Category Archives: Women issues

How to be Fit & Healthy on your Period

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Tears, anger, cramps, chocolate cravings, bloating – whatever it is, few of us get away scot-free at THAT time of the month. Recently Heather Watson, the top female British tennis player, put her loss at the Australian Open down to low energy and just feeling a bit rubbish thanks to her period. It is reassuring to know that even elite athletes struggle and it got us thinking about how we should be exercising and eating during that rather uncomfy time of the month.

The Science 

There are two phases to a woman’s menstrual cycle and it is the changing levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone which affect how we feel. Day one (the day on which a period starts) up to ovulation (day fourteen) is known as the low hormone follicular phase. Day fourteen through to the next period is known as the high hormone luteal phase and it is during this phase that we start to feel different (period pains, night sweats, random crying, screaming at the boyfriend for no reason). These hormonal changes can affect the levels of nutrients which our body needs as well as our capacity to exercise. To find out what we should be doing during this rather uncomfortable time of every month, we spoke to a couple of our favourite nutrition and fitness experts.


Owner of The Urban Kitchen, Toral Shah, is a woman who likes to exercise and eat good food. She also knows her stuff when it comes to women’s bodies as she has a BSc in cell biology and a Masters Degree in Nutritional Medicine. According to Toral, food and mood are directly linked and this is especially true during menstruation.

What should we eat?

Toral recommends that a period-diet should contain plenty of carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, brown rice and oats which will boost serotonin levels, lifting mood and preventing cravings. Toral also suggests eating regular, protein-rich meals as it is important to steady blood sugar levels. Maintaining stable blood sugar levels can affect the adrenal glands, stopping them from releasing a lot of adrenaline which blocks the use of progesterone and can worsen symptoms of pre-menstrual tension (and who wants more cramping?). In addition, Toral recommends drinking lots of water and limiting salty foods to reduce bloating and fluid retention.

Some people may also experience very heavy periods and as a result could benefit from eating iron-rich foods or taking an iron supplement (consult your doctor first). Foods rich in iron include red meat, liver, fish, spinach and seeds.

Should we eat more?

And what about that insatiable hunger we experience? Unfortunately, Toral told us that women don’t require extra calories during menstruation and actually, we require less due to slight changes in our metabolism (so, no scientific excuse for eating an entire jar of peanut butter). However, as serotonin levels might be lower, we may experience cravings for foods which will boost our mood (dark chocolate, obviously).


For some of us, nothing gets in the way of our exercise routine. However, for others, just getting out of bed on period-mornings can be a challenge. But should we be taking those 4 or 5 days off from physical activity or should we pushing through and training hard? Plus it doesn’t make it easier when most fitness coaches are men who really do not want to talk about it. For a little guidance we spoke to personal trainer, Pilates teacher and all-round wellness guru, Sarah Lockhart-Martin.

Should we be training?

Each individual is different but generally, Sarah advises light to moderate exercise during menstruation as it can help to alleviate symptoms such as cramping and the resulting endorphins can kill that angry mood. Sarah emphasises the fact that energy levels can be less than usual and it is important not to be too hard on yourself – listen to your body and rest when you need it!

Also, it is likely that balance and co-ordination can be affected by our monthly cycle so Sarah suggests being a little cautious when doing exercises which require more focus and co-ordination!

It is important to remember that every person’s experience will be unique. If you are training seriously, Sarah recommends keeping a diary to track how your body feels and changes over your cycle. By doing this, you will be able to see patterns emerging which will help you to optimise your training and health.

What type of exercise is best?

Any light to moderate exercise is great. Sarah is an advocate of gentle jogging, walking, pilates and yoga. Here at H & H, we think swimming is brilliant too. However, you may be someone who is hardly affected by that time of the month, in which case you can keep sprinting and squatting as if nothing’s up (yes, we are jealous). In short, find what’s for you by listening to your own body (not Instagram fitspos, Twitter or what the girls in the office tell you!).



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5 Things You Should Always Keep From Your Partner

Do you tell each other everything? Wrong, says Kathy Lette, as she gives her (tongue-in-cheek) guide to the secrets essential for cohabitation harmony with your partner…

‘Love prepares you for marriage the way that needlepoint prepares you for round-the-world solo yachting. Nobody ever said marriage was going to be easy. But one thing’s for sure. Honesty is not always the best policy when it comes to your partner. Psychologists encourage couples to tell each other everything…who did they train under, Dr Seuss? I’m not encouraging you to lie – it’s more a case of selective honesty. Here are the 5 things you should always keep from your partner…

1. Shoes…as in cost of. One of the biggest differences between the sexes is that men only need one pair of shoes for the year, and maybe four for their entire life. They don’t understand it’s genetically impossible for a woman to walk past a shoe sale and not buy something irrational and strappy that gladdens the heart. If new shoes aren’t spirited upstairs immediately, your partner will ask how much money you spent – a question to be stepped around as carefully as a dozing anaconda.

2. Scrapes…as in along the side of the car. Every man thinks he’s an excellent driver. When a bloke gets a noteunder his windscreen saying ‘parking fine’, he presumes it’s a complimentary comment on his driving skills. He also secretly thinks every woman is bad behind the wheel. Even if another driver has dented the bumper he will still assume it’s your fault. But if you do scrape the car, just act innocent to avoid your partner exceeding the recommended daily allowance of Smug Gloating.

3. Camping phobia…one of life’s great mysteries is why people are divided into those who like the outdoors and those who like the indoors, and why they invariably end up married to each other. I foolishly confessed to my first husband how much I hated camping and he then spent every holiday trying to convert me. If you’re like me, make up some life-threatening allergies – to flies, flowers, frog spawn. Otherwise, a couple of nights under canvas and you’ll soon discover that your marital union is so solid because you have so much in common…namely mutual contempt and acrimony.

4. Skills…you’d rather not have. My father Mervyn worked in optic fibre. We nicknamed him Optic Merv. He trained his four daughters to fix fuses, mix cement and put up wallpaper. As I don’t fancy spending a life in overalls, my only attempt at DIY resulted in a very embarrassing call to emergency services after I trapped myself in a flat-pack wardrobe I was assembling.

5. Allergy…to his old mate. My husband has a friend who went straight from puberty to adultery. His marriage vows clearly read ‘to love, honour and betray’. Now on his third divorce, he’s taken to dropping round for a nightcap. Being honest about your loathing will only bring out your partner’s loyalty. Much better that you pretend to like his pal a little too much and let the ‘green-eyed monster’ do the rest. Yes, the secret of a happy marriage is to keep most things secret.


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5 Top Natural Remedies For Knee Pain

If you are on the lookout for natural remedies for resolving knee pain, you are on the right track. You will know that natural remedies are always the best path to take as the system is bolstered from within. The immunity system is strengthened and the body is provided help to fight the pain and the inflammations from inside. Joint pain is usually due to weakness of the adjoining muscles, the joint areas are poorly lubricated, the bones are weak and so forth. These symptoms are addressed when one opts for natural remedies and changes in their lifestyle. These take time to show effect for which many people often resort to pain killers but that is a wrong course to take. The pain killer suppresses the brain centers which send out signals of pain. That does not solve the main problem or the ailment that one is suffering from.

  1. Stay active. There are many myths which state that joint pains become worse if one exercises. While it is true that some forms of cardio exercises do put stress on the joints, you need to be active physically to ensure proper circulation and a better metabolism rate in your body. As the circulation is improved, the joints are lubricated and stretched. The muscles are toned and they work better.
  2. Many people think that pain killers are to be taken regularly. But that is a wrong road to take as the pain killers do not provide any long term cure. The chemical inside the medicines will not be without side effects and prolonged dependence on such medicines will surely provide adverse side effect and compromise your immune system.5
  3. Take the joint supplements such as chondroitin and glucosamine which are known to be natural remedies for joint pain. These help to repair and to rebuild cartilage. Thus, these supplements are helpful for those who suffer from joint pain.
  4. Natural inflammation cures are found in ginger, curcumin, tart cherry, bromelain and boswellia. These are naturally occurring herbs and condiments that are used in food and are known to help reduce inflammation.
  5. A protein rich and a balanced diet will also ensure that the joints and cartilage tissues are healthy. The body should have enough of resources to build and repair damaged tissues and bones.

The above points will help anyone suffering from knee pain to reduce their discomfort and to find long term cure in the process.

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