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Episode 79: Periods and Behavior Change

You’re listening to The Work Of Becoming podcast! My name is Dr. Karin Nordin. I am your host as well as a behavior change expert and self-proclaimed tornado girl. I spent years of my life struggling to change before I finally got my PhD and learned the psychological tools that I needed to actually make those changes happen. Now, I’m bringing you five-minute sneak peeks of how I’m applying the real science of self-help to my life. Let’s get started!

Okay, y’all! Welcome to The Work Of Becoming podcast! Today, we are gonna talk about periods! Not in a cycle-syncing type of way. So, let me just say as a caveat, I have seen a lot of stuff on TikTok about cycle syncing, and cycle syncing is the practice of eating a certain way or working out a certain way based on supposed science about how the menstrual cycle works, and there’s all this stuff they say about, “Oh, during the follicular phase, you have to do yoga, and heavy strength training is really bad for you, and if you aren’t cycle syncing your workouts, that’s why you can’t lose weight.” There’s a lot of bullshit out there.

I highly encourage you to follow — her handle is @doclyssfitness. She’s a friend of mine. Her name is Alyssa. A lot of you followed me from her, so you’re probably already following her, but she is an actual scientist who actually understands menstrual cycles and metabolism and things like that, and she will be the first to tell you that cycle syncing is absolutely bullshit. So, let me say that this episode is not going to be about cycle syncing.

This episode is going to be about cycle awareness, and what I mean by that is I am a person who has  pretty extreme menstrual cycles. I have pretty intense periods. My PMS symptoms are a lot. Like, I am a very, very different person, mentally, during the last two weeks of my cycle than I am during the first two weeks of my cycle. I experience drastic fluctuations in my ability to self-regulate, in my sense of motivation, in my sleep patterns. Part of the reason why I’ve self-identified as a tornado girl before, but part of that is literally these changes that I experience based on where I’m at in my menstrual cycle. The number one thing (and the thing that I want to talk about in this episode) that has helped me, from a behavior change perspective, with that is simple awareness.

So, I know that during the last two weeks of my menstrual cycle, I am convinced my business is failing. I know that during those two weeks, I am going to see every single thing that comes into the business, everything is going to be a red emergency light, and I am going to want to pull the brakes and change things and move plans. That desire is going to be really strong. I also know, during those two weeks, I am gonna want to change everything. I am going to want to completely overhaul my routine again. I am going to want to completely change the workouts that I am doing. And I think a lot of people, when they describe themselves, if they were to describe themselves like that, they would immediately be like, “And I need to change that. I need to become a person who doesn’t have those thoughts.” But here’s my reminder to you. Our goal is not to get rid of the thoughts or even get rid of the feelings. Our goal is to hold still and not act upon them.

So, what I have done is I have a little note in my Notes app on my phone, and I just have a list of symptoms that I experience at each point in my menstrual cycle. For example, the week after my period, I get tons of energy, and I want to overcommit. I want to agree to a thousand different things, and I wrote that down on my list, like I just talked about. Then when I hit ovulation shortly after that, my energy drops, and I want to cancel a billion things, and I want to crawl under a blanket and live there. [Laughs] When I’m on my period, I know that I want to skip my workout. I know that I will feel better if I do workout, but that I’m gonna convince myself that I’m gonna skip it. I know that on my period, I tend to stay up later. I’ve written all those things down, and the simple awareness that those things are coming up helps me break the cycle between those thoughts and the actions that I might take.

So, for example, last week, I was in the part of my cycle where I feel all of the energy in the world, and we were talking about several changes that we were gonna make to Change Academy, and I was feeling it. I was like, “We’re gonna do this then that then the other thing, and we’re gonna do it all in three weeks!” And then I caught myself, and I thought about that list, and I was like, “No, Karin. We’re not gonna do it all in three weeks,” and I said, “You know what? Let me take this information. Let me review it for 48 hours, and then I will give you some feedback on a potential timeline for all of this,” because I was talking to a contractor that we’re gonna work with.

So, all of that is to say, the point of this episode is to remind you that if you are a period-having person, you may experience different behavior change tendencies or symptoms during different parts of your cycle, and I would simply encourage you to notice, keep a list, and become aware of them because once you have the awareness, you can recognize, “Oh, perhaps it isn’t that my business is failing. Perhaps it’s just the week before my period.”

That’s what I’ve got for you today. I will see you in the next episode!

PS: if you are on a journey to become a better you, and you want to learn the tools and techniques that will actually help change your life, make sure you check out my Change Academy Membership. Each month, we do a 1.5-hour workshop on a different psychological topic, but we also provide resources like journal prompts, worksheets, and trackers. We host community events and more. If you’re struggling to close the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it, this membership was built for you. Go to www.karinn4.sg-host.com/change-academy to learn more!

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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.

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