I Didn’t Exercise For A Month And Here’s What Happened
I love exercise. I know, f*cking weirdo, right? Over the last few years for various reasons, I've had a very intense relationship with exercise... I mean, I am a personal trainer, it kind of comes hand in hand. However, I will hold up my hands and say that I can be a bit obsessive with my exercise regime and that's why I challenged myself to step away from the gym and give my body a break.
But what happened when I did?
The first couple of days were fine. I had more time to do stuff that needed doing. Not only was I getting so much done, but I felt no different from usual. Excellent!
But the next thing that happened was I felt, quite simply, like utter crap. After just a few days of no exercise, I felt lethargic and drained all of the time; I literally had no energy. Now you might think that this is weird, I should have more energy as I'm not beasting myself at the gym, right? Well, not so much. For me, regular exercise helps to clear my head and give me that 'go' for the day. I actually missed the gym. I felt tired, low and pretty grumpy after just a week. For me (and so many others), exercise not only helps my body, but also my mind. Exercise releases endorphins (our happy hormones) and helps to clear our heads. I definitely felt the mental effects of a lack of exercise first.
I thought my appetite would decrease, which could only be a good thing, but that didn't happen to begin with; if anything I found myself snacking more at first, probably through boredom. I had time to go out with my friends more, which was awesome, but then I ended up eating (and drinking) more. Although this wasn't necessarily a bad thing at the time.
However, after about a week I was definitely less hungry but I didn't lose any weight. After a month of no activity, I had put on a few pounds - but it felt like so much more. My tummy was wobblier and I felt generally bigger. I know this was because of the lack of movement, I simply wasn't burning off the calories I was eating and I lost muscle tone by neglecting my usual training routine.
After a couple of weeks, I already felt less fit. Before, I could dash up a couple of flights of stairs and not even feel it, but after just 2 weeks of no exercise I struggled with breathlessness when walking upstairs. I also actually felt weaker; it was harder picking up weights for my clients and even tougher to drag the hoover upstairs! Sitting around all the time quite simply, makes you weak. Your muscles will not get stronger unless you're using them; and I definitely wasn't using mine as I normally would.
So after just a couple of weeks, I was feeling drained, moody and fat. Winning combination, right? Urgh. Then, my sleep was affected too. I literally couldn't get to sleep for ages (it usually takes me around 20 minutes or so to fall asleep, but now it was so much longer) and I was waking up a few times in the night - despite feeling super tired throughout the day.
I've looked into this and it's probably because the lack of exercise reduced my blood flow and circulation around my brain in particular; making me feel drained during the day but restless at night.
After just four weeks, I mentally could not bloody wait to get back into exercise. I was even looking forward to my early spin class! But getting up that day was an issue. I so wanted to be there, but physically I could not be bothered. That lack of exercise and movement for so long made it so much harder to get my ass out of bed. And I'll admit it, I skipped that planned spin class.
After I did finally drag myself to the gym, that first session back was horrid. Absolutely horrid. I felt slow, heavy, weak and crap at everything. But, I got that post-exercise buzz. Immediately after my workout, I felt happier and energised - those amazing endorphins were back! Although the first workout was tough and I definitely lost fitness, I got back into it pretty quickly; thanks to muscle memory I was able to get back to my old routine quite quickly as my body remembered those repetitive movements that come hand in hand with lifting weights. It wasn't easy though. Every workout for a good few weeks was a struggle, and my cardio fitness was pretty much non-existent; I still can't smash my spin class like I could before.
It's important to give your body a rest at times. Over-training is a serious issue and can do real damage to you, physically and mentally. But unless you're injured, taking an extended break from exercise probably isn't the best idea. On the plus side, I had more time to see my friends and generally be more productive. I wasn't as achey as usual and after a few days, my appetite did decrease somewhat. However, after just a few days, I felt rubbish. I definitely suffered mentally with not training; I was super lethargic and pretty grumpy. I put on weight and felt flabby, I started to struggle with simple tasks like running up the stairs, and it was so, so hard to get back into my exercise routine - and I'm still not 100%.
As always, the key here is balance. If you want to skip your exercise regime for a day or so, do it. It's not going to hurt and sometimes it can actually be a good thing. However, try to get back into your regular schedule as soon as possible; trust me, you'll regret it if you don't.
All Image Credits: Pixabay