Working out diet and your period. I put the call out to see if anyone had any fitness questions and number of people responded with questions and concerns about working out when you have your period. The questions ranged from “how do you motivate yourself to exercise?” to “what are the best exercises?” So I thought that I’d try to tackle some of them. While this may not be the sexiest of subjects, it’s an issue many women have every single month and if you count the amount of years we spend having our periods, it can become a massive problem. If we all stopped exercising every month for a week that would be really detrimental to our health. So let’s talk about working out and your period!
WORKING OUT DIET AND YOUR PERIOD
HOW TO STAY MOTIVATED
You’ll feel better. So you are bloated and cramping and you feel like total crap and you just want to lie down and die and now you’re supposed to believe that you’ll feel better if you actually start moving? Hear me out for a second. First of all, in the greater scheme of things, the more active you are the less symptoms you’ll actually have. This is partially because when you exercise you are loosing water, think less bloating as well as releasing endorphins, think happy brain. That means your crankiness will lessen and you’ll just feel better and more motivated to keep moving. Starting is the hardest part, but once you get going it will feel good. Exercise also improves digestion, so anyone who gets stomach troubles when their periods start will get some relief in that department as well.
Be preemptive. Your period doesn’t really catch you by surprise every month, so you can take a pain reliever 24 to 48 hours prior to its start. You can also do some easy stretches to help release any hip and lower back pain.
Supine twist. Start by lying on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Now reach your arms out to the sides and let your knees fall to one side. Hold for 20 seconds while taking deep relaxing breaths and repeat on the other side.
Pigeon. Start by sitting on the floor with your left leg bent at a 90 degree angle in front of you and your right leg extended behind you. Feel your body lowering toward the floor as your left hip relaxes and opens. You can lean forward or for an extra stretch (which you should feel in your right hip flexor), reach your chest up to the ceiling while gently arching back. Hold for 20 seconds while taking deep relaxing breaths and repeat on the other side.
Camel. This is another great hip opener and can be more accessible than the pigeon pose. Starting on your knees (they should be in line with your hips) gently arch your body back and place your left hand on your left heel for support. Let your head follow your body but be careful not to collapse it back. You can try to press your hips forward for a better stretch. Hold for 10-15 seconds while taking deep relaxing breaths and repeat on the other side.
Childs pose. This is a very relaxing pose. Start by sitting on your shins, feet together, knees apart and let your body fold down to the floor. You can reach your arms out in front of your or place them by your sides. Hold for 20 seconds and don’t for get to breathe deeply.
Best workouts during your period. I totally understand that you don’t always feel like working out during your period and it’s okay to switch up your workouts on those days when you just feel like crap. Now, let’s be clear that there isn’t any real reason (although feeling is a good one) why you shouldn’t be working out during your period, but if you are feeling especially blah, you can ease up on your regular hardcore workout. Try a light cardio class or a stretchy, muscle lengthening yoga class. This might also be the optimal time to go for a nice swim. Whatever you do, make sure that you are drinking extra water to combat dehydration and to aid in digestion which will lessen cramps.
Best workouts before your period. Working out during your period is one thing, but what about the week before when all the mood swings strike and the awful bloating begins? Sure, you can take a day off if you are feeling particularly lousy, but try to push through it and you might just find that you actually do feel better. Aim to take an intense cycling class (or go for a ride), if you love running this is a great time to discover some new routes.
Best foods to eat. If you are sitting at home eating high sugar and fat comfort foods, you are only going to feel worse and I just can’t, in good conscience, give anyone permission to do that (although one night is okay). Here’s the thing, if you start loading up on healthy foods you’ll feel better and you’ll want to exercise and that will make you feel better and then before you know it, your period is over.
Calcium and Vitamin D. Definitely have yogurt on your list, as well as citrus fruit.
Protein and Iron. You need to keep your energy levels up, so Omega 3 and fatty acid rich fish like salmon is a great option. Many women find a drop in their iron levels during this time and it probably wouldn’t hurt to have a small amount of red meat and lots of leafy greens. Not a meat eater? Opt for kale, oysters and spinach. To keep cravings at bay, snack on some almond butter and apples.
Tea and coffee. A cup of tea is soothing on the best of days, but when you are feeling bloated and just generally yucky it will help alleviate some of your symptoms. Try chamomile tea to help relax those cramps. As long as you are sticking to a couple of cups of coffee a day, the extra boost of caffeine might be just the kick you need to get you off your couch and moving.
Fiber and magnesium. Bananas (also contain potassium and Vitamin B6) and whole grains which are both rich in magnesium, will help release muscle tension. They will also help regulate your bowels if you are prone to having an upset stomach during this time of the month.
Fruit. Instead of sugary foods, grab a handful of fruit like oranges and watermelon to satisfy your cravings.
Chocolate. Well, sometimes you just have to give in and enjoy some chocolate, right? So go ahead!
Being a woman means that we have the pleasure of dealing with fluctuating hormones every month. I do think that it’s a good idea to actually understand what it going on with our bodies, so that we can work with them rather than constantly fighting them. Sure, not all of this will apply to everyone, but knowing that during your period your levels of estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest (meaning that from a metabolic perspective, we are close to men’s hormonal balance) and that the weeks following our hormone levels increase could change the way we approach our training regiments. What it also (and maybe more importantly) does is allow us to release the guilty feelings we have every month when we start craving certain foods or take a day off from working out.
How do you stay motivated when it’s that time of the month?
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