WomanCode by Alisa Vitti is easily the book that has had the biggest influence on my life in 2017. The book is about a protocol for balancing your hormones through the foods you eat, the supplements you take, and the exercise you do. Basically, after years of her own personal struggles, Alisa teaches woman how to heal their bodies naturally.
To understand why this book has had such a big impact on my life, you need to know a bit about my struggle with my own hormones.
I’ve struggled with hormone imbalances since I was little. Puberty was painful, and as I entered womanhood, I suffered from extremely heavy, painful, and irregular periods. I went on birth control when I was 15 to help regulate my period, and took it continuously until I was 22.
I decided to go off of birth control because I felt like it was causing me to be super emotional, have a ton of cravings, and be slightly crazy.
I went off the pill in February 2012, and proceeded not to get my period naturally until January 2014. During that time, I worked with a naturopath who gave me progesterone supplements, I saw a specialist who told me that my reproductive system didn’t work, and I saw my family doctor who told me to go back on the pill.
I spent a lot of time during those 2 years in tears, frustrated that my body didn’t work properly and that no one seemed to be able to figure out what was wrong. The worst part was that I felt really alone with it all. No one talks about hormone issues, and it feels really taboo to bring up what’s happening with your menstrual cycle at the dinner table. So, I suffered in silence with only my closest circle of girlfriends knowing what I was going through.
In January 2014, I quit my job, sold my stuff, and went to South America for 6 months, and within the first week of being there I got my period for the first time in 2 years. It came like clock work every 2 months on that trip, and I chalked it up to stress levels.
Over the next 2 years, my period continued to come more and more regularly, but the more regularly it came the more awful my PMS symptoms got, and it got to the point where I couldn’t leave the house or move from my bed (unless I took a ton of pain killers) because I was in so much pain on the first day of my period. I began to call my cramps “death cramps” and my good friends knew that I couldn’t hang out or go to yoga because the “death cramps” were there.
Last summer (2016), I began to feel frustrated once again. Sure, my period was coming again, but each month, I had one week that was absolute hell. I felt like this couldn’t be the answer and that there had to be a solution to what was happening in my body.
I started diving deep into ways to balance my hormones naturally. I got super into herbal remedies, essential oils, yoga poses for period pain, and I began to change my diet to reflect what was happening in my body. I cut out meat and refined sugar, and cut down my alcohol consumption significantly. I started drinking even more kombucha (and I already drank a lot of kombucha) and eating things like sauerkraut and kimchi.
Everything I tried worked a little bit, but not completely, and I seriously began to think that something was wrong with me. I was certain that I must have endometriosis or PCOS or something to be experiencing pain this bad every single month.
Fast forward to the beginning of October of this year. I’m in Portland with a good friend and we’re talking about hormones, and she tells me about this food and wellness blogger that she follows (@leefromamerica) and how Lee read this book called WomanCode that helped her with her PCOS symptoms.
A few weeks later, I arrived in Mexico City and got the book.
The book breaks down a few key ways to balance your hormones:
- Balance your blood sugar – if you’re blood sugar isn’t balanced then everything else is thrown off. Alisa suggests drinking a big glass of water when you get up, eating breakfast within 1.5 hours of waking up, and not consuming any caffeine until after you’ve eaten. Throughout the day, you eat within 2.5-3 hour windows to ensure that your blood sugar never gets too low or too high.
- Support your adrenals – our adrenal glands are responsible for our fight or flight response, and most of us are overworked, over caffeinated, under nourished and not getting enough sleep. This section suggests cutting out coffee, eating more anti-inflammatory foods, consuming adaptogens, B Vitamins and getting more sleep.
- Support your organs in elimination – this means pooping on the regular. Often, if our blood sugar is out of whack and our adrenals are stressed out, our liver isn’t able to flush out excess estrogen, which causes PMS symptoms, late periods, etc. And part of the liver, doing it’s job in getting excess estrogen out is popping regularly. This section talks about increasing water and fiber intake, as well as taking a look at the products that you’re using in your life (beauty and cleaning products) and switching from toxic products that can disrupt your endocrine system to natural products.
Next, Alisa teaches you about each phase in your cycle (there are 4) and what is happening in the body during each phase. This is a key part to balancing your hormones that most women overlook.
She provides a list of foods, and herbs that are good for each phase of the cycle, as well as types of exercise to engage in. Often, we think that we need to push through being tired, but we actually need to tune into this and listen to what our body wants. It’s giving us signs constantly and we just need to learn to listen.
Alisa has a fantastic online community, an app called FloLiving that allows you to easily track your cycle and helps you to sync your food and exercise to each phase of your cycle, and a program that you can register in if you want 1-on-1 support for healing your hormones.
While reading WomanCode, I started implementing some of the changes right away – drinking water in the morning, eating breakfast right away, not drinking coffee, eating every 3 hours – and within a few days I felt immediately better. Fast forward to 2 months of working with the WomanCode protocol and I feel a million times better (ie. no more death cramps). I’m definitely not 100% better, but I’m getting there, and I’m confident that if I continue down this path, my symptoms will continue to improve.
It feels a bit crazy to me that I’ve been on this journey for nearly 6 years, and all it took was a book recommendation from a friend to help me balance my hormones. After all the pills, lotions, tests, essential oils, witchy concoctions, etc. that I’ve tried, it’s actually quite surreal that a book with a basic health and wellness formula to follow actually works.
If you have any type of hormonal imbalance (acne, bloating, cramping, indigestion, heavy periods, PMS symptoms, PCOS, etc), I highly, highly recommend WomanCode, instead of turning towards birth control, antibiotics, or medication.