Having a Fit Period
If the title didn't scare you off, boys, I'll just say right here that you probably aren't encountering the issues I'm writing about in my post today.
My period was this past week and I realized that while large publications like Women's Health have done sponsored posts about fitness and your period, there aren't a TON of us little peons writing about it. SO! Today, we're talking about not letting your period hold you back from hitting those fitness goals. And really, just not letting your period disrupt your routine. You've worked hard to build up these healthy habits to let Aunt Flow get in the way.
I'm going to run through a few tips in general about beating that fatigued feeling that comes with your period, about fighting the discomfort of cramps both with and without poppin' Advil, and about products I've found that work well for me during that time of the month.
I've always had a shitty relationship with my period. I started taking Yaz (like no one prescribes it anymore because it was so hardcore it was more frequently causing blood clots in women than anything else on the market) when I was 16 because my periods were A) TOTALLY INCONSISTENT and B) so bad/heavy/painful I would have to stay home from school. I ran a fever with it! I took Yaz and a prescription painkiller (it was just a stronger dose of ibuprofen) until 2010 (four years after I started taking Yaz) when I switched to Seasonique, which gave me four periods a year. Magic. I switched to NuvaRing just over a year ago, because I was hesitant for the IUD (I passed out from the pain of the Gardasil shot, I would probably just die from the pain of inserting an IUD #wimp). NuvaRing is great, and I DO have the option of skipping periods, kinda like with the pill, but I feel better just having my period once a month, to be honest.
That means that I went 6/7 years of only four periods a year (one each SEASON, hence the name) to suddenly having regular periods again. So for the past year, as I've started teaching fitness and running more, I've had to learn how to prevent my period from killing my fitness vibes. Here's what I've learned.
✶ Sign up for a class.
Sign up for a fitness class that you CANNOT CANCEL. Most places charge you if you cancel less than 8 hours before the class, or if you no-show. Sign up within 12 hours and don't back down. The first step to this is to convince yourself to hold the routine. I mean give yourself the pep talk or all pep talks. Watch Rudy or Hoosiers or Remember the Titans and just get yourself hyped for your class.
I will warn you that cycling classes are a little bit rough with a tampon in, no matter how comfortable or well-positioned it is. I have found my "Holy Grail" fitness tampon and even it is not immune to the weird way your body sits and honestly, clenches and adjusts, on a bike seat.
✶ Ease your cramps and headaches
You have options here. I'm an Advil girl. I pop two liquid gels for my headaches and cramps on the first two days of my period. I'll take them twice a day, max. Other things that help:
- ThermaCare patches <--These are CLUTCH. I've used them my entire post-pubescent life. You can get them at CVS, Walgreens, Jewel, Target, Walmart, etc and sometimes they're by the feminine care and others with muscle pain relief. They make them specifically for cramps.
- A good old fashioned heating pad
- Peppermint Candles
- Peppermint Essential oil (diffused or diluted and put on your temples)
- Saje Wellness Peppermint Halo (peppermint and lavender in a roller ball)
✶ Be ready for some weird things
Okay to be real, being active on your period might make things a little weird. I'm gonna try to avoid gross details, but the exertion can mess with your flow and what your body decides to discharge. Just be ready for it. It's not bad, so don't use this as an excuse. Just different. Deep breaths. You can handle different.
✶ Find products that work for you
I want to reiterate that not only is this not sponsored, I had to pay full price for these (minus a $.50 coupon for the Tampax brand) You can find coupons online, including on the P&G website.
Okay, so I tried the following tampons over the past two periods specifically for this post: Tampax Pearl, Playtex Sport, U by Kotex Sleek, U by Kotex Fitness. For pads, I tried Always Infinity and U by Kotex Fitness and honestly I felt that they both performed similarly, but more on that below. I ALWAYS use pads overnight because I'm horrified of the possibility of Toxic Shock Syndrome. Here's how they fared.
Okay. Let's talk about this. First of all, I grew up HATING tampons. I used pads nearly exclusively, unless swimming, until about junior year of college. I am VERY picky about how a tampon should feel...and by that, I mean I believe it should NOT feel. I don't want to think about it, ever, which means I hypothetically shouldn't feel it. When testing these this week, my period was moderate/heavy, and I wear only regular tampons for short increments. I wear pads when I'm chilling around the house, and again, the two I listed are both thin and absorbent.
**I do realize every vagina is different and you might not agree! If that's the case, lmk what you like and don't like below!**
Let's talk Tampax Pearl, which is typically the "gold standard" of tampons. I wore it to a CX class at Cycle X with Shannon. Sorry, but I hate them. I feel like I have a piece of synthetic cotton shoved up my vagina, and that does NOT make me want to work out, okay? I will give it this: I did not leak. But...for $10 for a 24 count, I'ma pass.
Next up, Playtex Sport. I personally think this is the least comfortable tampon I have ever put in. I have ALWAYS found it to be the least comfortable tampon, since those times I needed them for swimming in High School. I wore it to a TORCH class at Studio Three. They're average priced at about $7, but when I wore it, it LEAKED. Thank god I had a liner on. I out a fresh one in right before the class and by the end I could tell I was leaking (which is a horrible feeling).
Okay. My favorite two options: U by Kotex Compact and U by Kotex Fitness. Both of these are ULTRA comfortable. I put them in and they function as I expect: I barely feel them and they don't leak. I do feel like the fitness version was extra comfortable. It reminded me of when I put in my Nuvaring: I feel the Fitness version for about 30 seconds and then it shifts enough that I don't feel it at all. I wore the Compact version to a 6:30pm CrossTown Fitness Strength class and the Fitness version to teach my 6am Cycle X class and was thrilled with the performance of both, in two drastically different workouts. A fun perk of the Fitness variant is that it comes with a gym-bag-friendly little box. It's not anything revolutionary or super high quality, but it's nice to have to make them easy to find in my black hole of a gym bag.
You can absolutely have a fit period by finding products that work for you, and I hope I've given you at least a bit of new info on things to try to get you there. I'm sure you'll notice I didn't try any fancy organic tampons. While they're certainly appealing, I wanted to focus on things you can find very easily in your nearest Walmart/Jewel/CVS/Walgreens/Target/etc. You can find any of these at any of those places.
No matter how well you nail all of this down, I recommend adjusting your period with birth control if you can, to avoid big events. I skipped the period that was supposed to arrive during the Chicago marathon, for example, because I would have had to stop to change my tampon at LEAST twice, if not more from all the exertion.
This post was NOT sponsored, and I did NOT receive any free product. It's just something we all deal with and need to be more open about!
Opinions? Leave 'em below!