PERIOD TALK – EPISODE 2: CHOICES
Part 2 of the mini series Period Talk. Every month, Mariette Reineke (46, pictured on the right) and Naomi van Ree (26, pictured on the left) talk about their menstruation. Today’s theme: choices. Want to join the conversation? That’s possible!
Naomi: ‘I started taking the birth control pill – a light one – when I was 14. However, soon afterwards I quit as I couldn’t deal with the hormones. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. Last episode I mentioned getting a coil when I was 18, which stayed there until I thought: why am I feeling the way I do? My PMS-symptoms increased. I was suffering from painful breasts, a backache, and feeling tired and emotional. After reading the book Womancode by Alisa Vitti, I understood that these complaints indicated a hormonal imbalance – that your body wants to change this. For a long time, though, I thought it was part of being a woman and I just had to deal with it.’
Mariette: ‘Even though I never really had any problems with my menstruation, I’ve still been on the pill for a long time. For me, the pill, next to being a contraceptive, is a way to suppress and anaesthetize, not just the monthly PMS-symptoms, but also being a woman, our sensitivity and tenderness. When I got ‘a relationship with myself’, about ten years ago, I started looking at my choices. What’s the impact of these choices? There are two possibilities when it comes to choices: loving and unloving choices. Step by step I started saying ‘no’ to everything that wasn’t love. I soon realised how this influenced me; my consciousness, emotions, body, wellbeing and my surroundings. But it also influenced my menstruation. Everything is connected. How I’m feeling today is the result of all the things I’ve said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to.’
Naomi: ‘I started changing my diet, according to my blood type and ayurvedic constitution, to repair my intestines and stop making my body doing unnecessary work. The general rule is to eat and live for more energy. This meant eating a lot less gluten and drinking little to no alcohol. This year, I’ve drunk less than ten alcoholic drinks – quite a change from my student life where every conversation was accompanied by beer. I’ve also learned to live according to my cycle. In the first episode of Period Talk, I explained how I live during my menstruation. In the follicular phase, just after my period, I do cardio exercise, eat fermented vegetables and carbohydrates that give me energy. The increasing of my hormones means I have more energy and power to start new projects and use my creativity.
‘Living according to my cycle and the Moon’s cycle has really reduced my PMS. It gives me energy to do the work I’m so passionate about’
My ovulation phase is ideal to plan meetings, record a podcast episode or negotiate about money. A date with my boyfriend is also magical during that time as I have energy and a natural glow. This is the period when my wave surfing performance is at its best. Since this is a high intensity interval training, I eat lighter carbs and a lot of fibre from vegetables. My sleep is sacred, as is my me-time. Especially in my luteal phase (just before menstruation) when the hormones decrease and I have less energy until my menstruation starts.
Finishing projects, planning and structuring goes very smooth during this phase. A heavy work-out not so much, so I choose pilates or yoga instead. This is also the time where I don’t skip any meals at all. Instead, I eat loads. I’m actually a vegetarian, but if I feel faint then I drink some organic chicken broth. Green leafy vegetables are also good for the liver and large intestine and support the estrogen decrease. Living according to my cycle and the Moon’s cycle has really reduced my PMS. It gives me energy to do the work I’m so passionate about.’
Mariette: ‘Choices that I’ve made include going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, not eating any gluten or lactose anymore, not drinking any alcohol anymore and going to the toilet when I have to instead of doing something else first. I eat very little sugar and fruit and have quit watching television. I walk slower, breathe differently, schedule in enough time for appointments and travel, pay more attention to my posture, and am more honest – both with myself and with others. I’ve also dealt with unprocessed emotions. I now realise my reactions say something about me – not about my partner, colleague, mother, etc. I listen more to my body and appreciate myself more. What a revelation and what an experience.
‘All the choices I’ve made have given me a more intimate relation with myself, my body and my cycle’
I’ve chosen to wake up and realise that this society in which we live doesn’t support me to make loving choices: I continuously get the message I’m not good enough. More, better, prettier, bigger, thinner, etc., there’s always something that could be improved or changed. All the choices I’ve made – and am still making – have given me a more intimate relation with myself, my body and my cycle. Your body never lies, so why not listen to it? This way, also our menstruation can tell us something important. Taking good care of yourself is more than just making sure you get enough vitamins or following a yoga class every once in a while. It’s a way of life that doesn’t know any holidays or weekends, and one that we are fully responsible for.’
About the authors
Mariette Reineke is a Dutch freelance journalist, writer/blogger and co-founder of Stichting Verkering met Jezelf. Follow her via her platform Heartstorm. Naomi van Ree is a Dutch storyteller who is specialised in Eastern elements philosophy and acupressure. She’s also a reiki therapist. Find more information on her website.