To Exercise, or Not to Exercise...

Sick and with my period, posing on the Fit Former was the best I could do!

Sick and with my period, posing on the Fit Former was the best I could do!

I made an Instagram post about this, the other day, and decided the topic was “blog worthy”. Exercise. Is it good always? What about when you’re sick? When you have your period?

Contrary to popular belief, strenuous exercise isn’t always good for you, and in fact, when you have your period, or are sick, it can actually knock things more out of whack. Today, I’m explaining why changing up your exercise routine is helpful, and how relaxing might be the best gift to your body.


We know that exercise is good for us; it helps us sweat (which releases toxins), burn calories, release endorphins, get toned and feel better. But have you ever wondered why some days you crush a workout, and others are extremely hard to get through? A lot of it actually has to do with where you are in your cycle!

When we end our period, we begin the Follicular Phase, where estrogen is increased. During this time, our physical energy increases, as well, and we feel very outgoing - ready to tackle something new! This is the perfect time to try something new, with exercise, as well! Because of where you are, in your cycle, stepping out and trying something new will also feel easier, compared to other times of the month. Since energy is increasing, it’s a good time to do more challenging workouts, as well; your body will feel more apt to.

After the Follicular Phase, we move into the Ovulatory Phase, where FSH, LH and estrogen levels are increased, and eventually, ovulation takes place. During this time, your energy levels are the highest they’ll be, so high-impact exercise is going to work really well! Aside from that, this is a wonderful time for communication, and group-fitness classes are a wonderful option, allowing you to exercise, while connecting with others.

Next, we move to the Luteal Phase, which is the last phase before your period. Progesterone rises during this time, caused by the events of ovulation. This phase can differ from start to finish, since physical energy can start off high, but decline by the time it’s ending (and menstruation is near). When energy is still high, toward the beginning, strenuous activity is okay to do. But as menstruation nears, it’s important to back off, especially since this is the time when more women are prone to feeling sluggish. During this time, lower resistance exercises are nice; where you can still work your muscles, but not put your body through a lot.

The Menstrual Phase is the product of the previous month’s experiences, and usually (depending on how the month went), your period will be a good gauge. Progesterone drops, and estrogen peaks, before dropping, to prepare for another cycle. During this process, your body is going through an intense-shedding process, physically and mentally, and it’s important to give it all the restoring love you can. This means, rest and recovery are important! By no means should you not exercise, at all, but be smart. Restorative yoga and stretching are most-beneficial.

*Personally, I take the first few days of my period off, when it comes to exercise. I know a lot of women like to move their body to help with physical symptoms (like cramping), and this is okay! Just be cautious; too much heavy exercise can deplete your already-exhausted bod.


Now how about when you’re sick? Isn’t sweating good for releasing toxins? Yes, it definitely can be, but think about everything else you’re releasing: hydration, already-depleted energy, germs. While you might feel comfortable enough to exercise, while you’re sick, be smart! If you’re contagious, stay home. You don’t want to contribute to your illness lasting longer, or risk the potential of getting others sick.

Your immune system is already tired, working overtime to get you feeling better. Chances are, the harder you work your body, the more tired it’ll get, and the longer your illness will last.


It’s easy for exercise to become addicting; the endorphins released cause us to feel good, and we want those feelings to continue. However, it’s important to be smart; over-exerting yourself, always, isn’t a good option. Your body, just like your mind, needs rest and relaxation, in order to thrive. The next time you’re feeling tired, or worn out, think about where you are in your cycle, or if you’re righting an illness. Sometimes, the best gift we can give to ourselves is rest.

xoxo,

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PS: Stay tuned for my “Going off Birth Control/Naturally Regulating Your Hormones” ebook, which will be for sale soon! Cycle-syncing, with exercise, will be mentioned in it!

Five Things I Learned From Doing Nothing Extra, For a Week

Rest

I've been in a funk, these last few weeks...er, months. Anxious feelings regarding time, health, money, career, and future has put me into a bit of a tizzy. Attempting to fix this, I first tried to push forward; forgetting the anxiety, the doubt, and charging on. When that didn't work, and I was left feeling more defeated than before, I was left with a question a best friend and I had asked one another, a couple of weeks ago, "Why does it take a tremendous amount of effort to feel content?"

After tuning into this question again, last week, I knew what I needed to try next: absolutely f*ing nothing.

Below is a list of what became evident, after doing so:

1. Work doesn't care (or notice) if you're on or off.

This can sound pretty grim, right? And I admit, it kind of can be. But this can be a good thing, too. Remember, if you're having a slow day (or week, or month or quarter), personally, don't let it worry you. Chances are work doesn't notice whether you're on or off, so don't worry so much about getting every last email sent in the next two hours, or chiming up in every meeting. Give yourself time to relax a bit, and just be. With an overachiever personality this can be difficult, right? I know this firsthand. But ask yourself this question: "If I don't do this, will anybody notice?" If the answer is no, set it aside for a while and chill out.

2. You don't need to do all and be all.

It's hard when everyone, everywhere seems to be though, right?! Yeah, I get that. What if you forgot all about them, forgot all about your to-do list, and just focused on the basic needs, each day. What NEEDS to get done? Food, yes. Laundry, maybe? Errands, probably. Mowing the lawn, not necessarily. Make a list of priorities and number them 1-3. 1s get priority; those need to get done. 2s maaaybe, and 3s only if you have time. Give yourself time to focus on the 3s on a weekend, or a time you are a bit more flexible, and ready, mentally.

*A side-note on doing all and being all, from a mental standpoint. I know, firsthand, how draining it is to feel the need to constantly run yourself ragged trying to get somewhere, be someone, or get something accomplished. Remember this, nothing is going to get accomplished WELL if you do it in a hurried manner. If you're busy comparing yourself to someone else who SEEMS to be doing it all, unfollow them, or stop looking.

3. Naps are life. Take more of them.

What do you do after work? Are you exhausted when you get home? This week, I purposefully didn't schedule anything right after work and napped, instead. One day, it was for two hours; another day was thirty minutes. Yesterday, it was 5 minutes before the dogs barked and the phone rang. Sometimes, your brain (and body) just need a little recharge. It doesn't need to be long, and in fact, sometimes it's better if it's not. The next time you find yourself stressed to the max, turn the lights off, draw the shades and give yourself a little siesta time. Set your alarm if need-be. You'll be amazed how better life seems after.

4. It's great to be inspired. It's fine not to be.

This hits home more than anything else. We live in a society where everyone is pressured to be their most creative-self, always. Overthinking, overworking, always focused on that up and coming next step or project. And when the juices are flowing and we're feeling like we're really making headway on a project or idea, great! HOWEVER, please remember that even the most creative individuals have periods of "blah".

It's okay to wake up and not be looking forward to anything. It's okay to feel like you're in a rut. It's okay to not know your plan for career, family, money or even what to make for dinner, that night. The majority of life isn't glamorous, or inspiring. They're those little, inside puzzle pieces; while frustrating, trying to piece together, absolutely part of the whole picture/design.

Embrace your "blah", whenever you're experiencing it.

5. Self-care isn't all bubble baths and massages.

Today, I was chatting with a friend about doing the bare minimum. At first, I used the phrase "lazy" (which is one we like to joke about, often). However, as soon as I mentioned it, I came to a beautiful realization: doing the bare minimum is what my mind and body NEEDED, and therefore, that wasn't lazy at all; it was a form of self-care. And honestly, the best form of self-care out there; one that didn't require money, or added time.

To me, that's what self-care really is; those choices you make for the greater good of your mind, body and soul. Yes, it could be a bubble bath, at the end of a long day, or treating yourself to a spa-day; however, so often it's the even smaller, more essential things, like saying "no", sleeping in, staying home, eating outside instead of in, flossing your teeth, adding cinnamon to your coffee, doing NOTHING. The tiniest changes, add-ons, or take-outs. Sometimes, the best form of self-care is eliminating.


Why is it so hard to find satisfaction in being ordinary?

For me, this is the biggest struggle. It's hard to stay still and "be", because I want to be more than that; I want to be extraordinary and shine in everything I do; I want to do what everyone else is, and more. Perfectionism at its worst. However, by recognizing that the constant drive to be extraordinary might be affecting my health, as a whole, I've been able to dial that back.

Do what you can, with the time you have, and don't get so caught up in doing more, all of the time. You're enough.

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In the words of Fred Rogers, "You don't ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you. When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see, or hear, or touch."

 

xoxo,

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