Want to know the very best days of your monthly cycle to ask for a raise, start a new project, have sex, catch up on lost sleep and more? I’ll spell it all out for you in this quick-and-easy Hormonology Guide to the best cycle days to do anything:
Day 1 (first day of your period) to Day 7
Estrogen starts out at rock-bottom and rises steadily
Start a new project: As estrogen rises throughout your Week 1, it lifts your mood, energy and motivation–a perfect combination for launching a new task or rekindling the passion for one you put aside.
Launch a new diet or recommit yourself to an old one: Whether you’re starting a new weight-loss eating plan or you fell off a current diet and need to get back on the horse, a few days after your period begins is a prime time to get back to it. Why? As estrogen rises in this week and throughout your Week 2, it makes it a bit easier to cut back on calories and eat healthier than when in the second half of your cycle–your Week 3 and Week 4. That’s because rising estrogen reins in your appetite slightly, reduces cravings and gives you a bit more willpower to resist temptation during the first half of your cycle.
Quit caffeine, cigarettes, sugar or another addiction: Once your period starts petering out in your Week 1, it’s a perfect time to leave a bad habit behind. That’s because estrogen will have risen to a point that makes withdrawal symptoms less intense than you’d experience in the second half of your cycle. On top of that, this rising hormone is boosting your willpower to resist temptation, making it easier to turn down offers and get through cravings compared to the second half of your cycle. And, best of all, these hormonal benefits last all the way through ovulation as estrogen continues to climb and climb, giving you lots of time to make your new healthy lifestyle stick. However, it’s important to note that if you do fall off the wagon during this phase, you better watch out: The same rising estrogen that helps you stamp out a bad habit also makes this habit even feel more pleasurable if you imbibe, which can make it difficult to quit again. So, make a plan ahead of time, promising yourself that if you slip up, you’ll get right back on the wagon and try once more.
Build muscle: Looking to build up muscle strength and size through weight lifting or resistance exercise? Rising estrogen during Week 1 and Week 2 of your cycle gives you faster results by speeding up muscle repair and growth.
Read a map, build a lamp or play Jenga: Research shows that an odd thing happens to you during your period: You experience an improvement in spatial skills–which are the kind of skills needed to rotate images in your head, making it easier to do tasks that require a bit of mental juggling and maneuvering. Scientists explain this change occurs due to low-but-rising estrogen allowing your testosterone (a hormone that plays a key role in spatial skills) to shine through. (PS: Even though your spatial skills naturally peak on these early Week 1 days due to your hormones, research proves you can make these skills sharper all cycle long by regularly playing video games that use this ability, such as Tetris.)
Day 8 to ovulation (which is Day 14 in a 28-day cycle)
Estrogen rises till it peaks; testosterone rises and peaks at the end of this week
Take a selfie: Surprising but true: Your face becomes more attractive during your Week 2 thanks to high estrogen triggering subtle shifts that make soft tissue (such as your nose, lips and ears) more symmetrical and feminine. Plus, this hormone improves blood flow, giving your face a healthier glow.
Make a voice recording: Do you do podcasts? Voiceovers? Or just want a new outgoing message on your voicemail or to leave a voicemail for someone special? Research shows your voice sounds more pleasing and attractive during these cycle days.
Sing your heart out: You reach more high notes in this cycle week as high estrogen lubricates vocal chords.
Go on a first date: Thanks to high estrogen, you’re confident, flirty, eloquent, funny and extroverted–all key for making the best first impression. And research shows that’s this hormone’s master plan: It’s doing all it can to help you create a romantic connection because it’s hoping you’ll pair up with a partner in time for ovulation at the end of this cycle week.
Enjoy sensual fun alone or with a partner: If there was ever a time to be late to a meeting or reschedule an appointment to fit in intimate fun, it’s during your Week 2. High estrogen and testosterone are revving your libido, plus they’re making sensual sensations more intense and orgasms easier to reach and more fulfilling.
Ask for a raise or promotion: Your confidence and self-worth are peaking thanks to high estrogen, so this is when it’ll be easiest to summon the courage to approach your boss. On top of that, your verbal eloquence, brain skills and mental speed are all top-notch thanks to this same high hormone. As a result, you’ll be more persuasive and remember every reason why you deserve a bump in pay or better job title.
Pitch a new client, ask for a favor or go on a job interview: Want something from someone else, such as a sale, a colleague to mentor you or an employer to hire you? When possible, try to pitch the person during your Week 2. Not only are your verbal and mental skills as sharp as they’re going to get all cycle long, rising estrogen gives you one more superpower: It makes you more adept at reading people’s emotions by looking at subtle cues in their facial expressions. The result? You’ll be able to tailor your pitch on the fly as your deliver it by noticing what’s not working to persuade the person and what is.
Do physically strenuous tasks, like moving furniture: Research shows that your muscle power peaks during your Week 2 thanks to high estrogen, making it easier to do physical activities that require a lot more oomph, like moving furniture, building a mini-house, rock climbing or doing circus acrobatics.
Build muscle: Looking to build up muscle strength and size through weight lifting or resistance exercise? Rising estrogen during the first half of your cycle gives you faster results by speeding up muscle repair and growth.
Do mentally strenuous tasks, like writing a speech: The muscles below your neck aren’t the only ones peaking in power in this cycle phase. Your mental muscle also peaks during your Week 2, making it an ideal time to tackle tasks that require lots of mental energy and stamina, like writing a speech, competing in a debate, learning a complex task, designing a website or cramming for an exam.
Try something new and unusual: You’ll never be more open to trying something completely different than you are during your Week 2. That’s because high estrogen is revving your desire for adventure, it’s making you more open to new experiences, it’s boosting your confidence and it’s making you less bothered if the new experience doesn’t work out and it’s making you happier when it does.
Eat something with a complex taste: Estrogen makes your taste buds more sensitive to flavor, helping you detect and appreciate subtleties you might miss other weeks of your cycle.
Have fun: Whenever you do anything you enjoy–for instance, play the guitar, hang out with friends or jump on a trampoline–your brain churns out brain chemicals that give you a rewarding feeling. That’s one key reason why you keep doing these activities. Now here’s a great thing to be aware of: During your Week 2, high estrogen churns out even more of these feel-good brain chemicals whenever you do activities you love, filling you with more joy and satisfaction than when doing the same activities in other cycle weeks.
But, avoid trying addictive activities: Remember how much more enjoyable high estrogen can make fun activities because it prompts a higher output of brain chemicals that give you a rewarding sensation? Well, this same hormonal effect can also lead you to becoming hooked on certain activities that could be harmful to your health or wallet, such as smoking and gambling. So avoid them altogether or proceed with caution.
Schedule a party, wedding or other big social event: You’ll be the hostess everyone raves about when you throw a shindig in your Week 2. And how could you not be? High estrogen is making you friendlier, chattier, more outgoing and funnier. Plus, this hormone is boosting your confidence and comfort in the spotlight and it’s making socializing with others far more enjoyable than during any other week of your cycle.
Go shopping: Need to buy clothes, shoes, makeup or other items that affect your appearance? Aim to shop during the first half of your Week 2. A rise in hormone-fueled confidence, mood and energy makes shopping more enjoyable on these days. While shopping is still fun in the second half of your Week 2, it’s also a time that research shows you’re more prone to overspending on luxury items and name brands as peaking estrogen pushes you into spend-it-like-you-mean-it territory.
Begins day after ovulation and lasts 8 days
Estrogen and testosterone start off plunging steeply during the first three days; estrogen rises during the final five days; progesterone rises throughout this entire week
Catch up on lost sleep: If you’ve been skimping on sleep and have been meaning to make it up later, there isn’t a better time than during the second half of your Week 3. That’s because the relaxing combination of rising estrogen and progesterone on these days ushers in the kind of deep, restorative slumber that sleeping pill companies hate.
Burn 30% more fat: If slimming down faster is your goal, then you’ll love this side effect of progesterone: It helps you burn up to 30% more fat when you exercise or are moderately to vigorously active other ways, such as when dancing or playing sports.
Focus on details: Researchers discovered that you’re better at focusing on the small details of a task in your Week 3. Their reasoning: As progesterone rises, this sedating hormone tamps down excessive mental energy, allowing you to pay closer attention to hum-drum facts and figures you were too mentally ansty to zero in on during your high-estrogen Week 2 days.
Final 6 days of your cycle
Estrogen and progesterone plunge all week till they hit rock-bottom
Be creative: Plunging estrogen can make you more emotionally sensitive as it leads to a drop in mood-regulating serotonin. While this can lead to moodiness, irritability and the blues, the upside is that it can also make it easier to channel your emotions into an artistic project, such as writing, painting or sculpture.
Burn 30% more fat: Progesterone’s extra fat-burning effect lasts all the way up to two days before your period. So, if you’re looking to meet a slim-down goal, you’ve got four days in your Week 4 to squeeze in more moderate to vigorous activity that could help you get there faster.
Treat yourself like a queen: Let’s face it, most of us are usually too busy or feel too guilty to treat ourselves to our favorite small indulgences, such as a back massage at the mall, a movie by ourselves or our favorite expensive treat. But, truth is, if you pamper yourself a little during your premenstrual week, it’s actually medicinal! That’s because small indulgences like these temporarily raise levels of mood-moderating brain chemicals that dip premenstrually, making you feel happier, calmer and more patient.
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[Photo: Brian Bilek]
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