This week’s topic is: Optimizing Sex, Relationships, Work and Motherhood with Alisa Vitti
I am so excited to have a very special guest, Alisa Vitti, who is a best selling author of WomanCode and is back talking about her new book In the FLO and her research on the Infradian Rhythm and her solution called The Cycle Syncing Method. Listen in as Alisa shares the term, biological rhythm, how it affects us and how to take care of it for optimal health and wellness.
About Alisa Vitti
Alisa Vitti is a women’s hormone and functional nutrition expert and pioneer in female biohacking. She is the best selling author of WomanCode, and creator of the Cycle Syncing Method® – a female centric diet and lifestyle program that leverages hormonal patterns for optimal health, fitness and productivity.
As the founder of FLOLiving.com, she has built the world’s first menstrual healthcare platform that helps women around the world put their period issues like PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis, and PMS into remission naturally using her highly effective FLO Protocol and the FLO Balance Supplements.
Finally, Alisa is also the creator of the MyFLO period app – the first and only functional medicine period tracker designed to help users eliminate symptoms and schedule their lives according to their cycles. It is consistently ranked in the top 10 of paid apps in the health and fitness category on iTunes.
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Kimberly: Hey beauties and welcome back for our Monday interview podcast. We have a very special guest for you today. She is Alisa Vitti. You may remember her we had her on a couple months ago I believe, and by popular demand, she is back. She’s the best selling author of Woman Code. And she actually has a new book that’s out called, In The FLO, I have it in my hands right now and it is amazing. It is super packed with so much amazing information. And Alisa is also the creator of FLO Living and MyFLO period app. So I like to call Alisa my go to expert for all things period related, women related, it’s a mental health care platform. And the period App she created is the first and only functional medicine period tracker. So it’s really popular, she’s so knowledgeable about this subject, and I can’t wait to pick her brain about all things that keep us going and in flow, as a title of her book, as women which does affect all aspects of our wellness, and our health, and our energy.
Kimberly: So this is a really important topic that sometimes we don’t openly get to talk about a lot. Before we dive in though, I want to give a quick shout out to our fan of the week. Her name is katestern!!!;), and she writes, can release guidance and wisdom is so inspiring and comforting. This podcast has been such a beautiful tool on my journey through a plant based, holistic, healthy lifestyle. Thank you Kimberly for spreading your light. It is so appreciated. And katestern!!!;), I just want to thank you so much beauty for being part of our community. I send you a big warm hug, no matter where you are, and I so appreciate you connecting with me and leaving us a review, sending you so much love.
Kimberly: And beauties for your chance to also be shouted out as our fan of the week, and for me to read your beautiful warm words, please just take a moment or two out of your day and leave us a review over on iTunes, which is of course free and easy. If you do it in under a minute, could be like one sentence long, and it’s just a great way energetically to support our podcasts and to help other beauties like yourself find it. And while you’re at it, you could also subscribe to our podcast that way you never miss a Monday Interview podcast or our Q&A’s which are Thursdays. And that way you get that constant self care flowing in, that motivation, and you never miss out on any of this great information.
Kimberly: And experts like we have waiting patiently on the line, our amazing Alisa. thank you so much Alisa for coming back on the show and congratulations on the new book.
Alisa Vitti: Thanks for having me Kimberly, it’s so fun to come back and chat with you. We always have the best conversations.
Kimberly: There’s so much to talk about with this topic. And I love to talk to you because your book is so well researched, you come at it from the female perspective, so there’s this real [inaudible 00:03:38] of talking to a friend, but there’s a lot of knowledge and a lot of wisdom. So I really want to get into it. I read your book and there’s just a lot of things I want to bring up with the beauties and, as always, we just flow along there is so much to talk about.
Kimberly: So, the first thing I want to ask you right off the bat, Alisa, because we do talk about food quite a bit here is keto. And your book talks a lot about lifestyle and getting into rhythm. And I get a lot of questions about keto, and then there’s a lot of experts that talk about keto positively, but then a lot of experts talk about it as not being the best thing necessarily for women and their hormones. So what is your perspective of this big food craze that’s been around for quite a little bit of time now? What do you think about how it impacts women?
Alisa Vitti: Well, the research for women, and I want to think even back up a step just to talk a little bit about what the big new thing that I’m introducing to the wellness community with this book because it explains why I’m going to answer the keto question the way I’m going to answer. So if it’s okay with you, Kimberly, I’m going to just give a little quick background first.
Alisa Vitti: So the big thing that I’m introducing to the wellness community and what I’ve been so passionate about really bringing forward into our cultural narrative is the fact that women have a biological rhythm that we have never heard the term for before. And we have no appreciation of how it affects us, and we’re definitely not taking care of it. So if we all know the circadian rhythm, right. The circadian rhythm, we wake up with the sun, we go to bed when it’s dark, we know to wear the blue light blocking glasses. And there have been decades and decades of studies and research that has come out conclusively to show that if you do anything to disrupt your circadian biological rhythm, that it will create disease in the body and the big bad ones like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementia, right.
Alisa Vitti: The big famous nurses study for example, that they did up in Boston for multiple decades concluded that disruption to the circadian rhythm is pretty bad for you. So I’ve been researching women’s hormones for 20 years now and the endocrine system and I came across something that pretty much changed my understanding of diet and fitness and medicine, and I’m really, really excited to finally have written this all down in one book. And the biological rhythm that you don’t know about that you need to know about, which is what you’re going to learn, [crosstalk 00:06:23] read In the FLO, you’re going to learn about the infradian rhythm.
Kimberly: Okay, that’s definitely not a word we hear a lot, infradian.
Alisa Vitti: Infradian. We’ve never heard it before. In fact, in all the years I’ve been researching I’ve never come across it. And [crosstalk 00:06:41].
Alisa Vitti: Infradian. So instead of circadian, which means it takes around the day, right, circadian. The infradian rhythm is our biological rhythm that takes longer than a day and we as women experience that over the course of a month, right. Now, you might think, well, that’s just my cycle. Not exactly. So the infradian rhythm that we experience over the course of the month, it affects six major systems of the body. It affects your brain. It affects your metabolism. It affects your immune system. It affects your microbiome. It affects your stress response system. And it affects your reproductive system.
Alisa Vitti: So what’s so powerful about this is instead of trying to spot treat your period problems, or your hormones, or your fertility, or instead of trying to spot treat your metabolism and to get it to work faster, instead of trying to spot treat your brain and your brain fog and whatever, what I’m going to teach you In the FLO is how to support your infradian rhythm with diet, exercise, and lifestyle so that it can support all of these six systems of the body. It’s the most powerful thing I have found for women in their reproductive years, because you’re infradian rhythm is only active from puberty to perimenopause.
Kimberly: So what is it actually? You’re saying the circadian rhythm is a pattern over 24 hours, this is a monthly rhythm inside a woman’s body during the reproductive years?
Alisa Vitti: That’s right. It’s a biological rhythm. We are governed by different biological rhythms, every system, every organ of the body is part of a biological rhythmic pattern. And the infradian rhythm takes the course of a month to go through. So here’s an example. In 1996, Dr. Katherine Wooly from Northwestern University, completed a comprehensive study and found that the structure of a female’s brain changes up to 25% over the course of the infradian rhythm. So over the course of one month, our brain is structurally different by 25%, which is amazing because if you know how it changes, you can play to your friend cognitive strength and preferences and get more done with less stress.
Alisa Vitti: Another example is in our metabolism and I’ll be able to start to answer your keto question because I’m so excited about that too. You know there’s a big section in the book where I really take apart all the different diet theories. And your metabolism, right, we’ve been told, as women, pretty generally that the cultural conversation is that women have the slower metabolism as a large, let’s say, the biggest conversation that we’ve heard. And what that means is, we have to find ways to compensate for that by restricting calories and working out more to achieve our desired weight, right.
Alisa Vitti: The fact of the matter is your metabolism actually changes within this one infradian rhythmic turn, within the 30 day cycle. You have a slower metabolism in the first half of the cycle and a faster metabolism in the second half of this cycle. In order for you to optimize your metabolism, you have to eat less and do more intense workouts in the first half of the cycle. And you have to eat more and workout less in the second half of the cycle. And if you do this, you will burn fat more optimally, and you will keep and build lean muscle.
Alisa Vitti: If, for example … But what we’ve been told is the opposite and why we’ve been told that, and let me answer your keto question before I keep going down the rabbit hole of all these other systems of the body, is that all fitness and dietary research has been done on men and postmenopausal women who do not have an active infradian biological rhythm. So why that’s important is that any research that comes out, let’s say, all the research around ketogenic diets or intermittent fasting, they say, this is so good for you. This is the answer. This is going to help you lose weight. This is going to make you feel smarter, and better, and leaner, and everything. That is true if you are male and if you are postmenopausal.
Alisa Vitti: But in your reproductive years what they have found through ketogenic diets and intermittent fasting, and you can read all the gnarly details in the book, but essentially, it worsens insulin sensitivity. Which is the opposite benefit. So the benefit is that these diets are supposed to improve insulin sensitivity and make you more efficient in using sugar in the body, for women within infradian rhythm, it makes it worse. Which is the opposite of what you want. Extreme opposite of what you want. Not only that, it shrinks your ovaries, and disrupts ovulation, and-
Kimberly: Wow, it really affects your fertility.
Alisa Vitti: And can dis-regulate your mood, and your cognitive focus, your ability to focus and get things done. So it has all the opposite bad effects that you could possibly want and there’s no weight loss benefit at all for doing [crosstalk 00:11:59].
Kimberly: Is that while you’re on it? So, if someone is listening to this, and they’re like, crap, I’ve been doing keto. If you get off keto, will your ovaries go back to normal size.
Alisa Vitti: Well, there isn’t any research for me to say, one way or the other, but I would certainly hope so. [crosstalk 00:12:15] That’s my point. They aren’t doing any research on women, they’re doing it on men and postmenopausal women because they haven’t yet decided to focus on the infradian rhythm, and this is very, very concerning to the medical community. So back in 1996, the National Institute of Health put together a special task force committee and they issued a mandate to all medical research teams everywhere and they said, please go out of your way to include more women in their reproductive years in human clinical studies.
Alisa Vitti: In 2016, the BWC Women’s Health Collective issued an update, a progress report, a status report, and said that basically that there had been no progress made. Now this is important because every drug that you’re prescribed even anesthesia that you get when you go under anesthesia, that is all based on calculations that are approximated for your body mass and height, but that are predicated on male biology. And of course, women’s bodies were completely differently. [crosstalk 00:13:24]. And that could be medical, right.
Kimberly: It’s so confusing. It’s so extreme. The more I read about these types of diets, whether it’s keto, or paleo, or anything that’s very restrictive of one macro nutrient or one food group, I just think, this isn’t natural, I don’t know how anybody really does this, and maintains it, and feels good. And that’s why when I had Dan Buettner on a few weeks ago who talks about the Blue, who discovered the Blue Zones, and we look at culturally how people have been eating and women have been eating for hundreds of years, they do eat carbs, [crosstalk 00:14:03] they do eat sweet potatoes, they do eat grain, they eat all these foods and I get really concerned about keto and these diets because I’ve always felt that they’re not good for women especially and they’re not sustainable.
Alisa Vitti: Well now we have the science to explain exactly why because I think that’s been the biggest frustration for all of us as women. I mean, you have to think, right, 90% of the people who read wellness, and listen to wellness content are women, right. And a lot of them are in their reproductive years. So, teenagers to women in their late 40s. And what’s really interesting about that is that all the messaging that’s any latest wellness trend or whatever, it’s all based on research that’s done on men or postmenopausal women, but it’s being told to us that it’s universally applicable. Nor is it very obvious or clearly understandable that the research is being based on men and women in the reproductive years should proceed very cautiously.
Alisa Vitti: So I wanted to write a book that really explained why none of these diets have worked, and why there’s wellness, wellness everywhere but from where I sit having taking care of women, and their periods, and fertility, and perimenopause for now close to 20 years, there’s been more wellness content in the market accessible to women more now in the past five years than in the entire 20 years I’ve been doing this, but women are more hormonally sick than ever before. And the fact of the matter is because we’re using the wrong diets, because we’re exercising the wrong way, we are actually disrupting our infradian rhythm. And I make the case in this book that just like we now know that disrupting your circadian rhythm leads to definite disease.
Alisa Vitti: Disrupting your infradian rhythm absolutely makes your body perform sub-optimally, keeps you heavier than you should be, increases your cortisol levels, creates an environment in your body where disease. And we don’t have to work that way anymore. We don’t have to take the crumbs of the research that’s being done on men and try to hope it applies to us, there’s an actual way to go about this that works for your infradian rhythm.
Kimberly: What is the origin of that word? It’s very interesting.
Alisa Vitti: That’s a chronobiological term. I didn’t make it up. It’s just something that I had to really dig and dig to find. But there are terminologies, for example, there’s an ultradian rhythm and that refers to cycles that are shorter than a day.
Alisa Vitti: So chronobiology is a subdivision of biology as a whole and it looks at systems of the body and their rhythmic patterns.
Kimberly: But infradian refers to a monthly timeframe?
Alisa Vitti: Yes.
Kimberly: Okay. And let’s talk about fitness for a minute Alisa, because before when you were talking about, in the first half you do this, in the second half you do this, it sounds very powerful. But if I could play devil’s advocate for a moment, most women are so busy. I mean, you’re so busy, I’m so busy, we’re both working moms. Everybody is juggling a million things out there. There’s a lot going on. And as you know, I have my second one coming. Second little boy and I just think, oh my God, it’s going to get even more crazy.
Kimberly: So, how do we make this powerful, but also simple and doable, because you’re already keeping track of so much? Do I have to look at my calendar and say, oh my God, the second half of my phase, and the luteal phase, and this is how [crosstalk 00:17:45] explain from a fitness perspective because you went into it a little bit how this can actually apply and be simple and therefore usable for women.
Alisa Vitti: Well, this is so exciting for me and I also have a lot of personal experience of this because … You know my story Kimberly, but for those of you who maybe didn’t listen to the first podcast that we did together or who don’t know my story, I’m somebody who was obese. I was 210 pounds, I was covered in cystic acne all over my face, chest, and back, I did not get a period, I was extremely depressed, and exhausted, and anxious. And in some nickel, I had just about everything not working, from a systems perspective, in my body.
Alisa Vitti: And what I have found is that by supporting the infradian rhythm, not only was I able to lose 60 pounds without really doing what I had been told to do, right, just push it, just do it, commit, don’t quit, no pain, no gain, right. I found that actually, you could work out very efficiently, or for some of you who maybe feel like you’re working out all the time and not getting results, maybe my message to you is, that based on the science that I’ve outlined for you in this book, you can work out less and get more fit faster.
Alisa Vitti: That’s really exciting because if you do the wrong workouts or if you do the same workouts, which is what you’re being told, and why are we being told that? We’re being told that because, for men, male hormonal biological rhythm mimics the 24 hour circadian pattern very closely so they go to sleep, they make all their testosterone while they’re sleeping, they wake up with a huge testosterone and cortisol boost, and then that slowly starts to dissipate in concentration throughout the day and around three o’clock in the afternoon, They have almost no testosterone and cortisol left and they start to power down for the day, right.
Alisa Vitti: Now this is why bio hacking is so popular among men because they do have an energy, stamina, and concentration cliff around three o’clock in the afternoon and nootropic, upgraded coffee, and other things really do help them extend their ability to concentrate and to have energy to push through that limitation every 24 hours.
Kimberly: And I feel like so many men are taking supplemental testosterone now too.
Alisa Vitti: [crosstalk 00:20:02] That’s a whole other conversation, they’re not getting enough quality sleep and so they’re not making as much or they [crosstalk 00:20:08], whatever. But the fact of the matter is, if they’re relatively healthy male, the idea is that doing the same thing every day, waking up early, having that super 5:00 AM early morning routine, getting to the gym early in the morning when they can make the biggest muscle gain because of that testosterone boost, and then doing as much work as they can from whatever their corporate stuff is to whatever they’re doing from a work perspective before three o’clock, is ideal for their body.
Alisa Vitti: And to get to bed early on the earlier side, like 10 o’clock, nine or 10 o’clock is optimal for male physiology and their hormonal biological rhythm. And for them to do the same routine every day without fail, that is really good, if you’re a man.
Kimberly: Because they don’t have a menstrual cycle.
Alisa Vitti: They don’t have the infradian rhythm at play. Now, if you have an infradian rhythm because you’re female, biologically female, and this is affecting you over the course of the month, doing the same workout each and every day is the fastest way for you to make yourself hold on to excess weight, lose lean muscle mass, increase cortisol and inflammation in the body.
Kimberly: Well, what about someone like me, I too want [crosstalk 00:21:27].
Alisa Vitti: I just want to say that again because that’s like I need everybody to hear that because what you’ve been told is, you got to do it the same way every day like a guy, and that’s completely wrong. It’s scientifically inaccurate. You should not work out the same way every day at all, that’s the fastest way for you to get unhealthy. So high intensity interval training, don’t do that every day. In fact, if you do that in the second half of your cycle, you’re going to gain weight.
Kimberly: But what what if you’re doing … I’m not a gym person, I don’t do extreme workouts, I walk/hike every day because now I live in the mountains, or I was doing a beach walk every day, or when I was … I’d go in and out of my yoga practice and I would do yoga every day. So for me, that was working pretty well, I feel pretty [crosstalk 00:22:15].
Alisa Vitti: Walking and Yoga are very low impact. I mean, we’re human beings, our optimal exercise is walking. So if all you wanted to do was just walk every day [crosstalk 00:22:25].
Kimberly: So it’s you right now. Yeah. You’re talking about more [crosstalk 00:22:33] extreme workouts, like crossfit.
Alisa Vitti: Well, I’m not even talking about extreme workouts. I’m just saying, if you’re someone who has a fitness goal, right, if you want to lose some weight, or if you want to get stronger, or you want to get in shape, or you want to optimize your fitness and your metabolism, and I know
Kimberly, you’re already in a place where that’s optimal, so maybe walking and yoga for you is maintenance. But if you’re someone who has a fitness goal, then the way you want to do that is according to your infradian rhythm.
Alisa Vitti: And so, for example, you asked a question earlier about, well, how do I keep track of all that, I’m so busy, and you [inaudible 00:23:06] keep track of it. That’s why I built the MyFLO app that you mentioned earlier because it’ll tell you where you are and which workout to do when, at the right time. But the idea is in the follicular phase of your cycle, you’ll do cardio-
Kimberly: Which is when? Could you tell us really briefly is that leading up to ovulation? Tell us the whole spiel is [inaudible 00:23:28].
Alisa Vitti: The follicular phase is the phase right at the day after your bleeding stops, that’s the follicular phase. And then that is seven to 10 days depending on when you ovulate. And then you ovulate and in ovulation … So cardio is walking, or hiking, or dance class, dancing around your living room. And it doesn’t have to be very long, could be 20 minutes, whatever you feel like doing.
Alisa Vitti: Then ovulation, which is really a three to five day period of time, this is when you can do your high intensity interval training. So, it could be seven minutes, it could be 15 minutes, it doesn’t have to be a very long high intensity interval training circuit, but again, if you have a fitness goal, you’re trying to gain lean muscle and slim down, this is when you would want to do it.
Alisa Vitti: In luteal phase, which is 10 to 12 days, it’s the longest phase of the cycle. This is when you would want to do polities, basically strength training without a cardio component, so polities or a slower yoga practice where you’re holding the poses for longer, or let’s say you just have some free weights at home you just lift some weights or do some squats up against the wall. So you’re holding things, you’re not bouncing up and down a lot.
Alisa Vitti: And then in the menstrual phase when you’re bleeding, depending on your hormonal status or what’s going on, you can Just walk, you could do some yin yoga, which as you know is very gentle yoga, restorative yoga, or you could just take a nap. Napping in this phase actually because of cortisol patterns, you can consider it like an effective workout because it’s going to help balance your cortisol and other hormones that are going to help you with weight maintenance.
Alisa Vitti: So, from a workout point of view, you can actually do a lot less, workout much more efficiently, you don’t have to do as much cardio as you thought, as you were once told. And you remember it was only in the 80s, right, that we had this whole cardio craze of the Jane [inaudible 00:25:37], right and then we had a crossfit phase [crosstalk 00:25:40]. And now we’re having a high intensity interval training phase fad. And the idea is that these fads come and go and they’re all based on research that is done on men.
Kimberly: Yes, I was just reading something saying, these high intensity workouts help with growth hormone. So you’re saying, that’s not really been tested on women, that’s more for men.
Alisa Vitti: Everything has been tested on men only. In the book I outline just how small of a percentage of women have actually made it into studies. This training routine by the way, this fitness training routine is so powerful, it’s the new cutting edge of fitness research for women that the US women’s soccer team is using this to train themselves and their athletes.
Kimberly: So you’re saying, if your period is off, changing your workouts can help. And if you’re … let’s say your periods are on even, applying this is going to help you achieve your goals better and help you feel better in your body and lose weight, if that’s your goal.
Alisa Vitti: Yes. I mean, I wrote this book for every woman, Woman Code was a book that I wrote for women who have active hormonal issues like PCOS or fibroids endometriosis and they needed a path forward to step by step get their hormones and their endocrine system back in balance. This new book, In The FLO, this is a book for every woman because we’ve been just told the wrong information about how to take care of ourselves, how to eat, how to work out, and how to use our brain to our advantage. Even with time management, I mean, I remember taking so many different time management classes, and it’s like, you just have to get up and that early morning routine. How many YouTube videos are there about having your special morning routine and it’s all like, do the same thing every day?
Alisa Vitti: Well, that’s great if you have testicles, if I can be so bold as to say that, but if you have a female brain that changes structurally 25% across the month, doing that same morning routine is actually going to slow you down. [crosstalk 00:27:41] My morning routine changes based on the phase of the infradian rhythm I’m in and I adjust that. And I’m a working mom, and I have a child, I have to get to school and all of this, so it’s like I’m living a real life. Sometimes I look at these guys on these morning routine YouTube videos and I’m like, okay, who’s taking care of your kid or do you have any kids? Because [crosstalk 00:28:02], if you’ve got to get your kid off to school and get them fed, it’s like [crosstalk 00:28:06].
Kimberly: Who’s doing that?
Alisa Vitti: Yes, who’s doing that? Right.
Kimberly: In this infradian philosophy that you outline here, does it suggest that your sleep patterns change for the different parts of the cycle?
Alisa Vitti: Interesting question. So what happens is that in the luteal phase, your sleep can become compromised if you have PMS. Meaning you can have more issues with insomnia leading up to your bleed and as you are in the perimenopausal journey. So insomnia can be a problem. And supporting your infradian rhythm with food and exercise and with work because what I’m saying with work is, by working in a way that accommodates your brain changes, you actually reduce your stress levels. So can you imagine if you’re reducing the stress on your infradian rhythm with what you’re eating, you’re reducing the stress on your infradian rhythm with how you’re working out, and you’re reducing your stress levels by how you’re working.
Alisa Vitti: Any sleep disturbances that you may otherwise have had are going to go away because now your stress levels are low, you’re not wired on cortisol at night because your stress was so high, because you were working out of sync with your body all day, week after week. [inaudible 00:29:20] be in a better position to actually get quality sleep.
Kimberly: It’s so interesting.
Alisa Vitti: This whole infradian rhythm is being completely overlooked by everyone everywhere. The sleep trackers, the fitness, diet, it’s just being overlooked and no wonder women don’t feel the way they want to feel. I hear it all the time from everybody and I’m sure you’ve heard these conversations too it’s like, I’m trying everything and I’m just still not where I want to be with either my health, my fitness, or achieving my dreams, or my work, or my family, whatever it is. We feel like there’s still some room for improvement [inaudible 00:29:57] and why that room for improvement is where you feel like you’re in the flow, right. And yes, that’s the title of my book [crosstalk 00:30:07] for a reason but it’s like, I’ve been living according to my infradian rhythm for over 15 years now. I run my business this way, I run my family this way, I run my marriage this way, I run my healthcare this way. This is why I can do as much as I can do. I’m caffeine free for 20 years, [inaudible 00:30:24], right.
Kimberly: And we never called it that until recently.
Alisa Vitti: What?
Kimberly: Infradian. This term is something that kind of is launching with this new book. You knew you’re in rhythm with your cycle, but were you calling it infradian for the last 15 years?
Alisa Vitti: I’m introducing everyone to the cycle thinking method in the book [inaudible 00:30:46] book, but the infradian rhythm is the new term that I’m sure the world hear that, we should all know about. Because when we don’t have a name for our biological system or a body part, we either feel shame about it or we don’t value it. Remember before Eve Ensler wrote The Vagina Monologues, like, we all had funny little names for our lady parts, right? We’d call them cuchi, fur, or whatever. Silly names. And then she wrote that book and this whole conversation erupted in the cultural narrative about, we should name and claim our body parts as women, like it’s about time.
Alisa Vitti: And so similarly, I think it is really telling that women in general, we have been deprived of an adequate vocabulary to describe our physical reality and that leaves us either feeling shameful about it, or like, we shouldn’t value it. And I think having a name for this biological rhythm that governs absolutely major systems of the body, but also the quality of our lives is so, so critical. And so for me, living according to the infradian rhythm for all this time, has really shown me that it’s really what allows me to get so much done and to take good care of myself without feeling like I’m burning the candle at both ends. And I think that’s a message that we as women need right now, because we just have so much pressure to do it all the time-
Kimberly: It’s true.
Alisa Vitti: … and this is not sustainable.
Kimberly: Is really interesting because when you think about all these different healing systems and ancient systems, shamanism and the phases of the moon, I remember we talked about this a little bit in our last podcast, but this idea of cycles and I never really thought about these different phases of my period cycle and like, oh, I should be doing different things and it is a very new conversation. Now, Alisa, one conversation I do have a lot of and I’m sure thousands of women come to you is, I have so many friends and women that I just interact with women in our community that are having a lot of difficulty getting pregnant. I was talking to my husband about this, he’s like, it wasn’t like this in the past, was it? Almost all of our friends are like doing another round of IVF, or they’ve been trying for a couple years. I say this with great compassion, because I imagine it would be horrible. So how can this work? And I know this book is focused on more of a lifestyle, but I imagine understanding more about your cycles and your [inaudible 00:33:29] it all kind of adds up and can make it … put you more in that flow, so to speak of fertility.
Alisa Vitti: Well, absolutely big. And I talk a lot about this in the book that everything that you’re doing that is disrupting the infradian rhythm is negatively impacting your reproductive system, because it’s one of the systems of the body that the infradian rhythm governs.
Kimberly: Well, just like you were talking about eating keto, like it’s the whole lifestyle.
Alisa Vitti: Right. If you’re not eating to support your infradian rhythm, then your metabolism and your reproductive system are not going to function optimally. So you have to change what you’re eating for each week of the cycle. There’s a chart in chapter four that outlines which foods to eat when, you want to change your workouts, there’s a chart in chapter five about which workouts to do when. And then if you do that consistently, and you do it for long enough, you’re actually going to improve your fertile ecosystem in the body because, again, you promote regular ovulation, you’re going to promote balanced levels of cortisol, balanced levels of insulin, because you’re going to be working with the changing metabolic rates that you have, for example. Your metabolism requires 20% more calories in the second half of the cycle. If you’re still restricting your calories cycle after cycle, you’re decreasing your fertility factors, period. [inaudible 00:34:52] This diet will help preserve and protect your fertility for the long run. You should not be doing any diet that do not factor in or workouts that do not factor in your infradian rhythm.
Kimberly: Rhythms and cycles, and respecting that. What would you say to all thousands, millions of women that are on birth control pills, which obviously has a [crosstalk 00:35:24]
Alisa Vitti: There’s a whole section in the book about this. [crosstalk 00:35:26]
Kimberly: Obviously, that’s the reality for a lot of people. A lot of people are on it, and they may not love being on it, but that’s just their solution right now.
Alisa Vitti: Yes. So here’s what I’ll say. This is the information that is just facts you do with them what feels right to you. But first and foremost, there’s three things I want you to know. First, the pill, any form of the pill, whether it’s inserted IUD, if it’s hormonal IUD or a ring, or an injection or any sort of implanted device, or oral contraception, but any form of synthetic hormonal contraception does not fix or cure any sort of menstrual issue that you’re having. It’s a [inaudible 00:36:09] measure and it’s not a solution. That’s the first thing. The second thing is you are only fertile for a maximum of five days out of every month, and for any of those of you who know how difficult it is to get pregnant, because you’re currently challenged with infertility issues, we’ve been overly … there’s been like too much scare tactics about how women could get pregnant so easily, but it is actually much more difficult than it seems, and there’s a very short window in which that is possibility. So if you’re someone who doesn’t want to get pregnant, knowing when you’re fertile and using barrier methods is totally viable as a solution to prevent pregnancy. And third, when you are on synthetic birth control of any sort, it shuts off this infradian rhythmic pattern [inaudible 00:37:01] in your brain, it shuts it off in your metabolism, it shuts it off in your immune system, it shuts it off [crosstalk 00:37:07]
Kimberly: Because it’s just regulating it from this external source.
Alisa Vitti: It’s not regulating, it is shutting it down.
Alisa Vitti: There’s no regulation. It’s not a regulatory thing. It’s a shutting it off thing. And so how it works, it shuts off this hormonal pattern and so you’re in a no rhythm, like kind of life and that actually has really big implications on your creativity, on your moods, on your dates, on your sex drive, on absolutely everything about you. In fact, a PhD, I believe her name is Dr. Sarah Hall or Hill. She just came out with a book and I quoted her in the section about the birth control pill in my book. And basically she comes out with a ton of research in her book, but essentially it’s if you’re on this medication, you’re fundamentally changing who you are.’ It’s that [inaudible 00:38:02] And we should, as women, be much more made much more aware, given much more education about how it’s so profoundly changes who you are, and not for ways in which you would necessarily like once you dive into it.
Alisa Vitti: So I share as much as I can in the book, but of course, she wrote a very comprehensive book about it, which I think every woman on the pill should read. But in my book, I’ll outline for you what you need to know and then what kinds of things you can do if you’re ready to maybe think about transitioning off with your physician from synthetic birth control, and adopting the cycle thinking method as this practice that I’m teaching you in this book to support your infradian rhythm and [crosstalk 00:38:46] it’s so, so key.
Kimberly: And what about IUD? So someone could say, “Oh, well, maybe I’ll switch to that.” Does that still shut down your infradian rhythm?
Alisa Vitti: If it’s a hormone-releasing IUD, yes. Anything that secretes synthetic hormones shuts it-
Kimberly: Or the copper. Does the copper one secrete?
Alisa Vitti: The copper does not. The copper doe not. So if you want to use the copper IUD, that’s okay.
Kimberly: OK, wow.
Alisa Vitti: Yes. You still ovulate with the copper IUD and that’s fine. So really powerful information. Well, we don’t know is holding us back and we don’t know about our infradian rhythm and it’s allowing us not to have access to our full potential not only with our health. For example, I was sharing with someone about the impact of our infradian rhythm across our sex drive, and our sexual [inaudible 00:39:36]. Did you know, Kimberly, that over 60% of American women are dissatisfied sexually?
Kimberly: I read that. I read your whole book and when I read that, I thought, is that true?
Alisa Vitti: Yes. Very true.
Kimberly: Is it more that they’re not having enough sex or that they’re just having bad sex?
Alisa Vitti: It’s both. It’s both. Is they’re not having enough and they’re not having good quality and my sort of the approach in the sex chapter of the book is that the reason why we’re not having as much and we’re not having good quality is that we’re not understanding the changes in our sexual response across the infradian rhythmic experience. So for example, there are times in the cycle where even if you’re so in the mood, even if you’re so happy with what your partner is doing, you are going to be dry and you’re going to require more foreplay. And if you don’t know which phase that is, you’ll think oh gee, what’s wrong with me, maybe I’m having a sex problem or something, my libido is missing. You’ll feel bad about yourself because you’re missing the right information. You’ll assume something’s wrong with you, just like you’ve always assumed something is wrong with you because gee, you workout every day and you’re eating [inaudible 00:40:52] every day and gee, you can’t lose these 10 pounds. We think it’s our fault. It’s not your fault. You don’t have the right information to make the right shift, so that you can get the results that you want either with your health or your orgasm frankly. It’s all the same. And so I break that down.
Alisa Vitti: There’s a love flow chart in the book, so you know what to do in each of the phases of your infradian rhythm to optimize your sexual enjoyment across the cycle.
Kimberly: That’s wonderful. I mean, that’s definitely something people don’t talk about openly, like closed room, closed bedroom, under the sheets, but if 60% of people are dissatisfied, that’s stressful.
Alisa Vitti: Women, not people.
Kimberly: Women. What is it for men? I wonder what it is for men.
Alisa Vitti: I mean, I don’t have the statistics for men, but it’s not being analyzed, because I think for men, that’s pretty obvious when they’re satisfied, but for women, it’s not obvious process. I think that we as women need to really come to understand what is our sexual response because for men, it’s the same all the time. Again, they have the same pattern each and every day, so any sexual encounter for them that results in them ejaculating in a pleasurable way will be something that they’re satisfied with. For women-
Kimberly: That’s so simple.
Alisa Vitti: And that’s good too. But for us, we have four distinct patterns that we need to be aware of and to help our partner be aware of it. One of the things that people really love about the MyFLO app is that you can drop in, your partner’s email address, and they’ll know what kind of foreplay to bring that particular phase, you don’t have to say anything. It’s like they’re psychic, all of a sudden, they can give you what you need. And I always think that’s really nice when people [crosstalk 00:42:39]
Alisa Vitti: And this also was a surprise to me too. When I became a mother, I thought, well, I’m good if the cycle thinking method can support my infradian rhythm for my health and my metabolism and my work and my marriage. I had no expectation that it was going to be something I could use as a tool to make motherhood feel less overwhelming, and I was really happy to see that in fact, of course, it is a perfect tool to use because it’s about working efficiently with what my body and my brain are naturally inclined to do. So there’s a whole chapter on motherhood and how to make it less overwhelming because there are times in which you can focus on the social aspects of motherhood, whether that be play dates or time with family and there’s times where your body would prefer you to focus on more of the domestic aspects of motherhood, like organizing your kids’ closets or doing all the school paperwork or buying all the presents for the party or whatever it is. There’s certain times of your cycle where those things are naturally pleasurable for you. And if you can-
Kimberly: And this is because hormones are affecting our brain and different parts of our brain are called to different activities.
Alisa Vitti: [inaudible 00:43:52] For example, during the ovulatory phase, you have the surge in estrogen, this supercharged surge of estrogen that we have [inaudible 00:44:00] it actually hyper stimulates the social and verbal centers of the brain that has happened a single month with predictability, with regularity. So of course, you should plan play dates and family gatherings, when that is peaking because it’s going to be more pleasurable for you. And you don’t need me to tell you that when you’d rather be at home with a heating pad on your stomach that the last thing you want to do is chase after kids in a playground because it’s a play date. You plan it better. You can plan it so that it works for you, and that you can do the right things at the time that are right for your body. And it just makes everything more sustainable. So I’m less overwhelmed and stressed as a mom as well, which is really great.
Kimberly: Now what about for moms to be like are, moms in their second or third whatever pregnancy, pregnant women like me. My personal question here, how [crosstalk 00:44:54] is my infradian rhythm-
Alisa Vitti: You’re pregnant, you’re not cycling.
Kimberly: OK. [crosstalk 00:44:59] So this is not a [inaudible 00:45:01]
Alisa Vitti: I outline this in the book, they actually go through the eight different hormonal inflection points that you’ll go through across your whole entire lifespan, when you should use the cycle thinking method, when you should not, and pregnancy and postpartum. There’s special times where you would definitely not use this method, but as soon as you get your period back, of course, you would want to start using this again for your huge advantage to keep your … Because what it does, I mean, what it does for me as a whole, is it keeps putting energy in my bank account every single day. So I’m never falling off the energy cliff because this is why guys biohack because they fall off the energy cliff at 3:00 o’clock. You need to start the cycle-thinking method because if you don’t take care of your infradian rhythm, you’re going to fall off the energy cliff, maybe about a week before your period. You’re going to start to feel real tired, real cranky, can’t go to sleep, you’re bloated [crosstalk 00:45:56]-
Kimberly: You want caffeine, but then you’re not supposed to have caffeine.
Alisa Vitti: Right. And then your energy just is bad and then it gets worse when you have your actual bleed, and then it doesn’t come back. So like two weeks out of every month, you’re kind of like way behind the eight ball and your energy just is like depleted. And just like we know, when you have a sleep deficit, you can never “catch up”, you can’t ever catch up. When you have this every month, two weeks out of the month and energy deficit that you’re never catching up on, that two weeks where you “feeling normal”, you’re not even feeling halfway optimal. You’re so in the red with your energy. So what the cycle-thinking method will do when you eat this way where you’re supposed to every phase of the cycle, where you’re exercising the right way across your infradian rhythm, where you’re organizing work, and motherhood around your brain changes, you’re going to be in the black with your energy, you’re going to have an abundance [inaudible 00:46:58] keep building and building your energy. It’s the ultimate biohack for women except you don’t have to add any [inaudible 00:47:03] You just have to work with your body’s rhythm and you can just continue to expand your energy, feel better and better, stronger, smarter, faster and more efficient.
Kimberly: Everything that everybody wants.
Alisa Vitti: But this is how nature designed us to be. It isn’t just for special people to feel this way. If you have ovaries, this is what you can have access to if you take care of this infradian rhythm.
Kimberly: I mean it is amazing. I think knowledge is really powerful and knowing your body and being aware, we always talk about you are your own healer, you are your own teacher, but I do feel that menstrual rhythms and cycles as you know well are just not something that we think about that much until it’s like oh, it’s time to wear my cup or tampon [crosstalk 00:47:54]
Alisa Vitti: Of course because we haven’t been given any terminology to describe them, I mean, I’ve been a researcher for, I mean, 20 something years now and I’ve, I mean, [inaudible 00:48:06] until I was writing this book I had not come across this term.
Kimberly: Oh, I’ve never heard this term. So Alisa, last question. I could really talk to you forever, but I do remember you in the book, and this is something that is popular conversation comes up a lot is this idea of thyroid issues related to period issues and endocrine issues of all kinds. It seems like it’s on the rise with a lot of women, so how does the infradian, how could possibly the infradian method rhythm cycling awareness positively impact your thyroid health?
Alisa Vitti: It’s all connected. So when your cycle-thinking which is the method that I created to support the infradian rhythm, so that means you’re eating, exercising, and working in a way that supports that infradian rhythm. When you do that, you are eating foods that are going to help you make adequate levels of hormones, you’re going to eat foods that help you break down all your excess estrogen, you’re going to be working out in a way that flushes cortisol, not builds it, and we know anytime you’re disrupting insulin and cortisol, you’re going to start to really mess with your thyroid. So now we’re supporting insulin levels with diet, we’re supporting estrogen production and elimination with diet and exercise, and we’re supporting cortisol regulation with exercise. And we’re reducing cortisol levels because we’re working with our brain chemistry changes. Now we have really given our body the opportunity to not be so constantly stressed, right? Our systems are so constantly stressed because we’re working against our infradian rhythm. No wonder one out of two women are suffering from a thyroid disorder. I’m surprised it’s not a higher percentage.
Kimberly: Is it that high?
Alisa Vitti: It is that high.
Kimberly: That’s crazy. Something is off. Wow.
Alisa Vitti: What’s off is that we are not taking care of our biological rhythm the way it needs. That is the big message of this book. And what I hope is the beginning of a revolution for women in fitness, in nutrition. You can be vegan, you can be omnivorous, whatever it is that you want to do, you just have to do it in a way that works with the infradian rhythm and the cycle-thinking method, which I outlined in my new book In the FLO will teach you exactly how to do it with precision, so that you can start to finally feel the way you want to feel in your body and finally start to live the way you want to live in your life.
Kimberly: Well, Alisa, thank you so much for all this amazing wisdom to share. It’s powerful and I appreciate you so much. I really enjoyed your book and beauties, it pre selling right now or possibly out depending on when you listen to this. The actual pub date is February 2020. So you can actually-
Alisa Vitti: January 28th.
Kimberly: January 28th. Sorry.
Alisa Vitti: It’s OK.
Kimberly: January 28th. So when you are listening to this, you can actually get your copy right now, again, it’s called In the FLO. We will link to it directly in the show notes. I assume Alisa, anywhere books are sold, retail, online.
Alisa Vitti: Yes, and for your listeners, of course, if you go to intheflobook.com/gifts, we have some special things for people who are listening.
Kimberly: Oh, amazing. So we will link to that link directly in our show notes. Thank you so much Alisa. I definitely think this book is worth reading. As we said information is definitely power and this is something that women everywhere should be aware of. We should be aware of our bodies, we should be aware of our cycles, our infradian rhythm, all this beautiful term that Alisa is promoting in the world. So thank you so much Alisa for all this.
Alisa Vitti: Thank you Kimberly for letting me come on and share this with your beauties. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about a subject that has not gotten enough love.
Kimberly: For sure. Well, thank you again and beauties, thank you so much for tuning in. We send you so much love. We are always here, we’re always listening. So keep your questions coming at mysolluna.com/askkimberly for our Thursday Q&As. Be sure to check out the show notes, be sure to check out Alisa’s amazing book and we will be back here on Thursday. So till then, take great care of yourself and see you soon.