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
    Hannah Westbury
    May 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I have always wondered why I crave chocolate just before that time of the month!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    i need help turning 40 in a few weeks and need to lose the baby weight i put on 4 years ago.

  • Reply
    Joanne Bauer
    May 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I would love to win this, I love the magazines and products. I would just love the cook book. 🙂

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Would love to kickstart losing my baby weight!

  • Reply
    Rebecca Cane
    May 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I need a big kick start to get me back on track. After my 2nd child I’ve found it alot harder to put the focus on me, especially at that time of the month and with winter approaching, it’s tough!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I would love to be able to win this

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    After years of being average weight, i got a contraceptive device inserted and then put on 14 kgs in 4 months. Now i have to lose it an have no idea how having never having to diet an regularly exercise before. This pack would help me to start what i see as a long journey back to befire bub # 2.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Have had my most successful year to date with weight loss 15k down!! 25 to go! It’s a long road but its just got to go!! Holding me back from life and I just won’t have it anymore!!

  • Reply
    Jo Slean
    May 15, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Im nearly 41 yrs old and struggling being very obese! I need help badly. I need a kick in the pants and some help. this will be my start. I want to be around for my 6 and 3 yr old boys! Especially after how hard it was to have them.

  • Reply
    Amanda W
    May 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Would love this prize pack!

  • Reply
    Mardi Chapman
    May 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    A pack like that might just be the motivation I need to get started. My 3rd baby is 6 weeks old and she is to be my last, so it’s time for me to get back in shape…

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I am in my 3rd trimester with my second child and have had gestational diabetes with both pregnancies, would love to win this to get me back on track once the baby has come as the chance of type 2 diabetes has increased now.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Wow, what an amazing price to help us get back on the wagon! Also good to know that those monthly cravings are sooo common!

  • Reply
    The Imperfect Housewife
    May 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Ooooo! Would love to win this! Especially would love the cookbook 🙂

  • Reply
    Annaleis Topham
    May 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Winning this might a great start to the ‘change my body’ challenge I am trying to set myself!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Yes please 🙂

  • Reply
    Larissa Johnson
    May 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Im sick of feeling fat and ugly this hamper would be a great start for me to get back to the weight I want

  • Reply
    Nikki Thornton
    May 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for a great read! Interesting about the PMS – i’ve been seeing a dietitian after i was with WW and working on my weight. I have some days with PMS/endometriosis where i can’t walk – so have to exercise hard in between 🙂 it’s a slow journey lol.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Would so love to win this as I have been struggling to lose weight over the last few years. It is so hard after having children to find the right balance being Mum and doing things for yourself. Us Mums always tend to put everybody else first and ourselves last. I want to put myself first for once 🙂

  • Reply
    Kim Ford
    May 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I would love this to kick start a new me 2 kids, age 42 and overweight!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Would love to win, and know exactly what you mean about the cravings, mine is usually chocolate and cakes. Im not healthy all the time but the sugar cravings are shocking at that time. Although I find I also crave roasted pumpkin and sweet potato (which guess isnt as bad).

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I took a step towards a NEW ME and started W/W last Wednesday. Feeling great already. I also have agreat supporting hubby and kids BUT they all love the W/W food and snacks also.The hamper would be great to win for myself.

  • Reply
    Nicole McLaughlin
    May 15, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Interesting reading! I’ve been struggling with weight loss since I had my 2nd child. I do really well for a week or 2 then fall to pieces and start again next month! Getting more determined though, I will get there 🙂

  • Reply
    Rachelle Bishop
    May 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Interesting article…I am trying to balance a healthy weight loss with full time work and the demands of a family…info about PMS was especailly interesting!

  • Reply
    Sarah Ellis
    May 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for an interesting and informative blog. I always fall of the diet and exercise wagon during this time but now I have some motivation to release those good hormones and help myself.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Im 35 and a mum to 5 children… I always do everything i can to support my lovely family but unfortunatly i neglect myself i am now realising that i need to look after myself aswell because im prediabetic and have digestion problems…
    This is a great article and my goal is to start looking after myself and to hopefully loose about 15 KGs…
    Winning this would be a totally amazing boost of confidence…
    Goodluck to everyone xo

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Looking after myself is something I totally struggle with…. But I’m trying. 😉

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I love Weight Watchers, so flexible while working so well!

  • Reply
    Hayley C
    May 15, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Oh I would LOVE to win this!! 🙂 21kg lost but moreto go. Would be great inspiration to keep going!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    The hardest thing for me is trying to resist chocolate and biscuits and all things bad when I am tired, and with 3 boys under 5 (including a baby who is up a few times each night) I find that I am always tired! I did just receive an invite to my 20 year high school reunion which is now 6 months away. If I never needed an incentive to get back in shape and start eating better this is it.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I have struggled with weight and exercise since having kids. This year I have taken up the 10000 steps challenge in an attempt to get fit and healthy. While I seem to have established a habit of walking, I’m struggling with to make the right changes to me diet.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Ok, here I go. My name is Annette and I have 50kgs to loose. It’s too easy to say its due to pregnancies, PCOS, what happened growing up, time factors etc etc. I need to do this for my family (who wants to be the kid with the fat mum) but mostly I need to do it for me. I need to be able to look in a mirror again and not be disgusted.

    I need a kick in the butt to get going and I believe this article with the help of Weight Watchers will be a very good start!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    I am a huge fan of ww, currently using their online system and have lost nearly 12 kilos, with 1 to go! Just 1, but it is the hardest to lose! That PMS week is the killer for me. Watch out pantry here I come!! I new to have healthy snacks ready to combat the munchies and try as I may, three serves of fish a week doesn’t cancel out my chocolate cravings. Really great article and very timely!

  • Reply
    Evelina D
    May 15, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve just turned 44 and had my fourth son. He is a gorgeous 12 weeks old. With each pregnancy I gained minimal weight, so by the time I was home from the hospital I had lost the weight. But with each first year of breastfeeding I have put on weight (10kg) each child. I am determined not to do the same with this baby and also start to lose the weight I have gained. This would be an awesome kick start 🙂

  • Reply
    Keryn Crispin
    May 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    I just started my weight loss journey last week with weight watchers online. Thank you for a great inspirational blog, particularly the one about the the post baby body!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    With 3 boys under 4 I find it hard to find the time to eat properly sometimes and snacksare handy but lethal! This pack would get me started in the right direction. Plus, I have a serious cookbook obsession and would love to add to my collection!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    The only way I have found I can combine exercise with family life is to do it at 5:30am – before anyone else is awake. It was hard at first but now I’m used to it and go to bed early. I can only do it now that my youngest is 2 and I am no longer sleep deprived though, for mums up all night sleep should definitely be the priority!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Totally know what you mean about feeling horrible about how you look after baby! Have a 13w 4d old and am just feeling totally fat and frumpy!

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Wow! What an awesome prize!
    (And as always, a great blog post too!)

  • Reply
    Amelia Taito
    May 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Hi there

    My name is Amelia and I am a new MUM.. Or should I say A FUN MUM?lol.. It’s been great being a new mum and trying to lose weight has been a bit..hmmm?? Challenging?..lol.. I weigh over 100 and have been since college.. I’m quite amazed I was able to have a child. Me and my friends at work are on a 12 week challenge and I feel sad I haven’t lost as much as I would like. It is now the 8th week since the challenge started and so far I have lost 5.5kg.. I’m sure I can do better.. I am eating better food and going for an hour to 2 hours walk everyday but I need more motivation to win this challenge by losing my goal weight (25kg), to prove to myself I can do it and if I succeed I have proven to my friends I can do it. I’ll also be wearing my custom-made dress and hoping to look beautiful for my husband-to-be who I will be marrying at the end of June. Best of Luck to everyone! x

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Would love to win the hamper. Your article was great and a very interesting read. Defiantly learnt a few new things that I didn’t know. Been on Weight Watchers for a little while now started out up and down. Having had troubles with my health makes life bit extra difficult, but I have started a fresh. Looking into my future I only see good things a coming. Good luck to everyone with the draw. Thanx 😀

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    I always wonder why foods that are good for us seem to be so expensive to prepare(even from scratch) compared to less nutritious options. I’d really like to see a diet that considered cost as well as calories. My recent falling off the wagon was partly triggered by a tight fortnight financially where it just wasn’t possible to spend what the diet was asking for interms of food.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    I would love to win this prize pack.

    I have had a lot of success with weight watchers, losing nearly 26 kilos in 12 months. I am finding it hard going at this point though and something like this would help me keep going. I still have 14 kilos to go.

  • Reply
    tracy martens
    May 15, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    I would love to win this hamper to give me a kick-start to looking after my health

  • Reply
    Jennifer S
    May 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

    After just having baby number three, my body just hasn’t bounced back to normal like it did after having my previous two children… Maybe an awesome Weight Watcher’s hamper would help me start heading in the right direction!

  • Reply
    Maree Beck
    May 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    I am joining weight watchers this month after too many health scares something has to be done 🙂 wish me luck

  • Reply
    May 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    with trying to concieve for 16 months i really need help loosing this extra weight

  • Reply
    May 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    i would love to win this hamper for my husband, he’s been struggling to lose weight since injuring his leg from playing football.

  • Reply
    Codie Luscombe
    May 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I would just like to have a body like every other 20yr old and after having my son it has sort of destroyed it 🙁

  • Reply
    Yvette Pointon
    May 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    This is a fabulous giveaway – perfect for someone who’s just starting out on their diet or who has plateaued like I have and need that extra help to get you through to your goal weight!

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