Regulating My Cycle
Gathering Wisdom and Listening Deeply
About two weeks ago now I could feel myself build toward ovulation. There was a peak of feeling good and easy in my body, only to feel myself crash wildly into dark desperation. The before and after of ovulation. In just one day I could feel my hormones fall off a cliff. Panic and despair were a low whine in my body.
I told my husband that I was spinning pretty hard. My thoughts were this: if I’m experiencing these kinds of swings now, at almost 39, what was this going to look like when I was actually in menopause. The future panic was LOUD, and mirrored my internal sensations of panic exactly. Sharing with him and both of us hearing what was going on in my head put some things into perspective. Future panic is just a stress cycle, it’s not “real”. Who knows what things will look like 5–10 years from now. I was able to sleep well that night just having voiced the intensity.
The next day I got an invite to an online group dedicated to figuring out our hormones. It sounded like exactly the thing to help me get a little perspective on what was going on with me. The thing is, I have two kids, 2 and almost 7. I’ve been breastfeeding for the past five out of seven years. My body is beautiful and amazing. And I can feel some internal depletion sometimes, some distant craving for something I can’t totally put my finger on. I’ve given a lot of the nutrients in my body to these tiny humans, and I know it’s up to me to replenish myself as I give.
In this group I was given the answer immediately. Something just clicked. My sleep is fine, my emotional and self care are good, but my eating habits feels…off. There was a lot of information that was amazing in the few days, but the thing that called to me, sang sweetly to me, was more protein and nutrient-rich leafy greens at breakfast. I eat kale and collards and chard sometimes, but they always feel heavy on my system, hard to break down, so I don’t have them all the time. Dandelion greens and arugula were recommended among others, and the arugula especially spoke my name. Immediately I did exactly what I have been wanting to do: eat runny eggs over greens as part of breakfast. Honestly, that’s one of the most delicious things to me: eggs over greens. So being given the encouragement to consistently bring this into my life was amazing.
I started and immediately felt my whole body relax. Finally. Nourishment. Daily, without waffling over it. Whatever else I eat, fine. But I also eat it with my over-easy eggs and arugula.
And with anything in the body, magic begets magic. Eating this consistently, and in small amounts — one day early on I got excited and over did it, and felt the familiar heavy ugh in my belly. Now I’m careful to eat exactly the amount my body is requesting — shifted so much. My intestines were so happy. My feelings of insatiability just fully quieted down. I stopped deeply craving treats and sugar.
This is extra wonderful because, as I mentioned talked about in my article about running and breathing, I am not one to punish myself. With food and with exercise: if it feels good, I do it. Which means, it’s wonderful when things that are extra nourishing feel good. And if my body needs to numb, sometimes I’ll just go with it and numb. It comes down to this: I won’t follow things that feel bad. I just won’t. I know intimately what is a growth edge and what is punishment, and am extra loving with myself when it comes to my growth. So basically, if I want cookies, I’ll happily eat cookies. And there is some big magic happening when…I just don’t feel like cookies. (This actually came up a couple nights ago. We got deep dish pizza from this incredible place in Berkeley and when it came I savored every single bite. And when I was done, I was really done. My body cued me and I didn’t feel like more. That’s not always how it feels.)
When bodies talk and it’s clear and easy to listen? Magic.
For me, the most magical part of this has to do with my period. Over the past five or so months my cycles have shortened to 25 days. Nothing drastic, but enough for me to notice. I track these things, with the moon. I’ve always been a 28-day person, punctual and regular. The last six months have been good, but they’ve also been stressful. We’ve moved houses, and my husband and I are working with two small kids in a pandemic. Yeah, things are stressful sometimes.
So I’ve watched my cycles shorten. And there’s always this little feeling of maybe this is the beginning of perimenopause. I know from my family history that it might happen for me a little earlier than the textbooks tell us, and I’m fine with that. It’s not that I’m trying to do some intense biohacking and reverse anything. Instead, I just want to keep listening to be body. My estrogen or progesterone receptors may not be firing as powerfully as they used to, but regardless, there is plenty I can do to listen to my body. And it turned out this is exactly what my body was asking for.
There is a euphoric calm when things just make sense inside. I want that for all of us, and I know it’s there if we remember how to listen.