A moment of vigorous chomping with my lips and why oh why does it remain super glued to my hips……..
Weight loss is ‘complicated’, the changes in hormones during our monthly cycles are ‘complicated’ and women (according to my husband!) are also ‘complicated’. Have you ever wondered why you can jump on the scales after a week of dieting and see either no weight loss or even a weight gain?
Have you noticed that at certain times of the month you crave carbohydrates and get severe munchies?! That you can run up a steep hill at the beginning of your monthly cycle yet at the end of your cycle the only climbing you want to do is onto a large and comfortable sofa?!
The changes in our bodies that occur during our monthly cycle really do influence our weight and well being. During the first two weeks of our cycle, we tend to have lots of energy and motivation, so this is prime ‘dieting time’. At the end of the second week we ovulate and with the changes in our hormone levels, many of us experience bloating and water retention. Over the next two weeks of our cycle as the levels of progesterone and oestrogen decline, we can experience more water retention (deep sigh!), constipation (even deeper sigh!), fatigue, irritability and cravings. The reason why we experience the ‘carb cravings’ is because our levels of serotonin, the ‘feel good’ hormone decline at the end of our cycle and carbohydrates (indirectly) help to promote serotonin production. The bloating and water retention tend to be relieved once our period begins and then the cycle begins again…..
Rather than cursing our treacherous bodies, we should work with them, hence, with a drum roll, I propose a new regime – ‘The Intermittent Monthly Approach to dieting for us wonderful women’ which consists of 3 stages:
First 2 weeks of the menstrual cycle – ‘Green Light’ for dieting!
Pick a diet, any diet (16/8, 5/2. alternate day, low carb, paleo) and it will tend to be really effective during these two weeks. As for exercise? High impact and high intensity to take advantage of your energy levels.
Ovulation – Amber Light
Drink plenty of fluids to help support any water retention. You may want to introduce slightly more whole grains, particularly if you’ve been avoiding them in the first two weeks of your cycle to help gear you up for the potential constipation/mood swings in the premenstrual period. Bring down the intensity of your workouts, and put the focus more on pilates, yoga and strength training.
Pre-menstrual – Red light – Don’t even think about dieting or weighing yourself!
Weighing yourself in the week before your period can often be a disaster. The combination of water retention and constipation can add 2-3 kgs to your weight – so just don’t do it to yourself! Put the focus on ‘healthy eating’ rather than dieting and aim for 3 balanced meals with 1 small snack if necessary. Don’t skip meals (as this will back fire horribly! ) and increase your wholegrain carbohydrates to help support your serotonin levels. Focus on walking and yoga and try to get enough sleep.
As for weighing yourself in general? You can weigh yourself on a weekly basis during the first 2 weeks of your cycle. I’d then suggest putting the scales away and only weighing yourself again at the beginning of your next cycle. Monitor your weight month on month, rather than week by week.
We take diets very seriously and sometimes we forget that we are allowed to play. The ultimate diet is the one which works for you and I’d also add here, an optimal eating plan works with your body, not against it!