, I was pregnant when I was 23 and I had, yes I had, I had a pregnancy when I was 23. And I do recall that, that after having my son, there were some changes to my menstrual cycle, just noticed that things were sort of heavier, my symptoms around my menstrual cycle were different, you know, and perhaps not as you know, not pleasant symptoms. And it was around that time that I kind of really got switched on to understanding my body and being more in tune with that, realising that actually, you know, when I kept my bodyweight to a certain level, you know, I would experience perhaps of better health for me or if I ate certain things, I would feel better around my menstrual cycle. So that’s actually kind of partly what led me into studying my degree in nutritional therapy, health sciences.

Le’Nise: So you started to tune into your menstrual cycle and then when you made the changes around what you ate, did you notice a difference in the bleeding? 

Lola: With what the flow? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, certainly.

I mean, so interestingly, when I was at university studying for my degree, we had a polyclinic, which was a, you know, a working clinic where we would have, you know, live patients. And we saw them for, you know, two or three years, two years of the degree. And lots of women who came into the clinic and we would treat and who I was learning through or learning with had menstrual health problems. And that’s where it really started to kind of click for me, that the impact of diet and lifestyle in helping to modify and improve menstrual health symptoms and reproductive health symptoms. So, yes, in theory, yes. And for me, certainly, adopting certain changes, incorporating certain nutrients, you know, exercising in a different way, you know, limiting stress in my life, that type of thing for sure. Reduced issues around the sort of heavy bleeding and menstrual kind of emotional side of things. Yeah. 

Le’Nise: After you were able to resolve those issues, what would you say your period, your relationship with your period was like as you went through your 20s and then into your 30s?

Lola: So I felt I think, that understanding my body more obviously was doing my degree. 

I you know, I graduated. I then, you know was using this knowledge, you know, in my work, you know, in working with women and in this area and seeing the results and seeing how incredible if you just focus on, you know, these natural approaches to menstrual health imbalances, how beneficial that can be. So I was really charged up and energised by seeing those results in myself, because obviously, you know, you do things for yourself, but you don’t know if that’s just you and you don’t know if it’s going to work with lots of other people. But, you know, I see this in clinical practice. I see the benefits of this, as you probably do as well. So that really changed me, charged me forward and my relationship with my period, sorry, Le’Nise, I’m think I’m meandering with the question. I think I was answering the question I wanted to answer. So what did you say? Sorry.

Le’Nise: What was your relationship like? What did it become after, you first got your period? It was cool. 

You were part of the gang, part of the club, and then through your 20s and 30s, after having gone through a pregnancy, your period changing, how did your relationship change as you started to resolve some of the issues that you had had? 

Lola: So. 

I guess just being prepared, you know, thinking about my period in a different way, in a deeper way, trying to kind of understand the rhythm of my cycle, and this was before the kind of language that we have now around the four phases around, you know, tapping into your superpowers and looking at those, that sort of cluster of symptoms that are associated with PMS as a positive, as a potentially positive thing. So I was certainly tracking my symptoms and tracking my experience, but more in my head. It wasn’t something that I was, you know, writing down or logging. We didn’t have those apps and in those days. And so, yeah. So I guess that was my relationship. I was much more aware of what was going on for me. And then and then if I found that there were changes, for example, if I did have a particularly heavy period, one month for, you know, there were, I was suffering for some reason around my menstrual cycle, I would stop and reassess and look at my diet again and maybe even review my supplement protocol and address my health through that and through those methods. Yeah. 

Le’Nise: Given the work that you do and your vast clinical experience, why would you, why do you say that we don’t get taught about these things in school? You know, we get taught about the biology of periods and potentially the menstrual cycle. Why do you think we don’t get taught that we can be proactive about managing our mental health?

Lola: Why do you think we are not.

Le’Nise: Yeah. 

Lola: I mean, it’s a really good question, I guess it takes a long time for, you know, the science that, you know, is published and and discussed and discussed with NICE and and, you know, the Public Health England and all of these different kind of bodies to filter down into the kind of accessible language and that we know now and that many of us use and is out there. 

But I guess it will come. 

You know, I think that it would be really, really useful, actually, for the NHS, for example, to employ more nutritional therapists, for example, who you deal with this kind of language to help consult on any sort of education around menstrual health in schools, for example. That would be really great. 

And it would bring things into, it would modernise the approach in teaching this area of science and biology to children from the digital age who have access to so much information. That’s easy to digest. 

Le’Nise: It’s interesting because you, you said that this this this like the language has changed and people have a different vocabulary now to talk about their periods and their menstrual health. And I certainly see it. And it’s becoming more accessible.

In your clinical practice, what are the things that you most typically see?

Lola: In terms of the mental health and mental health, OK? So I would certainly say we’re looking at. So the emotional side, so looking at emotional shifts, that anxiety and depression, so lots of mood related issues that are cyclical, so they come within the ovarian cycle at specific times. And usually, you know, my patients are very aware of that and very aware of the association between the natural cycle and these mood swings. So, yes. So looking at that is major, I would also say that weight is also a, weight management is also quite key when you think how hormonally driven our appetite is and, you know, weight, how we manage weight, sorry, we metabolise weights and our energy. It is. Yeah. And it’s very much connected to the menstrual cycle. So yes, weight issues and mood anxiety and depression really key.

Le’Nise: It’s interesting that you say weight issues because it’s not, you and I both as health professionals, as clinical practitioners know that weight has an impact on health, but it feels sometimes that it’s hard to have those conversations because there is so much, you know, there’s rightly so. There’s a big conversation about anti-diet culture, but it feels like some of the nuance around that has been lost because, as you say, weight management is important because of, you know, certainly if you have a lot of adipose tissue, it can be oestrogenic and that can have an impact on, on hormone and menstrual health. So it feels tricky to have certainly have these conversations in public without then almost not getting attacked. But people are saying, oh, well, you’re just getting into diet culture when there’s a legitimate health conversation around how weight management affects hormone and menstrual health. 

Lola: Absolutely. 

 I mean, as I said, you know, when you know, when I’m dealing with my clinical practice, women who come to see me around the weight issue are bringing it up themselves. You know, it’s not me saying, well, I think that you need to they come to talk about this. 

And as you’ll know, you know, as soon as you start that listening to the patient’s story and understanding, you know, what’s the history there? You know, what’s you know, what were the triggers, what’s mediating the situation and and and starting to make these connections between perhaps overweight and mood issues around, you know, menstrual cycle health and perhaps this acne involved or perhaps this, you know, these different issues. And actually, as practitioners, we’re able to see that. Well, that sounds like imbalance. But and so actually, your weight management is something that you see and you may want to try to address. But actually, we’re also going to address some of these underlying things that you can’t see necessarily, but you’re feeling them and experiencing. And because there’s an imbalance there, you know, your body is out of balance. So and then it is up to people to, you know, if they want to. Kind of listen to that and hear it in that way rather than. 

Thinking that that’s a focus on an aesthetic level or whatever, but, yeah.

Le’Nise: So separating it out from legitimate, a legitimate health conversation from it being more of an aesthetic, a conversation that’s kind of steeped in diet culture. So separating those two. I completely agree with that. And that’s what I do in my practice. I never say to any anyone, oh, I think you need to lose weight. I couldn’t imagine having that conversation. But if they come to me and say that, as with you, that’s a concern, then I will help them address it. 

Lola: Well, yeah. I mean, you know, completely. And, you know, that’s kind of, you know, as good practitioners, you know, we’re going to, you know, look after, you know, the people that come to see us and and treat them sensitively and and all of that, of course. And I think you would, you know, totally agree with this. You know, if we are identifying a condition like polycystic ovarian syndrome, we know the relationship between insulin that and, you know, weight gain. And we know that by modifying and and reducing weight in that picture, you can really help reduce, you know, the polycystic ovary kind of symptomology across the board. So, you know, in that instance, yes, I would suggest weight loss as part of that protocol for sure.

Le’Nise: Mm hmm. OK, I want to ask about some of the work that you do. You said that you take a personal interest in female reproductive health issues, including those that disproportionately affect Black women. Let’s talk a little bit about that, because I’m personally interested in that myself. What do you, what issues are you, do you typically see when one looking at Black women?

Lola: So, again, it may not be something that’s a sort of named condition, you know. You know, I see mood disorders as a common issue in some of my Black patients, female patients. So that’s actually something that’s quite common. And actually, when you look at the numbers there, you know, Black women in the UK have very high rates and risk of mental health disorders, which is why? And, you know, how how are they being supported? And that’s a major thing. If you don’t have your mental health in check, you know, I mean, it’s difficult. You know, life is very, very difficult and you’re not living your best life. So that in itself is a is a major one. However, you know, there are issues that, you know, that we know about, such as fibroids, uterine fibroids, which is now being discussed. You know, in America, I understand that they are putting in, you know, millions of dollars into the research of uterine fibroids and the risk in Black women, which is a major thing because this is a condition that can affect fertility. This is a condition that can affect quality of life enormously and Black women have been living with that for a long time, so, you know, to try to understand more about why, you know, this is going on is going to be really, really, you know, important and. Yeah, great and great research. 

Le’Nise: Well, yeah, I think. going in deeper into fibroids and how they affect women, Black women is going to be so powerful and hopefully will move away from I. I was speaking to this doctor who specialises. He’s out and I think I want to say Georgia in the US. And he was saying that in the US, hysterectomy is the number one treatment for fibroids. And I just think that’s so crazy because you have these women who, who can, don’t need to have a hysterectomy, who have there are other routes that they can take who are having these unnecessary hysterectomies and then having to deal with the aftermath, whether they have a partial hysterectomy or a full hysterectomy. And I just, you know, speaking to clients who have come to me and said, “Yeah, my doctor, I have these fibroids. And my doctor says to me, the only route for me is a hysterectomy.” And then talking to them about the potential alternatives for them. They’ve come to me and said, you know, it’s really, it’s life changing because they can then think about, “well, perhaps I can then go on to have a child.”

Lola: Yeah, absolutely, but you know, what’s really exciting, Le’Nise, is that there are some brilliant Black doctors here in the UK who have, you know, so much knowledge around this issue and, you know, have researched in their degrees, you know, their medical degrees. And I’ve been chatting with quite a few, you know, in recent weeks. And, you know, so, you know, the the interest and the qualified people to do, undertake, you know, and carry out this research, you know, they’re out there and, you know. Yes. So I’m really, really optimistic that we’re going to be moving into a time where Black women’s health is, you know, going to be a focus and more of a focus and research. The money is going to be put into the research.

Le’Nise: I want to go back to what you were saying about mood issues and the effects that they’ve they’ve disproportionately had on Black women in the UK. So, firstly, can you tell me a little bit more what you mean when you say mood issues?

Lola: So mood issues, so that could be anything from anxiety, low mood, mood fluctuations, depression, mild depression, you know, clinical depression.

And just negative thinking, I mean, there’s a whole spectrum of things that come onto to mood disorders, obviously, if someone’s dealing with something much more serious, like, you know, whatever schizophrenia, that’s out of my remit.

But those types of issues that can be affected by hormonal issues or can be exacerbated by obviously we never know all the aspects that are going on in a person’s life until they come into the practice and we talk and hopefully we get that information out to them and we can look at the issues, the other things that are going on in the environment. But often diet, when you’re not feeling good, diet can be disrupted or it can be not a focus. And actually, the very act of looking after themselves through improving diet, perhaps looking at different nutrients, perhaps getting on a supplement protocol, it could be that they are also experiencing very heavy bleeds, perhaps like the iron lost and the iron deficiency then that hasn’t been addressed. And that can obviously affect mood, regulation, mood balance. 

So there are lots of things to look at. And I’m not saying that nutrition is going to be the fix all for a mood disorder, but it’s definitely one part of the plan. 

Le’Nise: You’re the co-founder of an app called Moody. 

So this kind of segues nicely into the conversation about the work you do here. So tell, tell listeners more about why you decided that building an app called Moody was the right thing to do.

Lola: Are you talking about the name or the actual app content?

Le’Nise: Both.

Lola: Oh yeah. OK, so. I don’t know if we’ve discussed it before, maybe we have it since, obviously some people ask us about the name all the time, so I’ll go back to the story. So Amy, who is our CEO and the founder of Moody. We met maybe four years ago, and it really was a kind of stars aligning moment where she was ready and she was exiting a business that she had set up and she was ready for creating something new.

And she had this incredible idea that was in its embryonic stage. And it was just ideas and, you know, a few calculations and things. And we met and we just used to meet in these cafes and just like flesh things out and come up with ideas around this, the concept of this, of this app. And, you know, we did this for about six or seven months and just really enjoyed each other’s energy around it and company. It just felt so right, you know, more right than anything I’ve pretty well done in my work career.

So we, we were doing all this. And then very quickly we started to put some of these ideas down and create a platform. So a web platform. And we wanted to kind of own the space and and start putting this content. We were kind of writing articles and doing something on a very low budget. But we we got it out there and then we basically thought we needed a soft launch and we launched the the concept of Moody and, you know, with our networks in sort of creative agencies and in media and stuff like that, we managed to have this incredible launch and there was so much excitement around the products and the idea of it.

And from there we raised money. So we raised money based on the concepts, based on the existing Web platform and these amazing ideas for the app.

So when, so talking about the actual name, Moody, so it just felt like a no brainer. I mean, actually we it was just that idea that we wanted to kind of reclaim this word, you know, the the moody cow, the you know, what happens, you know, in your period. And it’s all these negative associations around your menstrual cycle being moody. But actually moods are what makes us human and moods can be positive and more reflective. Sometimes we can certainly experience moods is a very negative experience. But actually we are delving deeper into that. We are looking at why do you experience that kind of mood? Is that a time for you to be reflective and during your cycle, is that a time to be quiet and insular and get from something that’s quieter? If you’re not feeling social and gregarious and all of those things, it doesn’t have to be seen as negative, I guess. And it’s that whole kind of talk about tapping into your superpowers. You know, during a cycle and looking at each of those moods is something to. 

Kind of tap into and and utilise and and and help to optimise, you know, sort of day and experience. 

Le’Nise: I really love that because we get taught, there’s this kind of cultural message that we get taught that mood, mood swings and being, as you say, a moody cow is inevitable and something that we just as when we have a period or we have periods, we, we that’s just part of having a menstrual cycle, having a period. And it doesn’t have to be that way. And I really, really love what you said about how, you know, we have moods, their, their range from all their, all ends of the spectrum. And we need to embrace these moods rather than looking at them as something to fight against. And that’s really that’s quite countercultural, I’d say certainly at this at this moment.

Lola: And I think that, you know, we’ve had I mean, you know, it’s been such an amazing space to be part of, you know, growing Moody Month. You know, we’re obviously so proud of the product that we’ve created. You know, visually, conceptually, the amounts of work and the experts that we’ve had involved in creating the app has been, you know, it’s just been a privilege to be part of it.

And, you know, we know from our feedback that lots of women have found it, you know, of use and continue to.

And, you know, as we go forward, we’ve got some amazing ideas for the app that are coming over the next years. We’ve actually got a book coming out as well. Amy’s Amy is actually authored this book called Moody, which is coming out in March 2021. So, you know, that’s that’s exciting as well. So that’s kind of going to kind of condense and kind of expand and some of the concepts around human behaviour and the female experience. 

Yeah.

Le’Nise: Oh, amazing. Well, I’ll definitely look, look out for that. So with the app itself, what you how long has it been? It’s been around for three years. since you launched the app. Getting into the more into the idea of female entrepreneurship. What kind of things have you learnt being a part of this, this app?

Lola: So going back to that moment that I met Amy and our clicking, you know, that that feeling of something feeling right was.

Really insightful, actually. Now, I realise that, you know, you can, you can know those things, you can know because stepping into a business partnership with somebody can you know, it’s daunting because, you know, it’s a long journey. There’s blood, sweat and tears going into the project. You just want to make sure you’re working with the right person. But she really was that person for me.

And obviously I was for her and the team that we grew.

I can’t, I mean, Le’Nise, you’ve met these you’ve met some of our team and the amazing women, you know, women who are friends, you know, women that I’ve learnt so much from.

And we’ve managed to have a kind of beautiful experience while working incredibly hard. So. I guess we know just answer your question, I think that people, you know, obviously, your vibe tracks your tribe. I know that feels kind of a bit frivolous, but that’s really how it felt, you know, growing Moody. And everyone that was engaged with that and came on board has felt completely right. The right fit. Yeah. [00:33:36][34.9]

Le’Nise: So work with people that you connect with not only on a kind of business level, but on a personal personal level as well. 

Lola: Well, I think that we, maybe it’s kind of too much for me to to say, you know, you must connect with them on a personal level because, you know, maybe that’s just it was a luxury and it was a real gift for us at this time to me. And it was just a lucky, more of a luck thing as well. But yes, obviously, if you can work with people that you enjoy and that you get, then that makes the experience of working such long hours and giving your all to much more enjoyable. But I guess it’s also interesting that, you know, we were creating a product that a bunch of us women were creating a product that, of course, there have been other apps and there are other apps, very successful ones that period trackers.

But how we were doing our app, or how we presented it was different. And we were looking at we were the, you know, the four phases and kind of breaking things down and in a slightly different way and very much focussed on moods as well.

And. That coming working as women, working on an app like that was obviously, you know, that’s kind of like what connects us, like we were all in our different ways, experiencing our periods and or cycles or hormones or whatever.

And so we had lots to talk about and we all knew we all knew when anyone was on a period because we had it on a on a, you know, a board. 

So we’d know who’s who’s who’s in which phase so we could give tasks to them based on the on their, you know, phase of the menstrual cycle.

Le’Nise: That’s amazing. I love that. For listeners who who don’t really know what that means.

Can you talk about what sort of tasks you would you would typically suggest for each phase of the menstrual cycle?

Lola: OK. I mean, I was probably exaggerating a bit more, but we were well, I was saying that we were definitely more gentle or considerate or whatever around around people’s phases. But, you know, as as you know, you know, the phases have quite common patterns with most women and most women. So, you know, and of these these patterns of emotional and physical experiences are following the patterns of our hormonal fluctuations. So the rising of oestrogen and progesterone, the dropping of these things, the rising of testosterone throughout the cycle can influence how we feel energetically, how we feel around sleep, how we feel sexually, how we feel emotionally. So, yes, you really want me to go through the four phase? 

Le’Nise: Oh, no. No, you don’t.

Lola: Go check out check out Moody Month and Le’Nise’s Instagram or something, and you’ll learn all about it. 

Le’Nise: If there are listeners who want to know more, there are quite a few episodes where we get into each of the four phases of the menstrual cycle. But as Lola says, the Moody Month app is an amazing resource and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t downloaded it, to download it and really dig into how you can track your cycle across each of the four phases through the app and connect it with your moods and then go deeper if you want to or just, you know, do it at a really high, high level. 

If they want to download the app, how do they do that?

Lola: So downloading the app is free download from the App Store so you can just put in Moody Month, you’ll find it and yeah, then that’s it. 

I would also like to say and I’ve, I’ve mentioned it before, but, you know, with Moody Month it, it was also such an exciting project to start because it was this idea of being able to provide for free at the moment, this incredibly sort of detailed and, you know, progressive information to women across the world that, of course, you know, there are books now that are written about a lot of the work that we have in our app. But in terms of an app, in terms of nutrition, in terms of medical content, you know, often this kind of information you would get from a private consultation, as we do and being in private practice as a nutritional therapist, you know, you unfortunately, the NHS here in the UK, they don’t do, don’t employ nutritional therapists very regularly. So, you know, the only way that we can offer our services is through paid for service. So I love the fact that I’m able to put all this information out there in the app, the content that I’ve written and studied hard for and share with my private practice. But I can actually put put this in the app and it’s great, brilliant information.

Le’Nise: What I love about your journey is that you studied originally. You had your degree, you studied and you became a nutritional therapist, but then you took a different path.

So, of course, you still have your clinical practise. But I think it’s a really good example for anyone who’s listening, who is currently studying and thinking, well, I don’t necessarily want to strictly work in clinic or work with people on a one to one basis to show them that there are other routes that that can be taken. You know, you can found a business, you can go deeper into your area of specialism and then build a business around that. So I think what you’re doing is incredible. I love the app. And if listeners want to learn more about you and working with you, how would they connect with you? 

Lola: OK, so the first part of that question about learning, about taking your nutrition knowledge after graduation and and looking at where which other avenues you can take and rather than just being in private practice, so you may decide not to be in private practice at all. But what can you do with this qualification is such a great question, Le’Nise, because I know that when I was studying, I found it really intense as a full time degree. I was just totally like in this kind of like serious academic zone for so long. And by the time I finished, I felt like, oh my God, I’ve just been so serious for so long. And I just wasn’t sure if I could sit in a clinic space, kind of quite solitary. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. So I had to take a small break before I actually stepped into clinical practise. But yeah, I guess if I had known that there were options like working or either working for an app or starting your own and working with a team, that would have been really, really exciting to have known that that’s a possibility. And it’s a whole other thing because, you know, as I say, I have been working with a big team, meeting people I deal with on a daily basis, connected to a whole kind of world of, you know, female tech, amazing people. And so the whole load of learnings that I’ve had through that, but obviously alongside it, I’ve had to always have my clinical practice because, you know, those living, breathing skills, you know, you have to have them. You have to understand what that clinical encounter is in real life. Otherwise you’re only being theoretical. So my advice around that is never, you know, keep, definitely have your clinical experience. You don’t be scared. Just go for it, find your niche, find what it is that interests you and become good at that area because you can’t be good at all areas. Well, you can, I suppose, but you’ll be very good in one particular area and people will come to you as well if they know that you’re specialised in one particular area and then look around even. I mean, there are some colleges I don’t know where you studied, but I remember advertising when we first started Moody and I was looking for practitioners, naturopathic practitioners to come in to write content and stuff. And I advertised at some well-known natural health colleges in London. So always look at noticeboards as well and see who’s publishing what’s and also who is advertising what kinds of positions. And yeah. So that was part one of your question. And I’ve talked too long. 

Le’Nise: If listeners really connect with you and they want to find out more about you and working with you in in your private clinic, how would they connect with you?

Lola: OK, so for sure, email me is the best thing. You can find my contact details on my Web platform, which is www.lolaross.com, which is the preferred method, and we can take it from there. But at the moment and you have probably been doing the same, you know, since lock down and everything, you know, on my clinic, actually, cause which is sad and my clinical physical space closed, which is a shame. 

But so, working on virtual sessions has been absolutely brilliant and actually, you know, expanded my clients and my patients to a much broader, you know, different countries around the world. So there are limitations with that. But, you know, I love that that clinical encounter that, you know, seeing and and seeing someone in the flesh, but I guess that will come back. So, yeah, but at the moment, yeah, I’m online.

Le’Nise: OK, great. And all the details will be in the show notes. If listeners take one thing from all of the brilliant pearls of wisdom that you’ve shared today, what would you want that to be?

Lola: I think it has to be for women listening who, I think yeah, I think probably the thing I leave is that. Keep listening to your body, tap into the intelligence of your body and realise that. What’s happening, happening here now may not be what’s happening for you next year. You know, our bodies change, our cycles change, our environment changes, and all of those things can contribute to menstrual health changes. So. Yes, I would say just keep aware of that and and remember that, you know, your period is your menstrual cycle is important, an important part of your kind of health and well-being in terms of keeping it in balance.

Le’Nise: Tap into the intelligence of your cycle. I love that. I think that’s so, so important. Thank you so, so much for coming onto the show, Lola. It’s been wonderful to speak to you. 

Lola: You’re so welcome, honey, you’re so good and thank you for doing this brilliant podcast. I mean, I know you’ve been at it for a while and, you know, you’ve had some amazing guests. 

And, you know, I think you’re hearing, those sharing those stories, those period stories is it’s just one of those important steps of breaking that, continuing to break down taboos and understanding that we’re all sharing a similar story. They may be different stories, but ultimately they’re around our hormones.

Period Story Podcast, Episode 45: Melissa Ramos, Never Trust Your Thoughts On A Tired Brain

On today’s episode of Period Story, I’m so excited for you to hear my conversation with Melissa Ramos, the founder of Sexy Food Therapy. Melissa and I had a fantastic conversation about her healing journey through ovarian cysts, very heavy periods, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, thyroid nodules and fibroids. And of course, we talked about her first period. She is a very inspiring woman!

Melissa talked about her first period and reflected on how she felt not knowing what was happening to her. She says that from the beginning, her periods were so heavy that she would need to plan her schedule based on proximity to a washroom in order to avoid accidents.

Melissa shares the journey she took to understand what was happening to her – going from practitioner to practitioner to try to address her symptoms. She says that thinking back, none of the practitioners ran any testing on her – a lot of guessing and protocols and no testing.

We talked about the impact of unresolved emotional trauma on healing. Melissa says that we need make sure we value the trauma work as much as we value supplements, self-parenting, sleep and eating good food.

Melissa says small things such as going to bed earlier can really make a difference. She says that when we’re sleep deprived, we’re not always going to want to eat well or think positively. She says to never trust your thoughts on a tired brain. Thank you, Melissa!

Get in touch with Melissa:

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MELISSA’S BIO

Melissa Ramos is the founder of Sexy Food Therapy and the creator of the Sexy Lady Balls, an online community and program dedicated to helping women balance their hormones with nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle changes. 

Melissa uses her background in both nutrition and Chinese medicine to create holistic healing protocols for both her private clients and the members of her Sexy Lady Balls program (a.k.a. “ballers”). She prides herself on educating her audience in bold and innovative ways on a variety of women’s health topics, from to vaginal dryness, to PMS, to more potentially severe issues like cysts, fibroids, and endometriosis.

Melissa, named one of Canada’s up-and-coming rising stars in the health industry by Flare magazine, has appeared on CTV’s The Social as their resident health expert, written for Huffington Post as an official health writer, and spoken at TEDx while lightheartedly wearing a shirt that read “the poop whisperer.” While she’ll admit to having a silly sense of humor, she brings a lot of compassion and firsthand understanding to those suffering from hormone-related health issues. Not-so-fun-fact: She herself had a cyst that ruptured and nearly cost her her life.

Melissa is also a passionate supporter of global initiatives for women’s issues, and has contributed to organizations such as Femme International and Plan International Canada to aid in their efforts to provide menstrual cups and education to the people of east Africa, and end sex trafficking, respectively. In addition, a portion of the proceeds of Sexy Lady Balls is dedicated to an initiative that helps provide menstrual products to homeless women.

Melissa’s mission is to help women rediscover their inner beauty, spark, and magic, starting with the best hormonal health possible. To learn more about Melissa and her signature program Sexy Lady Balls, please visit sexyfoodtherapy.com.

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SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Le’Nise: I’m so excited for you to be here. Welcome to the show.

Melissa: Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here and talk about periods and more.

Le’Nise: So this is a question I always start with. Tell me the story of your first period.

Melissa: Well, I was 13 years old, and it feels like such a cliché story because I was in class and it was art class, in Mr. Nelson’s class. And of course, I was, I had bled through my pants and I had a windbreaker because it was the times you wear a windbreaker here. You know what I’m talking about, you know, when you’re born, when.

Le’Nise: Right.

Melissa: Anyways, I had I remember wrapping it around my waist and I was mortified. And my friend, like, put a bunch of like that, like the really awful paper towels in school that comes in one big roll.

Le’Nise: Yeah.

Melissa: Ripped it and then put it down and she said, you know, put put the the thing around your your waist. I went home. And I didn’t come back to class that day because I was mortified and I went home and my sister was home who’s seven years older than me and she’s like, “You got your period.” And I was like, “Ahh, there’s something wrong with me, you know, I was terrified. I had no idea what’s going on. And she was the one who told me, like, OK, so, you know, there’s menstrual pads and there’s tampons and stuff. And I guess because there was such a huge age gap, she would teach me a lot of this stuff before even my mom got to it, my mom’s awesome, but just before she got to it. And I remember that evening sitting for dinner and my dad I don’t know what I had said nothing about my period because I wouldn’t tell my dad about it. But I said something and my dad goes, “Well, you’re all grown up now, aren’t you?” Right. And my sister and I said and I replied back and I remember going, “You have no idea.” And my sister started laughing, and he said, “What are you laughing about?” because you know, he had no idea what we were talking about. The great thing was when I did go back to school, nobody made fun of me. And I actually was really terrified that the boys or something would say something because I had blood all over my chair and I was like, oh, my God, that, you know, they’re going to make fun of me when I go back to school. But, like, no one said anything. And so I think I was really, really lucky about that. But that was my first period when I was like only I was 13 years old, which I feel like is much later than a lot of women are getting their periods these days.

Le’Nise: Yeah, and it’s later than a lot of women that I’ve spoken to, but for the age that you are, I feel like that’s actually around the average age. So what’s really interesting to me is that you were 13 and you said that you weren’t sure what was happening to you. Did you, when did you learn about these things in school? I know you said your sister told you about what was happening, but what about in school? What was the Health Ed like for you?

Melissa: We didn’t even learn about it. You know, I mean, I’m kind of in that camp where I believe that kids should be learning about even Sex Ed earlier than they should. I know people say they’re too young. I’m like, but there’s so much shame, I think, wrapped up in the idea of bleeding or having sex or anything. And I don’t, I didn’t really learn about any of that. I didn’t, you know even in Sex Ed, we didn’t really start talking about it more so until I remember being in high school. So, like, it, it, I wasn’t learning about anything about periods. I knew about them from, you know, my, my mom or like my sister. And I knew my mother had really heavy periods. And my mother is Polish born but grew up in Brazil since she was four. So she essentially considers herself Brazilian and she had such heavy periods. She would tell me that she would make her own pads, because she was like, she was raised in a very, very, very poor part of a city in Brazil where a lot of people immigrated after the war.

They were refugees from World War Two. And she would say to me that she would make her own pads because they were really poor and she would have that. But she bled so heavy all the time and she would try to race home to go get some more pads because maybe she didn’t have enough or something. And she said that like there were birds or something that were on the side of the road. They’d always try to stick with her because they would try to like they try to, like, nip at your legs where she’d have stockings and all these crazy stories. But I remember her always having really heavy periods and my sister had very heavy periods. So I just was really used to that. Almost felt like the norm. That I kind of always expected that was going to happen to me, and sure enough, it did.

Le’Nise: So your periods were really heavy, so when you say heavy, what does that mean for you? 

Melissa: Oh gosh, they were like, I just remember talking to girlfriends and they’re like, oh, I get my period, like, for three days. And I’m like, what is that like? You know, what is that like? Because I get, I was at that time, I would get them for a full seven, but I would probably have three days where it was like insanely heavy, where I would be, you know, super absorbency plus tampon from OB, which was like you. It’s very actually that tampon, which I don’t use those now because I know how bad and how toxic those commercial tampons are. And they were without the applicator. And I remember how hard it was to get that specific one because they didn’t sell them everywhere. But they were the most absorbent you could possibly get. I’d wear super absorbency plus tampon and an overnight maxi and I’d have to change both in an hour.

Le’Nise: Oh, my gosh.

Melissa: Yeah, and so overnight I would have to, like, set an alarm and I think that it was also hard during the day because you’re moving and, you know, like when you’re sitting and all of a sudden you get up and you’re like that rush and you’re like, oh, why did I just move? You know? But like at night, I think because I was, you’re laying in bed. Maybe the flow doesn’t feel as heavy, but I still would have to set an alarm in the middle of the night, because if I didn’t, then I would have to like, I’d have to change. I don’t experience that anymore. But I had that for probably if I got my period at 13, that would have been until, I probably would say until about my mid thirties and I’m 42 now. 

Le’Nise: Wow. So you are you basically had 20 years of those heavy periods? 

Melissa: Yep.

Le’Nise: I mean, I want to talk more about the rest of your story because, you know, there is obviously a root cause for for those heavy periods. Tell me more about what that meant for your relationship with your period.

Melissa: Oh, it was like hell. When it was coming, and I’m so glad I’m having this conversation because I was thinking about this today, because when it would come, it was just hell, I’m like, that’s just it’s one of those things, you know, people who have Crohn’s, they have to always map it where the bathrooms are. Oh, that was me around my period. So I like, you know, I wouldn’t schedule, I wouldn’t schedule dates around the first day of my first or second day because those heavy days would last for go to the third day was manageable. Third day I could actually go out and in like I still have to make sure that I was like, you know, not pushing it. But the first two days were like literally would have to definitely go by the bathroom. So I would plan my life, try to plan my life around it so I wouldn’t have an accident. And I still did have tons of accidents. So my relationship with it was so bad at the time that I just dreaded it. You know, you get the period brain. I think I still get a little bit of period brain when it comes, but not to the degree that it was before.

Le’Nise: And so you did a lot of planning in the first couple days of your period because of the heaviness, was it painful as well?

Melissa: Yeah, it was really painful. I had, I wasn’t one of those women who were like I’ve heard of women who they’ve thrown up. They had horrible headaches. I was lucky that I’ve never experienced that I would have cramps, but nothing that was severe, just like pretty uncomfortable. A lot of soreness and back pain, but nothing against severe and just obviously a lot of fatigue because you’re losing that much blood, you’re exhausted. But that probably like I guess I was lucky in that sense that even though the flow was so heavy, I met women and have worked with women in practice who’ve had periods that were light and their symptoms were excruciating during PMS. Emotionally, I definitely was like all over the place where it’s just kind of like I just want to hug and for someone to feed me cake, but that I want to smack your head off and want my own alone time all at the same time. That’s kind of that like, you know, manic sort of behaviour. But, you know, I’m lucky in the sense that I didn’t struggle from extreme pain like a lot of women.

Le’Nise: What was a point where, so after dealing with this for 20 years and then, you know, I guess you got to a point where you were like, OK, there’s something’s going on here. Tell me about the point where you realised actually something, this wasn’t right, something was wrong, and you needed to sort things out with your period. 

Melissa: I think it probably, I probably would say around my mid 20s is when I because, I for the longest time, I just felt it was normal. I, my mom went through this, my sister went through this, and I’ll probably be like my mom and have a hysterectomy, you know, and like but this is just kind of what happens. But then in my 20s, I think it’s normal. And I didn’t really care so much about my health in my earlier 20s and even throughout my 20s. I don’t know how much I really cared about it because I think that I like a lot of people, I felt sort of invincible. You know, I was an ad person. I worked hard. I played even harder, a lot of drugs, lots of alcohol. And so you’re not really thinking too much and or even correlating that like, well, what I’m eating or how I’m taking care of myself is greatly affecting my menstrual cycle every month. So I think that a lot of the things I was doing was just adding insult to injury. It was just making it worse.

But I started to go see practitioners and my number one complaint was always like, I have the hardest, like heaviest period. I just don’t know what to do. And I remember seeing a Chinese medical doctor and literally giving her a huge sum of money and just saying, “I don’t like, here’s a bunch of money and just start taking like my sessions off this big lump sum of money and let’s start working on this.” And when I did cycle charting. It was so erratic, I remember like a cardiograph and it started to normalise in terms of the way it’s supposed to look, when I was doing a lot of, like, my periods were still heavy. And she’s like, “Oh, you just have spleen Qi deficiency and you’ve got to take these herbs.” And I kind of gave up on it because I felt like, well, I don’t really feel like it’s like something isn’t shifting still. So which is ironic because, you know, my background is nutrition and Chinese medicine and I do think that both are very powerful. But it’s also the reason why that I find that, like, there’s more to it than just the one modality. It’s why I like exploring other areas and finding like, why is this happening and what are the all these different factors that could be at play here versus just this one thing that was the reason why that this happened. And I’m not entirely sure I believe in that very much. But yeah, I would probably say mid 20s was probably when it was started to become at the forefront. And I had seen multiple practitioners to try to address it. And nobody, not one person ran a single test on me, which is interesting. Like there’s no hormone test, there was no stool testing, there was no hair trace mineral analysis. There’s nothing, you know, it’s just protocols after protocols and lots of money spent. 

And in hindsight, looking back and there’s a lot of guessing and no testing.

Le’Nise: And that was kind of like the opposite of, I know you talk about testing a lot on your, in your work, so the opposite of what you do now. So as a practitioner, if you could go back and speak to for yourself back in your mid 20s, what would you say?

Melissa: I really would say go to somebody who’s actually going to go test you like, to really get to the bottom of it. And I think that so many practitioners even now, like I’m not saying hormone testing is not is not valid because it is, but I also believe that hormones are very much superficial in the fact that so many things affect them. And I think that if we actually address what, are there gut infections at play, because if there are well, those can affect your hormones. And for me, you know, I came from a history of having, like, really bad skin for so long and had been on rounds of antibiotics for Lord knows all these respiratory issues and thinking like maybe that’s probably where you should have start. It was just looking at your gut first. And so that’s probably what I would have said, is like, go test your gut. Let’s, let’s start there. And honestly want a huge part that helped me was symptomatically was bioidentical, natural bioidentical progesterone. And I say symptomatically, because I think a lot of women will get on natural bioidentical progesterone and go, “It’s the answer to all my prayers”, just like taking vitex is the answer to all their prayers. And I don’t believe everyone should be on vitex. But I you know, it’s it’s progesterone is so needed to calm those heavy periods, and it certainly calmed mine. My period are still heavy, but they’re manageable and I don’t have to plan my washroom route. But why is the progesterone low to begin with? Why is the oestrogen high to begin with? And I think everybody sometimes needs a bit of symptomatic support, like just cut a gal a break. But, you know, like you got to keep looking at those causative factors while you’re addressing it symptomatically. 

Le’Nise: So really, it’s going in and giving someone something that’s going to provide them with some short term relief while you go in and you address the kind of deeper, deeper issues. I 100 percent agree with that because if someone has been going through something for such a long time and then come to you as a practitioner, you just want to be able to show them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Melissa: Yeah, a thousand percent. And that’s why I’m just like it was it was a godsend for me. But in the interim, it’s just, you keep chipping away at the stuff that’s there. And sometimes it’s layers of stuff. Sometimes it’s not even like it’s your, it’s just your gut. How about if it’s emotional trauma, even stuff that it could have been there from, like before you even had the mental articulation to go like, oh, I remember this happening. It might have been something that was even like transgenerational from your, your family, but you don’t, that you’re not even consciously aware of. Like, there’s so many layers to us as human beings. It’s quite remarkable.

Le’Nise: I was having a discussion recently about epigenetics and how we carry trauma in our genes. And I just find that such a fascinating area. And then you combine that with the whole the the hypothesis of racial weathering. And I’m hypothesising here. But if you just look at something like fibroids, and I know that’s an area of focus, one of your areas of focus, and you look at how prevalent they are within Black women and you just think, well, if we were able to dig deeper, you know, what is going on there? You know, how much weight does, does intergenerational trauma have to do with the prevalence of fibroids? I just think it’s just, it’s just fascinating.

Melissa: It really is. Because you think about. And it’s what I find fascinating is like, I’m a huge fan of breathwork. And I love breathwork, and there’s so many different modalities of breathwork, right, you know, you have Wim Hof that people do, which I don’t feel is very esoteric in nature. He’s just kind of like, “Breath, mother…”, you know what I mean? Not going to swear, but like, he just very like go get it, you know. And then you have Dr. Stanislaw, Dr. Stanislav Grof who does breath work and there’s like all this like music and stuff. And it kind of takes it from, like shamanistic areas of it. But he believes that some trauma can be very much from in utero or even from the birthing process because you think, OK, that was like really traumatic. Like my mother couldn’t speak English. And you’ve got nurses yelling at her to push and she’s crying because she has no idea. So how traumatic knowing that for her, but for my sister coming out of her. But you can’t remember that my mother went through war. She was a Catholic who harboured the Jews in the war. Right. Like you think about this. And so it’s interesting. There’s a guy by the name of Mark Wolynn and he’s fantastic at talking about like traumas that happen through our lifeline and how it actually could be the reason why we’re reacting the way we are or even like why we’re physically manifesting certain things that we do. You know, I think the Black community, it’s so deep rooted that trauma on so many levels, especially for women. Oh, my God. And so I think that, like I think that the the layers are so deep in there. And the beauty of breathwork, which is one of the things that I really, really believe in, into the integration process of somebody, because I think sometimes you tell someone, oh, you’re healing, you’re healing. But I look at the times and you’re healing makes it sound like you’re broken to begin with, like you’re integrating all these puzzle pieces that just need to click together. And when you do breath work that, it’s moving the diaphragm, which then moves the lymphatic system. And the lymphatic system is that emotional shock absorber. So there could be like trauma there from God knows when. 

And so I think that when women are thinking about periods, for example, you know, we have to kind of go beyond the physical part and think that, like, this actually could be much deeper and that it’s not about abandoning one thing, but really making sure that we value the trauma work as much as we value the supplements, we value the self parenting and getting her butt to bed at a decent time as much as we value, like eating good food. But I think generally people tend to abandon those things because they just don’t put as much value or weight in where they should be.

Le’Nise: I am just nodding along with you. I agree with everything you’re saying. I think that people, they want a quick fix. And, you know, you can take a pill, you can take a supplement, and that will give you the quick relief that we were talking about earlier. But that integrational work that you were talking about, that that’s really that is the work. You know, that’s the deep work that takes can take months and take years to really go through the layers of what is actually driving this. And I think that people can be afraid of that because it pulls up so many things that they just, they haven’t really wanted to deal with.

Melissa: Yeah, and it’s interesting because when it does come out. Is it important for us to mentally articulate the why? Like, if you experience something, did you experience it first in your mind or did you experience first in terms of like, well, no, when I experience something, this is how I like I felt at first I felt an energetic resonance. Then our brain makes the mental articulation of what that meant. So sometimes when women say me like I’m doing the breath work and I feel so sad and I feel so angry and they’re trying to articulate the why and I wasn’t held enough as a child or this. And does it matter? Like maybe we just need to release that that that stored emotion that’s been sitting there that is causing us to react in so many ways, like allow yourself to feel that. But people don’t want to feel because it’s uncomfortable.

Right. So I think it’s just all those things I think are really ingrained and deeply stored into the human psyche. Like I woke up or was trying to go to bed and I was so I don’t even know why. But I was, I felt angry. I had this feeling of anger and I don’t know why nothing caused me to create to feel that way. And I could not for the life of me, go to bed because of it. So I got up and sat down and I did 15 minutes of breath work. And partway through it, I started bawling my eyeballs out and I had no idea why. And I still think maybe I just was not meant to know why. Maybe it’s OK that I just released it like the do I need to rationalise it? Do I need to create a perception of what what it was and how or why? Like, maybe it’s just important that I just let go. You know, so I think that, yes, I think that when it comes to periods and any part of your hormonal healing, you got to look deeper.

Le’Nise: I want to go back a little bit and talk about your, your story and your journey to where you are today, because you have quite an interesting story. You were saying about working in advertising, you know playing hard, working hard. I used to work in advertising as well. So as you were talking about that, I thought I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, got it, been there. But then you had a really dramatic experience. Can you share kind of an abbreviated version of that story for listeners who aren’t familiar with it?

Melissa: So I left advertising. I started to actually kind of dabble in the healing realm around that time, studying nutrition and left advertising to fully pursue it. And after that point, I was really interested in Chinese medicine. But I had when I went into that whole field of nutrition, Chinese medicine, I went to do it with the idea of like digestion. Like that was kind of my thing for the longest time. And it still is, right. It’s usually where I like to start. But fast forward down the road. I had an ovarian cyst that had ruptured this was years after my studying and I was graduated from the Chinese medicine school, but I had an ovarian cyst that ruptured. It tore off a piece of my right ovary and I got sent to hospital and I had no idea was going on. All I knew that I was in a severe amount of pain. My abdomen is distended, thinking in my head and what if the pain isn’t fixed? It’s like moving left to right of me with my appendix and all the diagnostic things in my head. And they said, “Well, we have to do a CT scan.” They did.

And they said, “We can’t see anything other than blood and it’s right up to your lung cavity. And it’s the reason why that you can’t breathe very well right now because blood outside of your organs is an irritant to your organs and it hurts. They’re supposed to be on your vessels, in your capillaries, in your veins.” And so, yeah, it was up to there and they said, “We have to do an exploratory surgery to find out what it is.” They did a six inch vertical incision, they took out about two litres of blood, which was a lot, and they had me for over an hour, hour or two of surgery or so. And now they have like four of the best surgeons in there from different walks of life. They didn’t know they were going to see an ovarian cyst that had ruptured, tore off a piece of my ovary. They stitched my ovary back and said, “It’s fine. It’s in good working order. Sidenote, We didn’t see any endo that was in there” and it was months of recovery. I had 24 staples in me and I, yeah, it took me a while to recover. It was really, really challenging.

And so that was when I really kind of started getting into the hormonal area and obviously spurred from that. And then from there, fast forward even further found out that I had fibroids by mistake because I was experiencing very weird sensations in my pelvic region, not understanding. Is it an ovarian? I don’t know. And then I went into the hospital and luckily the radiologist was still there, did an ultrasound. And then the doctor said, “We didn’t find anything. Did you want a copy of your ultrasound report?” I said, “Sure.” Grabbed it, really sleepy, stuffed it in my purse next and looked at my purse and opened up the results and it said 2 fibroids: one intramural, one subserosal. So and I’m like, you wouldn’t think to tell a woman who came in experiencing pelvic pain that she has like a couple of fibroids, probably a good thing, right? That’s why I felt weird, because I, unlike a lot of women, felt my fibroids, you know, and I have one that’s shrinking right now. And so I had later discovered that I had Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid condition and who knows how long I had that, that maybe it hadn’t been diagnosed for years. It takes about 10 years for Hashimoto’s to develop. And I say that because it’s not like, OK, well, one day you just get an autoimmune condition, but your thyroid can really change your periods quite a bit, that how it functions. So who knows how long I had it for so long.

And maybe that was something that needed to be addressed too. But I never really had proper bloodwork, which is an ongoing issue for so many women to get complete blood work. And they’re just told that their normal or that it’s all up in their heads. So I experienced that and had a bunch of thyroid nodules. And through a lot of work that I’ve done, my last ultrasound, which I always show on the masterclass I’ve done, on one side, all the nodules are completely clear. And then the one that I had that was one millimetre away from getting biopsied shrunk down by 50 percent.

Le’Nise: Wow.

Melissa: Yeah, so it was like I always tell them and I’m like in my antibodies are almost at almost that normal right now, which is insane.

And I say to women like it’s a thousand percent possible to to get past these things. But you’ve got, it’s not about being consistent. Consistency is BS in my opinion. It’s about being committed. You’re never going to stray for something that you’re committed. Consistency, you tell women to be consistent and her little perfectionist brain starts going mental and when she’s not consistent, it’s like shame follows and haunts her to death versus commitments like well I’m always going to go back to something I’m committed to. And eventually all those slip ups I do are less and less. When I do, I kind of have a little bit of grace with myself, you know.

Le’Nise: You have been through a lot. So you had the heavy periods and then you had this surgery from the ruptured cyst. Then you found out that you had fibroids and then you had, got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and then the thyroid nodules. And you are, I mean, you tell me if I’m wrong, but from what I see of you, you seem like you’re thriving and all of that would have put someone else on the floor. So what listeners will probably be thinking is well what are her secrets? How did she do it? Can you talk more about what you did on your healing journey and what you were still doing?

Melissa: Yeah, I think that, you know, I was the gal who when I commit to something, I was like, yeah, I’m going to go full throttle. And I think I all I think when I did really dive into health, food wise, I was always on point, you know, I was always on point with that. I had a lot of struggles with addiction for quite some time. But I think the biggest challenge for me was the lifestyle. The sleep was something that, I would eat well. I would drink enough water, work out, but like sleep? I’ll sleep when I’m dead, I will work and I will work hard because it’s where I get validation, right? Like a lot of people, they get validation through the work that they do. And so that was that was the hardest part to integrate, was the sleep, was crushing the co-dependent patterns, the need to people, please, to validate my sense of self-worth, to distract myself from feeling, because, hey, if I can make someone else feel good, then I’ve done a good job. I think that those are really huge catalysts and definitely addressing the trauma and from a food perspective, I’m a huge fan of looking at the gut and I had a lot of gut infections that were at play and that was something that I noticed.

And I ended up actually, I was in Bali last year for five weeks. Prior to going to Bali. I started to experience some pretty intense gut pain and realised it was from an H. Pylori infection that I had. And what I, and H. Pylori, for listeners, listening is the same bacterial infection that creates peptic ulcers. And it’s found in 2/3 of the world’s population and their studies to even show that women who have very low levels of progesterone tend to actually have a higher incidence of H. Pylori, because progesterone is also antiinflammatory in nature. And so we also need progesterone for thyroid help. People who have thyroid conditions also sometimes has H. Pylori and we have H. Pylori, you don’t have stomach acid. So it’s like a welcome party for all bacteria and parasites to come into your gut. So it’s no surprise that I had all this gut pain. I didn’t have Bali Belly. It literally was, it was because of that. I ended up thinking to myself, why is it does it hurt after I eat almost all my meals except for breakfast? And then I realised breakfast was the only meal that was all protein. So I decided I went on this whole quest to kind of go and I say this like loosely, but carnivoreish and I say carnivoreish because it was not a full carnivore. I don’t label myself as carnivore, but a meat based diet. And it was literally like someone just turned off the switch to pain like that and all the gut pain was gone. It was so bad that I thought, I was trying to get a flight home. I was reeling in pain for five, six hours because it was so intense and I just stuck to eating like now I think my diet, I would say, is pretty high fat, but I do eat vegetables and fruit. But when I took the Cyrex test, which is a food intolerance test, it’s done by blood and it showed that I was intolerant to a ton of foods. But you don’t, you’re not intolerant to a ton of foods until you understand why and it’s usually from gut infections.

So yeah, I went carnivoreish, meaning I still eat berries and apples and pears sometimes, but my diet is primarily protein and pretty high fat and it has been an absolute godsend for my gut. It’s been an absolute godsend for my thyroid and my hormone levels. But the breath work has been huge, the sleep has been huge, the bigger boundaries has been massive. Like that’s where a big part of my healing really was.

And working out where I’m like, I’m going to rest today and I’m not going to feel guilty about it, like I don’t want to do high impact workouts, you will never catch me at a boot camp or a cycling class like I would rather die than to do that, like I will do what my body feels is best for it. And for me, that’s usually like a yoga or Pilates where it’s not a high impact thing. So that’s probably the secret sauces are in multiple parts.

Le’Nise: Going back to what you were saying about being on a carnivoreish diet, I know that some people listening will think, whoa, whoa, whoa, eating all of that meat, that’s bad for the environment, we get told that meat is so bad for us. I have my own view on that, that there’s no one size fits all. You know, you’ve got to do what’s right for you. But what I’m sure you’ve heard, if you talked about this publicly, I don’t know if you talk about what you eat publicly, but what has been your response to people who are kind of like, no, the way you’re eating is wrong.

Melissa: I always say one size fits all approach doesn’t work. I also say the results are in the pudding because look at my numbers, it’s improved. I think that meat has the highest bioavailable nutrients other than plants. So I think that there that I grew up in a meat based household, my, my family is Brazilian. You can’t get more meat based than that. But, you know, whether it’s bad for the environment, I think that you have to vote with your dollar. And I think that if you’re buying, I don’t buy commercially raised meat, I purchase organic and grass fed. I also switch up my protein sources. My favourite is beef, but sometimes I try to get what’s local. Where I’m right now, they’re going to have a lot of elk and venison. So I try to switch up because you’re getting more nutrients from different animals. 

And also I try to get in some organ meats as well. I think that we strayed so much away from like, people will rant and rave about how bad things are for the environment when there’s like mono cropping of soy and corn going on. I’m like, you don’t understand the amount of life, of wildlife that has actually been killed by the growing of, you know, plant based foods. And again, I’m not demonising plants at all, but I’m also, I think that organic and grass fed farming can be extremely regenerative to the environment. I, a lot of people don’t realise, but with fruits and vegetables, you require blood meal. So there’s actual animal fragments in there to, you know, to grow those. So a lot of people I know that, ‘well, it’s bad for the hormones because of this.’ And I’m like, “but what is?” Because if you look at that, if you look at the oestrogen. And that it is in grass fed organic meat and then you compare that to the oestrogen levels in soy or even other various things, you’re going to see massive differences, a lot of different differences in that.

My issues haven’t gotten worse, my issues have only gotten better. They’ve only improved. But I’m not, I’m, I don’t subscribe to diet dogma. So that’s why I say carnivoreish, because sometimes, yeah, will I ever eat grains? Rarely. I mean, one day out of the blue, I really want oatmeal. I never frickin eat oatmeal. I don’t know the last time I ate it, but I bought some and I made some. Oh my God. Is the world crashing? No. But that day my body really wanted it so I had some, I didn’t feel terrible after eating it, which is a bonus. But I think that you have to, I think that sometimes the dogma of various eating regimes, even carnivore, can be so extreme that it’s something.

And I think that we strayed so much away from like food that back in the day when people eat meat, they ate like especially in Brazil, you know, you’re talking about people who were slaves, who were poor, they ate every single part of the animal, because they had to, you know, they looked at. And that’s why even now, it’s like if I can eat some organs, I will. And for those that I know that I’m not going to like like kidney, I think it’s gross because just personal taste preference, I will end up probably getting that in dessicated form from various supplement companies to supplement what I have, because you’re getting a lot of those micronutrients. I think that eating muscle meats alone, you’re really straying from that.

Look, even if I’m making a stew, I’ll put bone in there because I know I’m going to get the collagen from that. Like when my dad made it’s a Brazilian dish called feijoada. A lot of it was like actually from the African slaves in Brazil who would make it and they would make it from every part of the animals, a bean dish with lots of meat. And I remember when my dad made it when we were kids, you make it for a big amount of people. And there is like there’s ear, there’s tongue. There’s like a hoof in there, like there’s everything that’s in there. But you kind of grew up in and I was just normal will eat. Right. But now everyone wants this pretty cellophane packaging. And I’m like, that’s not that’s so far from what it is, you know. So yeah, I definitely try to respect as much as humanly possible from the animal. 

Le’Nise: I am nodding along because I’m in this world and I I agree with what you’re saying, but you know, what we hear from a lot of mainstream health people is vegan is best, vegetarian as best. And you and I both know, we both said it. There’s no one size fits all. So I’d say for listeners who are confused about what to eat, it goes back to listening to what your, your body is telling you. So Melissa said she craved oatmeal, so she went and got some oatmeal, you know, really tuned in to the signals and the science of your bodies and don’t feel like you have to stick to these templates just because, you know, some influencer is saying everyone should be vegan. You know, that might not be right, right for you. I feel so passionately about that.

Melissa: Oh, I totally agree, because even, you know, I have some patients of mine who do really well with higher vegetable count. I do believe that most women are probably not eating enough protein. As we age, our muscles breakdown, we need the protein for blood sugar balancing, and unfortunately, when you’re vegetarian and vegan, you have to combine various foods, starches, legumes, etc. A lot of these foods have a lot of anti nutrients in them like lectins, things that prevent the assimilation of those nutrients. And that high starch can be very problematic for a lot of people, especially for insulin levels. So is that protein combining actually right for you? And I think that that has to be a really integral part before someone really commits to a specific diet. Is it right for you?

Le’Nise: Look at what’s right for you. So tell tell listeners more about what you’re up to now in your business. I know you’ve got a lot of things going on. Tell us what’s coming up for you.

Melissa: Yeah. So right now we have a membership that has been running gosh, for probably about five would say five years or so. Sexy Lady Balls, everything I do kind of kitschy. So I’m on Instagram, you see Sexy Food Ttherapy. You’re going to go, wow, this girl just dressed up as a big vulva or a big fibroid. Yes, that’s me. And I, I like to have people to laugh and learn some of these very complex topics. So we have this membership called Sexy Lady Balls, Lady Balls referring to your ovaries and there are women from all walks of life in there. And it’s great because we have women there, whether they have fibroids, like we really specialise mainly in those oestrogen dominant conditions. The fibroids, the endo, the adenomyosis, the ovarian cysts, the polycystic ovarian syndrome. And there’s so many women in the programme in the membership who have thyroid conditions and pretty much all of them across the board are struggling with their adrenals. So it’s not to say we don’t have women in menopause because we do. But that’s a huge part of my work.

And I’m in the process of developing something that’s not going to release for a while, not until probably the fall of 2021. It’s an autoimmune programme. And but right now, that’s right now is Sexy Lady Balls. And at some point I got to get my book together. So that’s a labour of love. But yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at right now. And it’s been extremely fruitful and amazing and wonderful to chat with women and to support them, because I think especially with hormonal work, it’s not like, OK, you did this for 30 days and you’re healed. It’s you want to give them ongoing support, which is why the membership has been created. And that’s really where, you know, these women join at a really low priced monthly fee and then they have the opportunity to upgrade, to get testing. And my job is to really fight tooth and nail to try to get them to get complete blood work. So we have women in there from Australia, from all parts of Europe, from the States and Canada. And I want these women to get answers like that to me is my number one goal, because like I said, who knows if I had thyroid issues in my 20s and 30s and it was just undetected, you know, and that’s why I think especially blood work is so key. So we try to make sure that we get resources for women so that they get answers.

Le’Nise: So someone’s listening and they’re thinking, how do I fight to get the right blood work done with my doctor, how do I have a conversation with my doctor? What would you say?

Melissa: I think the hardest part is I think I don’t think it should be a fight. If you’re having a fight, then I think that it’s time to look elsewhere and to just, you know, manage your energy accordingly if you’re not pushing up the stream. I think it’s important to look to work with an alternative care practitioner, whether it’s someone like myself, a naturopath, the functional nutritionist, what have you, who may have those resources for you. And usually those resources will require you to pay out of pocket to get testing. Now in the States, people are used to paying always out of pocket for their health in Canada. It’s like, oh, go into the doctor and just get bloodwork done and we’re good. You kind of feel like it’s free, right? And sometimes I find that that’s probably the most challenging to work with our my fellow Canadians. But, you know, I say I’m like, you gotta, I think there’s a weird thing, especially with women, about investing in themselves.

That it’s like, you know, and I’m not talking about fashion and I invest in myself all the time on Amazon. Sure. But is that actually investing in yourself like something that’s going to be like fruitful and abundant to your body? Like, are they distractions or are the actual investments? Right, like, are you spending or are you investing because those are two very different things, but most women really struggle with investing in themselves, though, like, you know, and that’s why we try to keep the membership rate low and then we have upgrades for stool testing and all the rest. And even that I try to keep as low as humanly possible. But yeah, it definitely comes to a distraction issue, a self-worth issue. And these, again, come down to those very deep core patterns that I think a lot of women have so deeply ingrained that are a huge part of why they’re struggling and then still looking for that pill to fix everything. 

Le’Nise: So for listeners who they’re listening, they’ve heard everything you’ve said. What would you want that one thought that they would take away to be?

Melissa:I would say probably the biggest one thought would be if you’re struggling and you’re confused and you’re overwhelmed, I think that sometimes you have to sometimes let go and seek the help of somebody. And if you seek the help of somebody and they haven’t done any testing, that should be a red flag to you. I think that you also have to be mindful and think like, is there trauma that’s here? You know, is there co-dependent issues that are here? Like sometimes something as small as like just getting your butt to bed earlier. I say this to my husband all the time, like if more women just got sleep, so many other issues would improve. Now ask yourself these questions, ask yourself these hard questions, because when you’re really sleep deprived, you’re going to want to eat everything on your fridge. You’re going to think that you suck. Never trust your thoughts on a tired brain, no matter. I don’t care if you are the most evolved human being. I still say that to myself to this day. So remember to say that to yourself. Like I’m feeling really, I’m really beating myself up today. Am I tired? Yes, OK. I can admit that I’m tired. I’ll never trust my thoughts on a tired brain. Got it. Cool. So I would say that that probably. 

But I would always say, look, when it comes to your health, the number one thing is like start with your lifestyle first. Because you can eat all the made in foods, but in the end, if your lifestyle sucks, you’re never going to stay on plan. That’s why most people are falling off the bandwagon. This just because you don’t have a food problem, you have a lifestyle problem. So that probably would be where I would leave people with. 

Le’Nise: So look at your lifestyle. Look at your sleep. Look at your, look at your trauma, I think. Amazing. Thank you so much. You brought so much to this conversation. I’m so, so thrilled to have you on the show. Listeners can find you on Instagram, on your website. So it’s it’s Sexy Food Therapy. And all the links will be in the show notes. Thank you so much, Melissa.

Melissa: My pleasure. Thank you.