Starting your day by being proactive & creating a positive mindset sets the tone for everything else that follows. Morning routines are so important and if there’s one thing I love to see trending, it’s taking control of your mental and physical health! What you may not know about morning routines though is that some of them are more optimal for men than they are for women. That’s because men wake up with peak levels of testosterone & cortisol every single day, while women cycle through 4 different phases that influence our energy, mood, metabolism, and more. What feels best for our mind and body will change.
Male CEOs and entrepreneurs might swear by their super intense morning routines, but the ideal morning routine for those of us in female bodies can change weekly and adapt to how we feel.
For example, during the follicular and ovulation phase, I love getting an early morning workout in because estrogen is rising, my energy is higher, and my body is more prepared for HIIT or weight lifting right away.
During the luteal phase, I prefer to read or listen to an inspiring podcast. This helps set my focus for the day and allows me to relax so that progesterone can really do its job before my period.
In the menstrual phase I like to meditate with the Calm app. My subconscious is highly active, so meditation and mindfulness allow me to process thoughts and ideas with more clarity. I’m turning inward and resetting.
Here are a few morning routines that are always beneficial to female hormones & you can start doing this week!: 1) Eating Breakfast Within One Hour of Waking:
There are a lot of mixed messages about breakfast. On one hand, you’ve heard it’s the most important meal of the day…. On the other hand, you’ve been told to intermittent fast for 16 hours. Many women just find it more convenient to have coffee for breakfast (been there, done that), but that’s terrible for your hormones! Also, intermittent fasting and other diets are based almost exclusively on male hormones, not female hormones (check out this blog to learn more).
When you eat breakfast in the morning, you’re training your ghrelin (the hunger hormone that causes you to feel hungry) to fire off during waking hours. This is important because your hunger hormones affect your energy & influence the sleep/ wake cycle! Most women who complain that they can’t stop snacking at night simply need to eat more during the day, so this starts balancing your hunger hormones. Even a small breakfast that includes at least two macronutrients (protein/ carbs or protein/ fat) can make a huge difference! If you do intermittent fast, consider switching to a circadian fast by eating when the sun is up, and not eating when the sun is down. This will still allow your Migrating Motor Complex to “sweep” your digestive tract 4-5 different times while you rest! However, if you do eat at night, you’re still going to naturally fast while you sleep, which is something all humans do. Aim for 7-9 hours and you’ll get the benefit of the Migrating Motor Complex cleaning out your digestive system 2-3 times.
2) Going Outside:
In our technology-based & fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever to get outside and connect with nature! Taking a break from blue lights and increasing your Vitamin D levels are two major benefits of taking 30-45 minutes in the morning to sit outside or take a walk. During your menstrual & follicular phase, sunlight also plays an important role in preparing your body for ovulation. By getting that 30-45 minute “dose” of sunshine, you're supporting your circadian oscillators, which will help regulate the release of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) & Luteinizing Hormone (LH). FSH is the hormone that encourages your estrogen to rise, while LH is responsible for helping an egg mature. When you enter the luteal phase, spending time outside can help lower your cortisol. By reducing cortisol levels, your progesterone can rise in a healthy way and perform its many amazing jobs-- like helping you feel calm, reducing bloating, and relaxing your muscles.
3) Gratitude Journaling:
Practicing gratitude increases your self-esteem, decreases anxiety and depression, and improves the likelihood of making healthy decisions.
By gratitude journaling, you can create evidence-based affirmations about your life. On days when you’re not feeling good about yourself or face challenges, go back to your gratitude journal and create affirmations based on what you wrote. These are a lot more effective than simply standing in front of the mirror and saying “I am ______” because you’ll actually have proof of the progress and blessings you have in your life from what you wrote down.
Writing down your accomplishments (even if you think they’re small) and what you’re grateful for can increase your dopamine levels-- aka your reward hormone-- and can help you reduce your stress levels and keep you grounded if you’re struggling with PMS mood symptoms.
I challenge you to try all 3 of these this week and see the difference in makes in your life for your mood, energy, stress levels, & metabolism!