Time for a little girl talk! Women are nothing short of amazing, and our bodies are no exception. From running a 5K to childbirth, it’s pretty incredible the number of things we’re equipped to do! And most of us endure those tough things surprisingly well. But because women’s bodies are unique there are some important things we should keep on our radar so that we can continue to feel and perform our best.
Workout on Your Period
Okay, I have to tell you guys about this crazy study I found, because once I read it it completely changed the way I approach fitness when I’m on my period. The study, which was conducted by researchers at Umea University, set out to discover if there was a difference in strength gains when working out during the first two weeks of your cycle (including your period), or the last two weeks of your cycle.
What they found was shocking. The group of women who participated in the heavy strength training the first two weeks of their cycle saw significant strength gains that the other group of women (last two weeks) did not. Basically, working out on your period is worth it. And if you feel well enough to do it, may produce better strength gains than your workouts the rest of the month!
Now, I totally understand if sweatpants and a spoon in a carton of ice cream is more of your go to. But if you’re feeling up to it, why not give it a shot? If you’d like to learn more about working out on your period, be sure to check out this podcast episode where Kristina and I hash out all the nitty gritty details. And remember, only participate in what you feel comfortable doing when you’re on your period. It’s your body and your choice.
Keep Your Iron Levels in Check
One of the largest causes of iron deficiency in humans is blood loss. For women, this is something we go through regularly during that ‘time of the month’. For women with heavier blood flow, iron deficiency can be an issue. Which puts women in a higher category of risk for iron deficiency anemia.
Anemia is not fun you guys. I had it once when I tried to go vegetarian in college and knew nothing about how to make sure I stayed properly fueled. Anemia affects everything - your energy levels, attention span, workouts. If you’re working out regularly, anemia will drastically affect your performance levels, and it’s important to get it taken care of.
Reduce your risk of iron deficiency by choosing to eat iron rich foods. Good sources of iron include, poultry, pork, beef, beans, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, and iron-fortified foods like cereals, bread, and pasta. Your body better absorbs iron from meat than it does from other sources, so if you’re vegetarian you’ll need to up your intake of other sources.
Maintain a Strong Core & Pelvic Floor
Whether you already have kids, or you’re a few years away, considering your core and pelvic floor strength can greatly improve your experience post-baby. So if you’re thinking about having kids someday, this is definitely something you should consider starting now. But even if you’ve already had kids, it’s not too late for you to start regaining core, and pelvic floor strength.
The first step is learning how to brace your core. This is important, because bracing your core properly is essential to properly engage the core during any core exercise, but also for so many movements that aren’t standard ‘ab exercises’ - for example, squatting, kettlebell swings, deadlifts, pushups, and even overhead movements like tricep extensions and shoulder press. Even your favorite form of cardio is likely properly performed with an engaged core - running, cycling, rowing, stepping, kickboxing and more!
Once you learn how to brace your core properly for movement, you’ll realize many of the regular exercises you do are also ‘ab exercises’. A strong and activated core is the starting place for proper human movement. Check out this video where I walk you through how to brace your core.
There are so many ways us women can take better care of our bodies, and this is just a start. I hope this article has encouraged you to check in, and even consider other practical ways you can challenge yourself to live better, feel better, and perform better everyday!