Staying Lean When You Can’t Hit the Gym

Are you a self-proclaimed “gym rat”? If you’re one of those people who love going to the gym 3, 5, or even 7 days a week, it can be very frustrating when you can’t go. Can’t go to the gym because of your work schedule or because the gym is closed? If you’re not able to go for some reason, you, like many other gym goers, may feel a sense of panic. Are you going to gain weight? Are you going to lose your muscle tone? Are your “gains” going to waste away?

Missing a day is one thing, but having to miss several days, if not more, is a whole other story. In this article, we offer some practical tips to help you maintain your weight while you can’t go to the gym because its closed or because your schedule won’t allow it for the time being.

Don’t Panic, You Can Stay Lean

Here’s the deal: Daily exercise if very important, but like the saying goes, “You can’t outrun your fork!” We highly recommend moving your body every day, whether that means strength training, hiking, walking, running, cycling, swimming, or any combination of the above. However, if it’s weight you’re the most concerned about, the #1 priority is your diet.

You may not be able to control your schedule, gym locations, and gym hours, but you can control what you eat! This is good news because your diet is something you can control. If you’re not sure what to eat or how much to eat, here are some simple tips:

  • To maintain or even lose weight, stay away from sugar, flour (white and wheat), rice, potatoes, and processed foods.
  • Keep it easy; try to eat simple, one-ingredient foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, and meat.
  • If you drink alcohol, stick to low calorie options, such as wine and liquor. Mixed drinks and beer can lead to serious weight gain. Be aware, if you drink too much of any alcohol, it can lead to binge eating!
  • Avoid juice, sugary sodas, and teas.
  • Calories DO count! You can eat clean all day but if you overconsume calories, you can gain weight. If you’re trying to lose weight, 1200 calories a day is a good number to aim for. If you’re exercising, consume around 1500 calories a day.

Get Moving Without a Gym

For many of our patients, the gym is their “happy place” and it may be yours too, but if you can’t go for some reason, there are alternatives. The idea is to get your body moving. How much and how often? If you can move your body for one-hour every day, that’s a great number to aim for.

Here are some alternatives to gym workouts that can help get your heartrate up:

  • Hiking
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Home workouts
  • Dancing
  • Riding a bicycle
  • Home workouts with resistant bands or weights
  • Sprints at your local high school track
  • Walks or runs on the beach
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator

When you exercise, it’s not only good for your body, it’s good for your mind too. “Countless studies show that many types of exercise, from walking to cycling, make people feel better and can even relieve symptoms of depression. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain—serotonin, norepinephrine, endorphins, dopamine—that dull pain, lighten mood and relieve stress,” Mandy Oaklander and Heather Jones wrote in Time Magazine.