EVERY MONTH WE ASK SEVERAL WOMEN IN OUR COMMUNITY TO SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH ALL THINGS PERIODS.
This month we are delighted to talk to Singapore based, Rosie.
Occupation: Writer, Creator, Pilates Expert, Holistic Personal Trainer.
Tell us a little more about your journey to doing what you do now (courses, inspiration, previous fields of work etc);
My entire life has been focused on pursuing my passions. I started dancing at the age of three and followed that journey around the world, performing and learning alongside incredible artists. This movement background naturally transitioned me into Pilates and Fitness and it became quickly clear that my inherent skill for educating and helping others would be a staple of my future. After working within the industry for quite some time amongst the hustle of the booming scene in London, Australia and Asia, I pivoted into digital media – where I have worked as a freelancer writer, social media editor and creative, focusing on the areas of fitness, wellness and travel. The biggest driver for my career is always to be helping elevate others. I believe in spreading education, sharing my message, elevating others and helping a wider community lead happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives.
Can you fill us in on why you felt it was important to join a community like ilo’s and what their message means to you:
Women’s health is a cause exceptionally close to my heart. I am a fierce supporter of empowering and equipping women with the knowledge and education (or simply sometimes just being a wingwoman) that they need in other to take charge of their health and wellbeing. I believe we are seeing the shift for women to own our narratives in society and alongside the rapidly expanding changes to how we view ethics, the environment and consumerism, it is important that women are in the drivers seat to take charge of their health, for the greater good of ourselves, the community and the planet.
How do you feel about your period (has this changed over the years, did your first experiences affect your thoughts towards it etc?
Right now, I consider my cycle to be one of the biggest indicators of my overall health and wellbeing. But that certainly has not always been the case. Throughout my teens and early twenties, I saw my period as more of an inconvenience to my exceptionally active lifestyle – which is why I sought out controlling it through the use of the contraceptive pill. I didn’t “have the time” to be set back by my period. However, after 6 years of trial and error, I realised that the pill was certainly not for me – because of the mood swings, side effects and a medical contraindication – and sometime after coming off the pill, I was diagnosed with PCOS (you can read much more about my experiences with PCOS here.
Receiving this diagnosis and opting to solely treat it naturally (my preference), suddenly shifted my menstrual cycle to become a pivotal consideration of my health. My period became an active marker and my lifestyle habits to encourage optimal hormonal health was a daily consideration.
As I have actively sought to manage, heal, and indeed reverse, my symptoms of PCOS I have vastly changed my viewpoint and emotional attachment to my period. I see how important it is, I value the effort into [hopefully] assisting my long-term fertility, I look to see how my lifestyle implicates my cycle and I care greatly about my overall hormonal health. Knowing that my period can give me a snapshot of how things are sitting hormonally means I actively keep tabs on my period and am pretty grateful when it comes along!
What’s your first memory of your period and how do you feel it’s affected your relationship with your period over the years (perhaps indicate length of time you’ve had it, emotions you felt, did you parents give you the low down etc):
I think I got my first period when I was around 14 and to be honest, with my spirit of fierce independence and not always seeking out help, I just got on with it! My mum certainly helped me out, but during my teens, I found my period to not really be a big deal. I didn’t experience any period pains, PMS, cramps or particularly long or challenging cycles. Looking back now – damn I was lucky! I immediately used tampons, and have continue to do so since that point, just because I needed the convenience for my active dancing schedule and really, I feel like it was all pretty fine.
I certainly didn’t know the extent of which I do now about hormones, the cycle, things that can impact my period and taking care of my hormones, but it seemed relatively fine and for that I am grateful.
As a fitness guru how has that journey affected your relationship with your period? Are you more conscious of it or change the exercises in your class depending on it?
As my understanding of my own cycle, my hormonal health and my wider research of these topics expand, I see just how crucially they filter across and can be influenced by the fitness industry. As mentioned, when I was younger, my period was a bit more of an inconvenience, when performing to an elite level, it is hard to take any time off or downtime each month and a rigorous performing schedule doesn’t really care if you are having serious cramps or not!
However as I’ve matured and my career has evolved, my relationship with my period has become more intuitive and I’ve been able to see great benefits by developing healthy movement habits for my cycle.
Particularly for women with PCOS, exercising is an exceptional tool for the management of many symptoms. However, I have also witnessed, and experienced first hand, that overdoing it can cause negative implications on the body also. Exercise is processed as a stress, in the same way a deadline or running late for an important meeting, is processed by the body, so it is hugely important, that high intensity exercise is balanced with nourishing restorative practices. For this reason, I make sure I keep an energy balance across my workouts, I drastically reduced the amount of HIIT and long durational cardio workouts I do and incorporated more mindful movement workouts, such as Pilates (of course!!), Yoga, strength training and long walks! I still like to get a sweat on, but I make sure it is to a level that energises, not depletes my body.
As I have been exceptionally active my entire life, I don’t really notice major fluctuations throughout my cycle that affect my training. However, I stay very in tune with my energy, mood and motivation, and will minimally adapt my workouts to match different stages of my cycle in the cycle syncing format – taking more restorative, resting practices during my menstrual phases, higher energy workouts in my ovulatory phases etc…
Do you keep track of your cycle and if so what do you use or if not why:
I’m an avid tracker of my period! As I navigate the world of PCOS and hormonal imbalances, it is exceptionally important to me that I know the length, duration and shifts of my menstrual cycle – which is not only exceptional intel for myself but key statistics that I can share with my alternative health practitioners so they can best help me too! I also just find it absolutely fascinating and love analysing what is going on!!
I have used both the Flo and Clue app for many years, helping me keep track of forecasting when my next period may be and key dates of ovulation etc. I started using the ilo period journal on my previous cycle and it too has been helpful in tracking some of the more qualitative aspects of my cycle, beyond just the stats of dates etc! All of this information builds the rich tapestry of your hormonal health profile and I believe just equips you with more power to know your body and own your health!
Have your periods changed over the years or maybe you haven’t noticed?
My periods have drastically changed over the years. From super light, complete non-issue periods in my teens, to medically controlling (and regularly skipping!) my period's thanks to the contraceptive pill through my early twenties, to now being all natural now and navigating PCOS/hormonal imbalances!
It was actually due to the fact I noticed major changes to my periods that led me to finding out the diagnosis of PCOS. As I suddenly began having painful, heavy, long and irregular cycles, I was spurred on to dig deeper and seek out medical advice and thankfully I had the wisdom to do so, as it has allowed me to manage these aspects of my health at an early stage.
Do you think it’s important we start to talk openly about our periods and why, if not, why not?:
100% ! Knowledge is power and it is through sharing our stories, information and experiences that we can help empower the women around us. Periods are a key indicator of our overall health profile and I think when we talk more about our cycles we are enabling a greater discussion about women’s health in general which benefits our optimal function, longevity and general wellbeing!
What sort of period products do you use (tampons, cups, free bleeding etc)
I’ve used tampons since my very first period, but have just purchased a cup – so am intrigued to see if it works for me!
Who are you favourite female empowerment accounts on social?
FINALLY LIGHTNING ROUND:
When you have your period you feel …healthy, strong and a little moody ;)………..
You crave………nourishing, indulgent………….. Food when you have your period.
Favourite song to listen to when your bleeding……well this is a new one! I don’t think I’ve got one in particular!…………
Whats your favourite season of your period and why……I love the ovulatory phase – I feel sexy, strong, empowered, emboldened – but often my body skips over this season if my PCOS is flaring up, so I’m extra grateful when it comes around! ………… (if you’re unsure about what we’re talking about here, we’d highly recommend you read this)
What’s one thing you can’t live without when you’re bleeding……my acupuncturist!…………
How long does your cycle last…it varies greatly, generally 30+ days……….
What are the three things (yoga, breathing etc) that connect you with your cycle…
The alternative practices of acupuncture and TCM which are specifically assisting in regulating my cycle, Meditation – for stress management, pain relief, grounding and dialling inwards and Mindful Movement – I use movement as a way to manage stress (crucial to my hormonal health) and to keep me uplifted and strong!