What happened when I didn’t exercise for a week.

Last week was free of structured workouts, meaning no running or HIIT circuits. I did take advantage of a free pass to a local fitness studio and lucked out with an awesome yoga instructor who took us through a vinyasa flow. She also taught me how to do a headstand with proper form. (Apparently kicking up into a headstand can be dangerous, which I didn’t know. It’s sooo much harder to get into a headstand without that extra momentum.)

Apart from that, I embraced movement but nothing intense. I had anticipated a challenging week, feeling low and grumpy without the extra burst of endorphins, and a few days spent feeling a little more fluffy than usual, but it was okay.

It was more than okay.

I didn’t balloon up.

This is an irrational fear. I realize that, but it’s still a fear I need to work through. A week without workouts, even several months without workouts won’t derail your health. If you gain weight, especially if you’re still healing your metabolism from an eating disorder, it might actually be a good thing. Your body could be trying to find its natural set point.

I’m just speaking from personal experience. If you want to read more on this from a professional, check out The Real Life RD. 20170713_180528-1

More time was spent with important people in new places.

My mornings felt open. I had extra time to meet a friend for tea at a new coffee shop in the area. That was special. I also…

…drove a little farther than usual to visit a used clothing store.

…walked around my town and into shops just to look.

…took extra time to journal about my devotions.

…met a friend for a morning walk.

And less time was spent “stalling.”

This might just be me, but in the morning, I tend to push back my workout farther and farther into the day. I’m tired or unmotivated or really just want those cool morning hours to be spent with a book and a bowl oats. Anyway, I end up wasting time feeling guilty about not getting my workout done and justifying why I should wait another twenty minutes to start. Without the obligation to exercise, time was more meaningful and less hurried. 20170711_075905-1

Food choices were actually more intuitive.

This surprised me. Restricting amounts of food isn’t usually an issue for me anymore, but from time to time I catch myself restricting certain types of foods, which lends itself to the diet cycle. Instead of thinking about what I thought I should be eating, I ate what I wanted to eat. And when I did, I started trusting myself with food.20170717_115854-1

I felt energized and rested.

Our bodies really love to be well rested. For the past few months, my muscles have felt fatigued most days and not the comfortable ache from a good workout, but just a lingering soreness. That went away, and instead of being replaced with a jiggly, jelly feeling, my body felt neutral.20170715_181404-1

Movement was a choice not a chore.

If I wanted to go for a walk or bust out a few sun salutations, I did. But the intention of the movement was never to burn calories or even break a sweat. It was a choice, made after assessing how my body was feeling at the moment. IMG_1533

I spent less time thinking about my body and calories.

My thoughts are up to me. Some thought patterns are difficult to change because they’ve become habitual, but my thoughts are still my thoughts. That doesn’t mean I beat myself up when my mind starts counting calories or imagines a narrower waist, but I can take those thoughts, recognize them, and let them go, instead of nursing them.IMG_1573

I unfollowed accounts that were primarily focused on running.

They weren’t doing much for me. I felt more guilt than inspiration when daily mileage shots popped up in my feed. For some reason this felt revelatory, but it’s pretty simple.

Follow people who encourage you. IMG_1531It wasn’t the most incredible week of my life, but it wasn’t the worst week either. There were really great, fulfilling moments and a few that I could have done without. My point in sharing is to encourage you to take rest when you need it and maybe even when you don’t need it, nothing crazy will happen.

Linking up with Running with Spoons for TOL.

Just thoughts today. 


18 thoughts on “What happened when I didn’t exercise for a week.

  1. Love all this. Very much agree that our bodies LOVE to be well rested. I am noticing just how much my body loves rest lately. Lately taking 2 rest days a week instead of my usual 1 and I can tell how much happier my body is–it’s not constantly sore and tight, it seems to have time to let all the work I’ve done during the week settle into it and create slow change. It’s been a good experience. I have to have weeks like this every so often–a lot of times I do them on vacation. I have to remind myself that I won’t die if i don’t exercise. Great post, thanks!


    1. That extra rest day can make a huge difference! And I think we get bullied into believing that we HAVE to workout a certain number of days every week for a certain amount of time, but in reality, we have all the flexibility we need to decide what feels best for our own body.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re so right Evangeline–I think the challenge is just learning to consistently listen to our bodies! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts–please do anytime 😉.


  2. Okay, so first of all, go you for being able to get into that headstand. That’s amazing. I see folks at the yoga studio doing a headstand and I’m always sort of like “whooooaaaaa” like an awed Minion from Despicable Me.
    I love everything about this post. I love that you’re feeling mindful about when and how you want to move your body, what you want to eat, and even who you want to follow on social media. And I also love that you acknowledge that it wasn’t “the best week of your life.” I think we’re so inclined to narratives that are like “OMG I did this and it solved all of my problems!” When the reality of life is, a lot of times we do things and it’s just…fine. That’s something I’m certainly still learning.


    1. Exactly. So rarely do we just jump into something (no matter how beneficial it is) and feel like all of our problems are solved. I’m still learning that too. My expectations can be higher than they should be, and then I feel guilty when it doesn’t go “as planned.”

      And I’m 87% sure that awed minion daze is an actual emotion. I feel it when I roam the chocolate aisles at the grocery store, read Dickens’ or Ian McEwan, or watch a sunrise.


  3. Oh I love this post! Last Friday I woke up with the plan to workout, but once I got out of bed I was like, “Nope.” And not a procrastinating nope, but a “my body needs rest” nope. So I stretched because that’s what I felt like doing. And I had a normal day. My food choices also felt more intuitive, and like you said, it was surprising! Thanks for writing this; it’s spreading the much-needed message of feeling normal and intuitive around exercise.


  4. Wow. I can’t express how much I loved this. I actually realized that I am more intuitive sometimes when I don’t exercise about eating because I truly eat because of hunger. Sometimes when I run a long ways I don’t eat because I’m hungry. I eat because I need to refuel. And I totally agree that that rested feeling is SOOO good. It makes returning to exercise 1000% better. Movement being a choice, not a chore. That seems like the lesson I’ve been learning this year since I was, for so long, in that mindset of movement being a chore.
    It actually kind of reminds me of the Christian life. Some times I act like getting to know Jesus, seeking Him more, loving Him more, rejoicing in His great salvation is more of a chore than a glorious gift. I want to see it as the incredible gift of God that it truly is.


    1. Yes! I was very aware of when I was hungry and not hungry. That set me up to be a lot more mindful about what I actually wanted to eat versus what I thought I should eat. And I love the last part. As we grow, our relationship with Christ will feel more and more like a gift as we get to know Him better and experience HIs love.


  5. Friend! This is such a powerful post and one that so many women need to read! I actually had the same epiphany after going to Croatia for a week earlier this year and then Ecuador last week and was planning on writing a post about my experience as well! I remember when I did not exercise in Croatia it was actually a little stressful and I was more nervous about it. But guess what… nothing happened. Then in Ecuador it was so much easier to travel and to enjoy it to the fullest because I remembered Croatia. Our bodies are more resilient and capable of utilizing fuel than we give them credit for.


  6. I can completely relate to this particularly exercise as a chore. It’s actually one of the biggest reasons I am grateful for recovery. I got to redefine my relationship with exercise. Over two years later and still being sedentary save a few yoga classes and bike rides, I am shifting my focus from workout to movement. I am rediscovering the reasons behind why I want to workout. Rather than use it as a form of exercise or burning XXX, I have embraced the more socially and mentally restorative aspects of movement.


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