We caught up with MMA fighter Molly Lindsay for our next Period Powerful Profile. Molly is inspiring other young girls into the sport with her dedication and passion for mixed martial arts. Here she talks about her career so far and how she manages her period when training.
“I am a full-time athlete, competing in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). People often recognise our sport through the UFC or very famous fighters such as Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey. So, I train up to 26 hours a week, which is broken down into 2-3 sessions a day, 5-6 days per week.
When I was younger I had lots of emotions and feelings I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with. In an attempt to channel them, I tried out lots of different martial arts. I tried classes in different martial arts disciplines until I found MMA. I told my coach at the time that I would like to fight, and he told me that he didn’t like the idea of girls fighting and that I would probably only be a stepping stone for others. This made me come to the realisation of how not-so-great of a gym that was and how not-so-great of a coach he was. So, I found the gym I train at now (5 Elements) and fell in love with the atmosphere, energy and people there. After a year of hard work, I was granted the opportunity of my first fight. Since then, I have chosen to train full time to make it my career! I was the first female to fight MMA and the first MMA fighter to win a belt at 5 Elements.
Managing my period and training
A few days before I am due on I tend to experience some water retention and bloating. When I am on I get some lower back ache and stomach cramps for the first couple of days. I sometimes get an upset belly for those days too, but then my period goes from a medium flow to a light flow and I have barely any symptoms. My period lasts 5/6 days.
Managing my period when training for a fight can be very difficult. A lot of the time I am wrestling and grappling in short shorts with my guy teammates, so it’s easy to feel unconfident and uncomfortable – Especially if I’m getting punched or kicked in the stomach!
However, it isn’t really something that is used as an excuse to take it easy or have a day off, so it’s just about managing it as best you can.
My go-to period essentials when training:
– A hot water bottle on the way to training sessions
– A square of dark chocolate
– Making sure I get my greens in and drink enough water
– Keeping spare underwear and tampons in my kit bag of course.
Overcoming taboos in the sporting world
Being a female in a male-dominated sport can be tricky when it comes to periods. There are only two of us girls who fight, in a team of about 20 guys. But I decided to get over the ‘embarrassment’ I felt about my period by openly talking about it. So instead of whispering to my teammate Hannah “I came on today so can you keep an eye out for me?” (out of fear of leaking whilst training), I openly say it across the room. Or instead of desperately trying to hide a tampon in my sports bra or waist band to sneak to the toilet, I will just carry it in my hand and walk right through the middle of class.
Now I don’t feel embarrassed or paranoid at all, why should I? Natural is normal.
Switching to organic cotton period care…
I was finding it very uncomfortable to insert conventional tampons and kept getting rashes and a burning pain when on my period. So, I switched to only using sanitary towels. The rashes didn’t go but the pain stopped so I was pretty chuffed. Until I discovered that sanitary towels do not stay in place very well when I was training, and it was all very stressful. I did some research and found TOTM. As soon as I started using TOTM I had no rashes or burning sensations at all and I felt so much more comfortable on my period.
As an athlete, I am so conscious about what goes into my body and make an effort to be mindful and eat as organic as possible. But I had never thought about what goes into my body when on my period! When I discovered the chemicals used to make conventional period products I was disgusted. Since I have become more period conscious I have stuck to TOTM unless in emergency cases of me being unorganised. But TOTM now being stocked in Tesco has solved that issue!
Being period powerful
For me being ‘period powerful’ is about being able to keep up with my busy training schedule of beating up the guys even when I’m on my period! It’s about not letting my period limit me in any way. Got training tonight, but on your period? So, What?! You’re powerful when on your period, so go do your thing!
My tips for young athletes who have just started their period:
I think young athletes who have just started their period can feel embarrassed and unconfident on their period in general, let alone at training, just as I did. But the more you talk about your period, the more you normalise it and then there is nothing to be embarrassed about! If you train with loads of boys, educate them about periods to get them comfortable with it too.”
You can follow Molly (fight name, Molly ‘Shieldmaiden’ Lindsay) on her Instagram or check out her documentary on YouTube. For another period powerful profile, check out this one with Cycle for Cycles founder Olivia Hawthorne. Check out our article on dealing with your period while playing sports for more helpful advice.
Image credit: @roblarsoncan