PMS #tbt

pms tbt_finalToday is a #tbt of some of our favorite PMS Relief blog posts!  There are many ways to naturally alleviate some of the worst symptoms of PMS, but it is really, really difficult to stay the course using healthy alternatives when your body is in revolt and your willpower is flagging.   Fatigue and pain sometimes get the better of us, so give yourself a break if you just need a nap or a candy bar.

PMS Bloating: One of the best things to do is disguise it with good wardrobe choices since this is temporary water weight gain.

Period Cramps: Bring on the external heat and double up with a cup of tea to warm up from the inside as well.

Food Cravings: The number one tip is to employ a distraction long enough so that the temptation passes.  But, there is nothing like a healthy diet and we offered up these smoothie recipes to help with PMS symptoms.

Sore Breasts: Breasts do get tender and swollen from hormonal changes, but check your bra size because squished boobs hurt even worse on PMS days.

Low Self Esteem:  Does it seem like everyone else is posting happy pics on social media? Take a screen break and take your workout outside.

PMS Acne: Don’t pick, just keep your hands off your face.  Have you seen those articles about all of the “yuck” on your smart phone? You do not want to transfer that to your pores.

PMS Nausea: Eat regular meals and good snacks so your blood sugar doesn’t plummet.

Mood Swings: To calm the drama, get a sweat going.

Period Headaches:  Good food choices and plenty of sleep can help keep these at bay.

Fight through the temptation and make smart food choices, get plenty of rest at night and get moving during the day!

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!

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

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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 Mythbusters

Pads and tampon with red calendar background

Here's a look at some of the period myths you no longer have to live by!
Image: Shutterstock

You’ve probably heard a lot of things about having a period that just aren’t true. Because many folks have a hard time talking openly about menstruation, it’s easy for period myths to build up, especially amongst younger women who may not feel they have a good place to get solid answers to their questions.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Let’s get out there with some period mythbusting action! Have you ever fallen for any of the period myths below?

 

MYTH: You can’t go swimming when you have your period.

TRUTH: You absolutely CAN go swimming! Just make sure you’re using the right protection for the task at hand—probably a tampon or menstrual cup. Pads aren’t going to do you much good in the pool!

 

MYTH: Exercising during your period is bad for you.

TRUTH: Exercise is generally always good for you, especially if you suffer from cramps. If you have severe cramping (dysmenorrhea) or excessive blood flow (menorrhagia), you may want to check with your doctor first, though.

 

MYTH: You shouldn’t have sex when you have your period.

TRUTH: There’s no medical reason not to have sex even if you’re having your period. It might be a bit messy, but that’s between you and your partner.

 

MYTH: You can’t get pregnant on your period.

TRUTH: Since it’s possible for ovulation to occur during your period, it’s possible for you to get pregnant. It’s extremely unlikely, but if you have a particularly short menstrual cycle that puts your ovulation and menstruation very close, it could happen. The only way to definitely NOT get pregnant is to either not have sex or always use birth control/condoms when you do.

 

MYTH: A menstrual cycle always lasts 28 days.

TRUTH: Cycles are as varied as the people who have them. Twenty-eight days is only an average; some cycles are as short as 21 days, while others can last up to 35 days. Different kinds of birth control can also affect the length and heaviness of a period.

 

There are plenty of period myths out there, so be sure to check with your doctor and other reputable sources to make sure you’re getting the most accurate information. Your health and peace of mind are worth it!

7 Fall Fitness Tips

Woman jogging through fall leaves

Check out these 7 tips for jumpstarting your fall workout!
Image: Shutterstock

Sure, the weather’s getting colder, but it’s actually a great time to get out there and work on your fitness routine. Whereas New Year’s resolutions often fade after the party, starting a new workout plan in fall allows you to create good habits for the holiday season. And if you’re in school—or your kids are—you probably think of September as the beginning of the year anyway!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get started with your fall workout:

  1. Work with the weather. Get inspired by gorgeous fall leaves by walking, running, biking, or skating in the park. And if you’re lucky enough to live near a beach or lake, your options for kayaking and canoeing are wider than ever, since those areas tend to be less crowded during the fall.
  1. Learn something new. School isn’t the only thing that starts in the fall! Gyms often start new classes around this time of year, which means great introductory sales. Plus, if you’re learning something new, you’ll likely start off slowly with burning calories and build up as you become more comfortable with the new routine. By that time, it’ll be warm weather again—just when you want to be toning up for swimsuit season.
  1. Focus on you. Wellness is about more than just your body. Consider working on other areas, too: take up meditation or yoga, learn a new language, take an art class. Expand your horizons.
  1. Give it time. The amount of time it takes your body to get used to a new workout varies, but many experts agree that three to six weeks is about right. So if you feel like giving up right away…don’t! Commit to your routine (with modifications as you need them) for the best results. Make your life easier by choosing something that’s fun and convenient—a nearby walk, a video you can do at home, or a gym class that’s on the way home from work or school.
  1. Don’t be scared of the dark! Fall usually means it gets darker earlier, so if you’re going to be outside, make sure to wear light-colored clothing, a reflective vest, and/or lights so cars can see you.
  1. Layers are your friends. The experts recommend three layers to keep you warm and dry. The layer closest to your skin should be clothing with wicking capabilities, often called DriFIT. This awesome fabric wicks moisture away from your skin, which keeps you from having to deal with being wet and cold. Over that, you should have a layer to keep you warm, and on the outside, a layer to deal with the elements—a windbreaker or raincoat, for example.
  1. Motivate yourself! Remember why you’re doing this workout. Are you trying to lose weight? Tone up? Get ready for a 5k? Everyone has different reasons, and you’re more likely to stick with a routine that means something to you.

Don’t let fall pass you by! It’s a great time to take stock of your workout and enjoy the best parts of the season.

4 Reasons You Gain Weight During Your Period—And What to Do About It

Woman's feet in colorful socks on  scale

Weight gain during your period is common, but there are a bunch of small, easy things you can do.
Image: Shutterstock

Weight gain during your period is common—most women gain anywhere from one to ten pounds leading up to and during menstruation. But why does the weight gain happen…and what can you do about it?

Basically, it all comes down to the fluctuation of hormones and the changes happening in your body.  Some common reasons for weight gain:

  • Water retention. Bowel problems and the natural drop of progesterone during your period seem to be the most common reasons for this.
  • Bloating. This could be caused by increased gas in the intestine or just more inactivity than usual (sometimes it’s hard to keep the exercise regular when you’re not feeling your best!).
  • Food cravings and overeating. With sugar levels fluctuating, period cravings may begin affecting what—and how much—you eat, which can lead to weight gain.
  • Decrease in magnesium. The magnesium levels in your body tend to go down just before your period, which causes insulin levels to rise. That’s why you crave sugar, which can lead to reaching for an extra candy bar…and gaining a few pounds in the process.

So that’s the bad news. Now…what can you do about it?

It’s important to note that period weight gain is often temporary. Particularly when you’re younger, you’re likely to lose the weight again right after your period without having to switch up your diet or exercise much.  As you get closer to menopause, however, the weight gain can get worse—as much as 15 pounds or more—and harder to lose.  So here are a few tips on stopping that weight gain in its tracks:

  • Reduce sodium intake. Yes, it’s hard to cut out the fast food when you’ve got the craving, but too much sodium can cause water retention and weight gain. So you’re better off cutting back on the salt as much as possible.
  • Reduce bloating. We’ve got some great tips on how to do that over here.
  • Increase your magnesium and calcium intake. Cooked spinach, black beans, and pumpkin seeds are all good sources of magnesium. Keeping an eye on your calcium intake by drinking milk and eating leafy green veggies can help prevent water retention. You can also look into taking a nutritional supplement.
  • Try yoga. The exercises can be soothing while still keeping you active. Depending on how you feel, there may be certain poses you need to avoid, but it’s worth giving it a try with these yoga poses for menstruation.

Weight gain during your period is no fun, but it’s not necessarily something to worry about. Just keep these tips in mind, and stay as active as you can, and you’ll find maintaining your ideal weight much more easily.

How to Stay Motivated to Be Healthy

Resources for motivation to be healthy

Staying motivated to be healthy can be tough, but there are resources out there to help you!
Image: Shutterstock

However good your intentions may be, it’s hard sometimes to work up the motivation to stick with healthy habits like workouts or eating well. But there are a lot of resources out there to help keep you motivated to be healthy!

  • Insurance perks. Some insurance programs actually reward healthy behavior with benefits like discounts on their services and prizes ranging from movie tickets to a free iPad! Be sure to check with your insurance company to see what they offer.
  • Health blogs. Of course you’ll want to research the claims and make sure they’re backed up with solid data, but blogs are a great way to connect with fitness and health professionals as well as others trying to get and stay healthy. The blog format also lets you ask questions, make comments, and maintain a community of like-minded folks who can keep your motivation going.
  • Health apps. There probably is an app for that—whether “that” is tracking calories, organizing a workout, or a cool way to gamify your healthy habits. Some of these apps will even reward you with real cash: The app Pact lets you set goals and, once you’ve achieved them, get financial rewards. And that’s not even counting all the apps that help you find bike routes (BikeNav), interpret nutrition labels (Fooducate), and more.
  • Social networks. Sure, you could use your Facebook account to kvetch about work…or you could use it to team up with other people who are trying to make healthy choices. Just like in the offline world, finding people who support your efforts means a better chance of achieving your goals.   In fact, Penn State has done the research: people who had the support of a friend, family member, or significant other logged more fitness hours than those who didn’t.
  • Find healthy habits you love. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it really works. When you love what you’re doing to be healthy, you’re more likely to do it. Try lots of activities and recipes until something really strikes your fancy.

Staying motivated to be healthy can be tough, but when your motivation is lacking, know you’ve got plenty of resources out there to help you get back on top of your game!