Growing up, I’ll admit that I was one of the lucky ones when it came to my period. I rarely ever needed a super sized tampon, had virtually no PMS symptoms and could eat what I wanted with minimal bloating repercussions. I was living the good life in comparison to some of my female friends. But I didn’t get off easily.
As soon as I hit my 30s, everything changed. My body started to retain water like crazy around my lady time, my cravings became so intense that fighting them off made me feel like I was hypoglycemic and the weight started to really pile on, despite being someone who is avidly active and pays good attention to my nutrition. If this sounds all too familiar, you’re not alone. The first couple years of my 30s have been an intense internal battle with my body. I’ve gained quite a few extra unwanted pounds and despite many tests and visits to the doctor, I’m in perfect health overall.
My hormones however, have made other plans, and it’s actually quite commonplace. Here’s how to cope with your body and weight loss efforts when your period becomes an even bigger enemy.
Accept yourself now.
First and foremost, and as hard as it is, you need to know that it’s not your fault and before you allow yourself to sink into a hole of self loathing, you are still just as amazing as always. Your body doesn’t define you and despite some of those supposed “motivational quotes”, your fluffier body doesn’t tell the story of bad habits. There are many thin people out there who pump themselves full of toxic things and still look amazing. Your first mission is to look at yourself, I mean REALLY look at yourself and know that you, thick thighs, bloated belly, fluff and all, are spectacular just as you are.
Give yourself time to adjust.
Figuring out hormonal imbalances isn’t a one day fix. While you may get lucky and find the solution quicker than others, you also may find yourself playing with a lot of new changes to find what your body responds to best. For some, a simple supplement to correct a sudden vitamin deficiency will do. For others, a higher intensity of activity might be required to see lasting changes and progress. At the end of the day, you need to give yourself permission to fight the battle mindfully- and with plenty of time.
Visit a doctor to rule out underlying concerns.
When it comes to any noteworthy health changes, especially weight gain despite a mostly healthy lifestyle, you want to be sure that there are no other hidden reasons for your body’s sudden changes. Visit your doctor and voice your concerns. They’ll work with you to create an action plan to better your health and help to assess what’s actually occurring.
Trust that you will find balance.
It’s all too easy for us women to get swept away in self loathing- especially when it comes to our bodies. As if periods weren’t a big enough pain in the was as it is, they can twist and turn as we age and make the outside image of ourselves feel unacceptable. Here’s the thing though; you’re a woman, and as such you are already fucking amazing. No other species can withstand the severe changes your body is meant to go through. Give yourself some credit and trust that your hormonal shift will eventually find it’s harmony again.
Dial up the intensity.
It never hurts to push yourself a little bit further. Walk an extra 2,000 steps a day. Run an extra mile. Lift another set on those weights. Your body is meant to be challenged and your period is a good demonstration of just how much you can and have been pushed. If you can survive monthly cramps, bloating and the perils of having a female body, you certainly can handle giving your body a little bit extra of the goodness it needs too.
Talk to other women about it- you’d be surprised how many can relate.
One of the biggest things I’ve noticed about women as I get older is our reluctance to admit to other women when we’re struggling, like actually struggling. It goes beyond the quick and blindly spoken “I feel fat” comments, it’s a lot deeper than that. Many of us don’t want to divulge the realities of WHY we’ve gained or lost weight, and it’s a shame more of us aren’t willing to share the real life struggles, because most of us suffer in silence for fear of being judged or criticised. Ladies, we have GOT to be more supportive of one another. We need to be helping each other and offering real advice to better one another. Start talking and start working to empower each other on a body positive level.
Tune out the bullshit society standards.
I hear ya. But what will people think? How will people respond to your body changes? Won’t people think hormone changes is just a sorry ass excuse? Stop this negative self talk. Society is a bit of a jerk. Okay, a lot of a jerk, actually- so screw what society thinks. What’s more important? Society, or your normal human health changes and working towards a better you? The answer should be simple.
Talk to yourself positively.
When I first started gaining the weight and not seeing the quick results I was used to with my typical active lifestyle, I’ll admit it, I was a bit of a basket case. I hated myself. I remember one occasion vividly when I attempted to zip up one of my favorite dresses which was now too small and falling to my bedroom floor crying uncontrollably while my boyfriend stared in horror. I didn’t want to be that woman but I was her. I lived in her self loathing skin for far too long before I decided something needed to change. I began spending a few minutes a day staring at my naked self in front of a mirror and instead of dissecting every detail I hated, I gave myself permission to look how I do knowing that I’m working on myself too. After all, if you can’t love yourself in the present, you’ll only be forever chasing an ideal that will rob you of the present day joys. You’ve got to live for now and love yourself right now.
Don’t give up on your health and happiness.
Have you hit a roadblock? Yes. Have you gained some weight you prefer you didn’t? Sure. Welcome to every woman’s life. Our bodies are the thing that we obsess over from the time we hit puberty right until we’re too old to care anymore. Yes, your health is important and I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive to be in the best health you can, but overall health means mental happiness just as much as it means your organs are working and your heart is beating as it should. So keep going. Keep improving. Keep striving for your own greatness and don’t let some pesky period changes get in your way. You’re stronger and more beautiful than you think.
Photo courtesy of HuffPost