I can hardly contain my excitement y’all! The day is finally here to launch a series that has been been on my heart for a while. I have known I wanted to guest feature incredible people on the blog, much like I did in the past with my fitness blog. However, this time, I’m showcasing talented and inspiring women whom I believe have knowledge and tools that will, through various avenues, enrich your life. A quick note about the women featured in this series: many of these women also work with men, while some do not. The work they do with women is the focus for the Inspiring Women Project.
Our first guest is an amazing human whom I have had the joy of working and learning alongside with, Brittney Ellers, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Pelvic Floor Specialist, and Yoga Teacher!
Tell us about yourself. Where are you located, what brought you to the work you’re doing today, and how long have you been in your field?
I’m Brittney Ellers, a pelvic floor physical therapist and yoga instructor based in North County San Diego. I became interested in and passionate about the pelvic floor and all the modalities used to explore and heal this area of the body after learning about what women in particular go through in the postpartum period. This kind of care is not known about, or talked enough about, amongst the masses, unless you’ve dealt with pelvic issues yourself. I’ve been working with people for over 4 years in my field and I can see myself working on bringing this information to light for the rest of my life-it’s my life’s purpose.
What is your area of expertise, the main focus of your work? Every year since beginning work as a physical therapist, my area of expertise has changed or evolved. I love working with motivated people, who want to take control of their own lives – because it’s theirs! I focus on holistic healing, because I love and have experienced it myself, and think that more “conservative” approaches such as lifestyle modifications and awareness practices, such as yoga or breathwork, are more effective and sustainable than things like medication and surgeries. I apply these modalities to all areas of my clients’ lives – mind-body-soul.
What is your “why”? I think the world would be a much better place if people practiced more awareness, because once you’re aware, you can create change if you want it. My body has changed significantly since I started integrating a yoga practice, but it’s expanded more into my life, career, and most importantly, my mindset. I want everyone to experience the level of peace that is available, no matter what your story. I especially want women to know that they have SO MUCH power and magic. They just need to be willing to use it.
Tell us why your work is important. There are too many women and men who are disconnected to themselves, especially to one of the most intimate parts of the body – the pelvis. When you’re disconnected from any part of your body, or completely ignore it, you don’t get to access the true magic that literally is where you were born from. The womb space is the birthplace of security, foundation, creativity, sense of self, healthy sexuality and sensuality.
How does your work empower women? I actually don’t believe I have the ability to empower women. Only a woman can empower herself. Others can inspire you to live a more full and embodied life because they’re doing it, but truly, I cannot give you the power. No one can, except yourself.
If you’d want to work with me locally/in-person or virtually, email me at email@example.com
Next, Brittney discusses “cycle-syncing,” a term trademarked by Alisa Vitti. Brittney has studied this extensively, and it’s something I think that is extremely valuable.
What is cycle-syncing and how can it help us? Cycle syncing is when you adapt your nutrition, exercise routine, social/work/school calendar, and brain focus according to where you are hormonally in your menstrual cycle. Your hormones affect your mood, energy, attractiveness, pain tolerance, and even food cravings. Syncing to these shifts, which are happening in the background anyways, can make you feel like your life is streamlined without all the fuss or burnout.
Of course, we live in a very masculine and linear world where things are always supposed to increase, grow and go.
But if we as women can shift this perspective, support our biological blueprint and actually harness the feminine energy that we carry, we will find so much more success and ease in our lives.Brittney Ellers
There are three primary goals for cycle syncing according to Alisa Vitti’s books and protocol (Alisa has trademarked cycle syncing):
- regular periods and cycle
- improved fertility
- regular libido (sex drive)
- becoming your best self (really though)
Not listed are all the symptoms that cycle syncing can help with that are directly related to your hormones. I dealt with weight gain that I was not comfortable with, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and PMS. What this book taught me was that while these symptoms are common and almost expected and accepted as being part of a woman, none of these things are normal.
Explain each phase and how to best support each phase/brief overview of a typical cycle.
Menstrual // Day 1-7
Hormonally: Progesterone and estrogen begin to drop off, causing the uterine lining to shed, which creates the blood that you get if you’re not pregnant.
What to eat: Stick to warm and grounding foods like soup or stews. To replenish your body with iron and vitamin B for improved energy, think leafy greens or even seaweed. I love getting sushi during this time!
How to move: Do you even feel like moving?! Depending on your energy levels, think about taking a nap, a walk, or restorative yoga class. You can always ramp up your activity when your days get lighter and your energy increases.
Where to focus: This is a perfect time to take time for yourself, and do whatever you deem as self-care. I love to read, get massages, do my nails, and focus on letting go (physically and emotionally) of anything that’s not doing me any good. I also take into account what was working/wasn’t working over the past month for me in my life goals and begin evaluating.
Follicular // Day 8-13
Hormonally: Estrogen and progesterone begin to rise again. One follicle that carries an egg in your ovary will begin to grow, and your uterine lining will begin to thicken.
What to eat: Sticking to lean meats and proteins, as well as a wide array of veggies and fruits, can help your liver eliminate any excess estrogen/progesterone. Estrogen dominance throughout your cycle can look/feel like weight gain around the hips, thighs, butt, arms, and face, as well as heavy periods, mood swings, and PMS. I love to eat fresh salads with added chicken, stir fries with tons of veggies, and citrus fruit for my sweet tooth.
How to move: You will feel that surge of energy right after your period is done in this phase, so think about this being a fresh start for a new workout class! Try something you haven’t done before, or switch up your routine and work different muscle groups with new exercises.
Where to focus: Think about all the new and creative things bubbling up in your head… now jot them down! You’ll find fresh ideas flowing during this time so take advantage of your creativity and begin a new project. This is when I take a look at my planner and game plan the month for all aspects of my life, including meetings for potential collaborations, problem solving, and getting social.
Ovulatory // Day 14-18
Hormonally: Estrogen and testosterone spike! Here is when that mature egg is released from the ovary and enters through the fallopian tube towards your uterus, where it waits to be met with sperm for fertilization. You may notice changes in your vaginal discharge, as it usually turns into a milky texture, similar to egg white.
What to eat: Foods full of vitamin B, glutatione, and magnesium to keep the hormone balances of estrogen and progesterone in check. An easy go to for me during this phase is a homemade red sauce with gluten-free pasta (quinoa based is my fave) with shrimp and a spinach or brussel sprout side. You may experience a craving for sweets like me. I like to grab a dark chocolate bar during this time (because it’s so rich in magnesium!).
How to move: This is when I have the most energy for group workouts and HIIT (high intensity interval training). You can catch me in a boot camp or buti yoga at least twice this week of my cycle. Try that group fitness class, or even amp up your cardio, add plyometrics, and go for that long run! You have the energy and the neuromuscular control during this time to avoid injury.
Where to focus: This phase is all about socializing. Energetically and biologically, this is when you were meant to become impregnated, so your mood, attractiveness and attention is heightened. Your communication abilities are also amazing right now, so this could be the time to have a serious conversation that you’ve been avoiding, or even ask for something that you’ve been needing at work or in your relationship. Schedule a first date, set up that public speaking engagement, or go out with friends during this magical time.
Luteal // Day 18-28
Hormonally: Estrogen and testosterone begin to fall, and progesterone levels peak, so that the uterine lining can thicken enough to prepare for an eggs implantation. If the egg doesn’t get fertilized, these hormones drop from their peak and cues your uterine lining to shed.
What to eat: When I think luteal, I think roots, like sweet potatoes, carrots, squashes, and cruciferous foods to keep the liver and digestive system flushing out progesterone and estrogen as these levels continue to drop. Think about minimizing any alcoholic beverages to help keep your liver and digestive system on point and working smoothly, while making healthy food choices.
How to move: You may notice a decent amount of energy left during the first half of this phase, so you can keep doing what you were doing during your follicular and ovulatory phases if you like. But start to check in half way through and you may notice a need to slow down. I like to take slower yoga classes, with slow and intentional weight lifting to work on control, not speed. This time isn’t great for cardio, as it puts too much strain on your cardiovascular system. And during the second half of this phase, any cardio can actually go against muscle building that you’ve been working on and can lead to injury when doing high impact or plyometrics.
Where to focus: Just as in your exercise regimen, you’ll notice that you can keep up socially for a bit into this phase, but slowly your energy will start to turn inward. This is a perfect time to get your affairs in order, reorganize anything that isn’t working, do a whole deep clean of your home, finishing up all those cool projects you started earlier this month. This way, when you start to bleed again, you’ll have a tidy mental and physical space to relax and enjoy.
How can someone still support their body if their cycle isn’t “regular”?
If you’re not quite on a regular schedule, on birth control, pregnant, peri-menopausal or in menopause, there are alternative ways to cycle through your nutrition, exercise and focus.
One way is to use the lunar cycle, which is also a monthly cycle.
- New Moon = menstrual
- 1st quarter moon = follicular
- Full Moon = ovulatory
- 3rd quarter moon = luteal
Cycle syncing this way can still give you balance to your efforts and energies that can feel more natural to you as you ebb and flow throughout the month rather than constantly following that linear path of growth without stopping.
What additional resources do you have for those who want to further their study? Blog link or books?
Books for period, pelvic and body health
- WomanCode by Alisa Vitti
- In the Flo by Alisa Vitti
- Beyond the Pill by Dr. Jolene Brighten
- Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, MD
- Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods by Lara Briden, ND
- Hormonal: The Hidden Intelligence of Hormones by Martie Haselton, PhD
- The Fourth Trimester by Kimberly Ann Johnson
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD
Brittney is such a wealth of knowledge, right?! I can personally attest to how powerful this information is. And I’m not kidding when I say that everyone can benefit by learning more about their bodies. “Get curious” is my motto, and I hope that there was a spark that ignited within you to dive deeper into understanding not only your body, but your cycle.
I have an amazing roster of women to introduce to you. Make sure you’re following the blog, so you stay up to date with what’s going on. There’s plenty more gold nuggets of wisdom headed your way. I also encourage you to join the community over on Instagram, @magicmama_ Chat soon!