Tracking your period can be, to put it simply, stressful. When you’re late, there’s fear of pregnancy, and when you’re trying to get pregnant, it can be hard to figure out when you’re ovulating. And although there’s a sea of apps out there that can help you track your period, Fitbit is rolling out a new Versa smartwatch ($199) in May that includes “female health tracking,” along with the traditional exercise tracking.
Since 2015, buyers have been asking Fitbit to either sync up with a period tracker app like Clue, or develop their own app to sync up with other devices. Verge reports that a menstrual tracker has been on Fitbit’s “top five” recommendations for quite some time. It makes sense: A woman’s period is a major component of her health, so why not add it to a watch that tracks wellness? According to Fitbit’s press release, the new watch or app “is designed to help you learn more about your menstrual cycle—and your body—so you can better understand how it affects other aspects of your health and fitness.”
Among the laundry list of features like tracking, two-day-ahead push notifications, and analysis of symptoms like cramps, sleeping, sex, and acne, the two most innovative additions are community support and access to doctors’ insight. With the former, users can opt to join a forum that focuses on “periods, birth control, trying to conceive, pregnancy, and perimenopause and menopause to ask questions, swap tips, or share advice.”
With the latter, users can access medical expertise via “judgement-free content developed with Fitbit advisors Katharine White, MD, MPH, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University, and Larry Tiglao, MD, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Stanford Healthcare’s Los Olivos Women’s Medical Group in Los Gatos, CA.”
In an interview with Yahoo Finance!, White explained why she thinks this app important for women. “Female health tracking will empower women with a greater understanding of their menstrual cycles in conjunction with their physical and mental health, as they start to recognize what are normal trends over time versus what could be an issue to share with their doctor.” The more information you log, the more the algorithms start to “learn,” which means it can better predict patterns and predictions about your period, health, and symptoms.
Plus, if Fitbit’s survey is right and 80 percent of respondents really didn’t know how many phases are in menstrual cycle, an app like this might be beneficial in simply helping to educate more women about the ins and outs of their cycle. At the very least, it’s good to know producers are taking women’s needs into account (not to mention taking periods seriously) seeing as we are major consumers in the wellness space—and most others.
In our new series, “Operation Recharge,” we task celebrities and influencers with sharing what self-care means to them, as well as the activities, products, and treatments they indulge in for downtime done right.
Madelaine Petsch is everywhere these days and we don’t exaggerate. When she’s not clocking in hours on “Riverdale,” she’s either doing makeup tutorials on her YouTube channel, walking a red carpet or sharing beauty advice on-the-fly. It goes without saying that taking the occasional break is absolutely necessary. But when you’ve got so many things on your schedule and actually thrive on the busyness of it all, improvisation is necessary.
Ahead, the 23-year-old (and new Biore ambassador!) tells StyleCaster everything she does to make sure her health–mental, emotional and physical–remains a top priority…even if she’s constantly on-the-go.
I’m huge, I mean huge on self-care. I’m an advocate for when you feel like you need to stay home, just stay home. I’m really big on things always smelling peaceful; like lavender’s always in the house and I’m saging when I feel negative energy.
Just very in tune with how I’m feeling and I do listen to my body when it says I need to relax. Then there are days when I’m off and I want to work out every single day, so I have to make sure I keep that in line with feeling like I’m recharging at the same time.
I’m a workaholic, but I find ways to fit self-care into everything I do. I know I’m going on an airplane tonight, so I’ll probably fit in a Biore Self Heating Mask when I’m in the airplane bathroom. It’s amazing because you can put it on for one minute and take it off versus having a creepy mask on your face. Masks are sticky, so if I fell asleep, it would get everywhere.
I always carry around essential oil with me, so I’ll take a moment to recharge, breathe in a different room, make sure that I have everything I need and then go back into the day. I don’t like time off, but I like taking care of myself, so it has to go hand in hand.
On Her Comfort Meal
Actually, I’m really into spicy tomato soup. Isn’t that weird? I’m not really into comfort foods or anything like that. I feel like I eat pretty clean. I’ve been plant based my whole life, but I like anything spicy. And anything with a spicy soup is my kind of self-care. I want to feel like I’m bundled, especially in Vancouver where it’s so cold. You want to bundle up with a good book and some soup.
I have a personal trainer which I think kind of goes with the whole recharge thing because working out is one thing where I don’t want to be thinking. If I’m going to recharge, I want to have my brain completely turned off and with a trainer, I have the ability to do that. Not everyone has the ability to do that, I totally understand that, and there are apps to help as well.
But my personal trainer helps to turn my brain off for an hour and I don’t think about anything else except what she tells me think about and I love it. That’s my recharge moment and hour to myself even though I’m with someone else.
If I can avoid putting makeup on, I usually do, because I wear it for work. But If I am going out or something, I like to give myself enough time to enjoy getting ready. And I like to do it sitting on my bed with all my makeup in front of me while watching TV, and a little mirror so it feels very peaceful. Maybe a cup of coffee. I like to make everything a little bit of a ritual because I don’t have a lot of time to myself, as we know. So everything has to be kind of precious.
Biore Pore Strips is the first skin care product I’ve ever owned. When I was eight years old–and at that point I probably didn’t even have blackheads–but I saw them in movies and stuff and I was like, “I want to be like a grown up!.”
So my mom got them for me and I felt very official, and I’ve been using them ever since. I knew [Biore] was looking for a new ambassador this year and I told my team that I was a huge fan of the brand. They reached out and it all worked out. It’s nice to really stand behind the product.
I do genuinely use it and it smells amazing. And then they sent me the new Baking Soda Acne Cleansing Foam. They were like tell us if you like it and I was like, “I love this stuff!” I also found Glossier’s Balm Dot Com. The rose one is stupid good, like a little exfoliating on the lips.
On Building Confidence
I like to use my platform to inspire people, to make them feel happy, and to give them information. Like when we did that [“Riverdale”] episode about sexual assault, Biore actually helped me do a PSA about sexual assault and I put it on my Instagram and my youtube and I gave people information they needed if they’ve ever gone through it. That’s the kind of stuff I like to spread on my platform.
In addition to that, I like sharing no-makeup selfies and making people feel confident in their own skin because that’s something that was very difficult for me for a very long time. I now finally now feel comfortable without makeup on. Society has this standard where women have to wear makeup and then you don’t want to do it because you want to stand up to society, but then you’re like, “But I like wearing makeup!” So it’s a fine line.
I like not wearing it sometimes, but when I want to wear it, I enjoy putting it on. I can take that hour of virtual self-care time and it’s more of an art form and expression versus “I have to look pretty for everyone else.”
Without pump-up tracks, working out can feel like a drag. You can hear your feet hitting the ground, your breath slowly getting heavier, and the annoying lady who’s talking on her phone. It’s long been an intuitive assumption that listening to music improves workouts, but now we have actual science to back that up. In a recent study that was presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session, researchers found that runners tuning into music during a cardiac stress test could run on average 50.6 seconds longer than their music-less counterparts.
Although that may not seem like a lot of time, the near-minute is actually a pretty huge difference due to the grueling nature of the stress test, which measures heart rate and blood pressure responses to exercise while also noting symptoms of chest pain or heart rhythm changes.
For this study, all 127 participants—half with up-tempo Latin inspired music and half without—ran on a treadmill, and every three minutes the speed and incline was increased. In other words, by the end participants would have felt like they’re running up a mountain. Not only did the music-listeners run longer, but they also had a longer metabolic equivalent (MET), which suggests they burned more energy, too.
If you’re not convinced yet, next you think about skipping music for your favorite podcast or TV show while you while away your time on the elliptical, know that a different study by Brunel University also shows that music results in a more enjoyable workout (not just a more efficient one). After monitoring 24 runners brain waves using a portable electroencephalogram (used to detect epilepsy), researchers found listening to Pharrell’s “Happy” boosted runners’ enjoyment by 13 percent as compared to people listening to a TED Radio Hours podcast, and 28 percent against people listening to nothing.
The Brunel researchers’ ultimate consensus was that “music rearranges the brain’s electrical frequency and causes a drop in focus but enhances enjoyment.” As important as your happiness is, the cardiac test links music directly to the heart, which means that the more motivated you are to work out, the better your heart health, and the better your heart health, the more you can do (like lasting longer in other forms of exercise, if you catch our drift).
Looks like it’s time to scroll through Spotify and make sure your workout playlist is top-notch.
Whether she’s teaching us makeup hacks or dishing out tips on staying body-confident, Ashley Graham is a well of wisdom. Now, she’s helping us with our digestive system, too. In a recent interview with Glamour U.K., the 30-year-old model revealed the essential oil she swears by for beating bloat and keeping her digestive system happy—not to mention, her breath minty fresh.
In an article breaking down her wellness and skin-care secrets, Graham revealed that she drinks peppermint oil mixed with water every day to help with bloating. The model, who specifically swears by the brand Young Living Essential Oils, also ingests Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides daily to keep her hair, skin, nails, bones, and joints healthy and strong.
“I love mixing peppermint oil in my water to help with bloating. My favorite brand is by Young Living Essential Oils. I also take Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides for my hair, skin, nails, bones and joints,” she said.
According to registered dietician Amy Shapiro, who talked all about the health benefits of peppermint with The Cut, peppermint oil mixed with water—the most effective way to add peppermint in your diet—helps with a slew of digestive issues, including bloating, gas, and stomach cramps. The herb, which works as a decongestant to ease muscles, also helps with menstrual cramps, headaches, and allowing food that’s stuck in your digestive track easily move through your body. Essentially, it’s a win-win for almost anything.
Along with peppermint oil, Graham also revealed her secret to keeping her skin radiant and smooth all-day long: rose water. The model keeps a bottle with her wherever she goes so she can spritz some rose water on her skin to instantly hydrateand refresh herself. Rose water is known to maintain the skin’s pH balance, control excess oil, and help with inflammation, so Graham is clearly onto something by carrying it with her 24/7.
“I use rose water because it refreshes the skin and instantly makes it feel smooth. It can also be applied easily multiple times throughout the day,” she said.
What other secrets does Graham have up her sleeve? Clearly, we need to know them all.
Getting a gym membership is the easy part, but actually making it there is where the real challenge lies. We’re all living busy lives that unfortunately leave limited time for reaching our fullest exercise potential. And when we do make it to the gym on that rare occasion, we’re either too scared to venture past the elliptical or intimidated by the machines.
In fact, we often forget that sometimes, the most effective workouts don’t require the latter at all. Dumbbells, a medicine ball and will power can take you far. So, if you’re already thinking of ways to accentuate and strengthen your waistline before warm weather returns, we’ve got a quick, but highly effective routine that should fit nicely into your busy schedule.
Thumbtack expert, Baron Lambert of Top Tier Fitness in Concord, CA, recommends a workout that incorporates a pair of dumbbells, a swiss ball and a medicine ball. The weights should be challenging, but not too heavy to do high volume of reps with. “Our mission is to create instability using the weights to force our core to activate and work hard, all the while using big compound exercises to help build muscle and burn fat.”
Are you ready? Do each of the following exercises for 60 seconds with as many reps as possible, rest 30 to 60 seconds, and then move to the next:
Single Arm Dumbbell Swings
Holding a single dumbbell, start in a squat position. Throw your hips forward to create momentum upward for the dumbbell and pull all the way over your head. As weight starts to come back down, rebound into same starting position.
Medicine Ball Slams
Holding a slam ball, elevate it over your head, getting as tall as you can. Then immediately turn it around and throw it into the ground. Squat to get the ball and repeat.
Set up with two dumbbells in hands and in push up position. Using one arm at a time, row the weight up to your side and back down. Alternate arms for each row, trying to keep your core stable and hips from rocking.
Alternating Dumbbell Chest Press on Swiss Ball
Set up seated on the ball with two dumbbells. Roll out until your upper back is supported on the ball, then lift your hips into a bridge position (think of yourself as the bench now). With the dumbbells now raised, alternate arms while doing a chest press, one arm at a time.
Swiss Ball V-Ups With Transfer
Set up by lying on your back, holding a swiss ball overhead. Crunch up with the ball while simultaneously raising your legs to meet in the middle. Transfer the ball from your arms to between your legs. Lower the ball down and retract to lying position, then repeat by bringing the ball back up from your legs to your arms again.