If you read one book this year let it be ‘In the Flo’ by Alisa Vitti. I’ve spent my summer reading her work, and I don’t know about you but my relationship with my body, my period and hormonal health are not nearly as harmonious as I first thought. Have you grown up thinking your period is shameful and a burden? Rather than the incredible ability we as women have to nurture and grow an entire human being? Or as Vitti describes it, ‘we bleed monthly, we don't die, AND we 3D Print tiny humans’, yeah me too.
Buckle up, I’m going to give you a speed guide on the key things I've taken from In the Flo so I can sidestep the hustle, sync with my cycle and enjoy more of what I already love doing.
To preframe, In The Flo is a biohacking solution that teaches us how to get intune and use our natural 28-day cycle to optimise our time, diet, fitness, work and relationships. Over time we as women have lost touch with our rhythm from a myriad of societal and external reasons - and typically tend to schedule our lives based on a 24-hour time cycle. Having awareness and taking small steps to get back in tune can be all we need to change the way we see and do things.
The most common period myths exposed by Alisa Vitti
PMS is just part of having a period - mood swings, bloating, breakouts. Were told these symptoms are normal. They’re not, the truth : Science shows PMS symptoms arise only when there is an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone during the luteal phase.
Cramps are unavoidable - Have you been told period pain is just a reality to “deal with”, well, the truth : Yes our bodies produce one type of prostaglandin - PgE2 that causes uterine contractions and in excess can lead to cramps But our bodies also produce two other types of prostaglandin - PgE1 and PgE3 which are antispasmodic in nature and counteract those contractions. Meaning with the right foods for our cycle we can provide our bodies the building blocks it needs to promote the production of the good prostaglandins to ease period cramps.
Being on the pill helps you regulate your period - When taking synthetic birth control pills your ‘period’ isn’t a period. The truth is the placebo period week found in most birth control packs was created as a marketing ploy, Vitti says in the early days of the pill, manufacturers thought women would be so disturbed by the idea of not bleeding at all that they wouldn’t want to use it. The pill prevents us from ovulating which means you cannot menstruate. Synthetic birth control suppresses our hormonal functions and allows us to avoid addressing the root causes of symptoms.
You don’t need to have a period - It’s been said time and time again that modern-day women have no reason to need a period, however, the truth is although it's amazing we’ve discovered how to out-smart our bodies and suppress our cycles, it doesn’t mean we should. Nature is infinitely more intelligent and gave us the gift of the cycle to protect our long-term health. Our menstrual cycle has been deemed so important that the American college of obstetricians and gynaecologists has noted that menstruation is the fifth vital sign, alongside pulse, temperature, breathing rate, and blood pressure. If our periods are missing for different reasons it's a sign our hormonal system is off-kilter, and will likely be accompanied by symptoms like acne, mood swings, or weight gain.
If you have a bad period there's not much you can do about it - When we have a cold we tend to take action to promote quicker healing, but for some reason when it comes to our period symptoms, cramps, heavy bleeding, or spotting we tend to ignore it and just take the ‘deal with it’ approach. The truth is we can do something and change our hormonal reality. With simple lifestyle changes like food, exercise, supplements and the way we manage our time we could see results as soon as our next cycle.
We have something extra special inside all of us, we have a 24-hour clock, both women and men. But us as women we are blessed with an additional clock, the 28-day infradian rhythm. It is deeply linked to our monthly menstrual cycle and includes four distinct phases - follicular, ovulatory, luteal and menstrual. This clock influences our brain chemistry and physiology, providing us with unique gifts and strengths at different times of the month, it strongly influences our 24-hour circadian rhythms, and vice versa.
With next-generation technology paving a future where life can be created artificially in response to the decline of our hormonal health, it's important we protect our hormones and our cycles now for ourselves and future generations.
“Anything a man can do, we can do bleeding”
The key hormones that we must learn to balance are, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), Luteinizing hormone (LH), Insulin and Cortisol.
In the four phases mentioned earlier, when we are in-tune and our hormones are balanced it is easier to take advantage of our gifts and talents throughout the month, Vitti explains that this is what the four phases of our cycle looks like when our hormones are balanced -
Follicular phase : The overall hormone effect on our brain is openness to new things, creativity, and beginnings. What do you want more of in your life? Where can you set your intentions?
Ovulatory phase : The verbal and social centers of the brain are stimulated by hormones, this is the time to talk about what we want with everyone that we speak to. It's a good time to connect with community and have important conversations
Luteal phase : The brain is optimized for task and detail orientation and bringing projects to completion. In the first half of this phase we have energy for others and in the second half we should focus on taking care of ourselves, saying no more often and setting clear boundaries
Menstrual phase : As hormone levels quickly decline to our lowest concentration, it creates the best connection between our two brain hemispheres, the analytical and feeling, meaning we are well equipped to articulate how we feel about situations with facts and determine the best course of action. This is time to think strategically and where we want to go in terms of the bigger picture.
This is all just a taster of the knowledge and research Alisa Vitti has packed into ‘In the flo’ and a showcasing of the power we harbour within our incredible double clock bodies as women! I encourage you to read up on your female biochemistry and get in-tune with your bod as much as you can so we can
My first step has been tracking my cycle with the Femometer app. However this is just the beginning for me, if you have any powerful resources on our hormonal health please send them to me on instagram here