My tips for cycle syncing workouts: Manu's story
Learning the pattern of my cycle has been a valuable tool when it comes to working out. In this post, I’m going to share with you my journey from coming off hormonal contraception to surpassing my personal fitness goals. Plus I’ll share some tips you can use to adapt your workout to your cycle…
Disclaimer: This is one Natural Cycles user’s experience. Everyone's experience is different and we encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider when considering switching birth control.
My name is Manoela or Manu for short. I'm originally from Brazil, but I’ve been living in Sweden since 2016. I work for the Natural Cycles Team as Operations Lead, but I’m also a Natural Cycles user, and in my spare time, I’m passionate about working out.
Saying goodbye to the pill
Before I started using Natural Cycles, I’d been on the birth control pill since I was 15 years old. When I was on hormonal birth control, I thought my body was in sync. I believed I had control of what would happen depending on the pill day I was on.
I always loved sports. Growing up and watching my dad run marathons inspired me to start running too. I ran my first half-marathon in 2009 and then my first full marathon a few years later. Then I discovered Ironman and haven’t looked back since!
For those of you who don’t know, an Ironman is a triathlon event that involves cycling, swimming, and running over lengthy distances. In 2016 I did my first half Ironman event, which lead me to my first full Ironman in 2017.
When I decided to go hormone-free and switch to using natural birth control, the first months coming off hormones were so different. I started to learn about my body and understand how it changed during my cycle and why certain things happen depending on the phase of the cycle I'm in.
Feeling the difference
After stopping the pill, I realized that when I was on it I actually hadn’t had that much control at all. I’d had no idea what was happening inside my body while taking synthetic hormones. Now, with no more hormones, I was able to understand what would work for me depending on where I was in my menstrual cycle.
I find that in the follicular phase, I’m usually more energized and use this phase to do more intense training like HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), or biking and running intervals.
During my luteal phase, I know my body is slower and I try to adapt to a more sedate pace with longer sessions, such as distance running and bike rides.
Tailoring your exercise regime in this way is known as cycle syncing workouts, and you can do it too by monitoring how your body feels and performs throughout the cycle.
Typically, I train around six times a week. Just like everyone else, I have some days when I feel like I don't want to do anything, and specifically, before and during my period, I have horrible cramps and headaches.
However, I know from experience that exercise helps me get through this phase. Using Natural Cycles helps me to understand what is happening to my body and not be too hard on myself if the results are not what I expected.
The app makes it easy to track mood changes and pain so I can anticipate and cater for these changes before they even happen. Visit the Add Data screen to input trackers to keep a record of how you feel when you work out at different points in the cycle.
Cycle syncing workouts when preparing for a race
A lot of planning goes into completing a long-distance triathlon, especially when it comes to adjusting training depending on the phase of the cycle I’m in.
I usually book an Ironman almost a year in advance and when getting closer to the event, maybe when it’s just a couple of months away, I check my predictions to see where in my cycle I’ll be. This helps me make a plan and prepare for race day - especially if it will be on my period - when it’s important you’re extra prepared!
If you’re like me and sign up for races with plenty of time in advance, take a scroll through your predictions, get to know how you feel at certain points in the cycle, and plan accordingly. This can influence how you train, but also what you eat, how much rest you get, and your water intake!
Planning in advance is a great tool to set you up for athletic success, but can also help you be kind to yourself during the slower, harder parts of the cycle too.
Working out after pregnancy
In 2019 I used Natural Cycles to start a family. For someone who is so passionate about sport and exercise, I wasn’t sure how I would adapt to the changes happening in my body during and after pregnancy.
As it turns out, Natural Cycles was actually a really helpful tool to help me get back into my routine, once again I was able to monitor and track changes and could understand more about what was happening and why.
Now more than ever I’m in sync with my body, I feel stronger and I am able to keep doing the things I love.
Thanks to Manoela for sharing her unique Natural Cycles story with us. If you haven’t yet made the switch to a hormone-free birth control, you can use Manu’s personal referral link to get started with a 20% discount and with a free thermometer included.
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