Health & Fitness: Falling off the Wagon During PMS

walking health and fitnessHealth and fitness is important to me but it’s a challenge to prioritise amongst the pressures and busyness of parenting.  Fitting it all in is less about time management and more of a journey for me, and I’ve written about this in the posts below.

1. The first step was to make the conscious decision to do something about my health. I wrote about it here: Feeling Fat and Ugly.

2. Secondly, I had to embrace who I was and the changes in my body. I wrote about it here: Weight Gain and Post Baby Body Issues.

3. I jumped those hurdles, and now I have the freedom to work out what fitness/health routine works for me. I shared my fitness routine here: Finding time to excercise.

I’ve achieved so much in terms of health — I’m an active sort of person and I enjoy eating healthy foods — but there is something I really struggle with. It turns my steady healthy life plan in to absolute turmoil…every month.  It’s PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome).

I asked experts in nutrition and exercise from Weight Watchersto answer some questions specific to this topic for me, and the interview is below.  It’s filled with tips and advice about how to utilise diet and exercise in conjunction with family life and lifestyle, to achieve the best health outcome.

Oh, and BONUS!  I have a hamper full of goodies to giveaway from Weight Watchers at the end of the post too.

Interview With

Emma Stirling: Weight Watchers Nutrition Advisor and Nutrition Editor of Weight Watchers Magazine.

Martha Lourey-Bird: Exercise Scientist at Weight Watchers.

Kelly: Why is there a compulsion to eat more right before the menstrual cycle?

Emma Stirling: Pre-Menstrual Syndrome or PMS is a complex condition involving emotional, physical, hormonal and environmental factors, but we certainly know from research that appetite and cravings can increase in the days leading up to a woman’s period with a preference for sweet treats like chocolate topping the list time and time again.

The available studies show that cravings tend to occur more often in women with PMS and that the cravings increase as symptoms worsen. While more research is needed to understand food cravings, the good news is that they do not appear to translate into large increases in kilojoule intake and subsequent weight gain.

Kelly: What are three ways to combat monthly cycle mood swings that can affect food and eating plans?

Emma Stirling: It’s not surprising to hear that an overall healthy lifestyle is more likely to reduce your symptoms of PMS or help you ride the wave of symptoms like mood swings better.

1. As a Dietitian I recommend regularly including mood boosting foods and nutrients in your eating plan, like omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish with 2-3 fish meals a week a good tally.

2. The second thing you can do during the premenstrual days is to include low glycemic index, nutrient rich carbohydrate foods like oats at breakfast, to maintain steady blood glucose, insulin and energy levels.

3. My last tip would be to see an Accredited Practising Dietitian for advice. There are certain foods and potentially dietary supplements that may help balance your eating plan and relieve symptoms, but it is important to have expert advice.

Kelly: How is it best to utilise diet and exercise in conjunction with family life and lifestyle, to achieve the best health outcome.


Emma Stirling: This tends to be especially tricky for mums. Striking a healthy balance with a busy family life is sometimes difficult, and made even more complicated if weight loss is a goal. Unfortunately we are very good at looking after other people and multi-tasking, but often fail at looking after our own needs first. The bottom line is that you need to take care of yourself and make sure you are getting the nutrition you need. If a mum is healthy and happy, the whole family will be too. When it comes to health, I’m very pleased to recommend Weight Watchers as their Nutrition Advisor. A comprehensive program that combines healthy eating, activity, behaviour change and a supportive environment is key to long term success. There are some fabulous element to the new ProPoints 2012 like an iphone app and zero ProPoints fruit and most vegetables.


Martha Lourey-Bird: Exercise can provide natural pain relief by stimulating a combination of pain-fighting endorphins and increased blood flow which reduces cramping and various other symptoms of PMT.

Although at the time of PMS, you probably don’t feel like exercising at all but it’s likely to make you feel a whole lot better! Exercise releases feel good hormones that lift your mood as well as help reduce that bloated tummy feeling. It doesn’t need to be anything strenuous at all, and can always involve your children – try taking them to the park while making sure that you are active too and don’t spend the whole time just sitting down watching them play, if it is too hard to get out of the house or too cold, simply lay on the floor and do a series of exercises or some gentle stretching (depending on how bad your PMS is) as the kids will love joining in too. Sometimes it can also be a good idea to park your car up the road when you go to pick them up from school, this will not only help you feel better, but will also help them wind down at the end of the day.


**Giveaway ended: Congratulations Gemma!**

I’m giving away this fabulous hamper from Weight Watchers to one reader. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below.


The hamper contains Weight Watchers food products like nut and muesli bars, fruit packs, jelly, gravy, Belgian chocolate brownies, delicious chocolate scrolls and mixed forest berry jam. There is also a Weight Watchers cook book, magazine, beach towel and mini speaker phones.

Weight Watchers_Hamper_whiteback[2]

Terms: 1. Australian residents only.  2. Winner will be notified by email.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.  3. Not associated, administered or sponsored by facebook.   4. Winner drawn randomly.

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  • Reply
    Kell (Mad Mummas Sweet Randoms)
    May 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I am going through a phase of fat and disgusted in what I see in the mirror. I need all the help I can get!

  • Reply
    tammy crane
    May 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    need this to help kickstart the shreading of all the extra baby weight i have.. put on a whopping 26kgs when pregnant, now need some help to say god bye to it

  • Reply
    Jessica Grealy
    May 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks for the info, now just to put down the chips and choccy and put my butt into gear!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I would love this pack- just what I need to get me into the “zone” again! I tried WW about 4 years ago, and did really well, but just can’t seem to get my head in the right place to do it all again, post-baby (who is now 2!!)

  • Reply
    Debbie Jones
    May 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Wow, what a hamper! It would be great to win as I just started weight watchers yesterday!
    p.s. Love your web page and all you info!

  • Reply
    Cass Harrington
    May 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Wow, great tips that I havn’t heard before. I’m trying to loose weight and pms is a hard time, sweet cravings are real bad, thanks for your tips.

  • Reply
    Kelly Barr
    May 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Ooooh…I need as much help as I can get to get into a health eating & exercise routine…I’m so sick of people asking me if I’m pregnant again 🙁

  • Reply
    kathy jones
    May 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    hi, i would love this pack.have fallen off the wagon really bad,im fighting with getting off knee surgery plus having to have knee replacement soon,as knee goes out of stress,p.s me too.and been off work for 14 months now,because the doctors cannt risk me to go to work.so i need something to get me in my right mind to do it again,and the weight off will help with my knees and hips tooo . 🙂

  • Reply
    Lisa Galati
    May 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Winning this would help with my weightloss 🙂

  • Reply
    Leesa Cav
    May 16, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I did weight watchers many (many) years ago … it is so wonderful to read/see how things have changed … and yet the best things about Weight Watchers (support, encouragement, simple information) remain the same. I think it is time to get back ON the wagon … besides it looks like it will be a much more enjoyable ride this time!

  • Reply
    Gemma Hogermeer
    May 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Weight watchers is the greatest weight loss program…. It teaches you that you can have everything in moderation.. And the new Propoints plan is amazing :)) would love to win this prize.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Very interesting read. Anyone else find that they struggle with weight while breast feeding due to cravings? I eat like a flipping horse and finding time to exercise is so hard (but possible, if you want it bad enough)

  • Reply
    May 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Your honesty is encouraging. We all need to know it is not easy eating right/exercising when kids demand us so much.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    What a fantastic article and reading love reading other people’s perspectives I have twenty five kilos still to lOse after losing ten excercise is going to be my friend as well as healthier food choices

  • Reply
    May 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    What a fabulous prize!! And I loved the interview 🙂 I have lost almost 20kgs with Weight Watchers over the last 9 months and am feeling fantastic. Still another 15kgs or so to go… I can do it!!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Great give away. You’ve inspired me to get more active and eat better. So easy at times to sneak an extra snack especially when tired. I think it is not just hormonal swings that make us want those extra kilo joules but that constant feeling of exhaustion that all of us mums battle every day.

  • Reply
    Melanie Tapulaaia
    May 16, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Weight watchers has helped me loose my baby weight twice now! Still going with the 2nd one plus working full time, doing what I can when I can!

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