How does body react to no exercise for a month?

No exercise for a month

What happens when there is no exercise a month for two weeks?

Life happens to every one of us, it is not always that everybody is able to work out or give time to exercising. Have you gone through a “No exercise for a month spell?” Well, there might be a myriad of valid reasons for not being on track exercise wise which may include shifting from one place to another, any injury, accidents, loss of dear ones, divorce or break up. It is not always easy to pull up and start working out. We may fool our brains but it is very important to be ready mentally for taking on the physical activity.

A rest day often turns into a couple of them and then the feeling of not doing anything creeps in and there you go with no activity for several days which brings in the following physiological changes.

Here is a timeline of what happens when you stop working out:

First 5-6 days: Loss in endurance and overall lethargy would creep up,

The first couple of weeks: Reduction in muscle mass thus increasing weight.

More than two weeks: Increased weight reduction in mobility

How does the body perceive “no activity”?

The first question that should be answered for the muscles is that ” hey, but you worked out yesterday, made me sore and now why you have stopped working out? Don’t you want me to gain strength and increase muscle mass.”? This is called as DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness) which you feel after you wake up the next morning after workout by the habit of which muscles think that they are not required the way they are, they need to become stronger. Suddenly if you stop exercising, the message which is received by the muscles is that their improved version is not required and it is ok to shrink and go back to normal.

How does the brain perceive “no exercise”?

Taking a day off would not change how your brain would function but prolonged duration of no exercise results in memory loss especially if you are in the old age bracket.

Physical activity is directly connected to brain health and this paper cites some interesting findings.

All About BDNF ( brain-derived neurotrophic factor ) and exercise

BDNF which is the most talked about thing in the fitness circuit and research circuit is nothing but a Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) that serves as a fertilizer to the brain. 

It helps to maintain the life of the brain cells and also grows new cells if required. As against a theory where the brain was considered as not much dynamic organ, now the scientists believe that the brain is able to adapt, grow and change depending upon the activity levels that we expose it to. Neuroplasticity is the exact term that indicates the adaptability of the brain and it is said that BDNF helps the brain to keep its neuroplasticity intact. 

Exercise, studies have shown, leads to the release of proteins and other molecules from muscle, fat, and liver tissue that can affect levels of BDNF ( Brain-derived neurotrophic factor)  and other agents that spur neurogenesis, speed new-neuron maturation, promote brain vascularization, and even increase the volume of the hippocampus in humans ( As per thescientist.com).

More BDNF = Better neuroplasticity. 

How do I increase my BDNF?

source: https://positive.health/exercise-grow-new-brain-cells/

Being consistent with exercise is one of the surest ways to increase  BDNF. What is more interesting is how to keep up at it when you are off your usual fitness regime add in some interesting way to workout such as 

Trail running:

30 minutes of jogging is the best way to boost BDNF but trail running also helps to aid it especially if it is challenging. Challenging your brain while increasing its neuroplasticity is the cherry on the cake.

Dancing: 

Many people swear by it, learn new moves, and work your way up to fitness. If you are not a great dancer try Zumba, it is the best way to burn fat while being at the beats. You learn and earn your fitness in Zumba. If you love classical dance form, sign up for it. 

Functional Exercise: 

Do you remember working your way up to the monkey bars, crawling through the sliders and tunnels? People enjoy functional training like anything. Get that spartan race done or at least train for it. You will have a time of your life. Next time when you are waiting at the park for your little one grab that bar and start your functional training. 

Physiological Changes that happen due to not working out:

Grumpiness: 

The foremost sign of not doing workouts for longer than 4 weeks is that you feel grumpy without that happy hormone which workout generates. As per outsideonline.com, our body actually fights the challenges better when it is in the habit of working out. The body’s response to challenges is compromised when we leave it without much exercise. 

Rise In Blood Pressure:

Let us first understand what happens when we workout. With exercise, our arteries widen for better blood circulation and they also tend to stay larger for 24 hours. Without activity, you might tend to lose on the heart rate peaks bringing the blood pressure to baseline. 

In the short term, your blood pressure will change within a day depending on whether you work out or not. “With blood pressure, things happen very quickly, and they also cease very quickly,” says Linda Pescatello, a blood-pressure researcher at the University of Connecticut. Exercise causes increased blood flow, meaning your arteries temporarily widen to facilitate greater circulation. They tend to stay slightly larger for about 24 hours, but if you don’t get your heart rate up within a day, your blood pressure returns to baseline. (Reference)

Reduction in VO2 Max

As stated above reduction in VO2 max starts to happen when you stop working out which is a result of decreased cardiac output. It is said that the VO2 max drops 6-20%. But the good news is one can quickly recover the loss after training for some weeks. This loss is not permanent. 

How long does it take to lose muscles if you stop working out?

If you do not train for weeks, you tend to lose muscle mass. 3-4 weeks of the gap in training would result in muscle loss which may be quickly recovered as per the article 

Muscle memory plays an important part in bringing back the muscle mass due to detraining.

Reduced Flexibility

When we train, it is primarily for strength, endurance, and flexibility. If you are going through a period of detraining ( stalled workouts) as it is called the flexibility may reduce up to 20%. If you are doing Yoga and suddenly due to some reason you stop doing it you may tend to lose your flexibility. Bed rest or being immobile are reasons why muscle may tend to lose their form and result in atrophy ( Though it happens over a longer period than 3-4 weeks). Reduced flexibility is one of the key issues in the aged population.

Will I gain weight if I stop working out?

Weight loss or weight gain depends on what you eat. When it is a simple equation of calories in and calories out as mentioned in our weight loss for beginners, a little detraining or no exercise would not cause weight gain as long as you do not stuff yourself with loads of junk food. 

We usually workout for weight loss and reducing fat percentage. If you stop working out as mentioned below in this article, the calorie requirement of the body reduces quickly even before we realize it. Most of us detrain due to injury or some factors which we can not avoid. The first thing on our mind often is not calorie intake. It is just the survival, in that case, we might end up loading up those calories which are not required. This results in increases fat mass thus weight gain.

What to do to prevent muscle loss due to a stalled workout regime?

A stalled or stopped workout regime totally sabotages your efforts made in the direction of muscle tone/ muscle gain or weight loss. There are some incidents in life that may prompt you to stop working out for some time which is absolutely okay. Here is how you can prevent muscle loss and keep the momentum going.

What happens to the calorie requirement of the body?

The calories that need to be consumed for general metabolism need to be reduced as you stop working out. Naturally, you move less, your muscle mass will start reducing stalling the calorie burn which happens due to muscles. Additionally, if you eat as much as you were eating while working out, it tends to result in increased fat mass. Your clothes will fit snugly and scale also might show the difference. 

How to Balance the training needs and body requirements?

Sometimes the overburden of working out every day takes the whole fun out of it. You can comfortably prevent the ill effects of detraining by training only one day per week. Isn’t that a win-win? Keeping the training intensity the same, you can reduce the training volume ( the number of reps and sets) by 20-30%, reducing frequency is also a good choice.

The best part about detraining is that muscle loss can be regained back in some time given regular work out schedules and by understanding the requirements of the body.

Detraining can be tricky, take it as it comes. The added pressure of detraining would create more chaos. Exercise is for a better mind and body. Reminding yourself of your self-worth and not attaching it to exercise or anything for that matter is the most important aspect of healthy living.

Conclusion: 

There are a number of articles that detail the effects of detraining on the body. But the most important thing is to understand what happens to our body by experiencing it first hand. If you just let the effect of training go, it is going to be sabotaging your efforts and just disrespecting the why of your journey. It is always easy to tell someone to be consistent but very difficult to keep the momentum alive. Mix match, change your short term goals. Make them appear easy. Change the pattern of training but it is important to keep at it. Take a leisure break if you want, and get back at it with more vigor. Signing up for a hobby class that involves physical activity may also be helpful.

Remember, nothing is important for you than your well-being. If you are recovering from your injury like me, just take enough time, plan your goals for 3 months and keep at it. Having better mental health is a priority when you are injured. So, let us first be fit mentally. 

If you have any queries or questions regarding the article, please comment below. I would love to answer.

 

References: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770965/

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise

https://sci-fit.net/detraining-retraining

How Many Calories Should You Eat In A Day?

How would you react if you come to know that the process of breathing is burning most of the calories that you eat? Surprised right? But that is the truth. Whatever you eat is the essential component of each and every process that is carried in your body. These processes when they burn the food = calories = energy consumed are collectively called Metabolism.  

Some people burn more calories because their metabolism is high that essentially means that their bodily functions including breathing need more energy and hence to just maintain the day to day activities they need more food than others. Some people tend to burn fewer calories depending on their body structure and other factors so, they need to consume less food as compared to others. 

So when a petite girl is having that sugar-loaded pastry and will still be able to eat a full-fledged meal in a couple of hours, it is due to her metabolism and her naturally high energy requirements. The question is how do you know the number of calories to be consumed. And is it worth counting calories when food is such a complex subject?  

How to Calculate Calories?

Well, it totally depends on that particular day and your energy expenditure. If you are sedentary throughout the day you may consume fewer calories and if you have been running around, you may need that extra slice of bread just to keep afloat. The number of calories you should consume is dependent on the Total Daily Energy Expenditure ( TDEE).

What is TDEE?

Total daily energy expenditure is the number of calories you spend throughout the day excluding your exercise and other bodily functions. 

Here is a quick link where you can calculate your TDEE.

https://tdeecalculator.net/

When I enter my information my TDEE comes to be 1700 calories per day with moderate exercise and 1500 without any exercise which is quite decent. Be very specific when you are feeding in the job information. I am a writer, my job involves many hours of sitting. I have chosen sedentary as my job information..

How do I know how much I eat?

Now, you have a blueprint available with your TDEE requirement, let us say you need to consume 1700 calories. The next step is to identify the calorie count of the food that you eat on the daily basis. Well, it is not that complicated when you are used to it. At first, you will be surprised to see how much we eat unknowingly. 

An app that would handhold you through the calorie counting process is

My fitness pal: I am yet to find an app as accurate as this. I have been using my fitness pal for the last 8-9 years and it is worth it. You can use it for free but if you want to track in detail, you can have a paid subscription. 

It will also break down your Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat intake based on your TDEE. You can decide your macronutrient intake as per the requirement. Indian diet is high on carbs so my macros are usually 150g of Carbs, 75 g of Protein, 33 g of fats. You can take the guide to macronutrients from the above TDEE calculator or take a clue from My Fitness Pal. 

How To Count Calories without an app?

The app may or may not be available all the time. Eyeballing may create a major issue in terms of calorie intake. Calorie counting should be done when you want results and check whether it is something else like hormonal imbalance that is a cause of weight loss plateau/ inch loss plateau or no progress. 

Once you start logging in your food in MFP ( myfitnesspal) you will be able to remember the number of calories that a whole wheat bread slice or a cup of rice has. This is a good starting point. 

It looks very tedious, can I not count calories and still eat within my calorie limit?

The answer is yes. 

As per healthline.com you can just eyeball your portions like below.

  • 1 serving of rice or pasta (1/2 a cup): a computer mouse or rounded handful.
  • 1 serving of meat (3 oz): a deck of cards.
  • 1 serving of fish (3 oz): a checkbook.
  • 1 serving of cheese (1.5 oz): a lipstick or the size of your thumb.
  • 1 serving of fresh fruit (1/2 cup): a tennis ball.
  • 1 serving of green leafy vegetables (1 cup): a baseball.
  • 1 serving of vegetables (1/2 a cup): a computer mouse.
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil: 1 fingertip.
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut butter: a ping pong ball.

But again, it takes a lot of practice and a lot of mindful eating to come to terms with the portion of food that you should be having. 

If you consume more calories than required on a regular basis then it is quite evident that you will put on weight, but that is just one factor besides hormones and your activity level. 

So better late than never, just be mindful of what you eat and think twice before taking that extra serving, you may altogether not require it. 

 

 

 

Non Scale Victory – A better way to weight loss

Is weight loss without a weighing scale possible? The answer to this question is Yes!! Say hello to Non Scale Victory. 

Are you wondering what is it?

There would be so many days when you are not motivated to workout just because the scale is not moving at all.

There might be many reasons for it but there is a usual tendency to blame it on the food we eat or you are not exercising enough to lose weight on a weighing scale. Let us walk you through some important aspects of weight loss that you are not seeing any change on your weighing scale. 

The weight loss industry is much more about that coveted number on the scale which fits our BMI ( Body Mass Index), but it is worth noting and remembering that our bodies are beyond that scale and the number. 

There are millions of functions that are run by our body every single day with a perfect balance of hormones and other bodily activities and the onus is on us to be kind to the body and appreciate what it does for us. What if the number does not resemble the one that is decided by the ” Weight loss industry”. 

So, let us understand what are the non scale victories that we must seek from your workouts and food regimen. If you score 3 out of these 5 non-scale victories you are definitely rocking your fitness regimen for sure.

You are waking fresh every morning 

Waking up fresh without any body pain in the morning is the first nonscale victory that you should be happy about. In case your mornings are tired and you do not want to be up for the day, there is something in your routines that you should address.

All your clothes are loose / You are able to wear those old jeans

Your clothes tell the story of your hard work and it is one of the biggest non-scale victories that you can have. If you find the clothes aren’t snugly fitting anymore you are on your right track. 

You do not crave sweets/chocolates or sugar anymore.

Most of us crave sugar often, this craving is more post 7.00 PM. If you do not crave sugar anymore, that is one of the good signs and can be called as a non-scale victory. 

You are rocking your push-ups and other workouts 

You look forward to everyday workouts and are doing things which seemed difficult some months before. Are you able to do that handstand or headstand flawlessly? you have a non-scale victory to count for.

You are energetic throughout the day 

This is definitely the best thing that can happen to anybody. All that hard work on fitness and food is all about feeling better about yourself, feeling energetic. If you are energetic throughout the day and feel good about yourself, you have an amazing non-scale victory on cards.

These are just some things that I could quickly sum up. Nonscale victories are very very special and can not be generalized for everyone.

Check how much did you score for the questions above and see if you need to change anything in your fitness regime or food regime. Trust your body and fall in love with it, your body will definitely show that love back.

 

5 Facts About Hypothyroidism and Weight Management

Hypothyroid is one catastrophe that has hit many of us in the last decade. If you are the one having underactive thyroid I am sure you would agree with me. Hypothyroidism is a condition that is the most common and yet the most ignored condition in recent times. The best part about it is, even if you are following your food regime and workout properly, the numbers on the scale may skyrocket, leaving you surprised and appalled at the same time. Many times I feel, hypothyroidism is the test of patience for all those who are suffering from it.

Hypothyroid is a condition that occurs due to underactive thyroid gland. Let us see what are the basic functions of the thyroid gland. 

Regulates Basal Metabolic Rate ( BMR) 

BMR is the number of calories we burn even at rest for basic bodily functions. 

Helps to synthesize protein and carbohydrates

Regulates emotional stability of adults

Increases oxygen consumption by all the organs.

In short, it is a gland that secrets hormones that promote growth and development. We all know by now that Thyroid gland secrets T3, T4, Thyroxin Stimulating Hormone ( TSH). As per a report from Precise Nutrition nearly 2 percent of adult women, 2.5 percent of pregnant women, and nearly 5 to 12 percent of women are affected by this condition postpartum.

What are the strategies that you can use for weight management with hypothyroidism?

  • Elimination of processed food 
    • In case you haven’t been into clean eating, I suggest you consider it. 
    • Include more fruits, veggies, healthy fats, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  • Get Ample Sleep 
    • Getting in that short nap during the day is a game-changer 

Keep moving

Easier said than done but getting in those 10000 steps just on any day would help. 

Strength training 3 times a day would definitely help to boost metabolism.

Again, do not overdo any of the physical activity. Just find what makes you feel better. 

Stress management

Many of us are terrible at managing stress. Make journaling a habit and you would not regret it. 

Adding protein to each of your meals.

As per the Precise Nutrition guide referenced below having palm-size protein in each meal would increase satiety.

These are some simple things that we can incorporate in our daily schedule to get things on track. Many of us are jittery when we do not plan our food. We tend to overeat or eat whatever is available. Planning each meal just a day ahead would make a lot of difference. 

Having all meals handy would also reduce a lot of taking aways. Lockdown has contributed to the habit of home-cooked food, but the habit should continue. Home-cooked meals usually are rich in nutrients than takeaway food. Whip up that coffee at home instead of grabbing it from Starbucks.

Recovery: 

How many of us really recover after having a grueling day? Most of us do not and we carry forward that fatigue for the rest of the day or week. Having a good night’s sleep is the answer to recovery. 

Make sure you have a proper nightly self-care routine to be on track. 

As long as you are healthy and cutting through those PRs on the barbell, Doing flawless yogasanas, or working on your squats, you are good to go, hypothyroid, or not. 🙂 

 

Reference: Precise Nutrition

 

3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Metabolism Permanently

Boost Metabolism

Have you ever been told that you have to boost your metabolism and then only you will lose your weight? Well, in case you have been told that weight loss is a very tricky thing and is dependent on various factors other than metabolism. When we start working to get fit, usually people speak about Metabolism, calories, energy expended, TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure), and so on.  The jargon can be super confusing, so here is a quick explanation about Metabolism and how to boost it.

Let us first understand what is metabolism?

In the simplest words, metabolism is a chemical reaction that changes food into energy. Whatever we do, the way we walk, run, exercise, sit and even sleep needs some kind of energy. When we are at sleep we need basic energy to run all the functions of life.

What happens when the metabolism slows down?

When someone’s metabolism is slowed down, he/she burns fewer amounts of calories even at rest and also during a workout. Hence, they have to consume a lower number of calories to maintain weight. Why does the metabolism slow down?

Here are the reasons why metabolism slows down

A person who is suffering from underactive thyroid usually finds himself/herself with a low metabolism. That is the reason why it is very difficult to lose weight. When the metabolism slows down, it is important to understand the number of calories to be consumed to maintain or to lose weight.

Mainly, eating way too much or eating way too less is a major reason for slowing metabolism.

People who have a history of obesity or being overweight may have a slow metabolism.

How to improve your metabolism

Consuming adequate protein in every meal.

In one of the healthline.com articles, it is stated that when we consume protein our metabolism increases by 15-20% as compared to carbs and fats.

Also, adequate protein intake is helpful in curbing the extra calories that you are consuming. Remember that protein is satiating. If you are wondering what are the protein-rich foodstuff for vegetarians, just click here..

Adequate protein reduces the chance of muscle loss, working on fat burning. So it is a win-win.

Eating at a regular interval

If you want to keep your metabolic balance, it is always good to eat at a regular interval.

Long periods without eating might trigger more calorie intake later.

Strength Training

Muscles burn higher calories than fat, getting into strength training 3 days a week may help increasing metabolism.

Getting a goodnight’s sleep is also one of the most important ways to boost metabolism, as it helps the recovery of muscles and in turn helps the muscles to burn more calories.

These are some permanent ways to boost metabolism for all your life.

 

 

Postnatal Exercises That Help Losing Weight

Motherhood is a blessing. It is a wonderful feeling that one can not describe in words. It is also a very testing time for new moms who do not know what to expect. When to start postnatal exercises is a very common question now a days.

Having mother or mother figure besides you guiding becomes crucial but in the times of technology you have many online resources helping you at each stage of pregnancy, delivery and motherhood.

There are thousands of resources online to help new moms go through motherhood. Having said that no two pregnancies and deliveries are the same. It takes huge amount of time to come back to normalcy after delivery. There are some things which we need to accept after motherhood.

The body has gone through a lot and we need to be kind to it.

Stomach and the  pelvic floor area would be under a complete transformation after birthing, shrinking it back to fit in skinny jeans is possible but that should not be your priority when there are other challenges like bringing body back to normal.

When To Start Postnatal Exercises?

The first symptom of the body getting back to normal is when you feel fresh in the morning which can be achieved with Postnatal Exercises.

Most of the time, it takes 2-3 months for the new moms to come to normal waking up routine if the baby has set his/her schedule. If the sleep schedule is not set by the baby, moms struggle with night feed. Back pain and hip pain is also common in new moms which is a result of constant feeding and doing other babycentric chores.

Once you feel confident with the chores, know that this is the time you can set your mindset on body transformation

How soon after birth can you exercise?

It is perfectly fine to be not up to any particular exercise, just making small changes in your lifestyle would bring in a lot of difference. It is absolutely OK not to stick to any specific regime but remember the sooner you start working out, the better. We tend to put on a lot of post delivery, once you start getting in the groove, there is a less chance of feeling depressed and you can bounce back quickly. In India, they say the first 40 days are crucial for the mom and baby bonding. Giving yourself time through some physical activity that you enjoy is good after the first 40 days. Walking is the best exercise post-delivery.

Stretches to be done after delivery

Stretches should be relaxing and refreshing. Here is Amy from Bodyfit, demonstrating basic stretches.

Core Strengthening:

Bridget Teyler is a birth doula and her video about Core Strengthening covers all the important postnatal aspects. You can check the video here. This video

is applicable to new mummas. This is a very measured and educative video, I am sure you will get a lot of information from it.

Postnatal Exercises or Post Abdominal Surgery Workout

Fitness blender has always been providing comprehensive workout series. I did not expect this to be there on fitness blender. These are post natal workouts or post abdominal surgery workouts. Mummas with C- Section, can check here and start working out.

Baby Bulge Begone - Popsugar

If you are familiar with Popsugar workouts, here are some postnatal exercises with some modifications to normal workouts. I like the no-fuss instructor. 🙂

Hot Body Healthy Mommy - Jillian Michaels

My favourite is Jillian because she means business. 🙂

Her workouts are not free and are  not available on the Youtube but you can always get her DVD "Hot body healthy mommy".  or her app. Jillian has hardcore workouts which would never let you down. Try and Let me know.

These postnatal exercises are advanced ones but she does not step up suddenly. She steps up slowly. So, just enjoy what she tells and bring in that needed change.

While working out remember, spot reduction is not possible, so do not fall prey to the sauna belts and other equipments which promise melting the belly fat. It is just not possible. Let us workout and see to that our body is happy.

After all our efforts should be concentrated on Healthy Mommy and Hot body thereafter.

Here are our normal weight loss series articles that you might like:

http://www.the5ammommy.com/which-weight-loss-diet-work/

 

 

5 post partum belly exercises that work