Thursday, July 12, 2012

An Uncomfortable Conversation

Today I want to discuss something that is a little, ahem, awkward to talk about.  My period.  (Male readers, and I don't think there are too many of you, feel free to go if you are uncomfortable or stay if you would like some insight to what really happens once a month.)

I always considered those girls who would skip school and take to their beds with a heating pad during their period lame.  They were weaklings, I mean, it's just your period.  Now that I'm older and wiser (hah!), I realize that maybe those girls may have really been in a lot of pain.   My pain threshold is high and I've had months were I felt like a honey badger was in my uterus trying to claw its way out.
The older I get, the more I learn about my body; here are the things I know about my period:

1.  The day before it starts, I am a train wreck.  Tears flow freely and I am emotional about EVERYTHING.  Seriously, I am so unlike myself that I get scared I've gone insane.  Every.single.month I say to myself, "If  you don't start your period tomorrow, you are going to a psychiatrist."  You would think since I know my period is around the corner, I would understand that its just out of whack hormones.  But every month, I am so relieved when I start and realize I am only temporarily crazy.
2.  2 days prior the the start, I am a bottomless pit.  I will eat any and everything in my kitchen and still be hungry.  Yesterday I had 3/4 a chicken breast, half an avocado, and a ton of veggies for lunch (a normal lunch for me).  When my plate was cleaned, I was just as hungry as I was before lunch!  So I ate 2 packs of pistachios (100 cals each) and a handful of cherries when I returned to work, which was supposed to be my afternoon snack.  When I returned home from work at 10 PM famished, I ate half a ribeye steak, 2 more packs of pistachios, and about a pound of cherries.  This morning I woke up to a growling stomach! 
 3. It makes me uber tired.  This morning I was supposed to go to 5:30 AM CrossFit.  Yesterday I was supposed to run before work.  I didn't do either.  I just could not drag myself out of bed.  Not to mention the fact that I've been so sleepy at work for the past couple of days. This isn't a normal "I'm tired and I'll push through."  It's a "I'm tired and could take a 4 hour nap after 8 hours of sleep and still not feel refreshed."  My whole body is back, my legs, my shoulders, my mind.  For me, this is worse than honey badger cramps, hungry beast mode, or crazy psycho.  Its so hard to motivate myself to do anything!  Cosmo says the reason for fatigue during the first few days of your period is because of decreased estrogen levels.

4.  Exercise helps.  As hard as it is to get motivated to exercise when I'm tired and grouchy, I always feel better afterward.  My workouts may not be my best and I may not be setting PRs, but that's okay. 
Funny Confession Ecard: My period is the only reason the fridge gets cleaned out...period.
5. So does staying away from sugar.  When I indulge the sugar cravings, I crash hard.   On top of already being fatigued, this is no bueno.  To keep my cravings at bay, I try to eat natural sugars via fruit.  (I've eaten 2 pounds of cherries in 3 days.)

Your period shouldn't be an excuse for you to lay on the couch eating BlueBell out of the pint while watching Lifetime movies and crying for a week, but cut yourself some slack.  If you skip a workout to take a nap or indulge a little, it doesn't mean you are "lame" or "a weakling".  Recognize and understand your symptoms.  This will help you overcome them and prevent you from being set back physically and mentally.

Related links:

This post from The Great Fitness Experiment (Hits the nail on the head.) 

How Menstruation Affects Your Running by Running Times (She says you should take menstruation in to account when training!  A lot of science/physiology about why recovery time is longer, why you crave carbs, and why breathing is affected during your period.)

Exercise and Your Menstrual Cycle: What Your Period Means for Your Workout Schedule by Shape magazine

Exercise and premenstrual symptomatology: a comprehensive review via PubMed by Journal for Womens Health (For all those sciencey types - like me!- who want sound data and evidence to prove exercise helps PMS symptoms.)

What do you hate most about your period?


  1. I almost always get a horrible headache the day before! Blah.

    1. Ugh. I think the couple days before are the worst!

  2. I'm a weakling when it comes to my period. The third day is really bad and I lay in bed and cry and whine and cry some more. I have a high tolerance for pain, just not THAT kind of pain.

    I don't really get any sweet cravings which is a good thing I guess ha!

    1. Way to look at the bright side! It's crazy how it's different for everyone.