Lifestyle

How I Got a Handle on My Menstrual Cycle

Like a lot of women, I used to dread getting my period every month. During what I would consider a normal cycle, I was in pain because of cramps for hours on end, always exhausted, and had heavy bleeding. I noticed that right before my period started I was unable to focus and needed to take a nap right before my cycle started. During some of my worst periods, I remember vomiting in public because I suddenly felt a sharp pain everywhere from the waist down. I also recall bleeding through my super tampon, my clothes, and onto a chair in my 8:40 am lecture (I remember putting my tampon in 20 mins before class).

I always assumed that my periods were just going to be difficult for as long as I had them and that there was nothing I could do about it. My life revolved around my cycle — I would avoid social outings and in college, I often would skip lectures because I physically could not get up in the morning. It wasn’t until I really started to research my symptoms and read about the experiences of others who made efforts to improve their periods that I realized things were not normal I should try to prevent my symptoms instead of accepting them.

Through trial and error and several lifestyle changes, I can now say that I have a much more manageable cycle– I am no longer a slave to “Aunt Flo” and do not have anxiety about her anymore. Here are 5 things I believe made a big difference in helping alleviate my period symptoms:

  1. Using the Cycle Tracking feature on the Health app — Although this might seem obvious to some, actually having an idea of when your cycle is about to start is the first step to managing your symptoms. That meant I knew when to buy feminine care products and check to see if I had run out of Aleve before my period started. That meant making sure I had the right foods in my pantry and my “period friendly clothes” washed and ready to wear. Having a sense of control in some way also helped me keep my stress levels down.
  2. Eating a balanced diet that focuses on anti-inflammatory foods – Studies show that eating foods that decrease inflammation in the body can help to tame menstrual cramps overtime. These foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Research has shown that due to the high level of antioxidant rich foods, both vegan and plant-based eating patterns can work to decrease inflammation in the body. I try to always meal prep before my period and keep foods like kale, lentils and quinoa in mind when choosing what to eat. Of course, I still have a treat every once in a while!
  3. Choosing my feminine care products wisely — Although I am a fan of tampons over pads (who really wants to feel like they are wearing a diaper), when I commited to wearing pads for the majority of my cycle, I noticed that the intensity of my period cramps significantly decreased. Please note: Tampons do not necessarily cause period cramps, but they can make the cramps that you have feel worse if you get inflammation during your cycle. Personally, I wear pads to sleep and while I am at home, and tampons when I am out and about. I recently made the switch to organic tampons and reusable pads because I am trying to be more conscious of what I put in my body. Things are going well so far, but are plenty of other options available and I recommend everyone explore them.
  4. Eliminating caffeine during my cycle — This was tough because I love having a matcha in the morning. I learned that for me, drinking caffeine during my period can actually make my cramps worse. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it makes the blood vessels in your body constrict. This can cause the vessels in your uterus to tighten, making your period cramps even more painful than they already are. While this may not help everyone, once I switched to caffeine free tea blends during the day, I noticed that my cramps were less severe.
  5. Staying active – Honestly I still have trouble with this, but exercising during your cycle is so beneficial. Personally for me, I feel my mood shift after a workout and my energy levels are so much higher. This Healthline article outline some of the benefits of exercising during your period and I also used this Sweats and the City blog post as a guide when I first decided to be more active during my period. That being said, I recommend you pace yourself, do what works for you or consult a medical professional if you are not sure.

And there you have it! These 5 things really helped me change my life for the better and I hope this helps someone out there in some way. Please feel free to ask me any questions in the comments or through DM on Instagram

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Healthy Recipes, Lifestyle

Quick and Easy 5 Minute Matcha Latte Recipe

If you follow me on Instagram you have probably seen me make a matcha latte at least once a week. Matcha, like the traditional green tea that you get in a tea bag, is filled with antioxidants and very beneficial for you. Matcha powder however, is more bio-available than green tea, meaning you can absorb it better. Although this powder is good for you, it gets kind of pricey overtime and it is best for me personally to make matcha lattes at home. Here is how to make a latte:

LATTE INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/4 tsp matcha powder (I like Townshend’s and Organic Matcha)
  • 1/4 cup of hot water
  • 3/4 cup of non dairy milk – heat or leave chilled if you want a hot or iced latte

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add the matcha powder to the hot water and stir with a wooden matcha whisk or in a blender. If you used a blender, remove the matcha and water mitxure and keep it in a separate container.
  2. For iced lattes – add the cold milk to the blender and blend until it is frothy. For hot lattes, heat on a stove top gradually until the milk becomes frothy.
  3. Add the milk to a glass or mug (with ice if you want an iced latte).
  4. Pour the matcha and water mixture over the almond milk.
  5. Enjoy!
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Fitness, Lifestyle

Tips On Leaning Out

While I have made it clear in one of my previous posts that I am not really looking to necessarily lose weight, its no secret that I do want to lean out and have more definition in my arms, core and legs. My overall goal is to be more compact without out bulking up. I started seriously working on leaning out in December 2018 and have made a lot of progress recently. Here are a few tips I can pass along to those that have similar goals:

Eat Clean

No matter what you do, you cannot out work a bad eating habits and it will be impossible to lean out while not following a balanced diet. I recommend eating whole foods (fruits, vegetables and protein from animal or plant sources) in place of processed foods high in salt or sugar. While I do not completely cut out carbs that come from wheat, rice and other grains, I do limit eating them to 1 time a day while I lean out. I will do a more detailed post on how I eat in the future but I typically eat a protein and 1-2 vegetables for dinner and eat my grains earlier in the day for breakfast or lunch.

Incorporate Cardio

I am aware that there is a lot of buzz on social media and in magazines that building muscle via weight lifting is the best way to lose fat. To some extent, I agree that’s a good strategy. However, losing fat is really about being in a calorie deficit — if you burn more calories than you eat, your body will burn fat for fuel. Cardio is simply the better way to get into calorie deficit in a shorter amount of time. It’s hard to burn 1,300 500+ calories, like I did during my 20 min HIIT workout today doing weights for the same amount of time. Even the amount your metabolism is boosted by having extra muscle is negligible when compared to these high amounts of calories burned by cardio. If you get injured easily running and moving around too rapidly, there are so many options. Cardio does not have to be stressful or high impact– you can do it passively by walking everyday.

Incorporate Strength and Resistance Training

Although cardio is necessary for leaning out, strength and resistance training is necessary to define your physique and build muscle. Like cardio, there are so many options to chose from. You can lift traditional weights or use resistance equipment such as arm and ankle bands. I typically do resistance training like this 3-4 times a week via P.volve, which is a low impact program that that uses bands and smalls hand weights.

Try Pilates or Yoga

Not only is yoga relaxing, depending on how much you practice, yoga has the ability to increase fat loss, develop muscle tone, and build flexibility, leading to a more lean-looking physique. Pilates has a similar effect– though it is more strenuous and is considered a type of resistance training.

Optional – Fasted Workouts

Working out while fasted means that you exercise while you are on an empty stomach (please still drink water). Though there is a lot of controversy surrounding fasted workouts, I find that doing them a few times a week does help me lean out and burn more calories.

Required – Stay Consistent

Ultimately all of these tips will not really amount to much unless you are consistent. Truthfully though I started eating healthy years ago, I did not see results until I kept track of whether or not I was eating clean or doing enough physical activity. My suggestion is to keep a planner for your workouts and create a grocery list before you head to the store to buy your food.

There you have it! Four things that have helped me lean out in the past 9 months. Hope this helps!

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Fitness, Lifestyle

Summer Work Week Morning Routine

Mornings are especially important for our well-being. How you spend the first few waking hours can determine your experience for the rest of your day. I like to start my day with a combination of healthy eating, exercise and some positive vibes but my routine does change season to season. Here’s what I do in the summer:

+ 6:20 am: I wake up and check messages and social media. Since I don’t look at my phone before bed, I like to take 5 mins to put any messages I may have missed when I was asleep in my radar for later in the day.

6:25-6:40 am: I usually drink a cup of green tea or a matcha latte before eating anything. I usually have a pre-made smoothie or cold overnight oats on hand that I eat after having my tea. I make sure to incorporate my collagen and super green powder into my breakfast and take my vitamins. Also, by this point I set an intention for the day to start things off on a positive note.

6:40-7:20 am: After eating something I do a quick P.volve workout that is usually 20-40 mins long. These workouts are low impact and easy to do when I am short on time. These workouts have I have been doing P.volve for 9 months and doing this in the mornings has made all the difference in my energy level for the rest of the day.

7:20-8:15 am: Shower time! I usually hop into the shower before or by 7:30. In fact, my actual alarm is set for 7:30 because that is the latest time I need to be in the bathroom to be on time for work. After about 20 mins in the bathroom, I do my day time skin care routine, fill in my eyebrows and get dressed. I usually just pull my hair back into a bun and I am go to go.

8:15 am: Hustle out the door and head to work!


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Lifestyle

How I Eat Out on the Weekends

It’s finally the weekend and I have maybe two meals that I prepped before hand left, only a few ingredients in my fridge, & a few social obligations that involve food to attend. With all of this going on it is very easy to fall of track when it comes to healthy eating, especially when you are out and about and your options are not the healthiest. Here are a few tips I have used over the years that allow me to mindfully indulge:

  1. Drink Water – This sounds like a no brainer, but we often forget how much sugar and processed ingredients are in mixed drinks, juices and sodas. Not only does asking for water only cut out sugar and necessary calories, drinking water keeps you satisfied while eating. I opt to drink water before my meal (it usually shows up first anyway) because it keeps me fuller and I don’t overeat.
  2. Don’t Go to Dinner Starving – I have personally made the mistake of going out hungry many times and the result is the same, I eat way more than anticipated and feel over stuffed by the end of the meal. In my experience, having a small snack 1 hour before eating out makes all of the difference.
  3. Ask For Sauces on the Side – This way I can control how much I use – this especially applies to creamy sauces that are very heavy.
  4. Use the Smaller Sized Plate at Buffet Style Restaurants – Typically I avoid these types of places all together if I can, but family style events usually have a buffet style set up. When people go to buffets they usually add a lot of food to a large plate and they go through all the choices that are being offered. I am a try a bit of everything kind of girl, so getting a smaller plate means I get to try everything but I don’t get too much.
  5. Take Your Time – Eating slowly comes naturally to me (anyone who personally knows me can vouch for this), but I find that rushing while you eat doesn’t give the body enough time to let you know that it is full.
  6. Share Desserts – Sharing is caring! This cuts down on how much you eat, but you still get to nibble on a decadent treat.

And there you have it, 6 ways to eat more mindfully without being too restrictive. This what I did when I first started out and it has worked for me to this day. I hope this is helpful for anyone that finds they need some guidance when they are not in total control of the food that is in front of them.

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