This one’s for the ladies…

Alright ladies here’s a question for you…it’s a bit personal, and perhaps slightly taboo to discuss openly…but how much do you really know about your monthly cycle?

Yep, I’m talking about the monthly (or thereabouts) reminder of the empty status of our uterus. Mother nature, our monthly bout of crazy, Aunt flow…You got it, I’m talking about periods.

Right about now I’ll bet you’re wearing a stank face and grimacing at the thought of your period. Or better yet, like I was a few months back, simply shaking your head and wondering how any female on the planet could possibly have a “normal” cycle when yours is so completely out of whack.

But what constitutes “normal”? A 28 day cycle with ovulation on day 14? A 3 day period, or a 7 day period? What about fertility, when are we supposedly fertile? When our handy dandy period app tells us, or is it wrong?

I don’t know about you, but I had lots of questions just like those running through my mind, especially when I happened to talk to my doctor about how I can skip up to three months in a row each year and not have a period for 90 days or so….her response? “As long as you’re having a period once every 4 months or so, you’re fine”…. you can imagine my reaction to that one, it was somewhere along the lines of WTF are you talking about?

But let’s go back and give you a bit of background information…
I was an early bloomer, with my first period happening in the sixth grade. I still vividly remember when I got it, and my reaction (which I’m not going to detail) but the gist is I knew it would be coming soon (thanks to a bit of prep from my mother and a very uninformative sex-ed class in the fifth grade where they skimmed over everything) and so wasn’t particularly surprised by it’s arrival except for the sheer amount of discomfort and pain that came with it. That “Oh dear lord I must be dying” sort of pain, that was me every month without fail. It was miserable. I despised my periods.

Fast forward a few years, many periods, ridiculous amounts of cramping and other unmentionable yuckiness, and lots of skipped months and I had simply determined that my cycle wasn’t and would never be “normal” because I was never able to predict when the next one would happen. The unpredictable nature of my period was a huge stressor for me because once you’re about 50-60 days past your last period you start to get paranoid about when the next will show up and surprise you. My cycles were anywhere between 19 and 94 days, and it was driving me insane.

Periods were not only stressful, but completely debilitating for the first two days. I was literally beside myself with pain to the point where I ALWAYS took a sick day from school if my period started anywhere from Monday through Friday.

Now I knew that certain foods and exercising before my period would help with the pain, but I never knew when my period was going to show up so I was never prepared for it besides always having feminine products on hand.

I’m very aware that my problem was lack of knowledge about my own body and it’s internal processes, but I was quite ignorant beyond the fact that those parts of the female body were useful for sex and babymaking and a period was the shedding of your lining when you didn’t get pregnant.

Thirteen years of miserable cycles and I finally now know a lot more about my body, and I’m quite thankful that I do.

I’ve gone from never being able to predict my periods to knowing exactly when they’re going to show up within a 24 hour margin. I also know why I get a random day of cramps halfway through my cycle (hello ovulation), and know what a basal body temperature is and how it has the ability to save my sanity. I also know what estrogen and progesterone are and their roles in my body. Safe to say I’ve learned a LOT.

Where’d I find this wealth of knowledge? This lovely gem of a book, I randomly picked it up at the library 13920478_10153992047306725_339519138044329955_oon a whim and it’s been the most informative book I’ve ever read. I learned more about my lady bits in a hour of reading this than in the first 23 years of my life combined.

*Fun Fact- did you know as a woman you’re only fertile 1 day of your cycle, the day you ovulate. It’s the combination of a man’s swimmers that makes your fertile stretch longer because they can last 4-5 days before they die!

The book has sections of information on how to track periods, fertility, a whole part on pregnancy, menopause, and even advice on how to use your tracking to prevent pregnancy (or ensure it) naturally and effectively. (Which is pretty handy information of you would like to apply Zero-waste principles not only to your period, but birth control as well)

It has completely changed my views of my cycle and I no longer dread my periods. The biggest part of knowing when your not only fertile but when your next period will be is charting your cycle. It’s a fancy way of saying you take your temperature first thing every morning before you get out of bed, and you keep track of it.  Your temperature alone can tell you if you’ve ovulated, if you’re pregnant, if your body is trying to ovulate but is having problems with it, etc. The rest is just listening to your body, like when you cramp and where, a little friend called cervical fluid (sounds gross, but it’s really not as bad as it sounds), and the changes in your body during your cycle (like bloating, tenderness, etc.).

I know, it sounds like a lot of work, but it is very easy to do and takes less than 5 minutes a day. It actually can help simplify your periods, believe it or not.

I’m three cycles into charting (where each cycle has varied in length by 10-20 days) , and I have predicted my last three periods down to the day. Since I know WHEN to expect it, I can now prepare for it by increasing my intake of vegetables and garlic beforehand (look it up, garlic does wonders for your time of the month), I also make sure to fit in a bit of extra stretching and exercise right before I start to lessen my cramps. Not to mention, I know when I should carry my menstrual cup and cloth pads with me to be prepared for it 🙂

The difference is like night and day. Granted the first day still sucks, but I can actually function like a normal human being during it now, no more sick days.

So if you think your period is as elusive as the wind, or that your body is out of your control, I would highly recommend checking out Taking Charge of your Fertility, even if you don’t read the entire book, copy the charting pages in the back and read the section on how to use them…it’ll make your life, and your cycles, so much easier to predict and handle. Plus I totally feel like a badass now that I understand the functions of my body. I am no longer ignorant, and believe me, when it comes to periods, ignorance isn’t bliss.

If you have any comments or questions I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Xo

Candice

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Minimalist and Zero-waste exercise ideas.

Hey hey everyone,

So you’ve started your journey towards minimalism, zero-waste, or hopefully both and now you’re thinking about your health. Not only healthy eating, but maybe getting in a bit more exercise during the week.

The excuses people give for not exercising are endless, but most fall into three main categories. 1. I don’t have enough time/energy. 2. I don’t want to have to buy any special equipment. 3. I can’t afford a gym membership.

So, I’ve compiled a list. Ideas that don’t require a gym, fancy equipment, or a ton of time. They can be made easier or harder depending on your fitness level. Some use things people already have and some require nothing. I’ve got a few ideas for you and you can pick and choose which fit into your lifestyle. Maybe you start with an easy one, then a week later add another or swap out for a more difficult one…it’s all up to you.

Check them out…

  1. Ditch the expensive gym membership you hardly ever use and instead utilize your public library. They have hundreds of workout DVD’s for every age, shape, and interest. I personally have tried everything from yoga to hip hop dancing to ballet videos. I even tried a little Thai-chi. For those of you a little more hardcore they usually have weightlifting DVD’s or ones where the workouts are uber intense. The best part of this suggestion is #1- it’s FREE, #2- there’s no excuse not to go to the gym, because your living room is now your gym, and #3- they’re fun and waste-freeWIN_20160802_120635
  2. Okay, so you’re not into the library or DVD’s, heck, maybe you don’t even own a television. I’ll bet you have a radio, or an Ipod, or a cell phone that can play music. Strap that baby on and bop to the beat while you do dishes or laundry, kill two birds with one stone, and make your chores a little more fun while you’re at it.
  3. All right, so you’re a guy, and you think dancing while scrubbing your kitchen sink is a bit silly. You can always strap on the music and use it as a bit of a distraction while you go old-school and do manly push ups or sit ups. (I, unfortunately have the upper body strength of a wet noodle and can’t do push ups to save my own life lol)
  4. If you don’t like sit-ups or dancing, try going for a walk around the block, with or without music and with or without a walking buddy, it’s still a basic but great way to get a bit of exercise, not to mention some vitamin D. 🙂
  5. If you have a park near you, like I do, or even a school playground, go during the off hours when no kiddos are around and use the monkeybars or the swings to get in a bit of fun exercise. Or if you have kids, or can borrow some nieces or nephews, take them out and chase after them at the park for a few hours. Never underestimate the amount of exercise you can get with a little one running around.27023_116681815014717_3333171_n
  6. If you happen to own handweights or even a few heavy books you can use them to work out your arms by lifting and moving them around. You can also substitute young children for the handweights by carrying them around or doing that crazy thing dads do by throwing their children into the air before catching them…it gives me a mini heart attack every time I see it. (Disclaimer: I do not advocate things that could potentially harm the children in any way)
  7. If you happen to have a public pool near you, or even a beach, you can go swimming. Easy, and no extra stuff required besides a bathing suit…unless it’s a nude beach, but I digress…
  8. Sneak in exercise by doing things like parking in a spot further away from the store entrance, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Easy things that don’t seem like much, but they add up if you do them even a few times a week. (I may use the parking technique to make a few family members get a bit more exercise without their knowledge, but keep it on the DL)
  9. If you must check emails on your phone or computer at home, stand while you do it instead of sitting. It takes more muscles to stand, and as a bonus it might motivate you to put the phone down more often 😉
  10. Even if you’re PMSing and don’t want to move a muscle, you can stretch. In bed, lay flat and lift one leg up at a time and hold it before slowly lowering it back to the bed. Stretch your arms and your back, this isn’t the most invigorating exercise in the world, but some is better than none.
  11. If you’re short on time, try ten squats or jumping jacks or lunges the moment you get out of bed or right before you hop into the car to head to work. While you’re driving contract your stomach muscles and hold them for thirty seconds before letting go (just remember to breathe!).
  12. During work get up every half hour or hour and take a quick walk to the copier, or the bathroom, or just around the office.
  13. Instead of using the grocery cart to carry your totes to the car, heft one on each arm. (If you have more than two, bring a shopping buddy or just use the cart.)
  14. Instead of going to a car wash, get out there on a warm day and take a bit of time to wash it yourself. Just needs a little soap, a rag, and a bucket or two of water…and some elbow grease.
  15. If you have someplace you normally go, for me it’s the library, that’s within walking distance from your place, save the gas and walk there if the weather is nice enough. My library is about two miles away, so it’s a four mile roundtrip walk for me, and the bonus is I get to rest halfway at the library while perusing books and new workout DVD’s 🙂
  16. Grab a friend and do something fun like trying partner yoga poses or playing basketball. One I love is if you have a large group to play Ultimate-Frisbee. Check it out, it’s so much fun.
  17. If you’re in the mood for a new look in your bedroom or living room, try rearranging the furniture. It’ll get you up and moving, chances are you’ll capture a few errant dust bunnies while you’re at it.
  18. Go dancing with friends or your significant other, or just push the coffee table out of the way and dance there.
  19. If you have a lawn mower, use it without the fancy automatic moving gizmo, push it instead for twice the workout.
  20. If you or your kids are addicted to videogames, check some out from the library like Just Dance or Wii fitness.
  21. Build a snowman.251164_10150210546031725_6383626_n

All right, there are plenty more ways to get in a bit of exercise, but hopefully one of these might give you some inspiration for starting off.

Remember, it’s not about how many miles you run or how many calories you burn, it’s about making exercise fun and an easy part of your regular routine.

Have any other suggestions for minimalist/zero-waste exercise ideas? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!