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Hot Topics: Hormonology

CYCLE SECRETS: Slim down with your cycle! Discover the weight loss secrets hiding in your monthly hormones right now! 

Presented by Gabrielle Lichterman
FourWeeksMag.com Editor-in-Chief

If you're like most women, you've blamed your hormones at least once for your inability to lose weight. What you may not have realized is that your hormones can actually help you lose unwanted pounds! Turns out, even though hormones are guilty of triggering pound-packing cravings and bloat on certain days of your cycle, truth is, they also help you burn more fat, resist temptation and eat healthier on other days of your cycle!

Read on to find out how you can harness the slimming secrets hiding in your monthly hormone cycle right now! Start with....

Week 1 (Start of period to Day 7): YOU'RE LESS HUNGRY! REALLY!
In fact, according to a Tufts University study, starting from Day 1 (menstruation), you're eating 12% less than Week 3 and Week 4 of your cycle! The reason? Rising estrogen has an appetite suppressing effect! Some not so good news? When you do eat, you may be filling up on junk food as a holdover from last week's premenstrual indulgence and to make up for any aches and pains during your period this week.
Hormonal slim-down tips: Acknowledge that you're less hungry and don't eat on auto-pilot. You'll find that you really do have less of an appetite this week! Then break your junk food habit by hiding the Pepperidge Farm cookies and Ho-Hos somewhere you're not likely to see them, like in the vegetable crisper. 

Week 2 (Day 8 to Day 13): ALL OR NOTHING!
This week, you may feel yourself pulled in two directions—to eat a lot or eat nothing at all. The reason? For starters, rising estrogen continues its appetite suppressing effect from last week. This certainly makes it's easier to stick to low-calorie resolutions you've made, but it may also make you tempted to skip meals—however, doing so will slow down your metabolism and make you gain weight! 

Meanwhile, rising testosterone is making you more impulsive and interested in sampling new foods. As a result, even though your appetite is lower this week, you may still go overboard at parties or restaurants where scrumptious untried treats are being served.
Hormonal slim-down tips: Eat three square meals a day—no skipping even if rising estrogen is squashing your hunger! Regularly eating keeps your metabolism revving high, so you'll actually be burning more calories than if you'd missed meals! And when you see a plate of yummy puff pastries or another new treat coming your way, go ahead and sample them. Studies show that depriving yourself just makes you more likely to overdo it later on. But be aware that you'll be tempted to scarf the whole platter, so tell the waiter to take a powder after downing just a couple. 
 
 
Week 3 (Day 14 or ovulation to Day 22): BRING ON THE CRAVINGS!
This week, rising progesterone is doing the ordering—and what this hormone wants is salty, sweet, fatty and carb-rich foods. That's because it wants you to pack on energy-dense pounds in case you got pregnant during ovulation. In addition, this hormone is slowing down your digestive tract, which triggers constipation, and it's making your body retain water. This can make you feel and look heavier all week long.

Hormonal slim-down tips: Beat your cravings by using these study-proven methods: Don't cave to the crave during the first few days of this week and you'll actually experience fewer cravings during the rest of your cycle; squash a food craving by taking a quick 10-minute walk; and distract yourself with something fun, like online shopping or giving yourself a pedicure, till the craving passes.

To beat the constipation, increase your intake of water and fiber-rich foods (like fruit, veggies and whole grain crackers) or add a fiber supplement to your drink, like Fibersure. To decrease water retention, cut down on your intake of table salt, switch to a salt substitute and sweat out extra fluid with a little exercise. 

Good news! During Week 3 and Week 4, you're burning up to 30% more fat when you exercise —and heavy-duty housework, like scrubbing the tub, counts! Turns out, the combination of progesterone and estrogen during these weeks in your cycle makes your body more efficient at burning calories. Even better? This hormone combo also makes you less likely to get tired from working out than during other days in your cycle!
 
 
Week 4 (Day 23 to Day 28 or cycle's end): START THE MEDICINAL EATING!
It's no secret that during this premenstrual week, you feel a tad achy, blue and irritable. That's descending estrogen's fault. As this hormone plunges, it brings down the feel-good brain chemical serotonin with it. Unfortunately, descending serotonin has another effect: it makes you crave carb-rich and sugary foods. That's because these edibles actually boost your brain's level of serotonin as well as other feel-good chemicals, like endorphins. So it's not your imagination—the ice cream, cookies, Doritos and other food indulgences really do make you feel better! Unfortunately, they can be a disaster for your waistline.
Hormonal slim-down tips: You can give in to your brain's desire to eat your way to a boost in feel-good chemicals while also sticking to a healthy diet. Simply choose healthier carb-rich and sweet options, such as whole wheat pasta, whole grain crackers, fruit-sweetened cookies, all-fruit jam, popcorn, frozen fruit pops and honey. You'll get the mood lift you crave while keeping your calorie intake in check! 

Gabrielle Lichterman is the founder of Hormonology and author of 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods, and Potential. She writes the free Daily Hormone Horoscope, which uses real scientific studies to shows you how to predict your day and plan your life using your body's own hormone cycle. Read today's Daily Hormone Horoscope at FourWeeksMag.com.

CYCLE SECRETS: Find out which days of the month your hormones are making sex the most satisfying!

By Gabrielle Lichterman
FourWeeksMag.com Editor-in-Chief

With today’s hectic lives, lots of couples turn to scheduling sex to make sure they squeeze it in. But before you pick your lovemaking moments based on work hours, appointments or when you need to walk the dog, take into consideration an even more important factor: the days that your hormone cycle puts you at you sexual best!

Read on to find out which days you'll be in the mood, when it will be easier to orgasm, when orgasms will be most intense and more!

Week 1 (Start of period to Day 7): HOT DAYS!
Sure you've got your period. But, hello, when has that stopped a woman from doing anything? And skipping out on sex just because of a little menstruation is a definite don't-do on these days. That's because your testosterone is rising, and when that happens, it sparks a fire in your libido, makes it easier to reach orgasm and intensifies your orgasms. Even better? Sex during your period is healthy! It's been shown to decrease your risk of developing the painful condition endometriosis, and it can even relieve the discomfort from cramps!
Want mess-free period sex? Use the Instead Softcup, a girlie pink diaphragm-shaped menstrual device that sits comfortably over your cervix to neatly and discreetly collect flowing blood. You won't feel it and neither will your partner. Get it at Drugstore.com ($8.65 for a box of 24).
 
Week 2 (Day 8 to Day 13): RED HOT DAYS!
Grab your calendar and start crossing out all your dentist appointments, dry-cleaning pick-ups and other boring to-dos. You'll definitely want to keep your days and nights free to take advantage of the high libido and Earth-shattering, easy-to-reach orgasms that testosterone has in store for you this week.

Want to turbo-boost your libido? Drink caffeine, watch a sports game, compete in a sports game or drink one (just one!) glass of alcohol. All raise your level of testosterone, which as you know by now, is responsible for making sex so very enjoyable.
 
Week 3 (Day 14 or ovulation to Day 22): COOL DOWN
It's not so much that the sex party is over. But the beer bong is definitely getting low and people have started going home. The reason? Your lust-loving hormone testosterone is at lower levels on these days, which is dampening your sex drive. What’s more, progesterone is now rising and this hormone can make it more difficult to reach climax and make the orgasms you do reach less powerful. Women who opt for sex during these days should be prepared to set aside a longer amount of time to overcome these hormonal obstacles. Promise your partner a pizza for the extra effort and no doubt your sweetie will be happy to oblige.

Take advantage of these slow-sex days with: The Tantric Guide to Better Sex DVD (Amazon.com, $22)
 
Week 4 (Day 23 to Day 28 or cycle's end): HAPPY ENDING!
Here’s a hormonal surprise: Testosterone plunges on these days, yet your libido increases. This unexpected boost has been attributed to the thickening of the uterine lining, which stimulates nerve endings down below, making you sexually aroused.

Note: If you engage in sex on these days, you may want to keep a bottle of personal lubricant by the bedside. Estrogen is declining on these days and this can decrease your natural lubrication, making intercourse dry and uncomfortable.

To keep sex slippery: Check our the FourWeeksMag.com test-drive of the latest lubricants in the Shopping section!
 
The ultimate day—and time—for sex!
While there are many days and times throughout the month to choose for great sex, there is one ultimate day and time all couples should pencil into their calendar every month: The morning of Day 13 of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The reason? The morning is when a man’s testosterone peaks in his 24-hour hormone cycle. And Day 13 is when testosterone peaks in a woman’s cycle. When these two hormonal peaks intersect, they can set the stage for the best sex all month long!
 
Gabrielle Lichterman is the founder of Hormonology and author of 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods, and Potential. She writes the free Daily Hormone Horoscope, which uses real scientific studies to shows you how to predict your day and plan your life using your body's own hormone cycle. Read today's Daily Hormone Horoscope at FourWeeksMag.com.

CYCLE SECRETS: What will your mood be every day of the month? Find out when your hormones will be making you happy, energetic, introspective, creative and more!

By Gabrielle Lichterman
FourWeeksMag.com Editor-in-Chief

You know how it goes—you wake up one day and you're in a bad mood. Another day, you're in a good mood. Sometimes, it can seem like how you feel from day-to-day is determined completely at random.

Truth? You can predict what mood your mood will be every single day! That's because your hormones have a powerful impact on how you'll feel—and not just premenstrually, but every day of your cycle.

What's more, their effect on your mood follows the same pattern every month. For instance, when estrogen and testosterone rise during the first half of your cycle, they pump up your happiness, optimism and confidence. When progesterone rises during the second half of your cycle, it makes you feel more nurturing and cautious. The result: Once you know how your hormones affect you every day, you always know what mood you're going to be in!

Read on to find out what moods your hormones will have you feeling every day of your cycle....

Week 1 (Start of period to Day 7)
The positive spin begins!
Despite what menstruation myths may abound, a few hours after you get your period, you actually begin to feel upbeat, happier, energized and more optimistic—even with cramps (and even more after your painkiller kicks in). That's because the hormones estrogen and testosterone rise, and they put the kibosh on cranky PMS symptoms. They're also triggering a rise in the feel-good brain chemical serotonin, which has you smiling more and focusing on the positive side of people and issues. You crave connections with others this week and feel more outgoing than during Week 4. Even better news? These positive feelings get more and more intense as the days go on!
 
Week 2 (Day 8 to Day 13)
Your inner party animal comes out!
You crave the spotlight this week as attention-loving estrogen and testosterone rise to their peaks. And it's a perfect week to strut your stuff—your rising hormones have you feeling flirtatious, talkative, confident about your appearance and just dying to meet new people and try new things. They also have you feeling even more optimistic than last week and have you putting a positive spin on practically all issues in your life, such as your finances, romance and job. You're at your most ambitious this week, so you may feel tempted to ask for a promotion at work or start a new business or project.

While this all sounds great so far, there is one bump in this peaking hormone road: High estrogen can trigger major stress-outs. When you feel one coming on, use relaxation techniques—such as deep breathing and visualization—to squash it.
 
Week 3 (Day 14 or ovulation to Day 22)
Pre-PMS starts, mellow days finish!
This week starts off with "pre-PMS"—a shorter, less intense version of premenstrual syndrome. As a result, you may feel crabby, irritated or blue. What causes pre-PMS? The same thing that causes PMS: descending hormones. When estrogen and testosterone plunge the first half of this week, it triggers a mild withdrawal, just like you would get with nicotine, caffeine and other powerful substances. These plunging hormones also bring down your brain's level of serotonin, a chemical responsible for giving you a good mood. Luckily, pre-PMS is pretty short, ending by the middle of this week.

Progesterone dominates this entire week. A sedating hormone, you'll be feeling lethargic, more cautious and less outgoing than during Weeks 1 and 2. You'll also be quieter and prefer to spend time with people and in places you know well rather than experimenting with something new. Progesterone also amplifies your urge to nurture, so you may want to cook and clean more, buy items that will make your home more comfortable or snuggle with your special loved ones and pets.

Another side effect of rising progesterone is that you're hungrier more often this week. That's because this hormone makes your blood sugar more sensitive, so you'll feel hunger pangs more frequently than during the first half of your cycle. But don't try to ignore your stomach's pleas for food or you'll end up with low blood sugar and the ensuing "hunger crankies", which a lot of people mistake for PMS symptoms. Eating iron-rich snacks throughout this week—like tuna on crackers or a spinach salad—will help boost your energy and keep your mood up.

After pre-PMS ends by the middle of this week, estrogen, testosterone and progesterone all rise. If you're sensitive to progesterone, you may feel blue, weepy and even depressed. However, if you're not sensitive to progesterone, then these three rising hormones combine to give you the kind of mellow, happy feeling that would make Deepak Chopra jealous.
 
Week 4 (Day 23 to Day 28 or cycle's end)
PMS: Don't believe the hype!
It's no secret that the premenstrual week is the most notorious week of a woman's cycle. Small wonder considering the irritation, teariness, lack of energy and need for comfort that some people mistake for being a diva during the fourth week of your cycle.

But, for most women, it's not all bad news. Truth is, while the withdrawal from estrogen, testosterone and progesterone cause mood changes, these moody moments aren't a constant. You'll be hit with PMS symptoms that pop up every now and then—less frequently if you're not sensitive to descending hormones; more frequently if you are sensitive to descending hormones.

Luckily, every woman can have fewer PMS moments. Just follow these three proven tips: Decrease your caffeine consumption, take 1200 mg of calcium every day, and take a daily multivitamin. Doing so can slash your PMS symptoms by as much as 50%!

And what about the times when you're not being hit with a PMS symptom? Your low hormones have you feeling quiet, sedate, introspective and mellow. They also have you feeling more creative, they're sharpening your intuition, and they're making it easier for you to put your thoughts down on paper or in an email or blog entry. See, not all bad, right?

Is your mood not matching your hormones?
If your moods aren't synced up with your hormone cycle, take notice—it may be a red flag that's something's wrong! For instance, are you feeling down or tired during Week 2 when high estrogen and testosterone should have you feeling happy and energetic? Then you may be feeling stressed over an issue, you could have an iron deficiency or you may be suffering from a thyroid problem. Are you feeling anxious during the second half of Week 3 when you should be feeling calm? Then you may be overdoing it on caffeine, are overly nervous about an upcoming event or have another stressor in your life.

Bottom line: When you're not synced up with your cycle, it could be a sign that you've got an issue that needs to be addressed.
      
Gabrielle Lichterman is the founder of Hormonology and author of 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals about Your Love Life, Moods, and Potential. She writes the free Daily Hormone Horoscope, which uses real scientific studies to shows you how to predict your day and plan your life using your body's own hormone cycle. Read today's Daily Hormone Horoscope at FourWeeksMag.com.

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