July 7, 2011

Lady stuff

Gentlemen, you may wish to turn away. I'm gonna talk about lady stuff today. (Or just scroll enough to see a classic "before" pic of me at Disney World ... one that always cheers me up when I think that my thighs aren't getting any smaller.)

Some of the more interesting changes that have come with weight loss are related to "that time of the month." There are physical changes, of course: my periods are lighter and are now so regular that I can always predict the day it will start (I had them before, but sometimes only once every two or three months). But really interesting is that I never used to get PMS, and now I most certainly do.

Awful cramps, bloating, intense cravings, crazy mood swings ... I always thought ladies on TV and in the movies were being overly dramatic. Oh, no - the littlest thing might make me cry ... or infuriate me. And yeah, there's ibuprofen for the cramps, but I bet some chocolate would work in a pinch. Before, I was usually pretty depressed - but I actually have moods now, so they could swing. And I was constantly bloated from eating so much processed garbage, so period-related bloating was unnoticed...


Now, I can feel a difference, not only in my body but in the way my clothes fit.

I'm wondering how much of this change is due to the different physical composition of my body - less body fat, less strain on all my inside bits, whatever have you - and how much of it is dietary. Maybe I never had cravings because nothing was ever "bad" or "off limits" - I didn't need a reason to march down to the store and buy a chocolate bar with almonds besides simply wanting one, no matter what time of the month it was. There wouldn't be an extra workout or smaller portions at dinner to accomodate the 210 calories, because the calories weren't anything I even looked at ... just the price tag, to see if I could get a couple - for "later," by which I usually meant "as soon as I finish the current one." And I thought nothing of eating two, three, four of them.

It reminds me of one of my favorite posts by Ellen about the lies we tell ourselves before we decide to get healthy, the reasons why and how we can get/stay so big:
"I had less guilt: If I ate crap for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, well – that was just normal so I didn't really stress about it."
These days, my go-to PMS snack is a package of pretzel M&M's. I love the salty and sweet combination, and at 150 calories, I can enjoy them while still staying in my 1200-1300 daily calorie range and not making cuts to my meals. Or sometimes I'll get a desserty-flavored protein bar (I like Balance bars - either peanut butter or smores) and have it for either breakfast or lunch - it might have as many calories as a candy bar, but it's replacing a meal, and it also has protein and vitamins/minerals.

I'm okay with having occasional treats, as long as they're controlled and I'm not using them to hurt myself. This is one benefit I've found to social eating - not only am I less likely to overdo it, but sharing your dessert means even fewer calories. There's an ice cream shop a few blocks from my apartment that I went to quite a few times a week last summer - their Italian ices are unholy good, and I always got the large, a 32-oz. styrofoam cup packed with sugary fruity goodness. I'm cringing thinking about how many calories are in it - not to mention the sugar! Yikes. I walked there with Matt on our second or third date, and we split a small (about 70 him/30 me - I'm glad to be sharing instead of having my own, but I still want to be mindful). It was just as delicious and refreshing as the big one without making me feel sick afterwards.

What about you? Has PMS started/intensified for you? What do you eat/do to mindfully submit to your TOM cravings?

15 comments:

sassy said...

Firstly. Pretzel m&m's need to be part of my life. Sweet and salty rules!

I've struggled with PMS regardless of my weight. Sometimes I still get shocked at the intensity of the physical cravings for extra food. Just recognising that it is a natural fluctuation in hunger and not going to be forever is helpful and allowing myself the extra food without fear of it becoming a binge because I am not 'breaking my diet'.

Bloating is a feeling and pressure on the inside so how much fat I have on the outside doesn't really make a difference. It's always there for a couple of days and I just wear my comfortable at that time.

Darn that PMS!!

Anonymous said...

One of the most useful things for me has been tracking the cycle online. (I use MonthlyInfo.com.) I have it set up to e-mail me a reminder two days before the expected start day. So, if I'm getting any unexpected cravings, I know there's a logical, physiological reason.
I also find that for me, two things help alleviate PMS: lifting heavier weights in the week prior, and drinking mint tea during.

Carbie Girl said...

I absolutely feel a change in my PMS. I used to think all the highschool gym girls who cried about cramps were so lame. Cramps were never that bad... then I reached closer to age 30 and suddenly my cramps were horrific. Since then I have found if i keep my meals lighter than usual they won't hit as hard, also LOTS of water. I blame age and the body changes from it (not really the weight) for the sudden outburst of cramps and cravings. usually i crave hot cheetohs... theyre so evil >:) oh and those pretzel m&ms are awesome.. i dont care much for pretzels but somehow in the m&m form they are sheer love!

Amanda said...

Don't know if this helps at all, but those few days right before and at the beginning of TOM when you are really hungry, your metabolism actually increases and you need more calories to function properly, hence the hunger. I read about this recently in several books about running and how one of the worst things you can do is eat too little those days. Because I do intuitive eating as my method for losing, I always tend to eat more on those days, and I never have the bloating and weight blip that normally comes with PMS. On the other hand, if I deny myself food and try to stay in my calorie range, I definitely gain a lot in water weight and calorie retention, and then I don't lose it so fast after TOM. Just food for thought.

Kat said...

When I weighed 40 lbs more, my PMS was awful! Now that I've dropped some and kept it off, it's much more regular. I cannot tell if bleeding is less because I had a uterine ablation done. However, as for cravings, I never had a single craving, only ate a lot. I still want to eat and eat. I make Crystal Light popsicles :)

Amy Benitez said...

This is a topic I've been hesitating to blog about for a couple months now. I used to be the same way-- I only got my period every 2-3 months... sometimes only twice a year. I also didn't have the CRAZY LOONY mood swings I have now. And I notice that I get hungry. Oh-so hungry. I can see bloating on the scale, but not in the way my clothes look, just how they feel. And how I feel. Sometimes I think I was just too depressed and lethargic to notice any of these changes if they even happened 100lbs ago. Good post!

Meghan said...

Are you sure that picture is of you? Amazing. Amazing.

Sarah from Onmyweightohappiness said...

I hate PMS now too. I use to never have all the symptoms other women had, I would just get my period every few months and it wouldn't be very heavy. Now even on the birth control pill it's heavy, bad cramps, bloating, crabby, cravings up the wazoo and everything. I am not sure if its my birth control fueling it more or just my body, but it sucks!

Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher said...

I know that excess fat isn't good for our periods because it promotes hormonal issues which affects how regular our periods are, etc. (It's why I was hospitalized for severe anemia because of overactive bleeding in my uterus a couple years) The PMS thing is interesting though. Huh.

Bonnie said...

I have a bag on pretzel M&M's in my pantry as we speak for emergency purposes.....lol

I got my "first" period last month after going off the pill and losing 40lbs.....man was it horrible. The pain, the bloating, and the bitchiness (I didn't notice it but my husband mentioned it several times)......lol

Jessica said...

The weight loss has completely changed my cycle (for the better). I once went 9 months without a cycle!!! But now, they are pretty much like clockwork. And without the weight loss there is not telling how much longer I would have carried around that basketball-sized cyst. I guess it was becoming restricted as my body got smaller!!

Amy said...

It's kind of funny because when I regained weight I noticed all these changes in my period. It was so all over the place even though I was on the pill. It was really annoying.

I crave chocolate BIG TIME... and it's just like must. have. now. I don't go overboard...sometimes a hot chocolate or just a thin chocolate bar is enough to hold it at bay and satisfy the craving.

Jillian said...

I don't think I've lost enough weight yet to have noticed a change with my cycle, although I've always been fairly regular. That being said, I'm already a complete basketcase when it's my TOM--I'm totally terrified now that it's going to get even worse! haha, thanks for giving me something to look forward to.

Weight Wars said...

I don't have periods (love you Implanon) but Ibuprofen could be making it worse, it can affect blood flow so switch to something specifically for pmt and you might find it a bit easier.

Marissa said...

oh yes, I'm guilty of mood swings and eating sweets during that time of the month :( I've learned to control it but it still gets me sometimes!!

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