How Your Period Affects Your Exercise Schedule—And What To Do About It

Illustration by Emily Tarbush

How to make your period work for you

It’s tempting to hide under the covers and binge on Netflix when your PMS or a particularly heavy period strikes. For many women, our hormonal fluctuations last throughout the month, not just when we’re actually menstruating, and this can make for some up-and-down workout results and body feels. The good news is that exercise can help. The bad news is that, to make it work for you, you need to be a bit of a body detective. So when should you just chill in the AC at home? When should you use those hormones to rage in a CrossFit session? And when should you cry it out in restorative yoga?

The first step: get to know your cycle. "Keep a journal. These days my clients are all about tracking every little move,” says women’s health and athlete expert Dr. Stacy Sims. "They have activity trackers and sleep monitors and apps that help them analyze every morsel they put into their mouths. Yet I’m surprised how few women make note of their menstrual cycle and how they feel during it.”

She recommends using an app or just making a few notes in your calendar, marking not just when you’re bleeding but when you’re experiencing PMS symptoms and how you feel after certain workouts.

Then, look for patterns. While there are some general rules of what each part of your cycle will do to your body, we all react differently to the flood of hormones that sweeps through our bodies throughout the cycle—and a cycle is rarely the perfect 28 days, so knowing how often you’re actually starting a new cycle can be great intel.

"As you train through several cycles, pay attention to how your body reacts and responds to training during each phase,” Sims adds. "It’ll help you identify when you’re strongest and when you need to put in a little extra work for the performance you want."

Once you have that under control, it’s time to look at the stages of our cycles, and what makes the most sense from a workout perspective during each one.

During PMS
Yeah, it’s the worst and you might not want to get to the gym. But a 2013 study showed that women who engaged in aerobic activity actually lessened their symptoms of PMS, from bloating to headaches to cramping. Even if you’re feeling too crappy to hit that CrossFit class, swap the weight-lifting for a gentler form of cardio, like a brisk walk or chill jog. The movement can help keep your gut moving along, which might aid in decreasing that bloat and help you avoid the water retention that’s typical during this time.

You may need to slow your roll though—studies have shown that your reaction to heat during this phase may be less than optimal since your core temperature may be a bit elevated, so try to get your cardio in in shady areas or an air-conditioned gym, and make sure to re-hydrate after training!

Pro Tip: Right before your period, you may experience some gut distress, so if you know you tend to deal with diarrhea right before and during your cycle, plan a run route with restrooms in mind!

During Your Period
The weird but good news: Your performance doesn’t actually suffer when you’re on your period. Let’s be honest, part of that might be because you’re angry at the world and feel the need to rage, making those CrossFit Workouts of the Day super-intense. That’s great, go with that feeling.

In ROAR: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Unique Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health, and a Strong, Lean Body for Life by Sims, she recommends supplementing with branched-chain amino acids (especially leucine) during your period. You’ll skip the feelings of fatigue and that general funky brain fog feeling, she explains.

Pro Tip: Do what feels right for you, and try to be in touch with your body during your period, really letting yourself listen to what it needs. Alyssa Vitti, the author of WomanCode: Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source, notes that this part of your cycle is when you’re most primed for self-analysis and course correction, so if you’re really feeling SoulCycle versus a boot camp class, grab those spin shoes and have fun.

After Your Period
You’re now in the follicular and ovulatory phases, which last about two weeks. You’ll likely be feeling more energized and revitalized, so this is a great time for those group workouts and trying new classes at the gym. If you are trying to drop a few pounds for health reasons, this is also going to be the easiest time of the month to eat cleaner and lighter, as you won’t be feeling quite as many cravings.

Pro tip: This is your energy high point for the month, so make the most of it. That might mean planning your hardest workouts for this week or even hopping into a 5K on these weekends.

What About Birth Control?
Bad news: Unless you’re using a non-hormonal form of birth control, your hormones aren’t going to be working exactly as your body prefers. That doesn’t mean they aren’t still working for you, just that things like your progesterone will be higher throughout the month versus ebbing and flowing. So expect to feel less of the effects of each cycle if you’re relying on a hormonal birth control.

Pro tip: If you don’t feel like your birth control is working for you—if you’re experiencing worse PMS symptoms, hoping to shift to a less hormone-heavy method, or having extremely heavy flows, talk to your gynecologist sooner rather than later. It’s very possible that there’s a better method out there for you!

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.