When Aunt Flo is visiting from Redland, should you workout?

Google spits out around 9,600,000 results when I ask it, “Can I workout on the first day of my period?”  It’s fair to say this question bothers many. You might be one of them.

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So—can you?

Well. Before I give my two cents on the subject, here is a little story for you.

September 2003.

The third week of school was in full swing, but the weather remained gorgeous.

Trying to take advantage of the nice day, my PE teacher led the class outside.

As usual, we all lined up by height. Boys were first, and then girls followed right after. I stood next to my best friend, who was an inch taller than me, making me the second tallest girl in class.

The Phys Ed teacher took attendance, and questioned those without workout clothes. I was among those people.

“Lana, why didn’t you change?”

“I can’t workout.”

“Why not?”

Blushing neck to hair line and ear to ear (but proud AF), I replied, “I’m on my period.”

These magic words allowed me to skip class and enjoy life while talking about boyfriends, celebs, and parents with my girlfriends.

Even though I had played sports since I was five, I hated PE classes more than anything. I tried many things to skip gym, from forging excuse letters from my mom myself to pretending I had stomachaches. Sometimes it worked, other times I ended up visiting the principal’s office.

But when I finally got my period, I had a legitimate excuse once a month to skip the class. Unlike today, you wanted to have your period more than anything—because back home, we had Phys Ed classes not once, not twice, but three times a week, starting from the first grade all the way until eleventh.

What was the reason behind letting us skip the class? I still don’t know. But I didn’t complain.

Today, however, no one wants their time-of-the-month. During my period, like a werewolf at the full moon, I transform into a witchy bitch. Slight cramps here and there start to appear about seven days prior.  Irritability peaks at around three days approaching the start. And an always-hungry creature wakes up a day or two before. I should carry a sign around those days that says, “Enter at your own risk.”

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Since we’re all different and our bodies are different too, your PMS may feel different from mine. But I hope you’d agree that there are similarities in symptoms. At one point or another you’ve probably experienced any or all of the above:

Mood swings.

Increased appetite.

Bloating.

Irritation.

Decreased energy levels.

Low libido.

Cramps.

Headaches.

There are many others but these ones are pretty common.

It’s safe to say that your period has an effect on your day-to-day life.

But can it affect your gym schedule? Should you workout? Or should you skip the gym and spend your day with a bottle of wine and a pint of mint chocolate ice cream?

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I hate to say it, but since we’re all different, there is no definite answer. Some women have a terrible time with PMS and can barely move, while others don’t experience it at all. You’ll have to listen to your body and play it by ear.

If you do decide to exercise, PMS may affect your workouts in a few ways :

  • Decrease in performance – Some women experience this; some don’t. So if you feel a little bit sluggish, and everything feels heavy, it’s okay to lower the numbers on the barbell or switch to lighter weights. You didn’t get weaker; you’re about to get your period.
  • Increased soreness or DOMS – It’s common to experience more soreness during the week leading up to your period. If you didn’t introduce a new exercise or change your program, but you wake up sore AF, know that it might be because you’re about to bleed.
  • Low motivation – A few months back, I started noticing that for two-to-three days out of the month, I wouldn’t want to go to the gym. I’d feel weary and all I’d want to do is stay home and do nothing. So I’d exactly than, and then be hard on myself, because I skipped a workout—until I realized that I felt that way because of my period, and I wasn’t a lazy ass. It’s alright to skip a for a day or two. Don’t be hard on yourself. It’s normal. But if you do force yourself to go to the gym, opt for cardio or something less demanding than your typical workouts.

Knowing these things, you can now make the decision about whether you should or shouldn’t workout during your period. It’s your body. You do you.

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