As I’ve said before, men have a “third leg” up on ladies when it comes to losing weight . Not only are we lucky enough to get the short end of the stick when it comes to the hormones and body chemistry involved in losing weight, we also get the burden blessing of being the sex that gets to carry and birth babies. To make a delightful situation even better, those two things – the hormones and whole carrier-of-babies-thing – collide spectacularly once a month, during a time someone (likely a man) decided to call pre-menstrual syndrome. Because lord knows if the ladies named it, the term wouldn’t be quite as benign.
The guys who are reading this cannot possibly understand the nightmare that is PMS, so you know what male friends? Just stop reading now. For this week only, this column is just for the ladies…because we deserve something of our own to make up for our suffering, you assholes. Yeah, yeah, we know it’s not your fault – thanks, evolution – but we are going to blame you anyway. While our moods are fluctuating more than Trump’s opinion of Kim Jong-un, you dick-weasels are standing there saying things like “I don’t understand why you had to eat the whole pint of Halo Top” or “Geez, what made you so bitchy today?” So take your penises and your equal pay and get the fuck out of here. (For now at least. Please come back next week after the rage has passed. Love you guys.)
Okay, ladies, now it’s just you and me, so let’s get down to it. The way I look at it, while our bodies put us at a disadvantage in the weight loss game, PMS is the one thing that presents the single greatest challenge to dropping the extra pounds as a female. While it’s hard to turn down cake at your cousin Colleen’s wedding or those cookies your Office Mom bakes insists that you eat weekly because, in her words, “you’re getting too skinny,” a little bit of willpower can go a long way during regular times. But when it comes to the monster known as PMS, resistance is futile. Instead, we must accept that there are a few days every month that our hormones rage out of control and the only way to satisfy them is with full-fat cheese, entire bags of snack-size Reese’s peanut butter cups, and several white chocolate lattes from Starbs. And the kicker? Even if you do manage to resist your cravings, you are probably going to gain from PMS bloat anyway. Being a woman is so awesome.
So what’s a girl to do during that time of the month if she wants to stay on the diet wagon? Well, the folks at everyone’s favorite self-diagnosis site, WebMD, has some suggestions …and I have some takes on them.
Their Take: Avoid processed sugar
Simple sugars increase insulin secretion, which lowers blood sugar, Susan M. Lark, MD explains. And if insulin levels shoot up enough, your appetite for carbs and fats increases.
My Take: Try and Limit Yourself
One of the things I want the most when I have PMS is chocolate. Tons and tons and tons of chocolate. So while I usually have a “two pieces of candy a day from the office candy bowl” limit, I bump it up to six during PMS time. I need limits to stay on track (or else I’m shoving an entire sharing-size bag of M&Ms in my pie hole), and two Hershey’s kisses is not going to cut it that week.
Their Take: Drink plenty of water
Eight or so glasses of water a day help to flush the body out and reduce bloating, Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH says.
My Take: Agree, agree, agree
I actually get really thirsty during both PMS and my period so I usually drink more than my regular 64 ounces and I do find it helps with the bloat.
Their Take: Avoid fat
Fat slows down digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. And you won’t feel better until your body absorbs the carbs and turns them into serotonin,” Judith Wurtman, PhD explains.
My Take: Good luck with that
Listen, I totally get that fat is bad. But one of the other things I crave during PMS is cheese. Actually, I crave cheese all of the time, but particularly during these few days. So while eating that hunk of (reduced-fat) cheddar may delay the serotonin you need to get happy, frankly, the cheese itself (in moderation of course) is enough to make me happy.
Their Take: Limit coffee and cola
Reduce caffeine intake to feel less tense and irritable and to ease breast soreness, advises the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP).
My Take: Do it All The Time
I’m telling you to give up caffeine. Crazy talk, right? But seriously, it helps. Giving up caffeine was one of the first things my nutritionist told me to do, and after I got past the first week, I legitimately felt a difference. While I’ll indulge in the occasional Coke Zero or Skinny Cinnamon Dolce from Starbs, I’m generally caffeine free and lovin’ it.
Their Take: Have a routine
Keeping to a regular schedule of meals, bedtime, and exercise will help alleviate systems of PMS, according to the AAFP.
My Take: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
I am an exceedingly regimented person. My days (including my outfits, meals, snacks, exercise and bedtimes) are generally planned out on Sundays, so I know what’s coming for the week. Sure, that probably makes me a bit crazy, but it also means that I generally stay on track diet-wise, PMS or no PMS. (Interesting fun fact: I took a class in grad school about living life in a rhythm that involved living with monks at a monastery for a week, and it was legit the coolest experience of my life. More on that another time.)
So what are we ladies left with? Well, a bunch of advice that’s easier said than done when your hormones are raging out of control. The bottom line: do the best you can. If eating that piece of chocolate means avoiding a crying jag or throwing things at your significant other, go for it. There’s three other weeks in the month that you can stick to it..
Starting weight to Lose: 30 pounds
Week 1 Results: – 1.1 pounds
Week 2 Results: – 2.1 pounds
Week 3 Results: +0.4 pounds
Week 4 Results: – 0.2 pounds
Week 5 Results: – 0.2 pounds
Week 6 Results: – 0.1 pounds
Week 7 Results: -0.9 pounds
Week 8 Results: 0.0 pounds
Week 9 Results: -0.5 pounds
Remaining weight to lose: 25.3 pounds
If you want to follow along with me, friend me on MyFitnessPal or FitBit!
Also, I’ll be chatting weekly about my progress with JR Hickey on our podcast, “Don’t Take It From Us.” New eps will be released every Wednesday, so check it out on Soundcloud below or Subscribe on iTunes!