Within the first ten minutes of my conversation with Alisa Vitti, she had me questioning a belief that I’ve had for as long as I can remember: that getting up early is the very best way to start your day. “For some people, it is,” she clarifies as we talk over the phone. “If you have a penis, then your testicles have been manufacturing testosterone while you’re sleeping, so by 5am or 6am their bodies are telling them to get up and get going. They’re mentally focused, they’re ready to be active, they are not feeling stressed. It’s not the same for women. If you wake up at 6am and don’t feel alert or ready for high-intensity interval training, that doesn’t mean you’re lazy or not disciplined. It means that the daily schedules we work our lives around don't often take your body’s natural cycle into account.”
This is what Alisa Vitti does: she makes you rethink things that you never even remember learning. A women's health advocate, book author, and founder of Flo Living, Vitti is on a never-ending quest to help women better understand their bodies, and subsequently help them fix or treat menstrual and hormonal related health issues. In her new book, In the Flo: Unlock Your Hormonal Advantage and Revolutionize Your Life, Vitti wants to properly introduce women to their female operating system and it’s infradian rhythm, and leave behind fad diets and workouts for more rooted diet and lifestyle choices. Vitti once struggled from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) herself, and knows firsthand what it’s like to search for answers in a world that’s put female hormonal disorders on the back burner.
“While we are seeing more women's wellness content than ever before, women are still as sick as they’ve always been. When I started digging, I discovered that almost all medical fitness research has been done on men and post-menopausal women. This is a problem,” Vitti explained. “Every time a young woman goes under general anesthesia, for example, their dosage is based on research around men's bodies. And there are so many health-related food and exercise fads, including the keto diet, intermittent fasting, and high-intensity training, that can have negative effects on women's bodies, including disruptions in your thyroid, fertility, and menstrual cycle.”
In her highly anticipated new book, Vitti introduces her readers to the infradian rhythm, a cycle within our body that lasts longer than a 24 hour period, from puberty until menopause. Vitti believes that understanding and tailoring your lifestyle to this rhythm can have long-lasting effects, including sleeping better, harnessing more energy, and having an overall autonomy over our bodies and the choices we make for it.
“From our first period to the last, our infradian rhythm impacts our brain, immune system, stress response system, and reproductive system,” said Vitti. “I’m thrilled to bring a brand new conversation to the table, and to put an end to the confusion on how our operating system works. There has been a cultural narrative around women's hormones, and how they are unpredictable. The idea of being “hormonal” has a negative stigma, so we try to steer clear of any behaviors that would lead people to think that we are. But guess what? If you’re no longer hormonal, you’re dead. We’re all hormonal: men, women, cats, dogs, whatever. We do not need to fear being hormonal!”
Vitti has created a period-positive space at Flo Living, but understands not every office will be as open and accepting as hers. “I visit corporate offices all the time and speak to them about empowerment-- my guidance is truly for any type of work environment. For example, men don’t need to say “my testosterone is surging!” to a colleague to explain why they want to schedule a meeting for a certain time of day. When you’re aware of your rhythm and are properly supporting it, you can schedule meetings at the right time, eat at the right time, plan your exercises, and so on. You can make changes that will likely be subtle to your coworkers, but can have genuine positive effects on your body.”
After we hang up, I’m still thinking about how Vitti has reframed the culture of the workplace, and specifically, an anecdote about how mid-afternoon happy hour was created by men who were out of steam and desperate for a pick-me-up. She dropped it into conversation casually, but it sticks in my brain. Vitti’s passion for understanding the link between time and our bodies is unmistakable, and with her book (which includes daily planners), she wants to help us find our passion, too.