If you’re wrestling with period problems like severe PMS, heavy or irregular periods, missing periods, cramps, bloating, or acne, you’re probably no stranger to another hormone imbalance-related problem: fatigue and low energy
Fatigue is a hallmark symptom of hormonal discord. So are other energy-related problems, like brain fog, inability to concentrate, and insomnia.
Because the endocrine system, which controls our hormones, regulates our energy flow — and when the endocrine system isn’t in tip-top shape, our energy isn’t optimal either.
5 Factors that Affect Hormones and Make You Feel Tired
There are three main ways that hormone imbalances can leave you with low energy and fatigue. Here they are:
Imbalanced blood sugar
When we eat, our bodies produce insulin. Insulin is one of the body’s master hormones and it allows energy (in the form of glucose) to enter our cells and keep us energized. But when we overeat sugar and carbs, our bodies produce an overabundance of insulin. So some of the glucose enters our cells, but all that extra glucose (and the extra insulin released to deal with it) remain in the bloodstream — and that overexposure to glucose and insulin can prevent ovulation. When you don’t ovulate, you don’t produce progesterone, which leads to estrogen dominance and its associated symptoms, including fatigue.
Our adrenal glands, which release the stress hormone cortisol, are part of the body’s fight-or-flight system. When the adrenal glands release cortisol like they should, we get three main surges of cortisol during the day, but no surges at night. The opposite happens with adrenal fatigue: we have low cortisol in the morning, but high cortisol at night. Because cortisol is the hormone that gets your body ready for action, this is terrible timing. You don’t want to be ready to fight or flee when you are trying to fall asleep! Cortisol at night leaves you feeling tired but wired (and unable to sleep) — and ready to nap all day when the sun rises in the morning.
Melatonin is another one of the body’s key hormones. It’s released in response to low light (as the sun goes down, melatonin goes up) and it’s responsible for that predictable sleepy feeling we get at night. Predictable, that is, if our melatonin is working like it is supposed to. A whole slew of things conspire to keep melatonin from being released when it should, from the blue light that pours out of our computer screens to not enough exposure to sunlight during the day.
Modern life itself is hard on hormones — and hard on our energy reserves. Everything from chronic stress to exposure to environmental toxins to taking certain medication (including the birth control pill) can throw our endocrine systems off balance and leave us feeling exhausted all the time.
Women who don’t get enough hormone-balancing nutrients, like vitamin D, vitamin B, and magnesium, will experience fatigue. Ironically, drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages, a strategy people often use to feel more energized, further depletes your body of these essential micronutrients — and leaves you feeling even more tired. Coffee backfires when it comes to boosting energy.
So how can you correct hormone imbalances and reclaim your energy? The first step is to make the most of your mornings. Here’s how to design a morning routine that will help you have consistent, steady energy all day long.
The Best Morning Routine for Menstruating Women
How do you start your day? Do you hit the snooze button until you have to dash out the door, breakfast-less and barely awake? Or do you lay in bed scrolling through emails on your phone and getting stressed about what’s ahead? Your morning routine, or lack thereof, can have an impact on the rest of your day — and, specifically, on how much energy you have during the course of your day.
If you start the day anxious (maybe you look at your work email right when you wake up or you scroll anxiety-inducing news headlines), hungry (you skip breakfast) and over-caffeinated (you drink a cup or three of coffee), you’re setting yourself up for unstable blood sugar and imbalanced cortisol surges throughout the day. And the blood sugar and cortisol roller coaster will leave you feeling buzzy one minute and exhausted the next. You won’t be able to harness the steady, consistent energy you need to perform your best at work and at home.
Changing your morning routine can be the first key step to healing your hormones, improving your periods, and restoring your energy. If you can master your mornings, your daily exhaustion will disappear.
So what is the best morning routine for menstruating women? It depends on where you are in your cycle. I recommend that women apply the principles of The Cycle Syncing Method™ to their mornings by tailoring what they do in the AM to where they are at in their 28-day hormone cycle.
Here’s how I apply The Cycle Syncing Method™ to my mornings:
Morning Routine #1
From right after my period to ovulation (the first half of my cycle):
- I wake up and drink a tall glass of lemon water
- I stretch out my body with some light yoga practice before I start putting together my breakfast
- I make a smoothie with a blend of avocado, blueberries, spinach, flax, almond milk, and cinnamon
- I sit down at my desk and assess the to-do list I put together the night before. In the evenings I always feel super ambitious about what I can achieve in one day, but when the morning comes I allow myself to reality-check that list. I immediately take one or two items off the list. Doing this really feels like a relief in a way and that boosts my confidence and energy for the day ahead.
- I take a moment to connect to my heart in some way before I start my work – this might mean a call to a friend, a cuddle with my daughter, or some meditation.
Morning Routine #2
From ovulation to the start of my period (the second half of my cycle):
- I wake up and drink a raspberry leaf hot tea
- I stretch out my body with some light yoga before I make breakfast
- I choose a more carb-heavy breakfast for this time of my cycle, with a grain-base like buckwheat or quinoa plus eggs and sauteed greens
- I take some time to do a little introspective self-evaluation. I might call a friend to work through something that’s been bothering me or sit down to journal for a while. I want to get out what I’m feeling right now and address it in a way that works and feels best.
- If I wake up feeling a little cranky and off-balance, I will write a quick 5 item gratitude list to shift my energy and feel revitalized.
Being deliberate about your morning routine, and syncing your morning routine with your 28-day hormone cycle, is one of the best ways to reclaim your energy and feel and perform your best.
My Favorite Energy Boosting Snacks
As I mentioned earlier, imbalanced blood sugar is one of the major causes of low energy. Eating a healthy, substantial breakfast will go along way in stabilizing your blood sugar for the day. So will how you snack!
Snacking right — which is to say ‘snacking in a way that supports balanced blood sugar’ — is a great way to help your hormones function better and maintain steady energy throughout the day.
Not one woman I’ve worked with over the years has had well-managed blood sugar. Not one! And many, if not most, complain of low energy. They’re in their 20s and early 30s but feel so much older – as they find themselves foggy headed at 3pm, falling asleep on the sofa at 7pm. Choosing blood sugar-supportive snacks helps put an end to daytime sleepiness.
When you feel exhausted, the last thing you want to reach for is carrots and hummus. That’s why I’ve selected truly satisfying snacks with a bit of natural zing that won’t send your blood sugar crashing!
- A slice of gluten-free toast with sun butter, a bit of organic sugar-free strawberry jam. I’ll have this in the afternoon along with a cup of decaf chai tea. This is bliss!
- Dates are little powerhouses of energy – two of them with a couple of squares of dark chocolate fix me up for the rest of my busy day.
- A little bowl of goji berries and almonds make a tasty, healthy trail mix.
- A quick smoothie with half a banana, half an avocado, some mango, spinach, and ginger.
8 Natural Strategies for Boosting Your Energy
Here are my top strategies for reclaiming your energy and overcoming fatigue once and for all:
1. Block blue light
Computer, phone, and other device screens emit blue light, which can wreak havoc on the production of melatonin. In general, bright light at night disrupts melatonin production and interferes with our sleep cycle. When possible, skip screens of any kind within two hours of bed. When you must be on a screen before bed, consider adding a blue-light blocking app to your computer or device. These apps, like f.lux, dampen the effect of the hormone-disrupting wavelengths.
2. Get more (safe) sun exposure before noon
Getting even 10 or 15 minutes of sunlight before or around noon helps regulate your circadian cycle and promote healthy melatonin production at night. Take your morning cup of tea out to the backyard or balcony or sit in a sunny south-facing window to support circadian health. Ten to 15 minutes of sun exposure can help promote healthy vitamin D levels, too. Vitamin D deficiency is a root cause of fatigue and low energy. (But don’t go over fifteen minutes of sun exposure without applying a non-toxic sunscreen. You want to find a balance between making vitamin D and protecting your skin from the sun!).
3. Manage stress
Yes, blue light can keep us awake at night. But so can stress. Racing thoughts at night can keep us awake for hours, which causes cortisol levels to stay high when they should be subsiding for the night. The key is to find stress management techniques that work for you, whether that’s meditation, movement, connecting more often with your most supportive friends, or making time for self-pleasure. There’s no one right way to relax. The key is to find what works for you and to make room for it in your life. Carving out time to relax will ultimately boost your energy levels
4. Just say “no” to coffee
Coffee raises cortisol levels, stresses the adrenals, and depletes essential micronutrients that are critical for battling fatigue and brain fog. We think of coffee as an essential energy booster when it really is the opposite. It can make you feel buzzy and productive for 20 minutes —and then leave you in a slump the rest of the day (while messing up your hormones at a deeper level and making it that much more difficult to wrestle your way out of chronic exhaustion).
5. Eat a healthy, hormone-supportive breakfast
When it comes to using nutrition to promote hormonal harmony, breakfast is your first (and best) starting place. Eating a hearty breakfast — one that is timed to your your 28-day cycle — will set you up for stable blood sugar all day and will help keep your hormones in balance. Specifically, choosing the right kind of carbs during your luteal phase helps prevent energy dips. During your luteal (or pre-menstrual) phase, you need more nourishing and fulfilling good carbs to combat cravings for unhealthy carbs
6. Eat every 2 hours
If you are prone to low energy slumps, one key is to not let your blood sugar levels drop too low. You can do this by snacking on energy-boosting foods (see my snack ideas, above), and making sure that you eat every two hours. In one day this can look like – a small breakfast when you wake up, followed by a protein smoothie, then lunch, then a high protein snack, and then dinner.
7. Get your heart pumping
Cardiovascular exercise can help you have more energy (even though it might be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re tired). But the research shows that regular exercise reduces fatigue. A heart-pumping workout also helps to flush cortisol from your body. I recommend taking the opportunity once every hour or so to simply run in place for 60 seconds, followed by 60 seconds of jumping jacks, 60 seconds of windmills, and 60 seconds burpees – repeat the same circuit twice. Even a small amount of high intensity exercise will help increase your energy levels and overall fitness as well as give you an instant stress reducing, cortisol flush.
8. Maximize your micronutrients
Eating a diverse selection of phytonutrient-rich whole foods is the first step in getting enough of the key micronutrients that support steady energy levels. But, in many cases (and for a variety of reasons beyond our control, like the depletion of micronutrients from the soil in which our food is grown), supplementation is important. Here are some of the nutrients you should prioritize if boosting and balancing energy is your goal:
I designed my Balance Supplements specifically to help women address these key deficiencies, balance their hormones, and reclaim their energy.
You don’t need to feel listless and exhausted for 1-2 weeks every month. You can reclaim your energy in as little as one 28-day hormone cycle.
BALANCE by FLO Living is the FIRST supplement kit for happier periods that supports balancing your hormones. Balance Supplements include five formulations that provide essential micronutrients to balance your hormones. Think of them as your personal “insurance policy” against environmental factors that are (knowingly or unknowingly) zapping your energy every month.
Balance Supplements can help you have more energy within a few weeks!
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