415. Biohacking Women's Biorhythms for Performance & Peace with Kayla Osterhoff

Kayla Osterhoff

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

My guest today is renowned neuroscientist and women's health expert, Kayla Osterhoff. She’s cracked the code on how women can leverage their 28-day menstrual cycle to wield proven feminine superpowers that you won’t find in any textbook.

Kayla is formally trained across the health sciences with a Bachelor of Science in Health Ecology, a Master of Science in Public Health & Epidemiology, and currently pursuing her doctoral degree in the field of Neuropsychophysiology. Her unique background and expertise across the spectrum of health sciences led her to develop a truly holistic understanding and approach for health optimization, peak performance, and resilience of the mind and body.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

My guest today is a renowned neuroscientist and women's health expert whose work has been featured on stages and in media around the world. Kayla Osterhoff studies the interaction between the brain, the mind, and physiology – how and why we work the way we do. 

She’s brilliant – flat out, and graciously leads my male point of view toward a new level of understanding of the opposite sex, bringing another expert perspective on women’s biohacking and hormone health, both much-requested topics by listeners of the show.

Specifically, she’s cracked the code on how women can leverage their 28-day menstrual cycle to accentuate what the body provides, and does not provide, during four distinct phases of the cycle. It’s all about being fully attuned with your body, listening to it, and following your intuition to wield proven feminine superpowers that you won’t find in any textbook.

Our deep dive certainly does not end there, as we also unpack the gender gap in health science research, evolutionary elements of fertility, and how women are, and always have been, natural stewards of their community.

04:34 — What’s the Difference Between the Mind & the Brain?

09:02 — The Gender Gap in Health Science Research 

14:13 — The Different Cycles of Men & Women

  • The 24-hour cycle of male physiology
  • How and why we’re wired for predictability 
  • Breaking down the 28-day cycle of women

16:13 — Understanding the 4 Different Phases

54:57 — 3 Important Teachers or Teachings 

More about this episode.

Watch on YouTube.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:00:26] They know they have a period and they don't have a period. And 99% of women, it doesn't go beyond that, their knowledge, because we've never been taught. And sadly enough, I've gone all the way through my doctoral studies and not once have I ever taken one course on feminine biology to understand the differences between men and women. I was stunned when I finally pulled together what I could from the published research and mapped it all out. And I was like, "Oh my God, this is the user's manual for feminine biology that we were never given. Why? Why were we never given this?"

Luke Storey: [00:01:12] This is Episode 415 of the Life Stylist podcast. It's called Biohacking Women's Biorhythms for Performance and Peace with Kayla Osterhoff. You will find complete show notes, links, and written transcripts for this one at lukestorey.com/kayla, that's K-A-Y-L-A. Our guest today is a neuroscientist and women's health science expert whose work has been featured on stages and media around the world. 

Formerly trained across the health sciences with degrees in health ecology, public health, epidemiology and neuropsychophysiology, Kayla has developed a truly holistic understanding of health and how to achieve resilience of the mind and body. I've got to say the knowledge she presents here is vast, and she also presents it in a way that's very down to earth and practical, which is what I always seek to achieve when delivering guests to you on the show. 

This information is indispensable for women, in my opinion. But listen, if you're a man and want to gain a deeper understanding of how to relate to and support the women in your life, this is a must-listen for you too. I personally gained so much insight from this episode and it has definitely made me a better husband, employer, friend, and son to the women in my life. 

Here's a quick sample of some of the topics we cover in this episode: Kayla's family history that inspired her to focus on women's neuropsychophysiology, the staggering underrepresentation of female subjects in clinical research, modern society shortcomings when it comes to women's natural cycles, how women can stop burning themselves out, and the indigenous practice of tribal women coming together to accomplish particular goals at certain times of their synced cycles.

Kayla also breaks down the four different phases that women cycle through monthly and how gaining an understanding of these cycles can dramatically improve your life, strategizing your work schedule to be as effective as possible, Kayla's recommendations for practical cycle tracking, how you can use this knowledge to support any woman in your life, and why this information really is the ultimate life hack for women. 

If, by the end of this episode you want to learn even more, check out Kayla's free biorhythm eBook and also her mastermind class. You can find both of those at lukestorey.com/herbiorhythm. That's lukestorey.com/herbiorhythm, or of course, just click the link in the show notes for this episode on your podcast player. Okay, now it's time to sit back and find your rhythm with Kayla Osterhoff on the Life Stylist podcast. Kayla, welcome to the Life Stylist podcast.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:03:43] Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.

Luke Storey: [00:03:46] Yeah, I'm really stoked to have this conversation. So yesterday I think it was or a day before, perhaps you and I shared a panel and I had heard your name here and there in the sphere of our community and whatnot. Didn't know a lot about your work, but in the context of a panel, it's really hard to get into someone's knowledge base because you have such limited time because one thing secretly I don't really like doing panels because I was like, "Let me talk more." But you shared a few things relevant to women's health and women's psychology and neuroscience, and I was like, "Ooh, we need to have a chat." So thank you for finding the time.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:04:20] Yeah, thank you for inviting me on.

Luke Storey: [00:04:22] So let's just dive right into the meat of it. In the interest of time, I'm going to just leave your backstory for our next conversation. I'm going to ask you, from your perspective at this point in time, what's the difference between the mind and the brain?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:04:37] Well, this is a really interesting topic, because in the field of psychology, there's this question about consciousness and where it comes from. And it's like this conundrum that the scientific community has not been able to answer. And the reason why they have not been able to answer it is because their question is wrong. They're asking, how does the brain produce the mind?


The brain doesn't produce the mind, nor does the mind produce the brain. They are two completely separate entities that work together, and actually neither one of them will work separately. So the brain, without the mind, doesn't really do anything. The mind without the brain can't manifest. So they are two completely separate entities. 

And the mind is more like the software. It's like this invisible component. It's psychological in nature.


And the brain is more like the hardware. It's electrical and chemical in nature. And the two marry together to create what is human reality. And because everybody's mind, that psychological aspect is very different and their brain is very different in the way that it operates, their chemical, electrical, all of those good things or physical constructs operate in different ways, their version of reality is different. The possibilities are endless. So your version of reality versus my version of reality is completely different because reality is bio individual.

Luke Storey: [00:06:19] That's deep. I remember once in my first Ayahuasca ceremony, for me, the way those situations often unfold, or at least part of them, is, a sentence will just be dropped on me from somewhere. And of course, it's common that they seem more profound in the moment than they are the next day. When I look at my notebook, I'm like, "That was not that big of a deal, Luke."


But one of them that just came to mind was reality as a moving target. And I've started doing some integration on that and unpacking that, and that because reality is unfolding in perpetuity, in infinite capacity, it really is once you think you're experiencing reality, that is already past reality, right? 

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:07:03] 100%.

Luke Storey: [00:07:03] It reminds me of that when you think about the way that the brain creates your reality and gives a platform or perhaps a transmitter and receiver of Mind, capital M.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:07:16] Yes, that's how I see it. It's more like a beacon to allow the mind to manifest physically in the world. And you've heard people say, "Oh, rose colored glasses." It's real. That's that person's version of reality, whether it's rose or blue or black or gray, whatever color.

Luke Storey: [00:07:38] Yeah. I just realized something as you were starting to unpack that, and I was like, "Oh, we'll just give you a backstory." Maybe not a backstory, because I really want to get into the nuts and bolts of your expertise, but perhaps just share with people what your area of interest, study, expertise is as we launch off into this.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:07:56] What you call a neuropsychophysiologist, which means that I study the interaction between the brain, the mind, and the physiology through the nervous system. I got into that field of work, and specifically I focus on women. And I'm really interested in women's neuropsychophysiology because it's like the Wild West. It's untouched. Nobody has gone there before. There's so much to uncover and there's so many innovations and revelations to be found in that space.


But I got into this--without going too deep into my back story, but the women in my family have had a lot of health challenges and mostly mental health challenges. My mom's mom died of suicide when my mom was very young and my mom has dealt with addiction her whole life and mental illness. This manifested in an opioid addiction eventually that ended up being a overdose that caused her a stroke and permanent brain damage. 

And that's how I shifted into, first, public health, which is what I got my master's in. And in that space, I went and worked for CDC for several years. I was health scientist there for seven years. And my goal in doing that was to figure out why our health system is so broken. The women in my family have been mismanaged so much that it's caused loss of life, permanent injury, and mental illness because they were never supported properly. 

And this really just stems from the fact that women are so misunderstood and misguided because of this gap in the science. Women represent the largest gap in health science research, and it's just crazy. We're half of the population. How does that even exist in modern society?

Luke Storey: [00:09:52] I think about this when I'm looking at bottles of supplements. We're just talking about my nootropics stack over. There’s this new company I discovered called Nutopia. I'm sure I'll do a podcast about it later for those listening. But when you look at recommendations on dosage, just as a very superficial example, it's like 1 to 2 capsules in the morning and one in the afternoon. And I'm like, "Yeah, but for whom?" It's like £250 for me some more football player versus 5'2 frail female body and the neurochemistry that's inherent to our individual physical bodies. 

I mean, that's just like I said, a superficial example of that. But it's like, wait, didn't anyone think about shouldn't it say, if you're a woman with this weight or that weight or you're man that it would benefit us to have some knowledge of the difference, at least as a starting point.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:10:46] 100%. You just hit the nail on the head. There was a study that just came out of UC Berkeley in 2021, I think it was published, and it highlighted this very problem that you're talking about. Because of this health science research gap, women aren't included in clinical trials, in dosage studies. Women are being overmedicated and experiencing injury way more often than men. And it really highlighted all of these staggering statistics on these negative health outcomes that are caused by women not being included in these studies. And it's just, again, another example of how women are just totally misunderstood and misguided. And unfortunately, they're experiencing injury, sometimes death, like the women in my family.

Luke Storey: [00:11:34] Why do you think when it comes to research and development within the medical system, that women are left out of that equation? I mean, you have the obvious, like overarching patriarchal nature of our society in some ways. And there are things about that that I buy into and some things that I don't. But I'm probably biased being a male and have some degree of identification and attachment to my perspective. 

But you see this emergence in over the past, I don't know, 50 years or so, maybe more women scientists, more women doctors. It doesn't seem on its face to be so male centric in terms of science and research and medicine. Yet why is it so slow in terms of clinical trials and testing and the end result of all of this research and application that then women are left out of the conversation?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:12:26] So there's two major reasons, and I totally get it. I am a researcher and these are big problems. They really are big problems when it comes to doing research. The first is that women are risky research subjects, meaning that they could become pregnant at any time, right?

Luke Storey: [00:12:44] Oh, interesting.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:12:45] So there's a big ethical issue there. So that's a biggie.

Luke Storey: [00:12:48] Or maybe that they are pregnant unknowingly.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:12:50] Right. And that's another thing. So there's that. And then the other part of it is that women are so physiologically complex because they are constantly in flux. How do you control for that? You can't control for that. It's so hard. So to pull findings out from working on subjects that are physiologically shifting constantly is very hard. 

And I get it. I understand it, but it doesn't make it okay. We can't just leave half of the population out and we see what is happening as a result. This was actually solidified in 1977. The FDA formally banned all women of childbearing potential from all clinical research. It didn't get overturned until 1993. And to this day, the damage has been done. Women are still not included.

Luke Storey: [00:13:45] That's crazy. So that's an interesting perspective. It's not necessarily that the medical system is all controlled by these dominant evil men. There's just some of that-- 

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:13:54] There's a little of that I think. 

Luke Storey: [00:13:55] --I'm sure. But also just out of the convenience and the complexity issue. One thing you were speaking about on the panel that I thought was fascinating, and we've covered it a couple of times on the show to some degree when talking about women's hormones and cycles and such, but perhaps you could break down the differences in the male body's 24-hour cycle and the female 28-day cycle and how we go through these massive shifts. And as a man thanks to having this podcast, I've learned that. But I would just assume on its face, we all have our phases, and it's a 24-hour phase and you're the same as me, but you're not. Why?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:14:35] So the male physiology follows the direction set to the pace of our adrenal hormones. So we're looking at cortisol and melatonin, the sleep wake cycle. This is what drives your physiology as a man. And so you are consistently pretty much the same, physiologically speaking, day in and day out with slow changes over really long periods of time. 

For women, it's a totally different story. We still have our sleep wake cycle, of course. We still have the cortisol melatonin curve that happens every single day and all of that good stuff. That's not what drives our physiology. Our physiology is set to the pace of estrogen and progesterone. And those two key hormones cause this neuroendocrine cascade that shifts us constantly because those two hormones are ebbing and flowing throughout the course of the month. 

And so when you look at this in terms of the research that is published, there's a handful of studies out there that have looked at the physiological impact of the menstrual cycle, not comprehensively. That's what I'm starting to do and get more people interested in this, but they're looking at different things in silos like heart rate variability or the nervous system cognition, the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, all of these different things that are impacted by estrogen and progesterone significantly. 

And so when we look at those, they're typically looking at four different checkpoints over the course of the 28-day period, because those four different areas have significant shifts or a significant hormonal signature that can be delineated from one to the other. So those are the four phases of the menstrual cycle, which is menstruation, follicular, ovulatory, and luteal. And most women are aware of that, but they're not aware that there's a global physiological impact so much so that women are, physiologically speaking, four different people over the course of the month as they go through these four phases.

Luke Storey: [00:16:51] I can hear men out there chuckling, damn right. 

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:16:54] I knew it, yeah. It's real. 

Luke Storey: [00:16:58] But what a really important piece of the puzzle for not only women to understand in their own exploration of themselves, but for the males in their lives, in whatever capacity, coworkers, spouses, moms, aunties to understand that. I've observed being in relationship with someone with a female body how my wife's, for example, just as one piece observing how random her level of sociability arrives. I feel like I'm able to have the energy to go be social if I got a good night's sleep. It's 24 hours later, yeah, I'll go out again tonight because I slept or I didn't. It's really simple and much more predictable. 

Whereas there are times when I find her like, "Ooh, I really want to be around my girlfriends and go have some woman time and I don't want to be around a bunch of people be really social." And then there are times when she becomes more reclusive and introverted. And I just observe lovingly and watch these waves. And it's just interesting to me, but there's no rhyme or reason to it because she's, as you said, four different people.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:18:04] There is a rhyme or reason, though.

Luke Storey: [00:18:06] There is. There's a rhyme or reason that I don't understand. So eliminate that.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:18:09] Yeah. So I'm just going to go through each of the four phases quickly and give you a physiological cognitive overview. And this is going to give you a really good idea about what's going on and maybe demystify the divine feminine.

Luke Storey: [00:18:23] Yeah. And with that, hold that thought. Imagine and maybe you already have imagined, but imagine not only a woman having this knowledge about herself and managing her expectations about what her capacities are to perform in life, but man, if I could have a manual or an app or something that's like, "Hey, wife is in this phase this week. These are the best ways in which she can be supported," with that knowledge, that's like a superpower for someone who really loves someone and wants to be there for them in their full capacity.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:18:56] 100%. And that's why I'm working on exactly that, is I really want to support women. I want women to be supported. And a lot of times because we don't understand our bodies, because we're so disconnected, we don't even know what to ask for. Because we don't even know how to support ourselves, so how could we ask a partner the right ways to support us? 

So we can help women by teaching them what's going on in their body and we can help their counterparts, male, female, whatever gender doesn't matter, but we can help them to understand what's going on with this person physiologically, emotionally, cognitively, what do they need and how can I support them? And it's going to shift constantly because women are constantly in flux. We are not consistent. The whole consistency is the key to success for men, not for women.

Luke Storey: [00:19:46] Yeah,totally. That's so funny because we are so--I find myself I'm pretty predictable. Again, it's just like sleep is the one variable and I guess the degree of stress that I'm experiencing in any given moment, but it's pretty much predictable. I know how I'm going to feel next Saturday more or less. So interesting. So break down these four cycles for us.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:20:10] So we can think of it as like four versions of us as women over the course of a month. So version one is in phase I, which is the menstrual phase. And this is typically only the phase that women are even aware that they have. They know they have a period and they don't have a period. And 99% of women, it doesn't go beyond that, their knowledge, because we've never been taught. 

This is definitely not any education that is provided in K through 12. And sadly enough, I've gone all the way through my doctoral studies and not once have I ever taken one course on feminine biology to understand the differences between men and women. So it's something that we need to change immediately, in my opinion. 

Again, we're going to go back to those two key hormones that drive everything else. Phase  I is marked by the lowest levels of estrogen and progesterone. Now, what comes along with that physiologically is that estrogen especially is linked in with our metabolic function. So our metabolic activity actually slows in this phase, and our production of ATP also slows down during this phase. 

So we're generating less energy. We have less energy during this phase. When we shift over what's going on now chemically, we see that we have lower levels of our excitatory and mood neurotransmitter, so serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glutamine, all of these are lower during this phase as well.

And it's actually brilliantly designed. When we bring in the cognitive aspect, we really start to understand how amazing the female physiology is and just how perfectly designed it is because our body is slowing us down. It's literally giving us less energy. It's also subduing our mood. It's trying to take us from outward focus to inward focus. Because when we look at what's shifting cognitively, we can even measure this using brain scan technology now. 

We see that a woman has heightened what the scientific community calls cognitive empathy, but is a fancy term for intuition. So a woman has a heightened intuitive insight during phase I. And so you've heard the term a woman's intuition. Well, the scientific community is just catching up now to actually see that this is a real thing that can be measured with cognitive tasks and also with brain imaging technology. 

And what's going on here with this cognitive shift is that only recently we just discovered that the female brain has high densities of receptors for estrogen and progesterone, especially in key areas that are involved in decision making, emotional intelligence, memory consolidation, which are the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the hypothalamus. And so those areas, along with some others, shift significantly as these two hormones ebb and flow. And so we get these different cognitive abilities through each of the four phases, which is pretty cool. I call them our cognitive superpowers.

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Evolutionarily speaking, what is the relevance of this phase? Let's just parse out this phase. In terms of childbearing or whatever role women were playing historically as we've evolved, how does that superpower play out from an evolutionary standpoint? Why has creation or nature provided this higher level of intuition and empathy at this time?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:27:40] It's a really interesting question that I've actually thought about quite a bit, and I'll  give you a little historical perspective on this from what we understand from ancient tribal cultures and how they really understood this. But psychologically speaking, passed down through epigenetically, through generations and generations and generations of caretakers, women have this ability to make decisions for the collective. And they're always thinking about that. 

And so you can reflect the women that you know in your life. And I certainly know this about myself is when I'm making decisions, I'm always in careful consideration of how everything I say, do, how I act is going to impact those around me, especially the people that I love or the people that I serve. And this is just something that is firmly implanted in the female psyche. It's not really something that we even have control over. 

So I think this really plays into that. We're getting this heightened intuitive insight, maybe because we make decisions for the collective and we're in charge of driving big groups of people. So from an evolutionary standpoint, I think it plays into that and it makes sense knowing what we know from ancient tribal cultures. Have you ever heard the story of the red tent?

Luke Storey: [00:29:05] I've heard that term, but please illuminate it for us. It definitely rings a bell, but I don't recall it right now.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:29:12] So it's been misconstrued in modern society as like this place where women were shunned to go and have their periods, the red tent, to get away from the rest of the community so that they can go and have their period, be hormonal or whatever and be [inaudible 00:29:29].

Luke Storey: [00:29:30] The PMS camp. That's funny.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:29:33] But that is so further from the truth. It's actually that ancient tribal cultures understood this technology, you could call it, of the female brain and how it shifts in this specific phase. And what happened is all the women in the tribe would cycle at the same time because we didn't have endocrine disruptors back then. And you just were awake during the day and you were asleep when it was dark. And so we're naturally cycling. 

And typically back then it aligned with the moon. And I'm not sure the science on that, but there's something there. I'm not sure why that happens. And so all the women in the tribe would typically cycle at the same time. So they would all be in phase I around the same time. And the tribe understood that this was a very unique opportunity. 

And so they would have all of the women of the tribe gather together during this time because they understood that they had heightened intuition, even though they didn't have brain scan technology and cognitive tests back then. But they understood this somehow and they would gather all the women of the tribe together and they would make the decisions for the next 28 days cycle, help them to allocate their resources appropriately, help them to figure out what are the best steps to support the tribe for the next 28 days.

Luke Storey: [00:30:55] That's really interesting. That makes perfect sense to me, especially in antiquity, the going to a tribal system, the female's role would have had a lot to do with the social adhesion of the social glue, that intuitive sense that there's a break in that relationship whether it's somebody misbehaving or that sort of omni awareness that women tend to have, that open awareness of social cues and subtleties that perhaps some males miss. So yeah, that's a really interesting theory, capitalizing on not only the individual's ability during that phase to have heightened sense of awareness and intuition, but actually create a collective of that consciousness and use that as a guide for the whole group. That's very cool.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:31:47] Yeah. And women can use this to their advantage today, and it doesn't have to be a whole gathering of all the women who are cycling.

Luke Storey: [00:31:55] Kind of impractical.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:31:57] Yeah. So women in leadership roles or wherever they're leading, in their household, in their community, at work, whatever it may be, they can use this time to be more self reflective, take their focus from outward, go inward, tap into this heightened cognitive empathy and they can assess things, they can make decisions, they can put their plans together, they can allocate their resources more effectively. They can forecast and maybe figure out what's to come. So we can use this in a modern way to our advantage individually. It doesn't have to be a whole collective.

Luke Storey: [00:32:32] Yeah. And also, again, for the counterpart in that relationship, "Hey, let's go out to dinner tonight, all the body and all our friends." It's like, "Oh, no, she's in this phase." Allow her space to just go within and perhaps be a bit more introverted and know that there's nothing wrong, that it's just it's the natural flow of things.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:32:55] And honestly, this has really been a game changer for my relationship with my partner. When I started to learn this about myself and I started to live in alignment with my cycles and partner with my body, I was able to ask for what I needed and my partner appreciated it so much because he knows there's going to be a time in the month where I'm going to be super social and outgoing and just want to have these juicy conversations and connect and even maybe cuddle sometimes. I'm not a huge cuddler, but there are times when I feel more open to that. And then there are times when I just want my space. I want to go inward. I want to focus on me. And now that he knows that, he navigates with me and we both get what we need in the relationship.

Luke Storey: [00:33:41] Very cool. Take us into the next phase.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:33:44] Phase II is the follicular phase. And this is marked by estrogen. Estrogen is the star of the show during this phase specifically. So estrogen is actually rising to a peak throughout this entire phase. As that happens, our metabolic function ramps up. We get more and more ATP production. We get more and more energy. We also get these nice boosts in our mood boosting neurochemicals, and we start to feel more open, more social. 

And when we shift over what's going on in the brain, we see that our cognitive task-based ability shifts over to this strategic and navigational focus. Another cool thing that happens is our emotional intelligence heightens as estrogen heightens. So our ability to navigate, strategically think and lead teams because we get this heightened ability to communicate and connect with others with that emotional intelligence. So we have this leadership space that we move into during this. 

And so you can start to think about how you can start to navigate through your own life, utilizing the benefits of each of these phases as a woman. It becomes really cool. It's like this extra capacity, this extra biohack that the other half of the population doesn't have access to. It's our superpower.

Luke Storey: [00:35:19] I'm imagining there are probably a number of women listening to this that had no idea that these phases even exist. I'm sure many do, and probably more so than I perceive being a male. But I'm imagining like light bulbs going off and some of the listeners like, "Oh, that's why I feel this way when etc."

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:35:38] Yeah, the thing is, as all the women listening, they know this. It may have not been explained to them scientifically, but they know that they go through these phases and it's really difficult to navigate this in modern society because the expectation is to be consistent. 

Look at our modern society, how it's designed. Day in and day out things are pretty much the same. Maybe the weekends are a little bit different, but every day, especially in a business setting, we're expected to have the same schedule and operate in exactly the same way. And it's a big problem for women because that's not how we operate. So it's no wonder that women experience burnout 200% more often than men because the modern society is not even set up to meet their basic biological needs over the course of a month.

Luke Storey: [00:36:29] Oh, that's so interesting. And I'm thinking about the fitness industry. There are probably so many women who are like, "I want to stay in shape," and they're in phase I when they're producing less ATP and they're driving themselves to the gym or to go running or whatever. And it's like their body is going, "No, no, no, no. This isn't the week for that. This is the week when you rest. Next week you're going to have more ATP and it's the time to get out there and be more proactive." Yeah, that's very interesting in terms of, as you were saying, the modern workforce, in our education system, even how schools are set up on this factory worker model. And then we go through school and get indoctrinated into that. 

And then at least in terms of the corporate sector following that model and these rigid 40 hour weeks, 9 to 5, and everyone produce, produce, produce, produce. But that's all created and modeled around the predictability and reliability of the male cycles, which is a 24-hour cycle. You go home at 5:00, have a couple beers, kick your feet up and get some sleep ready to do it the next day. But that's not how women's physiology and neurology has adapted.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:37:38] And we're pressured as women to fit into a square hole when we're a circle peg. And so the mistake that happens is we typically fight against our physiology and we try to swim up river instead of swim with the current the way that it's going. And so an example of that is during phase I menstruation. Like you said, we have these lower energy levels, the lower mood, that's just naturally what's happening with us. 

But there's some benefits happening too that we're missing out on, we're skipping over when we push through. We work out really hard. We drain ourselves. We're spiking our cortisol when just draining the little resources that we have during this time and drinking extra cups of coffee and just push through. I don't know how many women I've heard, including myself, just say, "Just push through. It's okay. I'll just push through. I'll get through this phase and I'm going to feel better in a couple of days." But you're burning yourself out.

Luke Storey: [00:38:38] Yeah, I bet. So phase I, phase II. Well, before we wrap up phase II, I don't know if you can give blanket recommendations, but what can a woman or someone in relationship to a woman expect during phase II and what are some self-care practices or perspective that you can have to manage expectations of what you're best suited to do during that time?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:39:04] Absolutely. I love that you bring up self-care as well, because a really important aspect of this first half of the cycle is there's more of a parasympathetic quality to the female nervous system during that time. And then at the ovulatory phase, which we'll talk about next and into the luteal phase, there's more of a sympathetic quality to the nervous system, meaning that in the front half we have a higher stress capacity as estrogen rises. So it gets higher and higher as estrogen rises to a peak. 

And so our stress bucket is bigger, so we can handle more stress. We also end up having higher power, strength, endurance during this phase. So this is important for our fitness routines. We really want to leverage and take advantage of this time when we have that higher capacity for stress, we have higher power, strength, and endurance. This is a good time to actually do those types of push through workouts, those hit workouts, or those endurance-based workouts that we want to do, whereas in other times in the month it's not going to be as appropriate. 

So in the front half a self care practice maybe isn't quite as important or critical as in the back half when we have more of a sympathetic quality. So our stress bucket gets smaller and smaller and smaller, we can handle less. So we need to manage our stress a little bit better during the back half.

So that's just one example. But I would say phase I, you want to lean into that self reflection, you want to go inward, allow yourself space and time to do that. So maybe maybe if you can telework and not have to spend too many hours commuting and maybe if you can decrease your amount of meetings and have your executive assistant take a couple extra meetings for you just during that time so that you can have more time for yourself to go inward to tap into that intuitive insight. 

And if you have more of assessment-type work, you can do it during that phase. It is a really good time to be doing that, making your decisions, allocating your resources, planning for the next 28 day cycle. And then phase II, again, you just want to take advantage of what's going on. You want to push the physiology in the direction that it's already going. So you can do more of your heavy workouts, you can handle more stress, you can work longer days, you can even go with a little bit less sleep because you're--not that you want to, but you could handle it. Your body can handle a little more stress during that time.

Luke Storey: [00:41:46] Okay. Thank you. And then what about phase III?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:41:50] Phase III is what I call the bloom phase, because we are just feeling our best and most outwardly expressive. And it's the ovulatory phase. And this is more of a phase shift than a phase in and of itself, meaning that it's very short. And it marks a shift in our nervous system function as well. So it goes from that parasympathetic quality to that sympathetic quality. This is the shift where it happens. 

This is marked by a peak in estrogen, luteinizing hormone, and follicle stimulating hormone. And so we have all of these juicy hormones rolling around in our body. We have our highest levels of our mood boosting neurochemicals. We have highest production of ATP. We have our highest stress capacity during this time. And we're outwardly focused. We have this charismatic quality, and that's our cognitive superpower during this phase.

Luke Storey: [00:42:49] Is this the phase in which a woman is most fertile? 

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:42:52] Yes.

Luke Storey: [00:42:52] Oh, that's interesting, right? That you would project more attractiveness, generally speaking, that's really interesting.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:43:00] Yeah. So our body is giving us all of these benefits so that evolutionarily speaking, we can go out and procreate. But from a modern perspective, we have more influence during this time. We're more magnetic. We're more charismatic. So this is when we can be pitching. This is when we can be doing big presentations. This is when we can be doing our strategic partnerships, things like that, networking. We really want to take advantage. It's a short window, but it's a very potent window that we really want to benefit because we get it every month. We really should be using it to our benefit.

Luke Storey: [00:43:37] I might block out the calendar during that period and seize the moment, right?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:43:43] 100%, yeah.

Luke Storey: [00:43:44] That's the real superpower phase, it sounds like.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:43:47] I mean, all of them have amazing superpowers. So I always say, and this one's my favorite, and this one's my favorite. They're all my favorites.

Luke Storey: [00:43:55] In your day to day life, you obviously have a great understanding of these phases, but how much cognitive awareness do you have as you live your life or do you have something on a calendar? How do you track and optimize your life based on this knowledge?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:44:12] Yeah, I do a journal tracking method where I'm tracking where I am, but I'm also tracking some biometrics just to understand what's going on in my physiology. And it's part of my research as well, so mapping the female biorhythm and really gaining a deeper understanding of what's going on with us and all these phases. So I do that for myself. 

And I have lists of things that remind me like, supportive, not supportive. And I remind myself and I put reminders in my phone to do the things that are going to be supportive for me, because women really can have it all and they don't have to sacrifice their health to get it, which is the belief that women usually have, is that they can be successful, but they're going to have to sacrifice their health or their family or whatever it may be. 

But if we can lean into these benefits and take advantage of them and leverage them, we can really operate at our highest capacity all the time without having to sacrifice anything. And I'm not perfect by any means, of course, but I do have a greater understanding and I'm able to perform at a higher level than most people, because I'm able to take advantage of what's going on with my physiology and I'm pushing it in the direction it's already going instead of trying to swim up river and use all my resources.

Luke Storey: [00:45:32] So it's an intelligent adaptation to the modern world that has been largely ignorant of these phases and of those different aspects of the feminine female beingness, right?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:45:46] Yeah.

Luke Storey: [00:45:46] God, what a life hack. This is so awesome that I'm so glad we're sharing this. Man, if I was a woman right now, I'd be stoked. This is really good information.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:45:54] It's the ultimate life hack.

Luke Storey: [00:45:55] Yeah. So what about the fourth phase? What's the magic in this phase?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:45:59] So the fourth phase is, I am going to say my favorite phase just because I'm a brain nerd. It's the brainy phase. I actually call this the grow phase because our brain is literally growing during this phase. It's the luteal phase and it's actually the longest of all the phases. It's the whole back half of the female cycle. So phase I, II and III, the first two weeks ish. Phase IV is last two weeks ish.

Luke Storey: [00:46:26] Oh, interesting. I was framing it as like each one is a week and then we have almost 20 days. Interesting.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:46:31] I have to give a caveat that they don't fit each into their own perfect little box. So the follicular phase technically is the whole front half. But we do have to mark menstruation from follicular because of those hormonal shifts that are so starkly different from the rest of the follicular phase. So that's why I put it in these boxes, and this is how the scientists do it as well. But they don't fit perfectly like week 1, box 1; week 2, box 2. They're all a little bit different.

Luke Storey: [00:47:03] Got it. And I'm sure there's also a degree of just bio individuality, right?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:47:08] 100%. Every woman's biorhythm is very different. And so that's why I promote a journaling tracking method, because it's going to increase your self awareness. And then over time, like me, I know where I am just by based on how I feel, based on how my brain is working, based on if I feel social or not social, based on my energy levels, my mood, my focus. I know where I am now because I've been journal tracking for so long.

Luke Storey: [00:47:36] How long have you been having this level of self awareness and tracking?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:47:39] Yeah, about four years is when I started.

Luke Storey: [00:47:42] That's a pretty good data set. 

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:47:45] Yeah, it is.

Luke Storey: [00:47:45] Four years of doing something fairly consistently will give you a lot of information about yourself.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:47:51] Yeah, four years for myself and then about two years working with other women in this capacity. And it's just amazing to see how they shift.

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So power up your immunity today and try Biome Breakthrough risk free by visiting biomebreakthrough.com/luke. And of course, I got a code for you. It's luke10 that gets you 10% off any order. Again, that code is luke10 and the website is biomebreakthrough.com/luke. And listen, if it doesn't work for you, these guys will give you your money back within 365 days of purchase. Totally risk free. Awesome. Works. Check it out. You do some kind of training or coaching, mentoring in this capacity? What does that look like?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:52:36] Yeah, I have an education program for women that really dives deep into the physiology and the science of each of the four phases, the menstrual cycle, and just these different ways of navigating your life in partnership with your body and your understanding, your feminine biology. 

And I've been doing that for a couple of years now, and it's just amazing to see light bulbs go off and to see the women like they knew this about themselves, but they just never had permission to actually live their lives that way because nobody recognized them. Nobody allowed them to say, "Yeah, you know what, you are different over the course of the month." And it's okay if you operate differently. It's okay if you have different routines, schedules, and needs over the course of the month.

Luke Storey: [00:53:21] Wow. Cool. I forgot to mention to the audience you can find show notes for this episode at lukestorey.com/kayla, K-A-Y-L-A, lukestorey.com/kayla. So we're going to put links to any programs and information and all the things you have there and also just any references that are relevant that people want to go research afterward.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:53:42] Definitely. So phase IV.

Luke Storey: [00:53:44] Yes, IV.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:53:45] So we're in the brainy phase. And I call this the brainy phase because the star of the show shifts. It used to be estrogen. And now the star of the show is becoming progesterone. So estrogen is coming down the other side of the curve here. It has a little bump in the middle, but progesterone rises to a peak in this phase. And so progesterone is the star of the show finally. 

And progesterone does some really interesting things to our brain, one of which is it increases BDNF, brain derived neurotrophic factor, which increases our neuroplasticity and our neurogenesis. So literally, our brain is growing during this phase, but it also increases our GABA neurotransmitter which is involved in memory consolidation and getting quality sleep. So our capacity to learn, grow, and adapt in this phase is heightened. And we actually have higher verbal acuity during this time and a heightened ability to learn.

Luke Storey: [00:54:45] Oh, that's interesting. So this is the phase in which one could drive the most benefit from microdosing?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:54:52] Totally. Absolutely. Yes, drive the physiology in the way it's already going, absolutely, yes.

Luke Storey: [00:54:57] That's really interesting. And also, I guess if one wanted to do some speed studying, right?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:55:04] Continuing education credits if you're in school. I wish I learned this back in undergrad. I probably would have been done with my doctoral degree a few years ago by now if I could have leveraged it. Now I do. I spend the majority of my researching time in this phase and really taking advantage of it. And it is a huge advantage when you can get the hang of it and you start to, again, just partner up with your body. Unfortunately, this is also the phase that most women dread, the PMS phase.

Luke Storey: [00:55:39] Oh, that's so funny because I'm like, this sounds like an awesome phase and one of the least popular.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:55:45] But it's when you know how to navigate it because remember, you're getting more of a sympathetic quality to the nervous system as progesterone rises to a peak. It's not in correlation with progesterone. This is just how the nervous system shifts during this phase. And what's going on is we get increased resting heart rate, we have increased respiration rate. So the body is like ramping up during this phase. And so even our caloric need increases throughout this phase. There's different ways of eating in every phase as well to really support both hormonal production but also our bio energetic needs that shift throughout the course of the month.

Luke Storey: [00:56:26] Well, that's interesting. In terms of dietary requirements and cravings, I often observe my wife, Allison. The foods she desires is so random. She doesn't eat a lot of meat, for example. And then one day she'll be like, "I need a steak now." And I'm like, "Why? What prompted that today?" Because I feel like I need a steak every day. It's funny to just observe that. I wonder why she's eating that today. It's so random.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:56:51] I get the sense that she's very intuitive.

Luke Storey: [00:56:54] Very much though.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:56:55] And she allows herself to follow that. So we know that a woman's intuition is a real thing. So I wish that instead of listening to all these influencers, keto, carnivore, low carb, blah, blah, blah, whatever it is, those things are good during some of the times over the course of the month, but listen to your body. 

I don't know how many women I've come across that are like, "I'm doing super low carb and I feel really crappy." I'm like, "And you're still doing it?" "Yeah, because so-and-so said it's going to do x, y, z." I'm like you're right when you know that this isn't working for you. You're right. Listen to that. Once you learn your physiology, you can actually do this in a very constructive way. But before that, you have your intuition. You can lean on that.

Luke Storey: [00:57:42] That's very cool. It makes me think of, God, how many females are probably misguided in terms of not only the fitness that we talked about in the biohacking space of all of these fad diets and supplementation routines and things like that that are just blanket recommended to large swaths of humans without any consideration of what your gender happens to be. That's crazy.

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:58:07] And it becomes very harmful. The harmful assumption that is made by the scientific community, by the medical community, by the biohacking community, is that the biological parts that men and women share operate the same way. And we know that that is further from the truth. They don't.

Luke Storey: [00:58:25] Yeah, that's really interesting. I'm not a fad diet guy. I think I've tried all the fad diets and I've just arrived at a place I'm just going to eat what feels good to my body and not worry too much about it. But in the realm of biohacking and things like that, I don't know how deep you are into this stuff, but whether it be PMF or saunas or ice baths or red light therapy or supplementation, do you have any recommendations of what, when might work that'd be helpful?

Kayla Osterhoff: [00:58:59] Yeah, so many. I could give a couple of examples, but I think women really, really, really need to guide their health decisions, including their biohacking decisions by their cycles and what's going on with them so that they can make better educated decisions about what they're doing. Especially, I always say that women's biohacking is more important than men's biohacking, and the reason why is because we can't rely on these recommendations that come out from the scientific community because it's not done on female bodies. 

So we have to rely on an equals one approach to our health. And so that's why doing this self experimentation becomes more important for us as women. And it should be driven by data, personal collection of your own data and understanding what works for you, what doesn't work for you. It should also be guided by your intuition. You know what works for you, what doesn't. 

But it's important to understand the physiology side of it so you really understand what you're supposed to do. So just for instance, in the front half of the cycle where we have a higher fat metabolism or more productive fat metabolism, and so eating more fats or more of like a ketogenic type diet is more appropriate during that time, especially because our caloric need in phase I is a lot lower because remember, our metabolic function is subdued, so our caloric need is lower. So if we're going to be doing a fasting routine, for instance, safe in phase I and effective and it's going to work with your body. In phase IV absolutely not, absolutely not.

Luke Storey: [01:00:43] I'm thinking of how many women are wrecking themselves, trying to follow these trends and guidelines without this knowledge. This is super key.

Kayla Osterhoff: [01:00:50] Yeah. And unfortunately, that's why so many women are experiencing burnout, because burnout starts with adrenal burnout, but it ends up being hormonal burnout because the three kind of pillars of feminine health, the three legs of the stool are sugar, stress and sex. So we have the sex hormones that we need to be able to balance. Then we have insulin sensitivity or insulin regulation and we have cortisol regulation. They all three interrelate and rely on the other to be in healthy standing. 

So we have to understand how to handle our stress, how to handle our blood sugar. But we also need to understand how that shifts over the course of a month. So in the front half of our cycle, we actually have higher insulin sensitivity. And in the back half of our cycle, we have a lower stress capacity. So we have heightened sensitivity to cortisol. So we have a higher chance of dis regulating our cortisol, our stress systems.

Luke Storey: [01:02:02] Right. Because you're in that sympathetic, dominant state at that point. That's wild. God, it's so fascinating. What a beautifully intricate system. And as you speak about this, I'm always asking like, why? Why did creation or God make it this way? But if you think about the miracle of the female body producing offspring and what just inconceivable levels of complexity biologically are required for that to happen, you would have to have a very complex system versus thinking about the male body. It's like, what do we need to do? Just produce some sperm that can swim? You're done. It's like that's the end of your body's role in that. I guess there's genetics and whatever might contribute to that. It's amazing to think about the female body's capacity when it comes to reproduction and just all that goes into that. And so it's just like, well, of course, it's got to be this intricate.

Kayla Osterhoff: [01:03:03] And that's the thing. It's intricate, but it's very intentional. All these shifts when you really get the big picture, which is the thing that I am bringing to the world, is I'm pulling it all together. We so often study health and look at things through a silo and we get stuck on one thing. And we think this is in and of itself the one thing. But we forget about this greater physiological impact, this global impact that it has. 

So we really have to look at the whole organism and what's going on. And we see that all of these things are happening for our benefit. And it's really beautiful when you map it out and you get the big picture. I was stunned when I finally pulled together what I could from the published research and mapped it all out. And I was like, "Oh my God, this is the user's manual for feminine biology that we were never given. Why? Why were we never given this? Why don't we understand this?" Women need this. We should be given this when we are young women starting our cycles.

Luke Storey: [01:04:12] Well, hot damn. Let's hope the parents of those young women-to-be are sharing this conversation. I'm sure someone in the world, by the time they hear this, is going to be sitting in the car with their 13-year-old daughter and going, "Listen." 

Kayla Osterhoff: [01:04:27] Oh, I hope so.

Luke Storey: [01:04:28] Yeah, one can hope. Well, thank you so much for sharing your research and everything that you've shared with us today. In closing, I want to ask you one final question. Who have been three teachers or teachings that have influenced your life and your work that you'd like to share with us?

Kayla Osterhoff: [01:04:45] Well, I just finished reading the book Autobiography of Yogi, and I love the teachings of Yogananda. So that just comes to mind because it's recent and has been very impactful to me. I really, really appreciate Bruce Lipton's work and he's bringing a scientific lens to the power of the mind. He's like the OG of that in this respect. So I really appreciate his work. And for me personally, a very profound teacher has been psilocybin.

Luke Storey: [01:05:23] Oh, wow. Interesting.

Kayla Osterhoff: [01:05:25] And that has really helped me with my own mental health and really opened and shifted my perspective and opened my mind to a lot of ways that I was rigid before and helped me to increase that neuroplasticity, put that fresh powder on the mountain so that I could make different choices and see things from a different perspective. And that's just been a huge teacher in my life.

Luke Storey: [01:05:52] "Fresh powder on the mountain," I love that. That's really good. That's really good. The cleaning of the slate that some of those experiences can bring and that fresh perspective. I really love the idea of taking someone who is highly intelligent, as you obviously are, who's analytical, science based, that kind of thinker that I don't think that I really fall into that category, although I appreciate it and celebrate it in others, but throwing psychedelics on that kind of mind, I think that's where many miracles have come from and probably will continue to spring forth from. It's really incredible.

Kayla Osterhoff: [01:06:29] I always say that that type-A like work hard mentality it works for a certain time. It got me to a certain level, but once I wanted to get past that level, I couldn't work that way anymore. I had to work smart. And really, that's what I'm teaching women, is to stop working hard, work smart, work in partnership with your body. And that's really what it's been about for me. That's what has opened all the doors to the possibilities of life that is just so fruitful and beautiful that now I am experiencing.

Luke Storey: [01:07:03] That's awesome. Well, I knew there was a reason when I met you that I wanted to have a conversation with you. And now I see that my intuition tapping into that side of myself was on point. So thank you Luke's intuition. Thank you for your brilliance and bright, shining light today. I really appreciate you taking the time to sit down with me.

Kayla Osterhoff: [01:07:20] Thank you for this conversation and allowing us to reach so many women in the world that I hope can take this information and run with it.

Luke Storey: [01:07:29] Awesome. Thank you.

Kayla Osterhoff: [01:07:30] Thank you.

Luke Storey: [01:07:35] Well, thank you for joining me on The Odyssey of Human Expansion, that is the Life Stylist podcast. If you know a couple of women or curious and awakened men who would benefit from the knowledge Kayla shared here, please pass this episode along to them. And don't forget, if you want to learn even more, check out Kayla's free biorhythm eBook and also her mastermind class, which can be found at lukestorey.com/herbiorhythm. That's lukestorey.com/herbiorhythm. Very cool stuff over there. 

Now, next week's episode is one I've been incredibly eager to share with you. It's episode 416. It's called Natural Law: Hope for Humanity and Finding Light in the Darkness, featuring second and most popular guest in the history of the show, Dr. Zach Bush. If you want to make sense of the past two and a half years of insanity and find a smooth path forward, you definitely don't want to miss this one. 

And lastly, huge props and big love for our sponsors: InsideTracker, Leela Quantum Tech, Just Thrive, and Biome Breakthrough. You should also know that you can find all of them on my carefully curated online store where I link to all of my favorite and personally vetted health and wellness brands along with exclusive discounts on just about everything in the store. You can find that at lukestorey.com/store. That's lukestorey.com/store. All right, that's it. I'll be back in your ears next Tuesday with Dr. Zach Bush.


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