For the Ladies: How to Stay Fit and Healthy When You Have an Unwanted Guest

If you are a man you might want to stop reading. This post is for the ladies. Not that I am telling anyone they can’t read my post but I do know my brother and dad occasionally check in here and I wanted to give fair warning.

So for the ladies….

How to Stay Fit and Healthy When Aunt Flo is Visiting

We all have at least one of them in our lives… you know, those people who like to try and sabotage our fitness journey. But there is one in particular who visits every month from our youth until “wonderful” menopause arrives. I’ve stayed quiet long enough but I can’t any longer. Aunt Flo is a different kind of evil, looking to destroy me when I least expect her.

Unfortunately for me, she has never had a scheduled visit. I am never quite sure when she’s coming. My only tell is my inability to hold back tears over some utterly ridiculous and mundane problem in my life about a week before my uterus decides it’s mad at me for not being pregnant. My children don’t know why mommy has no patience and suddenly wants it much quieter in the house. Thankfully, my husband is the most patient man alive. I don’t know any other man who would love me through these times of emotional highs and lows.

And I bleed… buckets. I seriously plan my life schedule according to this natural disaster (as much as one can plan for a somewhat unexpected guest). I often joke with my husband… telling him that I understand why the old testament told women to go sit in a tent until this whole thing was over. Because all I want to do is grab all the chocolate in the house, put on sweats, and go sit alone in a tent until it’s over. Okay, maybe not a tent but alone with a comfy chair and Netflix where I can binge watch my favorite shows and binge eat cookie dough ice cream since binging seems to be the common theme here.

So what’s a girl to do when the last thing she wants to do is eat healthy and workout? How am I supposed to keep up this healthy lifestyle when 1 out of every 4 or 5 weeks of my life seem to have me set up for fitness failure?

I’ve thought about my successful weeks and my not so successful weeks and I decided to write this post after a girlfriend of mine told me how she is so good about eating healthy until she gets the chocolate cravings that come with that miserable time of the month.

So here are my thoughts….

1.That time of the month is tough so try to be happy with whatever workout you get in.

  • Each woman is different. Some are motivated by feeling yucky and get in an awesome workout then feel better for it. I often like to do at home workouts so I can wear my frumpiest clothes and not worry about finding the nearest bathroom when needed. Sometimes it’s just nice to take a break. Also, remember that a great workout can minimize cramps because of endorphins being released. Even a nice stroll outside can help me to feel so much better.
  • “That time of the month” can also be the best time to do HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio if you feel up for it! When your period starts your estrogen and progesterone levels drop. Because of this women can access glycogen/carbohydrates easier than high estrogen times when we rely more on the slow breakdown of fats. This hormone shift makes fuel more accessible and allows women to push harder during those short sprints than you could any other time of the month.
  • So my advice: take it easy OR work hard… do what works best for you and don’t stress over it.

2. Don’t deprive yourself when you have cravings.

  • I eat more beef during that week because I often crave it. I also eat a lot of spinach. Both are high in iron which we need when we are losing that much blood at once. If it’s grass fed beef it’s actually really good for you (think high omega3s!). You don’t have to deny yourself of that delicious red meat! mmmm burgers.
  • I also crave chocolate! Especially when I’m PMSing. Turns out we are low in magnesium during that time and cocoa beans AND cacao are high in magnesium. They also have iron so I like to use that as an excuse to eat chocolate too. 😉  I like to have some of my favorite healthy treats on hand so that when that chocolate craving strikes I don’t go out and get a DQ Blizzard cake (as wonderful as they may be). I almost always have some of my favorite dark chocolate on hand. Just a square will often curve my craving. Or I have the ingredients for some of my favorite chocolate treats. Baking makes me happy so it’s fun to bake and eat my tasty healthier treats! My favorite is my chocolate pudding. And if I’m feeling super indulgent and want to bake I make my all time favorite brownies! But if I’m being truly honest. I would tell you I eat chocolate almost every day. Some sugar is fine in moderation but I often indulge TOO much if I go for the unhealthy variety so I like to always have healthy options on hand.
  • Many women also crave salt. Sea salt is high in minerals that we need for our adrenal glands to work as our hormone levels change. So don’t be afraid of a little real sea salt or Himalayan salt during that time of the month. Just try your best to avoid the refined salt you find in most processed foods and canned goods. Also try and drink plenty of water as we often bloat from excess salt. Coconut water is wonderful for you but I don’t like the taste so I add a little fresh squeezed lemon. I also like to drink a lot of cucumber water to help me stay hydrated. My favorite potato chip is Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips. I buy them at Thrive Market since they are usually much more expensive in stores. They have just 3 ingredients (Sweet potatoes, unrefined coconut oil, and sea salt) so I don’t feel yucky when I eat them.
  • Need some more “healthier food swap” ideas? Click on the photo below:

3. Have a plan of action.

  • I like to have my workouts planned for that entire week. If I have what I want to do written down I am more likely to do it. For example, I will write down what I want to do each day (Mon: back/biceps/HIIT cardio, Tue: HIIT leg workout at home, Wed: chest/triceps/elliptical, Thur: REST and stretch, Fri:shoulders/cardio, Sat: glutes/legs, Sun: rest). Then I write down in more detail what each days workout will be. If I just wing it and decide that day, I wont be so determined if I’m feeling crummy. I can always give myself a rest day if I do feel horrible or change things around or take it easy. But I’m more likely to follow through if I have a written plan.

4. Use essential oils for cramps.

  • I know this seems like a random tip but I depend on my essential oils when those cramps hit hard. I mix peppermint oil with lavender oil (two of the many oils in Young Living’s Premium Starter Kit) in a carrier oil (I usually use fractionated coconut oil) and rub in a clockwise motion on my tummy. I was a skeptic when I first read about this combo but I love the relief it gives me. I have to reapply more often on rougher days but it does help me a ton! And the less cramps I have the more likely I am to want to go do some deadlifts or HIIT cardio.

5. If you do nothing else, at least stretch!

  • Stretching is a wonderful way to reduce stress and tension. Stretching increases blood flow throughout your body which settles down your nervous system. Stretching also reduces cortisol and cortisol leads to fat. So try and stretch the stress away! It helps you to focus your mind and emotions. I like to pray while I stretch. I like to pray all the time but this is a great time because I am not distracted by everything else going on throughout the day. I love to start my day or end my day with a great stretching session.

Extra Tip: Lastly I have to tell you about the Diva Cup. Many of you may have already heard of this little gem but I just found out about it a few years back. They make two kinds. One is for women who haven’t had children before. The other is for after you have had children. I love not having to worry about having plenty of sanitary products around. I just make sure to have the Diva Cup with me if I think Aunt Flo might show up sometimes soon.

So there you have it! No miracle quick fixes but that’s pretty much how I get through the worst week of each month. I hope that this post has been helpful or at least something to let you know that you are not alone. And this one week out of each month doesn’t have to derail your fitness journey.

Please feel free to post questions or comments in the section below.

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