5 Things That Happen When You Stop Exercising to Lose Weight

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Syda Productions)

You probably wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I work out all the time. Pilates classes four times a week, weightlifting another four times, and running or boxing on other days. I must be ripped with a huge following on Instagram, right? Nope. Not even close. I do have plenty of muscle, but I’m not what many think of when it comes to “fit”. And I’m totally fine with that.

The reason: I changed my mindset about exercise. Now, it’s not only a means to an end, it’s something I truly enjoy and never get sick of doing. Alright, so maybe I do get sick of it sometimes. But when that happens, I take a few days off and… boom, I’m back to enthusiastically hugging up on my boyfriend of choice: the iron barbell.

Switching your mindset about exercise is a game-changer. You might lose weight—you might not—but I guarantee that life will get a whole lot better.

You Discover Physical Activity is Not Actually a Drag

I’ve signed up for beaucoup boot camps, yoga classes and HIIT classes with one goal: weight loss. I never stuck with any of it for very long because I didn’t get the “bikini body in 30 days” that so many workout plans promise. I hated every second of it.

Eventually, I started doing reformer Pilates—basically because celebrities all credit their killer bodies to it—and found it was the only workout that I actually liked. Pilates eventually inspired me to discover other workouts that energized me instead of killed me. Who knew that you don’t have to end every workout dry-heaving on the ground in a pool of your own sweat?

Two Words: Mental Clarity

I get stressed easily, so anxiety is my regular companion. Before exercise, it was easy to hole up in my bedroom and stress-eat ice cream and chips before taking a nap. But—no surprise—I woke up feeling worse than I did before.

Now, I take my stress into the weight room or on the trail. Focusing on something else—something I can control—helps me put my problems into perspective. Plus, exercise is proven to release endorphins and increases the brain’s concentration of norepinephrine, a chemical that helps manage stress.

You’ll Find Fatigue is a Thing of the Past

I used to take a nap every day, even though I did nothing but stare at a computer screen. Not anymore. Exercise has a reputation for being exhausting—and it can be—but it’s also been proven to make you more productive and give you better rest at night. The reason: your body is in a better circadian rhythm with the exercise.

New Friends Are Waiting for You Everywhere

A funny thing happened when I started exercising regularly—I made new friends to go with my new outlook on wellness. I had more in common with my exercise-loving classmates than I did with my social drinking pals, so we naturally gravitated together and now some of my best friends are ones I’ve met in the gym.

You Begin to Love Your Body for What It Can Do

I used to measure progress by the number on the scale; now, I measure it by the number on the weights. I find I get stronger by the session, and I love achieving something new each week that I couldn’t do the week before—lift more weight, do more reps, perform that move I never thought I could do.

That appreciation translates to everyday life, too. No longer do I need someone else to hoist 37 bags of groceries up the stairs—I can do it myself. I can also put together a dresser and open a jar of pasta sauce like a boss. It might not sound like a lot, but knowing I can take care of myself in any situation makes me feel a million times better than losing a few pounds ever could.