Podclass Show Notes and Links
An introduction to Megan and Alex, as well as details on what is covered in this 24 podclass series. Episode 1 explains the basic premise of the 4 Phase Cycle Approach and briefly explains what is happening in the body throughout the feminine cycle. It also goes into why someone would be interested in learning and living this new way of approaching female health.
Zestyginger.com/cycle to get our FREE Wild Feminine Cycle Guide to get started with everything you need to know about living in sync with your cycles.
Zestyginger.com/healthyhormones to join our 3 month Healthy Hormones Group Program. This program includes functional lab work with a complete hormone and neurotransmitter panel, with a personalized protocol created for each participant based on their results.
Transcript for This Podcast
Hi everyone. This is Alex Golden of Zesty Ginger dot com. Thank you so much for joining this podclass, I am so excited. This has been something that Megan, my business partner, and I have been planning for a really long time. And it was just never the perfect time to do it. And that perfect time is now. So I’m so so so excited to be here, and thank you so much for joining us.
The point of this podclass is to help you understand your own feminine cycle. Now this is something that is not talked about nearly enough in our culture. If you have ever seen any tampon commercial, and next time you see one take note, you will see that there’s women in business standing up in a suit giving a presentation. There’s some chick playing tennis, and everything is just going. And the whole point, the whole underling kind of message to everything is *hey don’t let your period stop you, don’t let your period be anything, don’t let your period even be noticeable to you.* And that is something that we just so strongly disagree with.
We really believe and what we do with our teaching is to teach women about their own feminine cycle, and the importance of syncing with it. And so by syncing with your cycle what we really mean is that you are living your life in a way that honors the natural ebbs and flows of things that are going on in your body. So we’ve broken up the cycle into 4 distinct phases, and we’ll talk about those. We’ll have a separate class for each of those.
And, actually multiple ones, just because we want to break it down into very discrete, easy to follow steps. And we break those 4 phases of the cycle up and there are things your body does that are unique to each different phase. And that how we’re able, by looking at the physiology, by looking at whats happening in the body, break it up into four phases that have their own distinct characteristics. So let me just give a couple example to make this more real.
So, Phase One starts when you get your Period. And what we call the Dark Sub Phase is the first three days of your period. Now think back to the last period that you’ve had, if you have a cycle right now. You may have wanted to hang out on the couch, you may have wanted to put your PJs on, your comfortable pants – or your cookie pants as some of us call them – and watch Netflix and relax. But, most of us are like “I can’t do that, that’s ridiculous! I have my period”, but that not a reason to stop.
Here’s the thing, we are all about that because the first phase of the cycle, especially that Dark Sub Phase- the first three days- is a really powerful time for your body, and for your mental state, to do some really deep work and come up with a plan for what you want to happen in this next cycle. And so it’s a great time for introspection. And physiologically what happens is that your right hemisphere or your brain and the left hemisphere of your brain, what they do is they communicate really well together during this time. And actually it goes outside of the Dark Sub Phase; that whole phase, that first phase, is all about good communication between the two halves of your brain. And what that gives you is an enhanced opportunity to evaluate what’s going on in your life, and then begin to create positive changes with that.
And so it ends up being really powerful because instead of feeling lazy during that time you have your period, you instead understand that you are honoring your body with rest, and when you give your body that rest you begin to hear your own internal voice and guidance coming through and it will lead you the the next step, and the next step, and the next step, and the next step, so you are no longer chasing after different diets, your cutting out all sorts of food, or you can’t digest half the things you eat, your PMS takes over your life. You know, all of these things that we almost as women become to think as normal. Like it’s normal to have really bad PMS, it’s normal to have really bad cramps. When in reality none of that works the way its supposed to work. And so that is just and example.
And then with that, the second phase, The Rise Phase is what we call it, that’s when our hormones are powerfully rising. And the rise phase actually ends when we hit Ovulation. And so during that time when you take the time for introspection, and you take the time for planning during the first phase, the second phase is when you are going to feel energetic, powerful, decisive, and you are going to get stuff done. And so that is a really amazing place to be, because when you take that opportunity to plan and know exactly what your own internal guidance is asking you to do and what your body is asking for, then you’ll see in that second phase things just take off at warp speed, you end up being really productive, you end up getting way more stuff done for yourself and even for others in less time than it normally would have taken you. Its really sort of miraculous.
And then towards the end, the fourth phase which is what we call The Pause Phase, is time for not only going back and doing some evaluation of how the cycle went, how did that rise phase go, how would you have done differently, what will you change next time, because that’s what’s kinda the beauty. You have way more cycles coming up. So that’s not a huge deal. And the point of the Pause Phase is also to begin to integrate this in your life in a way that is manageable for you. So something we don’t believe in is, for example: if you do the Whole30, you do really really great, but in your head you’re kind of in chronic deprivation – like I just can’t have that food, I can’t have that food, I can’t have that food- and then when you’re finished with your Whole30 you go ham on some doughnuts and some croissants, and then you back slide into exactly what you were doing.
We have done that yo-yo, rat race dieting thing and we are very much over it. I love the Whole 30, I think it’s great. But the problem is people don’t use it responsibly. It’s kind of on or off. So they’re either on the wagon and being really strict, or off the wagon and they’re going ham on whatever food you’re going to have. So instead what we do in the Pause Phase is as you’ve purposefully chosen what you’ve planned to include or do in your life, then you have a period of time, this Phase Week where you integrate it and find a good balance so that you don’t have deprivation.
I’ll give you a example: My husband and I about once a month, we will take our dog Whiskey – Whiskey the Bull Dog, he’s an English Bulldog, he’s super cute, I’m a little biased – we go gets doughnuts in the morning on a weekend where neither of us works, and it is a really special time. And there would have been a period of time where I would have spent the next week worrying about those doughnuts. So I have celiacs, so I have to eat gluten free, and they have gluten free doughnuts, but I really would have been thinking “Oh no! It’s going to set off my SIBO that I used to have. Oh no it’s going to make me fat – what about that cellulite. Oh no…” and all of these things would have come into my space. Instead what I have realized now is that instead of cheating by inhaling a doughnut and then feeling guilty about it, I have purposefully allowed things into my life that make me feel good on the inside whether they be actual food or an experience. And that for us is a ritual that we have, it’s something that brings us closer, it’s something that lets us get outside and be active while we go walk and get our doughnut. Then we come home and we drink coffee and we sit and talk and catch up over the week and for me that’s really important.
And that no longer gives me anxiety because I have purposefully decided that will be a part of my life. And that’s just one time when I was doing the fourth phase, The Pause Phase, and that is a decision that I made to include in my life. And because of that I don’t have those things where I feel I get stressed out, I feel bad, and I go inhale a bag of Swedish Fish. That doesn’t really happen. And it’s not a will power thing. It’s not that I’ve gotten better at being “Oh no, I shouldn’t do that.” It’s just that I don’t find myself going there because I’ve already nourished and taken part of all of those things that that experience gives me.
And so I’m not looking for it at the bottom of a Swedish Fish bag. I am actually living it. And so that all is a really long introduction and a verbose way to say that that is our major schtick, and what you will be learning in this podclass from Megan and I of all of the things that go into this. And what our hope is, is that by the time you finish this podclass, you will have a really clear understanding of how your cycle works. You will understand what the body is trying to do in each phase. And then how you can positively impact and how you will live your life in such a way that is syncing with your cycle. Which is what we are going to call it.
I wanted to take the rest of this class though and tell a little bit about Megan and I.
I’m Alex, I’m the brown haired one. Megan is the ginger. Hence the Zesty Ginger. And I’m an MD. At the time of this recording I’m finishing residency and going on to do a pain fellowship. But maybe when you are listening to this, I’ve already finished that, who knows. But, I’ve been on a journey to become a pain doctor for close to a decade now, and I am at the very tail end thank goodness. My story is that I was born in Russia and moved here when I was six, and moved here with my family. Grew up in a poor-ish but very happy immigrant family.
Went to school. I went to college to become a piano performance major and I was going to be a piano professor at the college level, that was my thing. But right after getting to college and starting, I began to have chronic pain. I had never had normal cycles really, even when I started having my period at the age of eleven. I had horrible cramps. I would have to come home from school because I would have such bad pain that I would throw up the first day, and I couldn’t keep anything down, and I would just look green around the gills because all the teachers would always be like “you don’t look good, just go home.” So I never really made it a cycle without having something like that happen where everyone in my life would know Alex is out for the count. And that got better on it’s own as I went, but then all of a sudden there was a sharp downturn when I got to college.
And it was probably the change of food, the changes in stress, all of that set it off. And I started to have really bad pelvic pain, and then as pain tends to do, localized pain begins to get generalized in the body, and I had chronic widespread pain whenever anyone would touch me or squeeze my arm, or like give me a pat on the shoulder, I would just feel the imprint of their hand burning my skin and it would hurt so much and my life really deteriorated from there. Because I went from being a relatively healthy kid to just completely debilitated. I spent all day thinking about what clothes I would put on so that the belt or the drawstring of my pants wouldn’t cut into my skin and hurt me. The way I was sitting, the way I was moving, timing going to the bathroom. All of this started to consume my life, and the silver lining of that, I had horrible experiences with doctors who just dismiss me.
And now in retrospect, even though I would cry for days about that stuff, or I would be like someone’s saying I’m making this up, someone is not believing me, I just seem crazy to them. And the silver lining was that then I shifted gears. And even though I finished up my piano performance degree, I went, I started taking pre med classes, and ultimately went to medical school, and have been doing residency in Chicago. And so that I ended doing everything a little backwards just because conventional medicine really let me down. It was always, for all my period stuff, it was try birth control. Which I did, but that didn’t help, and then I got off of it and it made it even worse. I really began, with all my reading, I began to do all the unconventional stuff. After a period of about four or five years where I really struggled on my own and was in my despair phase, then I began to, I just thought “OK, let’s get this together. Let me get things going in a more positive direction.”
And I began to do some functional stuff. I started pelvic floor physical therapy, biofeedback for manage my chronic pain. I started doing breath work, I started doing acupuncture. All sorts of herbs. If you don’t know me yet you will know that I am a huge plant nerd. I have all these plants in my house and I grow herbs all the time and use then as dried spices, teas, all of that. So that’s where I got my start in all the herbalism and supplements that I do. And so that lasted all of until medical school. And then in medical school I had a little bit of a relapse and thought well I’m in medical school and I know a reproductive endocrinologist, let me go check in with her about all my hormone stuff: I constantly had spotting, constantly just had all this stuff that was happening that I never really knew. But all in all I was at lease headed in the right direction.
After I saw that reproductive endocrinologist, she was like, “oh my gosh, your hormones are just ridiculously low. That’s why you are spotting all the time.” So she put me on estrogen and progesterone. I did a whole cycle map where she did ultrasounds every three days, blood work every three days. And it really was like my first half of cycle was ok, second half completely bottomed out and I felt like crap. And so I started supplementing with hormones and that really allowed me to, while I was doing that and getting some help with symptoms, I did more and more work and I switched to Paleo, I completely re-hauled my beauty routing and everything that went on my skin, I got cleaner products. I did all that stuff that manages detoxification and exposure to hormone mimicking chemicals. And eventually I was able to come off the hormones. Then, you know, residency hit. And residency is 80 hours per week working, or so, not every week, but between 60-80 is usually normal for us – I’m an anesthesiologist resident – and I really began to suffer a little bit from just from lack of sleep, lack of nutritional, all that stuff.
At the same time my husband and I, who is also a doctor, had gotten married and we were trying to have a baby, and after about six months I thought “you know, I’ve had a lot of problems here, let me go get checked out.” I went to another reproductive endocrinologist who did some testing and said “oop, you are going into menopause. You’ve had so much destruction of your ovaries from endometriosis that you, I’m not sure how much tissue you have and it’s all of your organs are just all stuck to each other in one ball inside your pelvis.” And I was like, oh well that explains half the stuff I’ve been experiencing. And I don’t know why, you know, it got worse quickly. I of course always have felt like boy couldn’t someone have caught this beforehand, like did it have to get so bad, and I’ve had to let that idea go because there is nothing I can do to go back in time and change that. I did three rounds of IVF which failed.
And ever since then, Megan and I have been on this track. We came together when I was in medical school and started working together and she worked with me through all of this, and this is how we have ended with this whole concept of syncing with our cycles. I mean, it’s something for her and I, we have grown together and we essentially made from scratch. This is not, you won’t find this information anywhere else. The information that you are going to listen in these podclasses, it was Megan and I sitting down with countless textbooks, looking at the female cycle, thinking about what’s happening, and beginning to start from scratch, building how do we believe is the best thing. And this is something we have lived through for years. And so with all of that, I’d love to say “and then I got pregnant, had a baby!”
We have not made it that far. We put the baby stuff on hold while I did my career, which I have been happy with that decision for sure. But for anyone struggling with infertility, know that I completely understand where you are coming from. And know that even though I haven’t made the decision to have a baby, or try again with IVF, I fully believe, my life now looks so so so different. My pain is nearly gone, my cycles are a lot more regular, even though I do night shift, I work 20 hour calls, I do all sorts of stuff that in theory we know isn’t great, but that’s what I’m doing with my life so obviously I can’t be like “sorry guys, not coming to work!” But, so so so much better. It has truly revolutionized my life, and even my relationships, and everything I do. That’s why, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. That kinda been my spiel.
Now I’ll talk a little bit about Megan. We are just the best of friends and she’s like my other half really. I think our husbands get a little jealous. So I will tell, even though she’s not here recording this with me, I’ll tell a little bit about her. So Megan is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition practitioner. Her husband’s a Marine, and he’s about to stop and also do some health coaching. And then they have two amazing girls, a seven and a two year old right now who are just so fun. And Megan’s story really starts, she was kind of a healthy kid, and her health took a really sharp downturn.
She was working as an Engineer – which I tease her for because sometimes she’ll get her analytical hat on. And she got pregnant with Lily, her first child, and afterwards just completely fell off a hormonal cliff. I mean, she thought it was normal because it was a first time mom, and it’s supposed to be hard. But she literally had such chronic fatigue and just dysfunction, she like couldn’t even get through the day normally, which many of you can probably relate to with chronic fatigue and hormonal imbalances. And then now I’ve seen her over the years. Her second pregnancy, I obviously wasn’t around for the first one, but her second pregnancy was completely different. Her postpartum experience was completely different.
She was creative even a week after giving birth, her and I were back on the phone, she had amazing ideas, she wanted to, she was taking time, but I was still doing stuff, but she was heavily involved. And just to watch her go through that and really enjoy the experience and feel like she got the most out of spending time with that little baby, and feeling she could handle the work and the sleep and all of the anxieties that go into having a new baby and all of that stuff. It was just so miraculous to watch. So, both of us have had life changing transformations and we are so excited to get this information to you.
So thank you for joining for lesson one. I’m so glad that you have decided to take this step. We think that your health and your life is going to change for you once you start syncing with your cycle, because it really has for us. So, thank you so much for joining. I will catch you on the next class. See ya!