U.P. Training Diaries: Cath Tyldesley talks hormones, dieting and training during her period

Keeping Hormones on the UP!

Wombs… the almighty power of being a woman. But also an almighty pain in the ass (or vagina, if you will).

Ever since I can remember, my periods and hormones have been slightly ‘Jekyll & Hyde’. They’ve definitely made up their own rules since I had my son Alfie.

I’m one of the cheeriest, happiest people I know…but last year, once a month, I became a monster.

A week before my period, was like an almighty drum roll ready to introduce this b*stard beast.

Some days I went beyond tired, powering through on coffee after coffee but feeling like I needed an entire day in bed.

For those of you that know me, you’ll realise straight away that this in itself is highly unusual. I’m always on the go. In fact, I’ve a tendency to drive my husband crazy, as it’s rare I sit still.


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My moods became very low for 3-4 days. I would cry at the drop of a hat. Alfie was bewildered, and my husband gave me a very wide berth.

After a week of this cruel overture, once my period actually landed, I was exhausted. However, a cloud would lift. I was late every month – something new to me. I had always been like clockwork in the past.

After several months of this tedious routine, and getting nowhere with my doctor (she didn’t want to explore the cause of the problem…simply wanted to mask symptoms) I mentioned what was happening to Steve, my trainer.

‘What have you changed?’ He asked. Which supplements are you taking? Have you changed your food? How are your stress levels?

I had started taking evening primrose oil a few months ago to help combat breast tenderness before my periods.

I had also swapped a lot of meat products for tofu-based protein (something that U.P. had advised against, but I’m stubborn!).

Stress levels were HIGH. It was a VERY busy time work-wise – working long hours whilst being a mummy and spinning several other business plates was never going to be a walk in the park.

All these things combined, could they be attributed to my schizophrenic hormones?

As I was embarking on a 12-week program at U.P. – something I’d never done before – I decided to stop the evening primrose oil (I googled the side effects and ‘late or missed periods’ were right at the top) and also lose any soya-related products completely (I kind of already knew soya wasn’t great, but did I mention I’m stubborn?).

Basically, soya is oestrogenic – and I’m already very oestrogenic. In fact, I’m like a walking womb. Lord knows what I was playing at! It can also slow down your digestion.

I returned fully to my ‘paleo’ way of life. Eating high protein (organic produce, grass-fed meat, etc.) and loads of vegetables.

Guess what? For the first time in months and months, my period arrived on time! Not only that, but I didn’t behave like a woman possessed in the days beforehand either.


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I was a little tired, yes. I craved more carbs (which I gave myself), yes, but everything else seemed, dare I say it, normal!

More reassuring than ever, that Paleo-style living is the way forward. It’s how we are designed to live and eat.

Before your period, you WILL crave more carbs and sweet things. Your body is scrambling around trying to find extra energy so your body can perform its monthly stage performance of ‘Saving Private Ryan’.

It loves the limelight, so shut the damn thing up and give it what it craves. That’s NOT a Big Mac and chocolate cake. I’m talking about extra carbs, like sweet potato, rice, and root vegetables, and also more good fats, like avocado, nuts, olives, etc.

I crave chocolate like most women. Do I have it? Yes. But in moderation, and I’ll only have the really good stuff. The darkest chocolate I can find. Just a small portion on the first couple of days does it just fine for me.

It’s proof that a few small but intelligent changes can have a pretty profound effect.

Top trick: you have receptors in the roof of your mouth, let the chocolate melt in your mouth and appreciate its full texture and flavour. Always eat mindfully to prevent over-indulgence. Dark chocolate should be so rich that you’ll only need a small amount.

I’ve spoken before about my issues with ‘bloating’. Once a month I seem to turn into a human sponge. I go up an entire dress size. My fingers look like sausages, my breasts look like watermelons and you’d swear blind that I was at least five months pregnant!

I also suffer with IBS, which kicks off at the same time as my period, this is due to the bowel being so close to one’s baby making oven – when the womb contracts, it sets your bowels off. Oh the joys!

My pals at U.P. (who are the world’s most patient trainers by the way – I’ve lost count of the amount of period-related meltdowns I’ve had in Evil Steve’s presence) suggested I lower my caffeine and salt intake, and increase my already-large water intake. So I’m starting to implement that too as of this month – I’ll let you know if I still look like a blimp or not the next time ‘ladies week’ is upon us!

The other thing I’ve implemented is meditation. Stress is a huge factor here. I’ve been running on my adrenals for years and I’ve pretty much kept Starbucks in business.

Since becoming a mummy, I’ve given myself next to no real ‘me time’. I’m not talking physically, I’m good at that. I hate missing the gym.

I’m talking about fully clearing my mind and simply ‘being’. Sitting outside for 10 minutes in the sunshine, focussing on my breathing, clearing my mind. I can’t tell you how much a difference it makes. Just 10 minutes a day. Totally doable, right?

All these little changes pull together, and I’m learning every day. People change all the time – so does your body and so do your hormones. You’re all in the same vessel, so it’s imperative you take care of it. Get to know each other. It’s literally a case of ‘till death do us part’ so learn to love yourself and give your body and mind some time.

Keep going ladies! We’ve got this!

Keeping following my Instagram for ‘happy hormones’ recipes and tips! @Auntiecath17


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