Friday, February 28, 2014

Health post: That time of the month

So this month's health post is going to be very TMI-ey, but it's something we got to talk about. If there are guys reading (haha), now's the time to bail.

Girls, come clean. Raise your hands if your best resolutions have been derailed by, well, that time of the month?

Or the time before the time of the month, to be precise.

Let me explain here. Since shifting career paths and becoming a project manager (and finally getting a smartphone) I've been going nuts with all sorts of apps that track and measure, well, everything in my life. One of my favorites is this one called My Calendar. Handy because I could never figure out when I'm supposed to get a visit from Aunt Flo, but it's also cool because you can track all the symptoms and moods you get before, during and after the visit. It's from tracking my mood and symptoms that I realized that my bouts with lethargy, overeating and even my quarterly insomnia attacks can all be traced to one thing: Pre Menstrual Fatigue. Yay! I'm not just being lazy!

Case in point: all last week I'd been tired and depressed and overwhelmed. I exercised only three times instead of my target four per week, and I'd been eating comfort food and sweets all week too. Today, I got the magic visit, and suddenly those feelings of hunger and tiredness? All gone. I managed a workout this evening, and since yesterday have not been having any weird cravings.

All good things (oh Olaf I loff you), but also crazy frustrating. Especially in my case where my PMS symptoms start appearing 10 days before my period. (I know 'cause like this chick I track things, 'yo!) It can derail the best resolutions and eating plans. And one can't help but feeling that all my efforts are undone by this annoying time in the month.

So what now? Well, at least now I can finally pinpoint where the 'breakdown' happens. And I can address it through:

a.) Giving myself a break. I literally stress myself out so much at times that I break out in hives (see: me before any big meetings); knowing that this is something that happens naturally in my body, and that I'm not just being lazy and not committed, lessens the stress and the mind games that can easily lead to self-sabotage.
b.) Proactively working with the symptoms, not against it. While aerobic exercise is said to help fight PMS symptoms, when the body is just drained (not helped by my crazy schedule, weird sleeping habits and reliance on caffeine), I can turn to yoga, power-walking and other recharging, calming activities for my exercise, instead of forcing myself through crazy interval training.

What about you? Does your period affect your exercise habits? What do you do to deal with it?

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