As a Team GB Olympic Weightlifter in the 58kg category, I've competed in over 20 competitions at national and international level. The hardest part about being a female athlete in a male dominated sport is the stereotype we face with “lifting makes you masculine”, not to mention the difficulties we can all face as female athletes during “that time of the month” - making weight, period cramp, and the embarrassment of accidental leakage to name a few. It's safe to say that there have been times where my body and my mind haven't been up for training or competing!
But, through years of experience, I’ve managed to overcome these barriers by learning to plan ahead and adjust my training routine.
On first few days of the menstrual cycle, I tend to take it really easy with low intensity and reps. If I can’t make it to the gym, I focus on stretching and body weight exercises to keep my body moving. I also ensure I sustain my diet and fuel my body with the things it needs for training (of course allowing for the occasional treat!).
What has made the biggest difference to me, however, is having a coach who is supportive and understanding. And he is, in fact, male.
It’s so important to speak up about periods and menstrual health with the people around you, because IT IS NORMAL. It's also vital to adopt a self-care approach, by investing time to really look after your mind, body and spirit.
Poi is currently taking time out of competing to study a Master's Degree in Occupational and Business Psychology at Kingston University, London.