In the spring my lovely sister introduced my to iPeriod, the free app to track your monthly and to also note your mood, appetite, fertility, weight, etc.
I am not a document and data kind of person, but I have always thought of myself as rather reflective and self-aware. Thoughtful, even. Sadly, it turns out that I am blatantly subjective when it comes to my personal well-being and perhaps a little less “aware” than I thought.
The beginning of my period always induced one of two reactions: “What?! Already?” or “Did I skip a month?… It feels like I skipped a month.” I have traditionally felt this was my burden to bear as a woeful woman with irregular cycles.
Turns out I’m as steady as a clock, within a day or two.
I have also proclaimed over the last twenty years that I don’t really suffer from PMS. I just feel crampy, dizzy and miserable on Day 1, take a bunch of Tylenol and move on. The noble gentleman who has lived with me for fifteen of those years will sit straight-faced at a table while I share this information with someone.
Turns out I am cranky, irritable, depressed and exhausted for at least 48 hours between Day 21 and 26. In this 48 hours, I also want something like brownies and ice cream very badly no matter how solidly I am on the diet, the exercise schedule or the educational programme.
Note to the app developers: An email warning to one’s partner would be a prudent option, here. A “purchase” button for FLOWERS or CHOCOLATE is also a good idea.
Said noble gentleman noticed long ago and pays attention, listening with an empathetic ear to my unique struggles each month and never telling me to get over my PMS-y self because…
Turns out I am considerably more … friendly… on Day 28 and 29. Dirtbag.
Now, I need to make a couple of excuses for myself. I was on the pill for a very short time in 1996, but haven’t been since. I am assuming this is a fairly common method of tracking one’s personal hormonal havoc. Also, I took about 5 years off… with all the babies and such, where I had three or four periods total. Preggo and Lacto have their advantages, to be sure. And, I’m busy. One repetitive, irritating, inevitable event is not worth an extra ounce of my precious mental energy. I’m not one of those girls who will wax poetic about the torture and tribulation of the feminine plight. It’s whatever.
But, now that I know… liberty, my lady friends.
I am not cyclically responsible for overdoing it and putting myself in a stressed, unhealthy state that manifests in a cortisol meltdown… tighter compliance to the diet and exercise regimen may not necessarily help. My expectations for life performance in general can be a bit different on certain days because I know the factors at play under the surface. I indulge a little today because it is THAT DAY that comes only once a month and I know I will feel more normal tomorrow. I make an effort to not dump on my family. It really is me, not them. Hormones actually can and do make you a bit crazy, but not less of a responsible and normal human being. Done.
Weird, to be sure, that I am getting my head around this at an age that suggests menopause more than adolescence, but perhaps this is the point in my life at which my health has mattered to me most. Certainly I am working harder at it than I ever have.
In the future, ANY weight tracking, fitness performance, mood and appetite tracking I do will all by done with my cycle on the same calendar. It is not a small contributing factor, but a series of major hormonal shifts every month. Every day I am making decisions about diet and exercise as a result of how I feel: why not make those decisions proactively, with all the pertinent information at hand? Makes sense to me.