Article Summary: The Five Things That Happen to Your Body When You Quit Working Out

When you stop working out (even for just a week or two):

  1. Blood pressure increases (within a day, potentially!)
  2. You develop insulin resistance (body converts sugar into fat rather than using it as energy)
  3. Muscle size can shrink within a week (but not necessarily strength)
  4. VO2 max drops (ability to utilize oxygen well. “for every week you remain idle, it takes about three weeks to regain the lost adaptations” Yikes!)
  5. Grumipness takes over (“When you stop exercising, your body forgets how to handle stress. Because you’ve allowed your natural fight-or-flight response to atrophy, you’re less likely to experience something tough—whether an interval workout or a stressful workplace relationship—in a positive way. Instead, you get anxious.”)


The good news? They’re all pretty simple to reverse—or prevent entirely. Just keep moving! 😉


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It’s All Connected

I think my future sessions with clients are going to have to be 2-3 hours long… There’s just so much to talk about to get the Big Picture! Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, Social, and Environmental factors all throughout your lifetime can have a ripple-effect on the symptoms you finally feel today. It can take a lot of time, talk, tests, and trials to find the absolute core of your health problem. But if you are patient, willing, and determined to get to that root, so am I!



IFMNT Matrix


Let’s face it – most people these days thrive on caffeine to get through a brain-fudgy day. In such a busy world, it is so easy to want to sacrifice sleep to have more time to do other activities or errands. In fact, 42% of all healthy, middle-aged women report some kind of sleep trouble, including difficulty falling asleep, awaking during the night, or not feeling refreshed in the morning.

But sleep is essential! The journal, SLEEP, did a study that found too little sleep (less than 5 hours per night) may increase your risk of abdominal fat, versus those who got at least 6 hours of zzz’s per night.

Not only that, but it is during our visit to lullaby-land that some of our most important immune system functions occur, along with some important antioxidant activity.  How much sleep do you need? Sadly, there’s no “magic number” that’s cookie-cutter perfect for everyone. But the Sleep Foundation says the average adult can use 7-8 hours nightly as a rule of thumb, then adjust from there based on the individual. Note when you feel really well-rested versus feeling tired or foggy. The Sleep Foundation goes on to say that researchers are learning about two factors to a person’s needs: basal sleep needs, and sleep debt. Basal needs are how much your body needs on a regular, average basis. The sleep debt is what it sounds like – any extra rest you may need after skimping on sleep in the past, sickness, disrupted sleeping, etc.  The good news is they say over time, you CAN pay off sleep debt and get back to a healthy cycle!

Healthy sleep is a complex issue and takes both mind and body into consideration. So yes, you may have more trouble sleeping if you’re stressed or anxious.  You may have trouble waking if you’re depressed or ill. Poor blood sugar control or cortisol burn-out can cause waking in the middle of the night. Some things you may have little control over (noisy neighbors, for example) but other things you can control: Environment, exercise, nutrition.


  • Make sleeping consistent: go to bed and wake around the same time, even on weekends
  • Create a wind-down program of reading, bathing, or listening to music – NOT computers or television screens
  • Make sure you have a comfortable bed
  • Keep your room free of “sleep stealers” like tv, computers, or other electronic distractions.


  • Daily! Even if it’s only a 15 minute walk: Your body needs to have at least a little bit of physical fatigue to sleep. Just because you’re mentally exhausted at the end of the day does not mean your body will be ready to sit still and rest.
  • Exercise will also help you re-regulate your appetite to help balance out a healthy diet
  • For most people, it is not recommended to exercise closely to bed time (aim for at least 1-2 hours before) or it may stir you up more than help you relax.


  • As is so commonly shared: avoid stimulating food or drink such as coffee, tea, cola, chocolate. (Go for caffeine free – NOT “decaffeinated” as it may still have small amounts of caffeine!)
  • Also avoid alcohol – while is seems like a relaxing idea, studies show that it does interfere with good, restful and rejuvenating sleep.
  • For dinner, avoid sugar-spiking foods (sugar, refined flours and grains, pop) and stick to whole foods. Be sure to include some protein and healthy fats.
  • Avoid a large dinner shortly before bed – aim for 4 hours before; only have a light snack if you’re truly hungry, not just because you’ve got a case of the munchies

Still can’t sleep? Consider getting your blood sugars checked, and a Stress & Resiliency test.

You may think a heavy meal will be an enjoyable way to give yourself a ticket to food-coma land, but like the alcohol, it is not actually restorative sleep. You may feel tired after a large meal, but your body actually goes in to over-time – your circulatory system is pumping more blood to the digestive tract, your stomach is secreting extra gastric acids while the smooth muscles start roiling and churning for digestion, and your pancreas is spitting out its enzymes. Your body is working hard!

Make sure you eat regularly through the day: don’t eat a huge meal because you neglected to eat, and are trying to “make up” for the missed needs! Instead of trying to “treat” nutritional neglect done during the day, “prevent” it from happening in the first place. Nutrition isn’t really retroactive. It takes time to break down in your body and be utilized – and if you ingest more than your body can handle, it gets excreted or stored as fat. 

I know – all easier said than done. So many things that could affect your sleep and your health! So, pick one or two to aim for – if you’re going to have a huge dinner, at least keep it healthy and light; if you’re going to insist on ice cream for dessert, at least try to limit the portion and have it early; if you can’t take that tv out of your room, at least unplug it.

Pick your own goal, but make sure you’re taking care of yourself.






Fuel Up! Pre-Workout Eats

You lace up your sneakers, don your effects, and rush out the door to get to you workout. You start exuberantly, motivated, and energetic… but halfway through, you start to slow, and feel there’s just no wind in your sails. Or you finish, and you’re famished, entering that “hangry” state.

Did you skip a pre-exercise meal or snack?

The topic of what to eat before exercise can be confusing. A multitude of different organizations, from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to the American College of Sports Nutrition, or Dietitians of Canada, and more, all have their own recommendations for what you should consume before you go workout, down the specific gram of carbs/proteins/fat to kilograms of your body weight. (We can dive deeper into that another time. The focus here today is just on some baseline ideas.)

Thankfully, they all agree on one important point: do what feels best for you! And it may take some trial and error.

“Training Low,” or intentionally training in a carb-depleted or fasted state, is starting to be studied more. But currently, it is not a typical recommendation. (Speak to your coach or dietitian to see if this is an individualized approach that can safely be done for you, if you are interested) Normally depleted stores are associated with fatigue, reduced work rates, impaired skill and concentration, and increased perception of effort. So generally it is recommended that you consume some proper foods before physical activity to help fuel you towards your goals of weight loss and/or muscle gain.

Having something to eat before going to workout can greatly enhance your efforts. Eating some carbohydrate-rich foods will give you more fuel in your body to help push harder in your workout. A little bit of protein will help with muscle feeding and repair. Hydration is also key, as even mild dehydration can cause drops in your performance, which usually means fewer calories burned or less weights moved. Why not get the most bang for your exercise buck?

It is the amounts, timing, and form of food that are highly dependent upon your own preferences and tolerances. The goal is to provide enough food and fuel before your workout that you can achieve a top-notch effort without feeling hungry, but not too much nor too close to the workout time as to cause cramping, nausea, or other stomach distress.

If you eat 3-4 hours before you exercise, you may do better with a more meal-sized intake. If you eat only 1-2 hours before, a snack will usually do. If you don’t have time to eat well ahead of the activity, a small snack or liquid form may sit best. Just make sure you’re not undoing your weight goals by consuming excess calories! Simply plan ahead to spread your food out around your workout time.

Pre-workout Meal Ideas:

  • Bowl of oatmeal with fruit or honey
  • Brown Rice and Veggie Stir Fry
  • Whole grain bagel with chicken and avocado
  • Salad topped with beans and corn or quinoa

Pre-workout Snack Ideas:

  • Handful of almonds and a cheese stick
  • Fruit and a ½ cup of yogurt
  • Slice or two of wheat toast with nut butter
  • Wheat pita and hummus

Pre-workout Drink Ideas:

  • Low fat milk (some people like chocolate milk, but there is added sugar, so decide if that is right for you)
  • Small fruit, protein powder, and milk/milk substitute smoothie
  • Meal-replacement drink that includes 15-30g Carbohydrate

Bonus Boost: having coffee about an hour before a workout has been shown to boost results! Caffeine is a common aid to help increase time to exhaustion in aerobic endurance exercise bought, decrease ratings of perceived exertion, and improve physical performance even during periods of sleep deprivation.


American College of Sports Medicine, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, a Joint Position Statement. “Nutrition and Athletic Performance.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. (2016) 543-568. Print.

Campbell, Bill I., Spano, Marie A. NSCA’s Guide to Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Human Kinetics. 2011. Book.

Dunford, Marie; Macedonio, Michele. “A Step-by-step Process for Helping Athletes Achieve Optimal Performance Weight and Body Composition.” Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo. Nashville, TN. 4 Oct 2015. Conference Presentation.

Patgieter, S. “Sports Nutrition: A review of the latest guidelines for exercise and sport nutrition from the American College of Sport and Nutrition, the International Olympic Committee and the International Society for Sports Science” S Afr Journal of Clinical Nutrition 26.1 (2013). 6-16. Print.

“Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance” Journal of the American Dietetic Association. March. 109.3 (2009): 509-527. Print.