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Happy April to you!

How have you been? I hope you have had a lovely March. Mine was ridiculously busy - remember that Wood energy we talked about last month? That creative and planning energy is rising (like wood sap does in spring) and I'm finding that my health and nutrition coaching practice is taking on a life of its own right now! There are a number of projects that I'll be able to tell you about over the next few months, but for now - these are some of the things that I got up to during March:
  • I wrote a few blog posts -  The Epic Fantasy Quester's Guide to Extreme Health, How Not to Prepare for a Meeting and Chocolate Nut Muffins
  • I took on two lovely new Health and Nutrition coaching clients.
  • I worked with Lizzie Jones of State of Liberty online retreat to develop recipes and menus for participants to recreate in the comfort of their own homes. Do check out the link, this is a beautifully curated luxury package incorporating yoga, food & nutrition, meditation, mindfulness, pampering and sleep for the ultimate wellbeing experience.
  • I wrote my first ever e-book, a freebie (a freebE-book?!) on how to get a good night's sleep. You can download How to Sleep here! Do let me know how you get on!
I thought that you might like a recipe this month. Would you like a recipe? I should have asked before really. But there's no time now so I shall crack on regardless! This is a lovely alternative to peanut butter. It is much healthier for you and doesn't take long to make. And if you want to dollop a big spoonful on a square of 85% organic dark chocolate then you will have had a hefty dose of calming magnesium, infection-fighting antioxidants and some cell nurturing fats in one big mouthful!*

Creamy Nut Butter
Roast approximately 125g almonds and 100g macadamias on a baking tray for five minutes at 180c. Then spread a second baking tray with around 75g unsweetened raw coconut chips and pop that in the oven too. After another five minutes take both trays out of the oven to cool. 

Blitz the nuts and coconut chips in a food processor with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 3 drops liquid stevia (optional) until smooth. Scoop out into a jar and refrigerate. 

If, for whatever reason, the dark chocolate option doesn't float your boat then feel free to scoop it onto celery sticks, smear it over oatcakes or simply eat it off the spoon. 

*Even if you take smaller, more restrained mouthfuls, they will still have the same benefit!

Seasonal Living
In my last newsletter I talked about the Chinese Five Element of Wood and how it relates to health. Wood energy is also responsible for planning and organising (if you are in a flurry of Spring cleaning right now then the Wood element might be responsible!) and has particular relevance to the menstrual cycle - that delicate dance of hormone balance which has such a strong influence on both physical and emotional energies. In light of this, I have written this guide both for women to best support themselves during the course of their menstrual cycle and for men to gain an appreciation for why women's energies might seem so erratic (clue: they aren't!).

In order to ease menstrual related health challenges it is important to support the cycle rather than trying to ignore it. Treat paying attention to what your body both asks for and gifts you with over the course of your cycle as a conversation with your entire hormonal system. Check in with your hormones each morning, make a note of what they are telling you; track them with spreadsheets if you like! At the very least make sure to notice how much easier your entire life is if you, quite literally, go with the (menstrual) flow!

Note that the lengths of each phase in this “timetable” merely give an approximate guide. Your cycle might currently be between two weeks to two months or apparently absent. If this is the case I tend to recommend that you keep track of both physical and emotional signs in writing so that you can best judge where you are and how to best care for yourself at this time.

Menstrual phase – time to rest and go deep within
The period or bleed phase will typically last around three to seven days and may well be accompanied by physical fatigue due to low levels of both oestrogen and progesterone. If at all possible plan to take time out and even some time off work during these first few days of your cycle. Think of it as a time of hibernation during which you rest up, dream, nourish yourself with broths, soups and organic dark chocolate; take the phone off the hook  and switch off all phone notifications.
Soothe cramps with Epsom salt baths, hot water bottles and gentle stretching; replace commercially produced sanitary wear with either organic products or washables; and find yourself something restful and comforting to do if you are wakeful in the night such as a having a feel-good book, a warm milky drink or a journal and pen at the ready.
Increasing your usual dietary or supplementary intakes of both magnesium and sea salt and keeping yourself well hydrated will help to alleviate fatigue, cramping and constipation.

Follicular phase – time to yawn and stretch and to create
As long as you took the time to hibernate during your menstrual phase, your physical, creative and social energies should rise along with your oestrogen levels over the next seven to ten days. This is the time to support those upward moving energies with nutrient dense and fresh foods, getting outside and moving; and being a little more sociable. Even better, combine the latter two with group walks, picnics, team sports, yoga classes or an educational class that takes place outside (such as foraging or wildcraft courses.)
If you have used your previous late-luteal phase to plan and prepare work, home or self projects then this is the time to use that creative energy to bring life to those projects. Be present, awake and on the look out for new opportunities (even if you choose not to take them up.)
This is a good time to increase probiotic rich food in your diet such as kombucha, kimchi, kefirsauerkraut or live yoghurt. (You may also wish to use a vaginal probiotic such as Canesflor once a month during this time to help protect against conditions such as thrush.) It’s also a good idea to replace lost iron levels with a few extra meals based around organ meats and red meat during this phase.

Ovulatory phase – time to connect, to sing and to feel joy
A thick and clear vaginal discharge may herald the beginning of this short three to four day high-oestrogen, high-testosterone, high energy and high communication skills part of your cycle. Make the most of this! Get up early to have a weekend adventure; go into that make-or-break meeting with confidence; go on a date; arrange for an impromptu party, tick those vital phone calls off your to-do list and generally push yourself to do activities that are usually out of your comfort zone. And those projects you’ve been working on that needed action? Act now!
You may have less appetite at this time and so you could find that you can easily skip the odd meal. However, this is a great time to eat sociably so, if you are able to, plan for a feast during this phase with candles, laughter and loved ones aplenty.

Early luteal phase – time to ground yourself, to nourish yourself and to process
Oestrogen will fall and progesterone should rise sharply during these five to six days (unless you have a cortisol imbalance) You may notice a decrease in your social energies but a rise in your nesting energies. Go with it: get the bills sorted, organise and restock your kitchen cupboards, batch cook and freeze nutritious foods ready for your menstrual phase; and begin to conclude any projects that you have on the go.
Feel free to add more carbs to your evening meals in the forms of butternut squash, root vegetables, sweet potatoes or rice based dishes. Focus on taking time over your meals and chewing your food well.

Late luteal phase – time to breath, to conclude and to prepare
Both oestrogen and progesterone will plummet during the last few days of your cycle, leaving you low on physical energy and high in emotion. Rest up and try to get to bed half an hour earlier each evening during this phase. Think of these few days as planning and preparation for an easier, more comfortable and less “draining” period.
You may also find that you are able to easily and effectively plan and prepare for work, creative or personal projects during this time but as soon as your menstrual phase begins put those ideas aside immediately. You should then be more than ready to put them into action during your follicular phase.
If you need time to release feelings of sadness and grief make sure that you set aside time to do that through journalling, with therapy, with a solitary walk in nature or even with an evening watching a weepy movie. At the very least make sure that you practice my breathing and visualisation exercise three times a day.
Increase your intake of dark green leafy veg, of nuts and seeds and of any magnesium supplementation in order to keep your lower intestines from becoming sluggish. Your skin and lungs may also need extra support in the form of body brushing and using a salt pipe inhaler in order not to become congested.

If you would like more individualised support with supporting a difficult menstrual cycle, with perimenopause or with menopausal symptoms then you might like to consider signing up for coaching with me. Contact me here if you would like to discuss this.

Right then my lovelies! I think that it's time for me to sign off this month now, but please forward this newsletter to anybody you think might enjoy it; and do ask me questions for future newsletters or let me know what you have found useful - you can easily contact me via Twitter or Instagram!

Big love to you!
Flojo xxx
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Florence Neville · 25 Southside · Congresbury · Bristol, Bst BS49 5BS · United Kingdom

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