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
    Sheryllee Webb
    May 14, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Very interesting article

  • Reply
    Meegan P
    May 14, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Wow, great post!! I would love to win that hamper! It would be a great kickstart for me 🙂 In the meantime, am starting with small sustainable changes as you suggested in one of your previous posts!

  • Reply
    Trish Ch
    May 14, 2012 at 8:05 am

    O wow what a wonderful prize, I’d so love this …being huge and not having any money to be able to afford to go to gym etc this would be awesome, I constantly get comments from ppl about my size and why aren’t I doing something about it…I have yo to dieted for years but haven’t tried weight watchers but think this hamper would be such a big help to start me off on the right track…thanks…love this comp…

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Thank you for a great informative article, I’d love to be entered in the draw!

  • Reply
    Trish Ch
    May 14, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Oops silly auto correct that was yo yo dieted for years above…

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Great read – have printed and filed for future reference! Thank you all information when on a weight loss journey is helpful.

  • Reply
    samantha greentree
    May 14, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Help! I need a kick in the pants! Over the last six months I have neglected my exercise and health regime, due to moving and renovating. Now its getting colder I just need that little bit of motivation to get me and my girls on the right track again! Please help, Sam.

  • Reply
    Venny SarmIenti
    May 14, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I am at the post baby number three stage. Trying to make time for me is the hardest part – as well as remembering ‘good’ snacks to grab on the run!

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Loved the article! I am doing Weight Watchers at the moment. Will be for life actually because I really believe it to be a lifestyle rather than a diet. I have a LOT to lose but have lost 15kg so far so off to a good start. Would love to win the prize!!!!

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Thanks, Kelly.
    Love the ‘real-ness’ in this & other posts on this topic. Appreciate your honest sharing & these expert tips were helpful too.

  • Reply
    Nina Downes
    May 14, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Never even thought about this as an issue! Thanks!!

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Wow, what a great lot of information and practical advise you have blogged..WELL DONE!!!

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Love the way the world works. This morning I have been having this very discussion with my hubby before he flies out to work. I also love that no matter how much weight you have to loose to improve your life, we all face the same challenges.

  • Reply
    Lisa Chapman
    May 14, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I’m an over weight mother with one child aged 6. I need a kick start in getting fit and health. Can’t afford to join any fitness programs but am willing to give anything a go. I would love to win this weight watcher pack so I can start to think about what I need to to to get myself active.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Hello tasty treats i should be having and not that yummy chocolate lol

  • Reply
    Melanie Mason
    May 14, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Good timing ! I weighed myself yesterday. I’ve put on 5 kg since Christmas and need swap indulgence with discipline for the sake of my health. Feeling a bit more motivated about it now, thanks

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 9:29 am

    As a mum of 3 I desperately need to loose weight. I had lost 20kg and had maintained it for 6 months and then I had heart trouble and was basically sedentary for 4 months while I waited for surgery to fix it. This combined with Hashimoto’s Disease saw 18kg pile back on 🙁 It is very disheartening to have to start all over again but reading your article helps see the basics of it again and encourages me to try. Thanks for a great read 🙂

  • Reply
    Linda C
    May 14, 2012 at 10:26 am

    A great read and a wonderful prize. Thank you. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for the post. This hit the nail on the head for me today. Exercise is my big downfall, I always forget that something as simple as stretching is great for me too.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Exercise is my downfall. Some weeks I look forward to taking the kids out for a walk, and others I just can’t be bothered. I feel so tired at the moment, but I really should make the time. Thanks for the post, very interesting 🙂

  • Reply
    Karen Turner
    May 14, 2012 at 11:01 am

    What a great giveaway, would help get me back onto track again.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 11:37 am

    i find i get ravenous before my period, in fact its what lets me know its that time because mine are never regular, im focussing on weight loss and exercise and have lost 12.2kg so far with ww, i have 45kg to go but every step counts, inc the 12000 i did at the mothers day classic with my period yesterday lol. I find stretching it out during that time of the month helps, and low GI foods stop me binging during my period like i used to. Remember, even stretching counts as exercise. Just move.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Achieving a healthy life balance is certainly a journey that I am on. Thank you for some tips to help with a tricky time of the month when exercise and eating well is not really what I feel like doing. A really great read, thank you!

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for the info! I am really trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle and love being able to get more information!! thanks

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Great post. Sometimes a gentle reminder is all we need to get back on track – thank you.

  • Reply
    Shannon Pratten-Eggins
    May 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for the great article! Just what I needed this week!!

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks for another interesting and informative post. I have struggled with PMS and post baby body issues. I truly lack motivation too. 🙁

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I so love the Info that is put up, the more weight i put on the more scrared i am to step out side as i feel people are looking at me, i have 2 young children is why i need to do something so i can take them out to the parks without thinking people are looking at me, i always read everything that comes out but sometimes just don`t know where to start

  • Reply
    Tracy Boulter
    May 14, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I admit I’ve fallen off the wagon and find my strength lagging, fantastic giveaway, good luck all

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    I’m just entering that mind space where I’m ready to focus on my body (without being obsessed) and hoping making small changes to my diet and lifestyle will have a lasting effect.

  • Reply
    May 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Thanks for this article – makes me feel better knowing I am not alone 🙂

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    thanks for the article… i have some of those horrible post-baby kilos hanging around that i need to be more proactive in losing. i’d love to be included in the draw 🙂

  • Reply
    rubina anver
    May 15, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    watching what i eat and a bit of excercise has helped me lose 11kg in the last 6 months. Hoping to get back to my pre pregnancy weight soon 🙂

  • Reply
    Pathma N.Ramalingam
    May 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    This is such a good article – very inspiring!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Great article, I really need to get back on track with healthy eating, I have been letting bad habits slip back in and it needs to stop!!

  • Reply
    Melissa Okimoto
    May 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Great article! I always crave chocolate at these times and it makes losing the baby weight that much harder. 🙂

  • Reply
    Melissa Sweeney
    May 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Your posts are so honest, it’s exactly what most of us struggle with everyday, putting ourselves first!

  • Reply
    Karen G
    May 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    Thank you. I am trying to lose my baby weight now. It’s so difficult!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Great article with some really useful tips. It’s always a balancing act and a challenge putting your own needs before everything else that needs to be done. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    Anita Knight
    May 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Oh my gosh that hamper looks awesome!!!! I hope I win it as I have done weight watchers in the past and lost over 12kgs and am wanting to get back on it except finding time and $$ at the moment with a new born and two and a half year old has become more challenging. I would love to get back onto the program as I know from experience it works if I stick to it! 🙂

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    ahh post baby weight sucks i know
    i weighed 92kilos after having bubs i was quite happy…. but then all the food attacked me !
    lol putting on 10 kilos 🙁
    i just cant get my arse into gear 🙁

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Great article, I’m trying to lose 80 kilos in a year to help me deal better with my osteoporosis and bad back – I need all the help and inspiration I can find!! Thanks

  • Reply
    Christine H
    May 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Good to know that my ‘urges’ are normal! Thank goodness Weight Watchers make some sweet treats to get me through those days when I prowl the house looking for a sugar fix! My New Year’s resolution was to remove all foods from the house that had added sugar. Done! Lost 9kg and counting 🙂 Would love to win this hamper! 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessica bretherton
    May 15, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Thanks for the tips
    I believe that exercise and eating healthy is the best way to lose weight but I do tend to have the right mind set but once I go to put my plan into action I just quit
    I just wish I could be motivated
    I have tried a lot of diets nothing has worked but hopefully I’ll over come it one day

  • Reply
    Cherylee Dougan
    May 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Im a Carer to my Mum, and to my special needs daughter. I need to take care of me too, and lose some weight and feel good about myself 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachel Hodgkinson
    May 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Found this quite inspiring! Thank you so much, I have gained 14kgs in 6 months and now need to shed it! I just need to get moving and get rid of it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Rebecca Hawkins
    May 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    Well, that explains why i need twiggy sticks and chocolate yogo.. my goal is to compete in the Stampede in November and healthy options for not so healthy cravings are always welcome..

  • Reply
    Kirsty Nankervis
    May 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the great read. Sounds like so many of us mums are in the same boat, struggling with the same issues. Well done.

  • Reply
    Alicia M
    May 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Great article! I have been a lifetime member of WW since 2004. It is so great to utilise their great program at any stage in my life. My second daughter is 10 months old and Ive lost 10kgs so far this year with them! Slow & steady wins the race!

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