Tracking your cycle can help you plan for competitions, assist in unknowns if you need to manage your weight, and increase your competitive advantage. As much as I don't plan on getting into an anatomy lesson, I do believe that all girls and women should be armed with a little education. Your cycle refers to the first day of your period, up to the day before you next period begins. On average, a cycle is 28 days, but can be as short as 21 or can be as long as 35 days. It is important for you to start tracking how long your cycle is. This will help you know (on average) when your period will begin each month. This is hugely valuable for preparing yourself each month during competition seasons, for whatever sport you do.
The first step is to TRACK. The best time to learn this process is to start in the off season. Writing down in a calendar, a journal, or using a phone app will be essential tools to track your period and your cycle so you are not required to memorize everything!
Clue is a great app, as well as Period Diary, Monthly Cycles, and Cycles. Check out the tools each app provides to help you decide which one will work best for you. Record the symptoms leading up to your period before, during, and after. Record your weight, your appetite, and your moods. All of these symptoms will help you better understand what to anticipate at what times during the month.
Look for Patterns
The second step is to look for PATTERNS. Some girls experience no weight changes, mood changes, etc. Knowing your typical symptoms will help you understand what will be present during which parts of your cycle. If you are looking to track your weight during your cycle specifically, the BEST way to accurately track this would be while you are not wrestling or doing other sports, most likely during the summer. Begin by recording your weight at different times of the month and see if a pattern emerges. Specially record half way through your cycle, the days leading up to your period, and then each day during your period. Make sure at this time you are eating fairly normal for yourself. This is important to giving yourself a fair and accurate understanding of your body.
If you notice that you are gaining weight around your period and are looking for ways to help manage that symptom, check out the article I did on rehydration after weigh-ins here. Knowing the foods that help you hold on to water to rehydrate, will be a smart way to also know how you can apply the theory in reverse. Salt is a fantastic way to help the body hold on to water, especially after depleting workouts and competitions. Knowing that by eliminating the salt, you can help reduce the amount of water you body holds on to.
Remember, a typical symptom leading up to and while you are on your period is also food cravings. Its important to know the different between water retention and realizing after the fact that it was our own choices.
By understanding and knowing when your period will start and what comes along with it when your period shows up around competition times, you will be prepared instead of surprised. The best tools we can have for combating difficult situations is always to educate ourselves on our options!
If you would like to see a blog on the types of products you can use and can help you while you are practicing or competing on your period, let me know in the comments below!