Anna Maria Locke

How to track your menstrual cycle

2019Anna Locke
how to track your menstrual cycle to de-mystify your hormones.jpeg

“Our lives are composed of countless transitions. The moon passes through a full cycle every 28 days, and a woman menstruates on average four hundred times in her life.

Our cycles carry the code for working with obstacles in creative, skillful, and miraculous ways. All stages are interdependent, and creativity is only complete through the interplay of each of the seasons. Each requires that we adapt our rhythms and shape our lives around it.

As our cycles ask us to oscillate our rhythms and our focus during different portions of each month, they stretch us in bite-size chunks, nudging us to slowly expand our capacity to be with the best and worst of life. They condition us to meet whatever’s there.

They cleanse us of what we no longer need and realign us with how we most desire to shape our futures, from within. When we ride this wave, we optimize our capability for renewal. When we fight it, we feel depleted… how then can we stop working against our cycles and start working with them?”

- Sara Avant Stover, The Book of SHE


When I decided to quit the birth control pill 3 years ago, one of my primary motivations was to regain my “natural” cycle so I could be more in tune with my body and prepare myself for an eventual pregnancy.

I originally started tracking my periods so I could tell how my hormones were healing post-pill.

You might have heard of the Fertility Awareness Method, which is a more in-depth practice of tracking your fertility signs so you know when your fertile window is, as either a method of birth control or to get pregnant. However, I soon realized that cycle tracking goes so far beyond fertility and hormone health.

A few things your hormones and cycle influence: productivity, relationships, emotions, creativity, how introverted vs extroverted you feel, mental energy, physical energy, muscle recovery and flexibility for workouts, sex drive, ability to communicate, on and on…

Hormones control our entire lives!!!

It took me almost a year to get a regular monthly(ish) cycle back, but once I did, I dove into the world of menstrual cycle awareness and it blew my mind how much we aren’t taught about our bodies! We’re left feeling hormonal, crazy, and like something is wrong if we have mood swings or emotions. It’s on us to educate ourselves, and that’s why I’m sharing this post about tracking your cycle as a self-care practice.

The content in this post is taken directly from my signature program Wild Synchronicity


What does it mean to have a cycle?

Sometimes we think of having a cycle as being on or off our period, but in reality our hormones are constantly ebbing and flowing, so our cycle is what is constantly happening to our bodies, just like the actual seasons of nature are constantly shifting on earth. Sometimes a particular season lasts longer or shorter, and there are some climates where the seasons are less pronounced, and so our bodies are unique and different too.

I like using the terms “hormone cycle” as opposed to “menstrual cycle” because there are varying seasons of life and reasons why we may or may not bleed on a regular basis, but our hormones are constantly working behind the scenes, even when we’re overriding our natural cycle on hormonal birth control.

Our bodies are all different and there is no right or wrong way to be. Whether you have missing cycles, clockwork cycles, PCOS, endo, if you’re on the pill, wherever you are right now -- meet yourself where you’re at instead of feeling like something is wrong or you need to automatically balance or fix your hormones. Honor your experience.

Tracking your cycle is even more valuable when you don’t have a clockwork 28 day cycle, because you’re going to be using your body as your guide. Imagine Grandmother Willow from Disney’s Pocahontas,  this wise, all knowing source of wisdom. I believe there’s a Grandmother Willow inside all of us-- the female wisdom that has been passed down to us from generations, and our cycle is a useful tool or pathway we can follow to go inward and tap into that embodied wisdom! It’s like a built in GPS system or blueprint from which we can create more success in our businesses and lives, and one of the most under-utilized and under-appreciated sources of power that no one teaches us about.


What if you’re on hormonal birth control or don’t have a period?

The cool thing about being on hormonal birth control or the pill is that even though you might not have the extreme shifts, your cycle will be regular and predictable. You can still track your energy and notice micro shifts throughout the month.

If you don’t have a period right now for whatever reason, another way to apply this cycle work to your life is using the lunar cycle.

Click here to learn more about tracking via the moon cycle.


So how do we track our cycle?

Tracking your cycle is the foundation of menstrual cycle awareness. It means playing the role of scientist or researcher for yourself: getting to know more about your body as well as how your energy shifts. Once you track 2-3 cycles so you can start to notice patterns such as certain times you can predict you’ll start an argument with your partner or have an existential crisis, and it can be pretty mind blowing.

There’s no right or wrong way to track your cycle, the only important part is that you do it.

Simply mark the first day of your period as Day One, and start numbering the days from there.

You can use an app, journal, or printable worksheets to do your tracking.

I personally prefer using a notebook for tracking my energy, mood, and emotions, since apps tend to disconnect us from our bodies (although they are extremely useful for tracking fertility!

You can use your regular journal or use a special notebook for your cycle. You can mark the date and day of your cycle on each page, or you can try the quadrant method I learned from Claire Baker.

cycle tracking guide printable.png

how to use your cycle tracker printable.png

How this works - each page of your notebook will be designated for a certain cycle day. You’ll make a quadrant in each page so ultimately you’ll have 4 different cycles on each day (e.g. 4 cycles of “day 10”) this is great for noticing patterns. Patterns can be powerful. For instance, I tend to have a breakdown or an existential crisis on Day 21. There’s always a point where i notice, oh hey it’s my Day 21 Breakdown! So instead of feeling like I’m a failure, I can start to view the breakdown as a way to purge and release all the stuff that is not working in my life.

Same thing with inner critic, energy, productivity -- these patterns will help you bring a deeper awareness which we will apply to how you show up in your life, relationships, and business moving forward.

You can also use a circular chart such as this one from Red School. which is cool because you see your entire cycle on one day (this is best if you have really regular cycles).


What to track

The main things to track are:

  • Your cycle day

  • How you feel

  • Where your energy is at

  • Anything else to note, such as travel or stress

It’s best to track at the end of the day to reflect on the day.

Some examples:

-how was my mental energy today? (was I focused, foggy…)

-how was my physical energy? (fatigued, jittery, high energy…)

-what was my inner voice saying? (critical thoughts or positive…)

-how is my libido?

-any food cravings? What was my relationship with food like?

-physical body -- was I bloated feeling lean, hot, cold…

-how did I respond to stress today?

-how was my inner state today? (confident, grounded, sensitive…)

-record your dreams

My favorite “one and done” journal prompt: How am I feeling?

Stream of conscious style writing is a great way to channel whatever is going on deeper inside your mind and heart.

Figure out what works for you and have fun!

Try to track most days. There are times where you might feel less reflective or have resistance around journaling… track that! There is no right or wrong way to be.

Remember that scientists don’t judge themselves. They simply collect data and then reflect and draw conclusions from that data.


How to interpret your cycle

Once you have tracked at least 2 or 3 cycles (which might take a few months depending on your cycle length), you might start to recognize patterns.

For example, maybe you pick a fight with your partner around the same time each cycle. Maybe you have an existential crisis like clockwork, or have a more anxious week, or feel super social at certain times.

This is where the wisdom starts to emerge, as you begin to learn how your body and cycle operate. From here, you can start to anticipate what you will need at certain times of the month.

Remember that life happens too, and no cycle is the same. You might notice you have different feelings or energy on extra busy months, or times you’re doing a lot of traveling or projects, regardless of where you’re at in the cycle. We don’t live inside a vacuum, so allow yourself some variability and see what you discover!

xo Anna


RESOURCES

Access my resource vault with tracking worksheet, journal guides, and Cycle Sync Your Biz e-book.

If you'd like to learn more about living in sync with your cycle, I’ve created my program Wild Synchronicity to empower women to learn how to live in flow with the hormone rollercoaster, and to learn how to take advantage of our unique strengths in each phase of our cycle.

Books

Adore Your Cycle
Taking Charge of your Fertility
Womens Bodies, Womens Wisdom
Period Repair Manual

Apps

MyFlo
Clue
Kindara
Natural Cycles

Pin this image to save this post:

how to track your menstrual cycle.png