Oh hey there! I recently caught up with Rachael Condon from RachCondon.com – she’s a Qualified Nutritionist, Women’s Health Expert and a Period Coach. Wait, whaaat? There’s such a thing as a period coach? YASSS GIRL. It’s time to re-hash your Dolly-Doctor knowledge from your teens and discover how managing your period can improve your business.
Hey Rach! So tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
Hi Bro, well firstly, thank you for having me. It’s always such a pleasure to be able to have an open chat about Women’s Health with someone like yourself.
Ok so what do I do? Well, we all know someone that has some kind of period problems right? Hormone imbalances and period problems are so common. And this breaks my heart, because these issues affect that woman’s whole life. And there’s SO much we can do to fix this, but we just don’t get taught about it and what we do get taught usually makes us more confused. Because you know, there’s that thing your bestie told you helped her but it was different to what you read online and then your doctor said something else and it just goes around and around until your head pops off your shoulders so you give up trying to work it out!
"Well, my job is to be the guide amongst all the confusion. I help women get their periods back and fix their hormone issues with a natural, holistic approach."
What is a period coach?
Well for me, when I’m working with a client through my Period Coaching program, it’s all about ensuring she has the tools, knowledge and practical information she needs so she can take back her sense of control around her cycle. Because what I find is that most women know very little about how their body actually works or what things impact the quality of their periods.
So as a Period Coach, I teach my clients exactly what’s happening in their body and I give them everything they need to align their diet and lifestyle with what their body really needs.
That way, they the one in control because they knows how to look after thier body and how to make the best choices, rather than just being told ‘do this, don’t do that’. It’s really about empowering them.
What do people typically say when you tell them what you do? Do you feel that even though we’re in the 21st century, that there’s still a bit of stigma around talking about your period?
You know it really depends on the person. When I’m speaking with women they are usually really interested and want to know more. Because they can relate! A lot of ladies also want my number to pass to a friend or sister because as I mentioned before, we all know someone struggling with period issues.
But I remember being asked by a guy a few months ago ‘So what do you do’ and I answered quite enthusiastically that ‘I work with women to help them fix their period problems’ and he very loudly said ‘Ooookay then’ as he turned his chair away from me so his back was to me….yikes!
"I was shocked at his immature reactions and I was actually embaressed for his wife who looked mortified that he’d been so ridiculous! But honestly, that’s the only bad reaction I’ve ever had."
I’m really proud of the work I do so I talk openly about it if someone asks.
How has understanding your menstrual cycle helped you with running a business?
Oh it’s such a powerful tool! It means that you can work to your strengths in each stage of your cycle and avoid your weaknesses!
I’ll give you some examples:
So during my period I will pre-write myself clear notes so I can follow them during my client calls because this is a time when it’s much harder for women to articulate thoughts and think quickly. Verbal communication isn’t my strength when I’m bleeding! But I still want to deliver really great value for the ladies I’m working with so I just make sure I’m more prepared and I will actually just let them know, “I have my period today so bear with me” and I think they really appreciate the openness.
Another thing I do is most of my editing and business audits during my premenstrual phase because we tend to be a lot more honest (or blunt!) at that time. So it’s quite easy to see through the ‘fluff’ and make clear business decisions.
Also, I try to schedule most of my video recording in the middle of my cycle, usually just before ovulation because this is when estrogen is really high - so I’m feeling most confident and I’m really good with words so being in front of a camera feels quite easy.
There’s lot of different things we can do but it all comes down to understanding our cycle and knowing how we feel during the different phases. There are some clear patterns but it’s quite an individual thing.
What are the seasons of a menstrual cycle and what are women likely to feel during these times?
Oh I love this question! The Inner Seasons are such a helpful way to look at the menstrual cycle.
So Inner Winter is when you have your period. Typically you feel like slowing right down, the couch is calling your name and a hot chocolate is really comforting. You want to hibernate and the idea of a social event makes you cringe! When we compare this to actual Winter, it feels quite similar and nature reflects these things to us.
Then if you think of Spring, it’s a time of renewal. The snow has melted, flowers are budding and baby birds are hatching. Our Inner Spring is similar – we’re emerging from out ‘Period cave’, our energy starts rising and we feel a new lease on life! But just like the baby birds, we’re still vulnerable and tender. If we try to do everything all at once we might get overwhelmed or if someone says something hurtful we really take it to heart.
As we move into our Inner Summer we hit the peak of our cycle – ovulation. We have heaps of energy, we feel confident and sexy and we can pretty much do all things! Compare that to Mama Natures Summer when the world is buzzing with energy, the sun is at its peak and we are harvesting all the summer fruits. Can you see the similarities here? It’s pretty amazing!
Then we move into Autumn. Nature starts to degrade so the leaves turn brown, the temperature drops and the general ‘buzz’ fades away. Earth becomes quite raw and naked as all the leave fall. Our Inner Autumn is much the same! For us, it’s ur estrogen that drops, our energy starts tapering off and we move into a far more grounded, ‘earthy’ energy. Then in our late Inner Autum (just before our period) we too become very raw!
Once our period begins the whole cycle starts again. It’s beautiful.
What about these seasons when you’re using Birth Control, is it the same?
Ah yes, I’m glad you brought this to my attention! There’s actually a really big difference in what’s going on hormonally between a woman that is cycling naturally versus a woman who’s on hormonal birth control.
So, when you cycle naturally, there are these really beautiful ebs and flows that occur between estrogen and progesterone throughout the month and those hormones are really what enable us to feel these inner seasons.
When you are using hormonal birth control such as the Pill, the levels of hormones stay the same every single day, except of course when you have the withdrawal bleed. So unfortunately, its not really the same thing.
But what you can do if you’re currently using hormonal birth control but do want to try and take advantage of these inner seasons is to actually follow the cycle of the moon instead! This can also be a super powerful tool!
Basically, the New Moon (or the Dark Moon) represents you Inner Winter, you’ll move through Spring with the waxing moon and into Summer at the Full Moon. Then Autumn with the Waning Moon and back to Winter when the moon is dark again.
If that’s all a little bit too ‘woo woo’, you can probably still use the Inner Season principles with your cycle while on birth control but you certainly won’t get the full range of emotions, physical characteristics or insights that you’ll have access to with a natural cycle.
What would you say is the most productive time of a womens cycle? And what’s the least productive time?
This is a little tricky because this stuff really depends on the individual. But I guess in general, the most productive time is around ovulation and the least productive isprobably day 1 of your period when hormones are at their lowest.
But let’s say for example that you’re a writer. So the buzz of ovulation might make it really hard for you to sit still at your computer for hours on end, typing! Whereas the insights and connection to your intuition during your period means the words just pour out of you and onto the paper!
We all have a ‘home’ in our cycle. A place where we feel most at ease. I personally love the early Autumn because I find it super productive and I’m moving back to an inward energy, so the outside world doesn’t influence me as much. It’s easy to come back ‘home to myself’. But! Most women hate their Autumn and don’t feel productive here at all!
"So it’s really something each women needs to observe and work out for herself – then take full advantage of it!"
If I had the ability to schedule my work around my cycle, do you think I’d see an improvement in aspects of my business?
Yes absolutely! I think the biggest benefit would be that you would feel more ‘in flow’ and less ‘forced’.
Because right now we have to work to someone else’s 24 hour schedule. Usually 9 to 5, Monday to Friday. But women don’t just live in a 24 hour cycle, we also have a 28-ish day cycle. So if we had the ability to schedule things around this, then yes I absolutely think we would see improvements!
What tips would you give to busy women who are running a business, could even have kids and are trying to achieve a work-life balance?
I really think the best thing we can do as women is to get to know ourselves. What I mean by that is to start tuning into how you feel during the different stages of your cycle. This can be as simple as keeping a journal or note pad beside your bed with the date and what day of your cycle you are on. Then just make a few notes each night about what felt easy and what felt hard. Note down your energy levels, ability to focus, emotions, desire to socialise, inner self talk etc.
After a couple of months there will be patterns that emerge and then you can start planning around those patterns to make your life flow more.
For example, you may discover that you absolutely love going to the gym from days 8-16 but after that it makes you miserable. But you’ve noted how much you enjoyed jogging with your dog on days 18, 20 and 22.
Perfect – plan around that so exercise doesn’t feel like another thing on your to-do list!
Then you see that two months in a row, when you hosted dinner parties during your Inner Autumn you and your husband ended up arguing about something that night.
Ok great – plan around this by hosting your next dinner party during your Inner Summer instead.
And maybe you noticed that you eat really well except during your period - because you cannot for the life of you be bothered cooking once the kids are home and bathed!
Ok – you can plan around this too! In Spring or Summer when you’re feeling super organised you can precook and freeze some ‘period meals’.
What advice would you give to someone like me who has been on contraception for 15+ years (my entire adult life) and is considering going off of contraception to allow ’stuff’ to get back on track?
Oh I get this questions all the time!
And I’m the same as you Bro, I went on the Pill at age 15 and stayed on it for 10 years straight. And even though I’m a strong advocate for coming off hormonal birth control now, I have to be honest, while I was using it, I loved it! I could skip my bleed whenever I wanted and my teen acne pretty much disappeared as soon as I started taking it.
But then you fast forward 10-15 years and being on hormonal birth control is really all you know….so the thought of stopping it is a bit confronting. And then there’s all those horror stories you hear about women’s hair falling out, weight gain, adult acne and crazy mood swings.
So I totally understand why some women hesitate. But there comes a point where you either just don’t feel aligned with putting synthetic hormones into your body anymore, or, you want to start a family!
So the advice I have for women who are ready to take this step is to seriously up your health game! There are so many small but really powerful things you can do that will help make the transition really smooth and give you the very best chance at avoiding or severely reducing the backlash and unwanted symptoms.
The first place to start is your liver. Because that amazing trooper of an organ has been processing all those hormones from your birth control and trust me, it’s been in over drive to do so!
I have a free Post Birth Control Detox Guide available on my website that will give you specific but very simple steps to support your liver. It’s really important that your body clears out those excess hormones and is functioning properly, because it’s basically impossible to have balanced hormones if your liver function is compromised.
To get a copy of that guide go to RachCondon.com and scroll to the bottom where you can access the PDF for free.
And for the women who want to know what else they can do (beyond just liver support), I actually have an amazing program that I’ll be launching on 12/12/19 which literally covers everything you’d need to know about coming off Hormonal Birth Control.
I’m super excited to launch this because I know it’s a real game changer for women.
It covers the preparation phase (so what women need to consider before they stop using their birth control), how to actually stop & what to expect in the first month. Because that’s something women really worry about!
Then we go into lots of details about specific diet, supplement & lifestyle steps to support your body as it transitions from having external hormones to making its own hormones again.
The program also teaches women about what a natural menstrual cycle looks like, how to tell if you have a hormone imbalance, specific actions for different symptoms you might experience (such as the thinning hair and acne I mentioned earlier) and of course there are a whole bunch of tools and resources to make the journey as simple as possible.
There’s so much information in there and it’s all self paced so that you can easily skip ahead or go back to the bits that you want to know about.
"There’s going to be a really generous early bird offer so if that program interest you, make sure you jump onto my email list or follow me on Instagram because there will only be a limited number and it’s first in best dressed!"
What kind of consequences does contraception have on our body?
Oh unfortunately they are really quite profound. And I don’t want to fear monger or make anyone feel bad for their choices here, I mean don’t forget I used the Pill myself for 10 years! But we’re talking about chemical castration. The Pill literally stops your brain from talking to your ovaries so that they no longer work. That’s castration!
And there’s so many flow on effects that occur with this. Things like altered mood, specifically depression and anxiety. It depletes our micronutrients, reduces thyroid function, alters our liver on a structural and genetic level….like whaaat? No one told me this when I was prescribed the pill, how about you??
Hormonal birth control can lead to insulin resistance, it alters our brain structure and our ability to deal with stress, increases our risk of vaginal yeast infection, it makes our libido tank and it increases leaky gut syndrome.
There is a LOT going on there and that’s not even everything, but I’m pretty sure you get the idea.
The scary thing is that we don’t get told this stuff. We blindly trust that our doctors know about the medication they prescribe to us and that they are safe for us to use.
I think that ‘informed consent’ really needs to be improved when it comes to hormonal birth control.
What kind of foods are good for women to eat to help support their cycle?
Great question! Food is absolutely foundational for your cycle. If you think about it, what you eat is literally the building blocks for your whole body! Food is used to build your hormones, it provides fuel for your cells and the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy organs that function how they’re supposed to.
A couple of things to focus on are ensuring you eat the right fats. Toss your low fat diet to the curb and start consuming avocado, coconut oil, olives, whole eggs, fatty fish and even grass fed animal fats.
Another thing is carbohydrates. As women, we need these. I know that keto and low carb are all the rage but when it comes to menstrual cycle health, you needs carbs otherwise your brain receives a signal that there is a famine and guess what we don’t need to be doing if there is a famine…falling pregnant! So our body slows down or shuts off our sex hormones as a protective mechanism. This leads to all kinds of period issues!
The types of carbs really matters though. Whole food, complex carbs are the way to go. Things like sweet potato, white potato, rice, banana’s and legumes. You absolutely don’t want to be eating processed carbs like cakes, white bread and pasta because these will spike your blood sugar levels and that’s going to have a negative effect on hormone health.
So in summary, 3 things to focus on when it comes to eating for your cycle are healthy fats, whole food carbs and stable blood sugar levels. There are of course other important things to consider but we don’t have the capacity to go into them in this interview! We go into a lot of details about eating for hormonal health in my course if anyone is interested.