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Friday, September 22, 2017

Have you wondered how your body manages to pile on extra kilos when you’re on your period? Pearl Mathias explains why this happens and brings you simple ways to remedy it

Stomach cramps, general fatigue and extreme moodiness are just some of the unwelcome guests at our period party. And, while we are slowly learning how to tackle each of these as they attack us simultaneously, another issue we’re all too familiar with, weight gain, decides to pile on as well. Yes, if you’ve noticed the needle of the weighing scale going a bit further than usual during this time of the month, you’re not imagining things. Period weight gain is a thing! And, if you’re still scratching your head about why this happens, we’re decoding it for you. And, we’re also bringing you a few exercises to practise as well as some lifestyle changes that you can make in order to shed those kilos.

We’ve gone out of our way to stick to our strict diets. Passing up that tempting choco lava cake for a bowl of fruit salad isn’t the most satisfying way to end a meal. And, at the end of it all, if we’re still going to pile on extra kilos, what good has it done? Well, in order to deal with it, you should understand why this happens to your body. Here’s why you may feel like you’ve put on weight when on your period.

Giving in to cravings
Remember that chocolate chip brownie with a dollop of ice cream that you absolutely had to have one evening? That, coupled with several other mood soothers, could add up to the weight gain during this time. Although we won’t argue on this front — a woman wants what a woman wants, right? — these sweet cravings are ultimately the culprit.

A victim of oestrogen
Right before your period, the female sex hormone oestrogen peaks, and this leads to fluid retention in the body. If you haven’t been able to put a finger on why you feel bloated in the days leading up to your period, the rise in the levels of oestrogen could be the cause. But, this uneasy feeling may subside for a while as you start your period and the levels of oestrogen dip.

Another hormone at play
While we’re getting used to the painful cramps, there’s another hormone that slowly awakens. The hormone progesterone starts to act up. A spike in these levels leads to breast tenderness and water weight in some cases.

“There’s no way I’m working out!”
Our sentiments exactly! The last thing you want to do when you’re in the middle of mood fluctuations and a looming feeling of fatigue is to get into your gym clothes and work the treadmill. While we’d all love to cosy up on the couch with a tub of Mövenpick, this may not be the best thing for our bodies. A lack of exercise could also be responsible for weight gain during your period.

Get your body working
Working out during your period need not be the exhaustive ordeal that it’s made out to be. If you’re keen on shedding the weight that you’ve gained on your period, or even continue with your workout routine no matter what time of the month it is, here are a few simple exercises you can practise to stay on track.

Slip into bliss
Although you may prefer to sleep instead of taking up a session of meditation, if you want to relax aching muscles, certain yoga stretches have been found to be beneficial. If you don’t want to stretch your body, settle into a comfortable posture and meditate. Deep breathing relaxes the muscles of the uterus, which can alleviate the pain that comes with cramps.

Get your groove on
This is our favourite form of working out and you won’t need much convincing to get on board. Simply turn up the music and dance your heart out! The least rigorous of exercise regimes, dancing is an instant mood-lifter and will keep you energetic and active on your period.

Quite a stretch
Are the stomach cramps and backache getting to you? What your body needs is a good stretch. Focus on taking deep breaths while you’re stretching because this helps to dissipate any tightness that you might be feeling in your muscles.

Dive right in
You may already be aware that swimming helps blood circulation and blood flow in the body. If you’re dealing with stiff joints or your lower back is giving you trouble during your period, a few laps around the pool may help. But, if you experience difficulty breathing while on your period, it’s better to avoid stepping into the pool at this time.

Apart from exercise, there are a few simple lifestyle changes that you can make in order to stay fit and healthy when on your period. We asked celebrity fitness expert Vinod Channa as well as nutrition, fitness and yoga expert, Smitha Shetty, to give us a few tips.

Eat right: Smitha advises choosing fresh, regional and seasonal food. Eating good food will ensure that you get the nutrients you need and that you don’t experience water retention. Also, it will help control the sharp spike in hormones. 

Sleep soundly: Sleep is a tonic for both a healthy body and a healthy mind. “Good quality sleep facilitates many hormones to do their job, while poor sleep habits disturb the hormonal rhythm, which contributes to weight grain around and during your period,” says Smitha.

Nutrition necessity: Vinod advises drinking plenty of water to alleviate water retention and bloating and to keep your gut functioning well. “Minimise how much salt you consume and eat more iron, calcium and protein-rich foods when you’re on your period,” he says.


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