On Being a Girl


*Note: Boys, you might want to avert your eyes. This post contains girly-specific information.*

There are many cool things about being a chick, mostly having to do with fashion opportunities and intuition, like

  • black eyeliner and lots of mascara
  • leopard print clothing and accessories
  • the ability to wear high heels or Converse, as the mood strikes
  • pretty underthings with lace and sparkles and other doodads
  • having empathy
  • the opportunity to be both nurturing and practical

Balancing it all out?


Plus, the bloating, moodiness, carb and salt cravings, sleeplessness, and the belief that no one has ever been uglier, loser-y-er, or lamer than you. Ever, ever, ever.

Simple tasks become difficult. Difficult tasks are nearly impossible. Dropping things is de riguer, and there is no table corner, no doorway, no step, no ledge that is not an elbow- or knee- or shin-bashing hazard. Hail the new bruises, not earned through athletic triumph but via hormone-induced clumsiness.

These are the gifts of receding estrogen and progesterone.

Every four weeks, like a fucking clock, tinkered into sadistic perfection by the devil himself.

Which makes any workout all the more challenging. I do my best to muscle through on most days, but sometimes, you just gotta take a knee (to borrow a phrase from football) and take a rest day. Curl up with a cup of tea, perhaps a cat, a snuggly blanket, and definitely a good book.

It’s great to be a woman!

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  • Stephanie Vincent says:

    I notice that WODs are particularily difficult when I have "my little friend visiting" or in the few days before. Partly becasue of my body but mostly because my head is not in the game. I am more cranky about the WOD and less determined. Despite PMS this week I did Barbara for the first time…i almost stopped after the 4th round (as the next class started), But my box wouldn't let me quit and i finshed, YAY! my body feels that shit tho still today. My knees are really weird. I'm trying to look at my "woman time" in a positive way. maybe its the time to be a little easier on the body and be forgiving if its not the time to go for the PR. 🙂

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    I get very clumsy at a certain time in my cycle, and it can be downright scary. My husband Dave calls me "dropsy" because I start dropping EVERYTHING and walking into doorways. Literally. I will walk directly into a doorway.

  • Stephanie Vincent says:

    I experieced the clumbsiness increase especially when i was pregnant. Also when i have PMS (and worse when i was preggers) I am REALLY sensative to noise. If there is a TV on anywhere in the house when i am trying to go to bed, it drives me NUTS.

    • ann says:

      T.v.s have bothered me for years. Even if they’re muted its like I can still here this whine at the opposite end of the house. I thought I was the only one.

  • Grace(less) Kelly says:

    Good lord it's refreshing to hear that other women are clumbsy "then" as well. I would LOVE to know the scientific explanations for some of these things.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Grace(less) Kelly! You've given me a great idea… will research the wonderful cause of "dropsies" and report back to y'all soon. Be careful out there!

  • julianne says:

    I used to have nasty PMS and cramps – but both the sore (like fresh mega bruises on my chest, sore pms) breasts and the nasty (we're talking vomit down the loo with every wave) cramps just evaporated eating paleo, taking a lot of fish oil and some magnesium. Now I just feel a bit tired for a couple of days.

  • googlebot says:

    define: dropsy

    edema: swelling from excessive accumulation of watery fluid in cells, tissues, or serous cavities

  • Laura Flack says:

    I love this post. I no longer have cramps due to a hysterectomy,
    but I still get the PMS, just not as bad some months as others.

    Paleo has helped, but cupcakes just seem to be what my body is craving occasionally.

    • Mel says:

      Eating paleo has helped immensely with the emotional symptoms and moodiness, but man! I still get cramps. LAME!

      • Tina says:

        Hey girls. Thanks to Mel for this blog. It is sooooo Refreshing! Have just started Crossfit four months ago and the strengthening has really helped my teaching yoga. Now I teach the gang at our Gym in Mascot, Sydney. Thanks Mel for allowing us to share. My partner Luke and I are now on Paleo and although missing our restaurant dates and sweet treats, we are soooo enjoying having more consistent energy. My moods are more level and I don’t feel tired when I wake up in the mornings. I am really enjoying learning more about food as medicine and Luke is a great cook anyway and the recipes to follow are making it easy for both of us to know what meals are coming up. Thanks for sharing girls and if you are in Sydney, come and train with us and do a yoga class with me. Speak again soon. Tina.

        • Mel says:

          I love everything you have to say in this comment! Fantastic that you’re feeling strong and clear-headed — congrats on making the switch to paleo. I’m LOVING my strength training + yoga that I have going on right now, too.

  • Beth Atchley says:

    Would using fresh spinach work, and would any modifications be necessary? I just picked up the book at Crossfit Austin and want to make these and use up a tub of baby spinach.

  • Kimberly says:

    I never knew there was a reason I am a total clutz at certain times. Huh. Good to know.

  • Machin says:

    I am not so much of a clutz, but more of a total dead brain. EVERYTHING slows down. It feels like I am living in slow motion for 2-3 days, and it is ridiculously painful. To the point, that I have made an appointment to have an oblation…(but chickened out). My partner and I are starting the Whole30 July 1, so I am looking forward to tracking changes as a result of the process.
    Thanks for this post and the other one that lead me here.

    • Mel says:

      Yeah, I get that, too: brain fog.

      Congratulations on taking on the Whole30 in July. When I switched to Whole30-style eating (90% of the time), my PMS and period symptoms definitely eased up a little.

  • Rebecca C. says:

    This Pad Thai was AMAZING. I am doing the Whole 30 (about half way in), and I desperately needed this taste of heaven today!

  • Sara C. says:

    I have to tell you, I stupidly?? started eating Paleo the week before my last period. I had NO PMS symptoms. I did not crave chocolate. If I can make it through PMS, then I can do anything.

    Thank you so much for your help. Working on a Whole 30, but travelling for work makes it a little difficult.

    I wanted to let you know I used your char siu pork recipe with chicken instead of pork. So delicious! I made enough for leftovers and made hash with it and butternut squash.

    Plus, I have made about 10 of the recipes from your book so far. Husband and brother both approve.

    You rock! Thanks for your help!

    • Mel says:

      I think it’s genius to go paleo around your period. It’s amazing what a difference food can make in PMS symptoms. YAY!

      Great idea to make the char siu with chicken… I’m going to try that, too. Glad to know the Well Fed recipes are keeping everyone, um, well… well fed. WOOT!

  • Juliette says:

    What do you do with cravings and PMS? Do you just ride through them, cave in, or have a paleo “treat”? I am seriously in PMS mode and craving crap food. This happens to me every month. It’s been a 50/50 shot whether I cave in or not and I’m tired of that behavior.

    • Mel says:

      I kinda split the difference. 90% of the time, I don’t eat paleo “treats,” but when I know PMS is coming, I buy a few Larabars in flavors I love and allow myself to eat a little more nut butter than usual. When cravings strike, I eat half a Larabar with a cup of tea or half an apple smeared with Sunbutter. Yes, it’s giving in to cravings, but it’s doing it with healthy choices.

      When I crave salty things, I make kale chips from a big bunch of kale and eat them all myself.

      Hope this helps!

  • Zoe says:

    Hello Mel,
    I just found your blog, thanks to a Paleo friend of mine, and love the sass, fun, and spark you have! I do wonder, though-has anyone else lost their period after transitioning to Paleo (and then not getting it back after four months or more)? I did, and no matter how much dino chow I eat, it’s not coming back. It has me worried.

    • lisa says:

      Hi Zoe,
      I did! I’ve been paleo for over a year, but when I quite smoking in Sept 2012, I lost my period the next month. It’s from stress. Take it easy! I have adrenal fatigue, it happened from being TOO uptight about diet and training, not getting enough sleep to support it all, and too much stress from life in general on top of it. Doctor told me to stop training for a minute, sleep better, stop intermittent fasting, address my stress, and supplement wisely (blood tests showed some deficiencies even though I am non discriminating in fruits, veggies, and meats). Two months of this RX, and I got my period back yesterday!!! Woot Woot!! See a doc to rule out anything serious, but then really find a way to balance everything out….being healthy is a journey (that’s the hard part for me – I was treating it as the destination)

      Good luck, and chin up

  • Zoe says:

    Thank you! I know I tend to overtrain, but as a professional circus artist it’s hard to walk the line of too much training and training enough to maintain and learn. There a lot of other stress that I need to work on, too. How did you deal with the other stressors?

    • lisa says:

      Something that is helping me is breathing correctly. And when I start to feel stress coming on, to focus on my breathing – not even try to change it, but to just pay attention to it. It forces you to get out of your head for a second (ideally, 5 minutes) and just be in the “now”. Breath in through your nose, and let your belly fill (visibly!). your shoulders and chest should not move much when you take a breath, and exhale, allowing your belly to deflate. Also, breathing in through your left nostril promotes calmness.

      Other things I did?? Well, since I had to stop being such a badass at the gym, it gave me a ton of free time. I started to enjoy cooking way more, and started doing things I would have NEVER had time for at the height of my “badassery” – like watching an episode of the kardashians if I felt like it, taking a bubble bath, playing with hair styles, trying on clothes…super girly stuff. My hormones were the opposite level of girly, so I figured it would help.

      I am dying to get back to the gym – but I will be approaching it differently this time. I will make sure to get proper rest, I will probably NEVER intermittent fast again, and I will give myself credit for my accomplishments instead of always wishing that I was better, and driving myself to the ground trying to beat my best.

      I don’t want to go through this again – ever, and 1/2 an inch or 5 more pounds is just not worth it.

  • Zoe says:

    I would agree–it’s better to be whole and healthy as a woman than to strive for perfection. Thank you, and blessed be!

  • Kate says:

    I WiSH I knew how to ease my PMS and cramps…. The only time it seems to ease up a bit is when I am eating close to 100% clean. Not one drop of processed food…. Everything else, no grain, tons of fish oil and mag, seems to help….

  • Kelly says:

    I am so glad I found your site (from an amazon.com review) I have had really bad cramps for the last 5 – 6 periods. So bad I would have to take the two days off before I got my period just curled up in a ball. Nothing worked, Advil, Motrin, I even got a prescription from my doc but nothing worked till I started Paleo. I have now been doing Paleo for about a month and a half and not even 100%. 80/20 or 60/40 but today I got my friend and totally forgot it was coming!!! No cramps before my period came! I totally attribute this to my new eating plan because nothing else has changed. I am working on cleaning it up even more and getting closer to 90/10. I just find it hard to get rid of the cream in my coffee! Thanks for the time you put into this site. You Rock!!

    • Mel says:

      That is *wonderful* news — congratulations! I’m so glad you found me and that switching to paleo has been helpful. Right on! Thanks for letting me know… and good luck to you on your new eating lifestyle!

  • Donna says:

    I am transitioning to paleo by trying out your recipes from well fed and I love your blog. My question is this: I started menopause in my late 30’s and at 43 I have horrible hot flashes and I still get the rest of the “lovely” stuff, whether I have a cycle or not, sound sensitivity, fatigue, migraines, cramps…like I go to bed if I do not absolutely have to be somewhere. Does Paleo and whole 30 eliminate or help with the hot flashes???? I also have severe PTSD anxiety and depression. I am on medications, but does going 100% paleo help with depression? I gained 150 pounds from the anti-depressants, can I loose this weight?

    • It sounds like you’re juggling lots of challenges, and I suspect eating paleo should help with making all of that more manageable. But… I’m a recipe maker, not a doctor, so I encourage you to work with your medical team to deal with your health concerns.

  • Karen says:

    I eat whole30 style most of the time with odd pale dessert now and agin but things had been way out of control so I am currently on day 6 of a whole30 with my husband on board this time ( he is struggling). I am a little as its day 2 of my period and i have a horrid sore throat/chest to go with it and even though whole30 says to limit snacking and limit dried fruit, today it was 3/4C of dried blueberries! I just had no choice!

    • Congratulations on 6 days of Whole30-ing! Don’t stress about the blueberries; just move on and keep up your good habits.

      Next time you have a sugar attack, you might conquer it more easily if you eat some fat, too. Like… a banana with some nut butter, or 1/4 cup FRESH or FROZEN blueberries with a handful of almonds… the fat will help you feel more satisfied and break the sugar-insulin cycle up a bit.