In October of last year I did something drastic: I cancelled my gym membership. At the height of my fitness obsession (and, yes, it really was an obsession) I was working out five or six times a week. But I had reached a point where I just needed a break.
I had started to dread workouts, rather than look forward to them. Many of my favourite trainers and instructors had started to leave the gym. And I was also in the midst of purchasing my first home, so I had less free time.
If I’m completely honest, I didn’t think I would take such a long break from exercise. But once you stop it’s really hard to start again. A few weeks quickly became a few months, and before I knew it almost half a year had passed!
Right now I’m on a mission to restore my fitness mojo, because quitting the gym has wreaked havoc on my mind and body. Here’s a look at exactly what happened when I stopped exercising…
1. MY ENERGY LEVELS HAVE PLUMMETED
First things first, now that I’m not regularly moving my body I feel drained and lethargic all of the time. It’s shocking how dramatic the change has been! And whilst some of it can be blamed on winter (I always have less energy when it’s gloomy outside), I think the lack of exercise is the main culprit.
It’s a vicious circle too. Because the less exercise I do the more sluggish I feel. And, if I’m feeling sluggish exercise is the last thing I want to do. It’s not a good pattern!
2. I’M LESS FOCUSED
And, along with the sluggishness, comes an inability to focus. My mind is so restless. Tasks that would usually take me ten minutes drag on for over half an hour. And I’m procrastinating more than usual, too. This is also leading to disrupted sleep, because I keep making lists late at night of all the things I forgot to do during the day.
Last summer in Menorca, at the peak of my fitness journey
3. I’VE DEVELOPED BODY INSECURITIES
I’ve always been slim (thanks to my freakishly low metabolic age). However, for the majority of my life I’ve been slender but unfit, with absolutely no muscle tone or definition to speak of. Despite this I never had any major body insecurities growing up. I knew that I was lucky to be naturally slim, and didn’t give my figure much thought.
Once I started working out multiple times a week, in 2015, my body quickly began to change. My legs became strong and muscular, my butt was rock solid, there was muscle definition on my arms and I had the faintest hint of abs.
I suddenly went from giving my body little-to-no-thought to loving it! To me it symbolised hard work and strength, and I was so proud of the progress I’d made. Last summer I was in the best shape of my life, and I felt so confident and comfortable in my body.
However, once the frequency of my workouts slowed down – then tapered off altogether – my body returned to its original slim-but-soft shape. And whilst I was comfortable with that before, I’m now really struggling with my appearance. I miss my taut stomach and defined legs. And, most of all, I mourn the tragic loss of my butt!
I currently find it really hard to look at Instagram posts by Millie Mackintosh, or other super-fit babes, because it just makes me feel lazy and gross.
4. I HAVE LESS SOCIAL INTERACTIONS, DAY-TO-DAY
Going to the gym five times a week didn’t just benefit my body; it also exercised my mind. Because I work independently – and from home – I used the gym as a way to connect socially and break up the hours of silence. Those short bursts of human interaction were really important to me, and over the course of two years I built up good relationships with the trainers at my gym. I actually miss them as much as I miss working out!
5. I LACK MOTIVATION TO WORKOUT AGAIN
Everyone always says that forming a brand new habit is SO much easier than returning to a positive habit you slipped out of. And boy ain’t that the truth?! I’m now in that awful stage where I feel a desperate desire to start working out again, yet for some reason can’t quite find the motivation.
Taking baby steps seems to be the smartest option. So, right now, I’m trying to build up my stamina by doing a few short, at-home workouts each week. And, instead of jumping back into old routines, I’m experimenting with different workouts – even trying indoor climbing. That way I can’t hate on myself by thinking “I used to be so much better at this six months ago!”
I’m hoping that by starting slow, and re-energising myself with something completely new, I’ll develop all the motivation I need to join a new gym and get back into a regular routine.
Have you also slipped out of your exercise routine lately? Or have you experienced this in the past? If so, how did you motivate yourself to get back to the gym? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts…