When M&F sat down for a chat with television, radio, and podcast host Tanya Rad to discuss her battle with Hashimoto’s disease, we learned that the thyroid hormone can play a role in energy levels and our ability to focus. For women who like to workout or play sports, scientists are also beginning to discover that understanding the hormones related to the female monthly cycle is also essential for performing at an optimum level and avoiding injury. To that end, many women are now engaging in what has been termed “Cycle Syncing,” and Tanya Rad says it’s a game changer.

“I was always someone who would push myself to the limit every single day. I would run or do some sort of cardio 7 days a week, but I simply could not do that any longer,” explains Rad, explaining that Hashimoto’s was giving her acute fatigue and brain fog. “I had to listen and respect my body and the limitations it was putting on me. I slowed down and tried lower-impact workouts like Pilates and Yoga. I was still focused on moving my body daily but just not pushing it to the extreme.”

Having been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in 2023, Rad was able to reverse her condition around one year later by switching her plastic packaging to glass, going gluten free, getting more quality sleep, and reducing the toxins from her body, among other healthy lifestyle choices. Then, Rad discovered the process of cycle syncing while listening to a podcast. “These women were discussing these different phases, that I had never heard of before, and how each one impacted our overall wellbeing. The concept just clicked in my head,” she says. “It all started making sense. Of course, we should slow down when we are on our period, our body is clearly telling us to rest, but I would just power through my workouts because I ‘had to get it in,’ you know? ‘mind over matter, no pain no gain!’” As women, we are fed these generic narratives about health, diet, and workout routines that, quite frankly, are based on men but aren’t designed for us. They don’t take into account our cycles, which are so important. When I started to learn more about each phase, and how it impacts my daily life, I felt like I unlocked a secret code that had been hiding my entire life.”

How Does Tanya Rad Practice Cycle Syncing?

“The basics of cycle syncing is that, as women, we go through four phases every cycle, each phase affects our bodies and minds very differently,” explains Rad. “Each phase requires a different approach to exercise.” Rad says that she puts into practice what she has learned from the book In The Flo, by Alisa Vitti

Rad provides a breakdown of each phase according to what she learned:

Menstrual

“The menstrual phase begins when you are bleeding. Your (progesterone and estrogen) hormone levels are at their lowest, and any intense exercise can actually be counterproductive,” feels Rad. “Aim for gentle movements like walking, yoga, stretching, or even resting.”

Follicular

“The follicular phase generally starts on the first day of your period and lasts for 13-14 days,” she explains. “Keeping in mind every person and cycle is unique, so it takes a little time to understand when your body is in each phase. Our follicular phase is when our hormone and energy levels rise, and this phase is all about waking up the body with energizing workouts such as more cardio and strength-based workouts.”

Ovulation

“The ovulatory phase is next and can last anywhere from 1-3 days,” says Rad. “This is when there is a surge in luteinizing hormone so focus on intense strength training, HIIT, and boxing for example.”

Luteal (Pre-Menstrual)

“The luteal phase begins around day 15 of a 28-day cycle and ends when you get your period,” explains Rad. “This phase is when you may experience PMS symptoms (as progesterone and estrogen levels fall sharply). I stick to low-impact cardio, Pilates, and Yoga.”

Syncing the types of workouts that Rad undertakes, depending on the phase of her monthly cycle, has allowed her workouts to improve so much that she now plans her regular work and important meetings using the same method. “I try to plan all my big meeting, planning, and creative processes during my follicular phase because, for me, that’s the phase where I feel like Wonder Woman!,” she explains. “I try to take it easy and not plan too many extra activities during my menstrual phase, however.”

The Science Behind Cycle Syncing

With the welcome increase in the participation and popularity of women’s sports, science is now beginning to take a closer look at the roles that female hormones play in performance and the potential for injury, but currently, the evidence on which part of the cycle is the most productive, is still being debated. Tanya Rad undertakes her most demanding workloads in the follicular and ovulatory phases, and this may be no bad thing, because recent research has pointed to the luteal phase as being the most likely time for injury.

But, surprisingly, in a study of 593 cycles, the menstrual phase was the least likely time that female super league rugby players picked up an injury. As this was one of the first major studies of its kind, more work needs to be done to determine if cycle syncing is the same for all women, and all sports, or if other variables are at play to determine which phase works best for an individual. The principles behind cycle syncing appear to show great promise however. “For me, moving my body on a daily basis makes me more productive. It doesn’t have to be a crazy hard workout,” explains Rad. “But taking time to do something physical really helps my mental health, it’s all connected – mind and body.”

Why not listen to your own body and try cycle syncing for yourself. You may just find out that timing is everything. Follow Tanya Rad on Instagram Here!


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