It happened again. You were feeling great, killing it with exercise and nutrition consistency and starting to feel confident in your own skin. Then Aunt Flo paid a visit. Now you’re bloated, exhausted, cramping, achy, moody, breaking out and generally just feeling gross. Your pants feel tight and you’re craving a jumbo-sized milk chocolate bar with a side of salty chips.
I’m all about giving yourself grace and listening to your body, so the last thing I’m going to tell you is just to buckle up and hit the gym harder than ever to combat your icky feelings. You may not be setting any personal bests in your workouts during this week (or maybe you will, anger is a great motivator) and you might eat a few more sweets than salads this week, but the worst thing you can do is let this week derail you entirely. Don’t give up just because you missed a workout or ate extra carbs during your period. Acknowledge where you could improve next time, and something you think you did well, and move on.
That said, there are certainly things you can do to make your time of the month less miserable, and keep you on track with your goals. You can feel less gross in the present and less defeated in the future. Try these tips during your next period and pay attention to how you feel:
Participate in low-moderate intensity exercise. You might be thinking “of course the Personal Trainer recommends doing a workout” but hear me out... While high intensity exercise is not always recommended during your period because you are more prone to injury, low to moderate intensity exercise can help clear your head, release feel-good endorphins and increase blood flow (which reduces bloating.)
Go for a walk outside. This tip is doubly effective because the exercise of walking will give you the benefits above, while the fresh air and vitamin D will help you feel refreshed, energized and lift your mood.
Do some yoga. Stretching can help reduce muscle soreness and increase blood flow, while deep breathing can help you relax and clear your head.
Eat some dark chocolate. Yup, you’re welcome. A square or two of dark chocolate can give you a little boost of energy because of the caffeine content, and the chocolate is said to increase serotonin levels. Plus, it’s delicious and will likely hit the spot!
Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated can reduce headaches and feelings of sluggishness. You might also want to try herbal tea to help you relax before bed or if you’re feeling stressed.
Optimize sleep. Many women, including myself, report disrupted sleep before or during their periods. This can really ruin your day and amplify all the other unpleasant symptoms you’re already feeling. The best thing to do is to set yourself up for success. Make sure your room is dark and set to a comfortable temperature, avoid caffeine in the second half of the day, create a bedtime ritual that helps you unwind and avoid electronic screens before bed. For myself, reading for a few minutes in bed each night has helped me sleep better.
Stick to a normal healthy eating routine. During your period it is recommended you eat fruits (like bananas) and vegetables (leafy greens), beans and legumes, whole grains (like brown rice, quinoa, and oats) healthy fats (like avocadoes) and foods that contain high protein content. Surprise! This is nothing new. The normal recommended healthy foods that help you feel your best on any other day still apply and are still what’s best during your period.
Eat throughout the day. Keep healthy snacks available to keep you from getting hangry. The last thing you want to do is starve yourself all day, which is sure to make you grouchy, and then stuff your face with a huge meal and end up feeling bloated.
Take a multivitamin. This is a good practice in everyday life, but you might especially benefit from some extra vitamins and minerals during this time.
Avoid fatty or salty foods and alcoholic or carbonated beverages to avoid feeling bloated and/or generally yucky.
Remember it’s just a few days. You’ll be back to feeling yourself soon, so just do what you can to optimize your wellness during this short time.
These tips might sound familiar, and you’re right. Healthy habits that benefit you during the rest of your life are the same habits that can help you thrive (or at least feel like a human being) during your period. Surprise!
As a fitness and nutrition coach who specializes in personalized at-home workouts, I’ve already made some period-friendly workouts for my clients. If you’d like more information about how I can help you find a routine that works for you in any season, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org