Wellbeing is quite rightly a buzzword at the moment but despite all the information, studies, and hype online, why are women struggling more than ever with their health, fitness, and nutrition?
That’s not to mention the conflicting advice that leads us not knowing whether to go Paleo, Keto or try intermittent fasting. Or perhaps we should attempt everything all at once? The truth is we either try ‘do it all’ and give up (or our body does) or we see some results and then we revert back to type or worse.
But try not to blame yourself because most studies, research, and therefore messaging are based on sedentary men. Not only do elite female athletes still face gender pay gaps, but all women are still excluded from health and fitness news and research. Meaning we are often at a disadvantage when following a generic plan or programme because often they don’t account for a woman’s menstrual cycle or energy levels, due to our hormones and life changes such as menopause.
Not only do women face stigma through stereotypes but it is deeply engrained in sporting equipment simply ‘adapted’ slightly for women, or even appropriate clothing.
Whilst it’s great we are talking more about periods, menopause, and women’s health, we must not accept amenorrhea (missing periods often when overtraining or due to nutrition) as the ‘norm.’
Hormones play a big factor when it comes to a woman’s health and fitness in terms of nutrition and exercise. And as hormones aka the endocrine system is impacted by our blood sugar levels, often intermittent fasting can be harmful to a woman’s health.
Every body is unique regardless of gender but gender does play a role in our physiology and overall health. As Ted X speaker Stacy Sims said: “Women are not small men.”
Individuals need to work with their own energy cycles, to supercharge themselves rather than battle against natural rhythms such as with the Circadian Rhythm (sleep-wake cycle impacting all humans) and the Infradian Rhythm of the menstrual cycle for women during their reproductive years.
After all, female bodies are even more complex and advanced than the best-developed software as they are built to print 3d babies. Which leads to more adaptations if women become pregnant!
As Alisa Vitti, author of the Woman Code Author, points out who adopts a positive mindset around a woman’s ‘Power Cycle’ (which a woman experiences between puberty and menopause) which she breaks down into different phases:
Follicular phase (before you ovulate, after your period) can be a great time to stimulate and begin new projects and collaborate.
Ovulatory phase (when you’re ovulating) is a good time to open up and work with new people.
Luteal phase (before you have your period) can be a time to take action although sleep can be disturbed at this point as Our Remedy’s Doctor Ramlah Tariq explains: “Your hormones adjust during the luteal phase of your cycle there are decreased melatonin secretions.
Then your Menstrual phase (your period) is downtime and inward time to evaluate life. Alisa Vitti says: “It’s not focused on the what for women, it’s the when. A beautiful balance nature provides for women.”
As holistic skin specialist, Abigayle Andre, a former bodybuilder, explains that when you’re menstruating it’s important to switch your usual running routine or lifting weights for example with Yoga, Pilates, or a walk in nature.
She says: “During this phase, our body wants to rest and recoup – so going hard at the HIIT or weights is counterproductive during this time. Adequate rest and recovery are just as important as an activity when it comes to our health!”
It’s incredible how our hormones can impact our total wellbeing so it’s vital that health and fitness professionals understand the whole woman and take into account her individual needs and of course, for us to listen to our own mind and body when looking after our health.
“Women are limited to strength and muscular size because of their hormones, they lack the quantity of testosterone that produces male Characteristics, women generally carry more body fat than males.” Mike Green
Regardless of gender, creating your own ‘Power Plan’ or ideally with the assistance of a holistic wellness specialist, we can feel invigorated and work with our minds and bodies to achieve peak performance and achieve our optimal feel-good factor!
Follow @MamaMeiBlog and @TheSparkleCoach for more https://mamamei.co.uk https://squatsandsparkles.co.uk or join our free women’s wellbeing group on Facebook bit.ly/squatsandsparkles