Wait, seven months only? Why is this even a blog post? Be honest, did those thoughts cross your mind? Well, before I get into the ‘what’, it might be a good idea to tell you about the ‘why’. Taking it all the way back to 2010 when I decided to use my summer break for a transformation, I have since been addicted to working out. It sounds a little silly saying that, but the truth is, exercise was the only thing that made it ok to eat whatever I wanted.
In just three months, I was down 12kg in just three months and I was determined never to gain it back. So on Friday mornings before date night, you would find me opening the gym. And on Saturday morning, I would be right there again. Let’s not forget the Monday to Thursday workouts because I had the time to kill… And Sunday morning jogs.
This may sound excessive, but it is the life I had gotten accustomed to. When I graduated from university, my obsession carried on as I was spending close to ten hours a day sitting behind a computer screen. I needed my daily fix! Fast-forward a few years, I went from pure cardio to a combination of cardio and weight lifting. Then I moved to pure weightlifting and have now fallen in love with CrossFit.
So where does the seven-month break come in? On July 10th of 2020, I tested positive for CoVID-19 and was advised to take it easy for a month. A whole month!
My diet turned brown
You would think that one month would equate to a maximum of 31 days, but that month lasted well into the next year. In fact, I have just concluded my very first week of wholehearted training and we are well into February. The thing about exercise is that you need to be consistent. The minute you take just a week longer than you should’ve to do that one routine, everything else just falls out of place.
Is it just me who tends to have a positive correlation between exercise and healthy eating? Am I the only one who will rethink eating a whole cake if I have spent a grueling hour in the gym, self-inflicting damage to my muscles? When it came down to it, I was spending more energy chewing my food than I was walking around. And with working from home facilitating easy access to the fridge and pantry, all my lessons self-restraint went down the drain.
The quality of my sleep deteriorated
I have mentioned in a few other posts just how important sleep is. But did you know that your lifestyle has a direct impact on the quality of your sleep? This isn’t a new concept to me, and yet I didn’t do much to avoid suffering the consequences of my bad choices. Seven months later, the bags under my eyes are more pronounced. My mood has been a rollercoaster. Even my brain seems to be retaining less information as the days go by.
As an avid Apple Watch wearer, I have been tracking my sleep for nearly two years now. Although I don’t quite agree with the numbers on the app, I have learned that if you use the same tool to measure something consistently, you can rely on the trends. Well, my sleep quality definitely remained constant in one way. It was constantly deteriorating with each full pizza I snacked on, with each workout I skipped, and each vegetable I didn’t eat.
My mood turned sour
Did you know that exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good? Now that you know, can you imagine what happens when you stop exercising? As someone who exercised for my physical and mental well-being, I found myself feeling less like myself each day. My mood turned sour, then it became emo. At some point, I just focused every free moment I had on my blog because it was the only thing that made me feel accomplished.
When it comes to mental health, you can never really know how something will affect you until you experience it. In my case, my mood was all over the place. I remember a moment when my daughter’s hair brushed my face in bed one night. Looking back, it was such a normal thing, but I went into a full-blown panic attack. There were moments when I would lay in bed crying. There were even times that I needed a few drinks to get through the day. Think that’s crazy? Well, my body thought the same about falling out of routine.
I gained a lot of weight
Of course, this should’ve been higher on the list, but I purposely left it till the end. As someone who has suffered from an eating disorder in the past, I have learned how little importance the number on the scale has. I am aware that talking about weight can be detrimental for others who are still overcoming similar challenges. So yes, I gained quite a lot of weight. How much to be exact? Let’s just say a lot… more than I did when I was pregnant with my daughter.
But gaining weight wasn’t the problem, gaining fat was. As someone who had exercised consistently for almost a decade and suddenly stopped, my body was not happy with me. If you are an exercise junkie too, you know that your appetite is quite high. When you stop exercising and don’t reduce the amount of food you eat, of course, you will gain weight. It’s crazy to say that I didn’t quite know how much I had gained until I tried to wear my pregnancy jeans… And they didn’t fit. Yes, the very same ones I wore until I was 9 months pregnant.
Conclusion: will I ever give up exercise again?
After seven months of not sticking to my workout routine, I lost more than just my motivation. It took hard work and dedication to make fitness a part of my lifestyle and undoing it threw me off balance completely. While the reason for stopping was legitimate, the prolonged break did more harm than good to my physical and emotional well-being. I may have stopped for a valid reason, but I personally need exercise in order to thrive.