The Coolest, Most Comfortable Workout Clothes for Your Shape

Outfits arranged by body type

Try these workout clothes based on your shape!
Image: Polyvore.com

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes—but that doesn’t mean that only some people get to look good while exercising! Here are some tips for looking great and feeling comfortable in your workout fashion.

  • Pear shapes: You’ll want to stick with lighter colors higher up on your body, so they draw attention away from your thighs. Flared pants can help balance and lengthen your overall shape. And avoid those pants with stripes down the side—they’ll make your hips look fuller!
  • Rectangle shapes: Create some curves with tops that cinch or have ruching at the right places—generally along the side of the garment.   Also, dare to use that lower-cut tank with a slightly padded sports bra—it will accentuate the best parts of your body! You should avoid wearing all one color, though.
  • Apple shapes: You want loose tops that cinch toward the bottom and help define your middle and conceal any unwanted tummy. Fitted capris are a great way to show off your toned legs. Unlike pear shapes, you want to avoid flared pants, since they’ll throw off your body proportions.
  • Hourglass shapes: Try V or scoop neck shirts with detailing near the middle to help accentuate the waist. Instead of shorts, try the ever-versatile skort. Stay away from loose-fitting clothes; you want to show off what you’ve got!

At the end of the day, an old t-shirt and sweats are just fine, too. Exercise is the important thing! (We promise the folks from What Not to Wear will not pop out from behind a treadmill to complain that your sweats have holes in them!).

However, sometimes a workout is just that much better, or we feel inspired to push a little longer or a little harder, when we feel confident about our bodies and the way we look. The right clothing can provide that boost.

What workout fashion has worked out best for you? Join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter—or show us your most flattering and comfortable exercise duds on Instagram!

Period Mood Swings and You

Angry woman surrounding by chalk designs

What causes period mood swings, and what can you do about them?
Image: Shutterstock

We all get a little moody sometimes, but period mood swings are definitely one of the major reasons why PMS gets such a bad rap. Crying spells, angry outbursts, anxiety attacks—how do you make them stop? And how do you know if it’s PMS…or something else?

“You’ll know these emotional ups and downs are due to PMS if they start consistently a week to two weeks before your period and stop a day or two after menstruation starts,” says gynecologist Carol Livoti, MD. These mood swings generally happen during the last (luteal) phase of the menstrual cycle, usually days 14-28. And they’ll probably stop as soon as menstruation starts. (If they don’t, you may be suffering from depression or a different problem that you should talk to your doctor about right away!)

Scientists suspect period mood swings happen because of the shift in hormones, in particular the rise and fall of estrogen levels. Add a dash of life stress to that—divorce, job loss, or a tough presentation at school—and the mood swings can be even worse.

So what can you do to minimize the pain and suffering caused by period mood swings? Try a few of these options:

 

Exercise. No surprise here! Physical activity is great for your body, and it’s been shown to help with bad moods, too, thanks to the feel-good chemicals released from your brain when you get moving.

Eat small, frequent meals. Eating six small meals a day instead of the usual, bigger three can keep your blood sugar level and help with hormonal mood shifts. Work on keeping your carbohydrate intake down, too.

Try calcium supplements. One study showed that supplementing your diet with 500 milligrams of calcium twice a day can lead to significantly less depression and fatigue during your menstrual cycle. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying new supplements!

Manage the stress. While stress doesn’t cause mood swings, it can certainly contribute to them! Take time out to try some relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. You may also benefit from doing some group therapy—or just having a quiet chat with a supportive friend.

Remember the good things! Shifting hormones can actually make some things easier for you. One study suggested that when you have less progesterone in your system (generally around day five or six of your cycle), you’re able to be more thoughtful and empathetic. And when estrogen spikes between days five and thirteen, you’re likely to feel more confident, feminine, and attractive. Embrace it!

 

Period mood swings don’t have to be debilitating PMS side effects. Be kind to yourself, make a few simple lifestyle changes, and you’ll feel better in no time!

Fight PMS with These 3 Smoothies!

Smoothies are a great way to get the nutrition you need quickly and easily. But sometimes they can taste a bit…blah.

Not these smoothies!

Specially concocted to help soothe common PMS symptoms, these three PMS smoothie recipes will get you feeling better in no time. Check them out and let us know what you think in the comments!

 

Smoothie for headaches

Who has a Headache?...Not Me! (vitamin and mineral blend)

The vitamin riboflavin is great for treating headaches, and it just so happens spinach provides 32% of your recommended daily dose! Almond milk, mangoes, and kale also contain riboflavin.

 

1 cup of vanilla almond milk

1/2 cup of mango juice

Handful of organic baby kale

Handful of organic spinach

 

 

Superwoman Immunity (lots of B vitamin blend)Superwoman smoothie

A recent study showed that diets rich in vitamin B can prevent or alleviate PMS symptoms. And we’re talking diets here, not supplements. So try this smoothie to get your vitamin B game on!

 

1/2 cup of Kefir, plain

1/2 cup of water

1 whole orange; cut in pieces

1 apple, cut in pieces

1 banana

 

 

PMS smoothiePMS Be Gone! (all foods high in natural l-tryptophan)

Keep those chocolate cravings in check with this yummy—and healthy—alternative! This smoothie also contains sources of natural l-tyrptophan, a mood enhancer.

 

1 serving of chocolate protein (use real chocolate)

1.5 cups of soy milk

2-3 dates (cut in pieces first)

handful of slivered almonds

5 Tips for Dealing with Period Headaches

woman with headache holding head

Period headaches are common and can be extremely painful. Here are some tips to help you deal!
Image: Shutterstock

Getting a headache is bad enough, but if you get one in the time leading up to your period—or during menstruation—you know it can be especially killer. The truth is, headaches can be a very common side effect of all the hormonal shifts going on in your body—60-70% of women who have migraines report that their headaches have some relationship with their period. What’s a girl to do?

Actually, there are plenty of ways to fight back against that period headache! Here are five to get you started:

  1. Figure out why. Even something as simple as keeping a journal of when your headaches occur and how they affect you can help you find patterns and figure out what sorts of behavior are triggering the period headaches. Other side effects like acne, fatigue, soreness, decreased urination, and lack of coordination set period headaches apart from the usual kind, so keep an eye on those symptoms.
  1. Lower your stress level. Obviously being stressed out is a bad thing, but at certain times of the month, stress can actually increase your chances of getting a period headache. Be sure to have a few go-to tricks in your bag for dealing with stress, such as yoga, deep breathing, meditation, and aerobic exercise.
  1. Get enough sleep. Drastic chances in your sleep patterns—or just not getting enough sleep, full stop—can lead to period headaches. Do yourself a favor and get those zzz’s to help your body handle hormone fluctuations.
  1. Eat regular meals. Do you usually skip breakfast? Sometimes miss out on lunch? Load up on treats like red wine, coffee, and chocolate? All of these things can cause period headaches, so do your best to keep your food intake regular and healthy, especially during menstruation.
  1. Talk to your doctor. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate the type of birth control you take or to consider an herbal supplement. If you’ve made general lifestyle changes and still have trouble with period headaches, you should definitely talk to a professional!

Don’t let period headaches interrupt your life! You can do small, simple things to feel better and prevent those symptoms from bringing you down next time!

 

How Menstruation Keeps Girls Out of School

Three young Nepalese girls

For many women and girls in Nepal, menstruation can make education--and personal safety--difficult.
Image: Det-anan / Shutterstock.com

For many of us, getting our periods may be a little annoying, but it’s also considered a normal part of life. For millions around the world, though, getting a period every month can have serious consequences for school, jobs, and even health and personal safety.

In Nepal, for example, about 30% of girls miss school every month due to their periods, according to Her Turn. And UNICEF reports that 95% of girls surveyed in mid- and far western Nepal have to deal with some sort of restriction when they’re menstruating, due in large part to a tradition called chaupadi, which, depending on the culture, can mean women aren’t allowed to touch men, read books, or even sleep or eat in the same place as the rest of the family. In fact, many women are forced to stay in a shed during their periods, which means no heating during the winter, potential animal attacks, and even asphyxiation and burns due to trying to build fires in small spaces. Nepal’s Supreme Court ruled chaupadi illegal in 2005, but it’s still practiced in many places.

Even in places where chaupadi isn’t a tradition, girls still face challenges with menstruation because the facilities in their schools aren’t private or sanitary. Girls use newspaper, leaves, or even sand and ash instead of sanitary pads or tampons, simply because they don’t have access to or education about anything better!

And sure, skipping school might sound great, but it can have negative results in the future. The Girl Effect found that an additional year of primary school education can boost girls’ income from 10-20%. And an additional year of secondary school can raise it another 15-25%!

Taking all of this into account, several organizations got together last November to lead a discussion on menstruation and its effects on menstruation. Using the hashtag #PointPeriod, Her Turn and the Day of the Girl Summit asked and answered questions about the issue, hoping to raise awareness. It’s definitely worth checking out!

Phases of a Period Workout

Woman jogging on dirt road

Here are some great exercises for each phase of your menstruation cycle.
Image: Shutterstock

Building on our blog post from last week about period workouts, here are some specific exercises for each phase of your menstrual cycle, straight from GirlU founder Mayling Kajiya.

 

Menstruation Phase

Day 1 signals the first day of menstruation (bleeding). I wouldn't recommend doing too much on those days because you are probably uncomfortable. A simple walk or hike is sufficient.

 

Follicular Phase (Yay My Period is Over!)

Right after your period is over (maybe day 5) is the optimal time to really kick into high gear.

Yay my Period is Over Workout (YMPO Workout)

Warm up - light jog and stretch

3 rounds for time, no stopping between sets:

20 Burpees

15 Chair Stepups

15 Chair Pushups

20 Chair Tricep Dips

 

Ovulation Phase

It's time to turn it down a notch and go for longer, low-intensity exercises

Warm up - light jog or stretch

1 round:

20 Walkouts with legs straight, walking body out into a pushup position and walking back with straight legs

20 Forward Lunge with arms raised over your head and back knee almost touching the floor

20 Side Lunge (Lateral) with knees inline, toes and pushing your butt back

20 Curtsy Lunge

30 Ab Curls with legs resting 90 degrees on a chair

 

PMS Phase

This is the perfect time to go for a light jog, 3 miles max. Try going outside so you can enjoy the scenery! Or check out that Hatha yoga class that you’ve been eyeing. Even a meditation class would be great.

Your Workout and Your Period

Young woman running in forest

Working with your period, rather than against it, can help you plan a great period workout.
Image: Shutterstock

While it’s true that exercise is a great way to deal with period and PMS symptoms like bloating, it’s also true that sometimes you just don’t feel up to it. Have you ever noticed that your energy levels and exercise abilities change depending on where you are in your cycle? Working with your flow rather than against it when planning a period workout can make exercise a whole lot easier.

Rob Kominiarek, an Ohio physician who specializes in fitness and hormones, says that hormonal shifts during your period can affect your ability to exercise at optimal levels. For example, during the first week of your cycle, when you’re actually menstruating, your estrogen levels are lowest, which encourages your body to burn carbohydrates instead of fat. The takeaway? “Despite fatigue and muscle soreness, fast workouts are ideal and may feel easier on these days,” Kominiarek says. “This is the time to train and make gains in your fitness regimen.” Of course you should pay attention to your body and not push too hard! But the first week of your period workout is a great time to test your limits.

The next (roughly) 14 days of your cycle involve ovulation, which is a good time to slow things down a bit for your workout. Be sure to do plenty of warm-ups to loosen muscles and joints.

The luteal phase of your cycle, weeks three and four, involves a hormonal shift: your progesterone levels rise as your estrogen levels fall, which could lead to feeling more sluggish. In fact, according to Stacy Sims, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at Stanford University, you’re actually less tolerant of heat because progesterone levels delay your sweat response, so it takes longer to cool off. The trick here, according to Sims, is to take it a bit easier with lower intensity exercises—an easy run instead of interval training, for example, or simpler yoga poses. Or, if you’re really feeling lousy, take the day off! Just make sure to get back on track as soon as you’re feeling better.

Being mindful of where you are in your cycle can make for a much more effective period workout. With a bit of planning, you can get the most out of your workouts—and still give yourself time to take it easy when you need to!

(Looking for specific workouts for the different phases of your cycle?  Stay tuned....)

 

The Best GirlU Blogs of 2014

Girl Uninterrupted logo

Here's a look back at our best blog posts of 2014!

On the last day of 2014, we thought we’d take a look back at some of our most popular blog posts here at GirlU. If you’re looking for smart ways to deal with PMS symptoms, we’ve got you covered!

#5: 5 Tips for Dealing with Menstrual Cramps—Naturally!  Cramps are a pain—and then some! We reviewed some ways to deal with them that don’t necessarily involve popping pills. Simple lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress and making healthier food choices, can really make a difference!

#4: What to Do About Sore Breasts During Your Period  As with cramps, we pointed out quite a few natural solutions for dealing with sore breasts. The trick is to take a look at what habits are likely causing them and form a plan of action. In addition to the usual culprits, such as diet and exercise, breast soreness can be conquered with relaxation techniques and a properly fitted, supportive bra.

#3: Your PMS Survival Kit  We had so much fun throwing our Pampering Gift Basket Giveaway! In addition, we took a look at what might go into a PMS survival kit to keep you feeling good when your period’s got you down. Thanks to everyone who chimed in with their thoughts!

#2: Period Mythbusters  There are a lot of myths about periods and PMS out there, whether it’s rumors from your friends or things you read online. We focused on some of the biggest misconceptions about periods, including cycle length, whether or not to swim, and getting pregnant.

And the #1 most popular GirlU blog post for 2014:  What to Wear on Your Period Feeling crummy during that time of month shouldn’t mean you have to feel less than stylish! We put together some great options for work-appropriate wear that’s high on comfort as well as fashion.

We’ve enjoyed sharing our blog with you this year! Stay tuned in 2015 for more awesome tips and tricks for living uninterrupted!

12 Days of Period Health

Christmas fruit, nuts, and cookies covered in snow

In honor of the 12 days of Christmas: 12 tips for period health!
Image: Shutterstock

Did you know the 12 days of Christmas actually start on Christmas? That means after the usual festivities, you’ve got another set of days to celebrate! In the spirit of the traditional song, here are 12 tips for optimal period health as we see the year out.

On the first day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of movement. Sitting for long periods of time can be bad for your back, not to mention your overall health. And if you’re already feeling down that time of month, why make things harder on yourself? Take a break and move!

On the second day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of hydration. It’s no joke trying to get in the recommended 8 cups a day, but optimal water intake is essential for your health, not to mention curbing the worst PMS and period symptoms.

On the third day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of looking fabulous while exercising. You know exercise is important for alleviating cramps and other symptoms, but why not look fantastic while you’re at it?

On the fourth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of cutting back on caffeine and sweets. We’re not saying you have to give them up entirely—especially around the holidays!—but you’ll definitely have fewer PMS symptoms if you make a special effort to keep to the carrots rather than the cake during that time of the month.

On the fifth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of plenty of sleep. Being on your period can make you extra sleepy, so make sure you go to bed and get up at the same time every day to regulate your circadian rhythm.

On the sixth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of motivation. This one can be especially tough during winter, so make sure you reach out and get the support you need to keep up those healthy habits and keep away the PMS symptoms!

On the seventh day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a healthy breakfast. Don’t skip it! Starting the day with a healthy meal will keep your metabolism in gear and give you energy for the rest of the day—especially important during that time of the month.

On the eighth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of Love Uninterrupted. Check in with yourself and your partner about expectations hopes for your relationship so you’re starting off the year in a great place to weather the inevitable ups and downs. Don’t have a partner? Make sure your friends, family, and other loved ones know how you feel!

On the ninth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a walk outside. Get in a solid dose of daily sunlight and exercise, and watch your mood soar!

On the tenth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a soothing yoga session. Relax and alleviate period cramps and other symptoms at the same time with a gentle yoga routine.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a supportive bra. Nothing beats sore breasts like a bra that’s well-fitted and meant to last!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, I gave myself…the gift of a month’s supply of GirlU! The compact is super chic, but the best part is beating the PMS symptoms…for good!

Period Irregularities: What to Do About Them

OBGYN explaining period cycle

There are many reasons for period irregularities. If you're worried, you should definitely talk to your doctor!
Image: Shutterstock

While it would be great if your period worked like regular clockwork, occasional period irregularities are actually pretty normal. "The average cycle is 28 days—that's 28 days between the first day of one period and the first day of your next period—but anywhere in between 24 and 31 days is considered normal," says Veronica Lerner, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center.

If you’re noticing irregularities with your period, you might want to take a look at the potential factors below. Any of these could affect menstruation to varying degrees.

  • Excessive exercise. If you exercise a lot, you may notice that your periods come less frequently and are less heavy. This happens in part because of the combination of rigorous activity, low body fat, and stress on your body. While exercise is great for you in general, try not to overdo it! If your period is delayed more than three months, you should check in with your doctor.
  • Being overweight. Excess fat cells can caused elevated levels of estrogen, which can affect how and when—and if—your ovaries release an egg. Of course, that affects your period, too. Over time, too much weight can increase your risk of endometrial cancer. If you’re having weight problems, try talking to your doctor or a nutritionist.
  • Being underweight. Not weighing enough can cause period irregularities, too! This time the issue is that you’re not producing enough estrogen, as opposed to producing too much. If you’re just adjusting to some healthy weight loss, things should balance out in a few months. If irregularities last longer than that, though, it’s time for some professional help.
  • Any medication that can affect hormones, such as thyroid medication, steroids, or antipsychotics, can influence your period. Be sure to get the details on any potential side effects when taking prescriptions so you know what to expect.
  • Pesticides can act like hormones and also cause period irregularities. In fact, one study found that women exposed to pesticides were 60-100% more likely to have long cycles, missed periods, and spotting. One solution may be to go organic to limit your exposure to chemicals in your food.

There are a variety of reasons for period irregularities. In general, being off a month or two isn’t such a big deal. But if you’re really concerned, or think any of the above might be an issue for you, you should definitely consult your doctor.