by Jenna Kutcher
Some days you feel totally in your groove, creating absolute magic and checking things off your Big Three to-do list without hesitation. Other days you move slower and can’t seem to get out of your own way, no matter what tasks are piling up on your plate, and your inner mean girl makes you feel totally awful about it, too.
What if you could predict those days? What if you could pinpoint when you’d be in the best mental state to work creatively or when you’ll be totally in the zone, sharp, and focused? Would you even believe me if I told you… You can?
Claire Baker is a life coach… More specifically, a PERIOD coach. Claire teaches women how to live in sync with their menstrual cycle. She’ll walk us through a broader understanding of the seasons of our cycle, and then we’ll do a deep dive into working with these seasons and understanding how they impact our every day.
I could’ve talked to Claire all. day. long. If you’re ready to understand your body even better, don’t wait to tune into this episode.
What is a Period Coach?
Claire Baker works with women at the intersection of health and life coaching and period awareness. Her work is all about helping people with periods live in better flow with their body and cycle sync their lives and their schedule, with the way they relate to other people, their sexual energy, creativity and more. “I really believe it is a missing key in womens’ wellbeing and creative output.
Claire does one on one coaching, teaches courses online, and blogs strategies and tools to help us understand our menstrual cycles and use them to be our fullest, best version of who we are.
For Claire, it all started when she decided to come off traditional hormonal birth control in her mid-20s. She realized the experience she had with her period while on hormones was much different than her body’s natural menstrual cycle experience. At the same time, she was studying to be a health and life coach, so she was talking to clients about their habits and routines.
As she started to track her cycle and learn about the “seasons” on her own, she incorporated these conversations into her planning sessions with clients. It wasn’t until a few years into working with women that she really stepped into the title of period coach and dedicated her body of work to this area, “I had some resistance in that actually, to be the woman who talks about periods all the time!”
One of the common misconceptions about our periods is that our “cycle” is only when we’re bleeding, but the menstrual “cycle” actually encompasses four seasons beyond our actual period, and they are best understood like the seasons of the year: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn.
The first season we discussed was “winter”. This is menstruation, and just like the season of the year we like to be home, curled up inside, taking it easy, and being possibly more reflective. A lot of women feel more intuitive in this season, and there’s a real feeling of being one with yourself. It can feel like a big reset button — like when the year comes to an end and there’s a feeling of starting new. Hormones are at their absolute lowest in this season, and it’s natural to feel a little slower and not have peak energy.
This can be a very great time to do some planning for some women, but it can also be a very different experience for women who experience intense menstrual pain, who have struggled with fertility in the past. Like each season, the effects are different for everyone, but physiologically, your body is going through something very intense. It is important to pay attention to how the season is making you feel.
Estrogen begins to increase after day one, and it’s one of the female sex hormones that can help us feel more focused and confident. Around day three of our cycle, you’ll start to feel you energy returning. On days five and six, Spring begins.
We feel like we’re stepping back out into the world and ready to start our projects. Claire likes to take action in this phase and sync projects with this season of her cycle, possibly the projects that she found more clarity on during the winter phase of her cycle. For a lot of women Claire works with, this is a time when they feel most productive and can get a lot done.
For others, it can feel like a very vulnerable time, particularly if there’s any conflict about where to channel or direct their energy. For anyone questioning what their purpose is or where there place is in the world, it can feel erratic and overwhelming to consider where all the energy is going to go. Paying attention to how you feel in each phase is key.
Spring is the transition season. It’s builds us up to summer. There’s an increase of estrogen here, and there’s a build up to ovulation, which begins the start of ovulation and release of an egg.
This is a fertile phase, quite literally if you’re trying to conceive, but it’s also fertile in a sense that you can direct creative energy into our projects, relationships, and ourselves. It is the peak of the menstrual cycle hormonally, and it can really make women feel like they are superwomen.
“If there is a phase where you can actually be everything to everyone, and get everything done, this is probably going to be it,” Claire said. WOW. That’s a strong statement, but Claire says the boost of hormones really gives you that feeling.
The summer phase is about saying yes, about being seen, about being out in the world, but it’s NOT a time to plan. Summer’s energy makes you say yes to everyone and everything, so you will definitely over-schedule yourself. Don’t make plans here!
In Autumn, progesterone dominates the cycle, and this is commonly known for premenstrual symptoms. This hormone is here to nurture a potential pregnancy, just in case we’ve conceived. This is the “stay at home with a blanket hormone” which can make us feel more reserved and sensitive. For most people, you will feel a shift quite dramatically, wanting to feel more alone and setting boundaries.
This can be very challenging for someone who feels most at home in the Summer phase, or someone who holds a lot of responsibility to other people (a mother, a manager, a leader). It can be really conflicting to feel like you want to show up for those people, but you have a need to step back from those people and take care of yourself.
This phase is about reflection and taking stock of what worked, what didn’t work, what felt great about our past phase and the work we did in it. Be cautious with yourself, because this can manifest as serious self criticism.
When we’re not conscious of what’s going on, and aware of our menstrual cycle, we can be very hard on ourselves during this phase. You might be feeling very self critical, and like you might want to “throw in the towel” on our projects and relationships. The Autumn phase just requires us to take care of ourselves and we might not be equipped to show up in the ways we did in our summer phase.
Tips to Start Tracking
So now that we have a general understanding of the seasons and how they feel, it’s time to start tracking. A tracking app or journal will help you start to understand your own seasons. Remember that day one is the first day of full blood flow, and each season is about one week long, but can shift for each woman.
Check in with yourself every day, and be very mindful of how you feel and what you’re experiencing. Make a few notes in your app, one or two words that capture how you feel. Try describing your experience each day using the four bodies: How do you feel physically? What’s happening for you mentally? What do you experience emotionally? How connected do you feel spiritually?
As you journal and track, you can flip back to your past cycles. You will notice patterns over a few cycles and it will become clear how YOU feel in your seasons.
So Much More from This Episode
Tracking your cycle and becoming more aware of your cycle can get emotional, especially for people trying to conceive and struggling in that process. Claire explains how tracking your seasons can alleviate some of the pressure during fertility struggles. Claire also walks through what hormonal contraception does to our cycle, and how it impacts our seasons. And what does pregnancy do to our cycles and seasons?
I think this is the longest episode we’ve ever aired on the show, because it’s THAT good, and so enlightening. Tune in right now and get ready to understand your body in a whole new way.