From Wellness Perfectionism to Embracing What Works Best for Her, Meet Sara Luu
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
Meet Sara Luu - one of our most passionate and active Flöka users. A 26-year-old freelance graphic designer, Luu is a creative and wellness enthusiast whose early onset of unexplained symptoms sparked a passionate journey into women's holistic health, and eventually led her to the Flöka app.
At the age of 14, she began to struggle with period-like cramping so severe she could not move. Interestingly, she had not yet started her first menses but continued to experience painful cramping, mood swings, and minor acne – eventually landing her in the emergency room where CAT scans revealed a cyst on her right ovary.
Doctors immediately referred her to a gynecologist who ran blood tests and was able to determine the cyst was non-cancerous. She was offered a prescription for the birth control pill to ease the cramping and acne, but Luu's intuition steered her away from going down that route.
“There was a deeper voice inside of me that said, no. You’re not going on birth control pills. It was just odd. I knew of them and that they helped with contraception if you wanted to avoid pregnancy, but at the time I wasn’t sexually active and I was like, it doesn’t make sense. I felt like the cramping was alerting me to something deeper, but I didn’t know what.”
Unfortunately, Luu continued to experience the painful cramping for 2 more months, using painkillers to alleviate the pain - but still with no period in sight. A year later at 15, she had her first bleed but quickly found her cycles were irregular ranging from 45-90 days, causing her to struggle with amenorrhea. She constantly felt in the dark about when her periods would be arriving and opted to ignore it altogether as long as the pain was absent. She was able to do this until the age of 23 when she got married. At this point, she knew understanding her cycles would be essential.
"Part of getting married, there were conversations about contraception coming up with my partner. I wasn’t going to get on birth control, but I knew my cycles had to be somewhat regular because I was thinking about charting to avoid pregnancy and to understand my own fertile window. To do that, I needed an app that could track it. I didn’t want anything having to do with pregnancy because I felt like it didn’t really encompass all of what the menstrual cycle has to offer.”
Initially, the end goal of conception and pregnancy were all she found in the apps she came across. They were aimed at helping users track their fertility signs and notifying them when to have sex and when not to have sex. Having an app built around that intention did not serve Luu's current needs. She was looking for an app that would help her identify her fertile window (i.e. ovulation) in order to avoid unprotected sex and also when she was most likely to experience high energy surges because she did her best creative work during those times.
“Between the ages of 19-23, I was an artist in college. I noticed the odd time when I did get my period - the week after, which is the follicular phase, I got this surge of creative energy. I found doing art projects was a lot easier.”
Her continued quest to find the perfect cycle and mood app was how she came across Flöka. It was a serendipitous discovery that would cater to her wellness needs greatly. She had typed in the letters F-L-O in the app store, originally looking for another app, but was immediately interested in what Flöka was once the search results were yielded.
“At first when I looked at the design and interface, it really felt like it wasn’t about pregnancy or conceiving. I noticed certain things about it, like the pillars. The mind, the cycle, and nutrition. I thought finally, I think someone understands me! They’re getting there’s a growing niche of women out there that really wants to use their menstrual cycle for something other than procreating. [Flöka] could help me track my cycles and nourish it too, and look at when my high energy days will be on...”
Today, Luu uses Flöka to track and gain insight into her menstrual symptoms/irregularities, amenorrhea, ovulation, nutrition, and exercise. It has become the perfect partner in determining whether the foods and supplements she consumes are working for her or if she needs to make changes.
“I learned I don’t eat enough starches in my diet...In my brain, I think I eat starches because I have that intention. But when I actually track my eating habits - I don’t eat it. What I learned [from] Flöka is...what I’m actually doing [versus] what I think I’m doing. I can compare the notes."
Flöka's insights have helped Luu adjust additional aspects of her wellness regimen as well - especially with exercise and sleep. Her fitness routine now evolves around the phases of her cycle. She knows her body enjoys walks during her menstrual phase with pilates and yin yoga saved for the follicular and luteal. Additionally, Flöka recommended she go to sleep by 10:30, a difficult change for Luu who is an admitted night owl and freelancer used to creating her own hours. While she felt rejuvenated from the earlier nights, mentally, it was a bit of a challenge.
“It was really interesting! My body felt really good. But emotionally it was conflicting for me because that meant I had to make some changes during my day, especially with my work. I had to set better boundaries. I was allowing myself 4-5 hours to work during the day and that’s what was pushing me to eat later and go to bed later. When I saw Flöka was saying that, I had to be like ‘Okay, Sara the reason why you’re going to bed later is because you’re overworking. You have projects that shouldn’t take more than 2-3 hours, why are you working 4-5? What are you actually doing?’ And I noticed I may be off task or maybe I wasn’t eating much so I was tired."
For Luu, the Flöka app has provided much more than a digital charting and health tracking system. It's helped her create a personal map and feel empowered to learn from her natural ebb and flow rather than focus on perfection.
“Health and wellness are about nourishing your body, mind, and soul well enough that you don’t have to be perfect...To sum it all up being healthy and happy really means your body is resilient enough to handle anything that may not be healthy and any kind of challenges.”
Luu is an awesome example of making peace with your body and embracing its uniqueness.