Your Period And Exercise
For most of my teenage years my period meant a time of rest. Not like I was relaxing on the beach but rather I couldn’t do anything other than curl up on the couch and beg for the first 2 days to be over. As an adult I am now able to function for the first two days but I am not the least bit comfortable and I am not very friendly. As a personal trainer I am faced with women all the time trying their best to work through the pain and craziness in order to keep chasing their goals. While this is a noble and brave endeavor I do think it is important to give yourself a guilt free break during the first couple days of menstruation.
Your body is going through a lot during this time. There is an egg that has to make its way through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. The uterus has to contract to push the unused lining and egg out of your body. Various hormones have spiked and then dropped again in preparation of this process. During this time your body temperature increases, you lose minerals and oxygen from blood loss and any energy that might have made going to the gym feel possible is now being allocated to your reproductive organs. It is completely normal to not want to do anything and to feel very tired when you do.
While exercise will do a lot to help with cramps, sleep, and problem solving it is important to cut yourself some slack. Maybe don’t do as much as you are used to, it’s ok. Don’t be surprised or mad if you are not as capable as you normally are, it’s ok. If you crave salty foods or chocolate, indulge. The fight may not be worth the energy and that may be your body’s way of telling you what it truly needs, it’s ok.
Most of all let go of the guilt. You didn’t choose to be born with this condition every month. It is what it is and there is a lot going on, even if you can’t see it.
Still go to the gym and do your best to eat the way you are supposed to. But if you only do 2 sets or 8 repetitions and your cardio is only 10 minutes instead of 20, that is ok. If you eat 3 squares of chocolate and some buttered bread with your chicken and spinach that is ok.
Just don’t go overboard. Once the initial discomfort is gone, get back on track ASAP. As soon as you feel better, work your hardest again. Don’t buy the family pack of chocolate because in one day you won’t need it anymore. Only buy half of a loaf of bread because once the cravings pass you will be back to eating more veggies instead.
Take care of yourself each day and know that that may mean something different each day. There is no guilt in taking care of yourself and listening to your body!