Do You Gain Weight From Not Exercising

I ran today!!!!!!! And that makes me happy. But, it wasn’t awesome. A full week of rest helped my legs, but cardio-wise I felt weak and slow. I’m not exaggerating – it’s the slowest I’ve run in years. Coming from weeks and weeks of 40+ miles and a 3:43 marathon 10 days ago I don’t think I’ve actually lost my cardio fitness – there were several factors that probably affected this run…

running again (600x800)

It was 75 degrees, super dry with tons of pollen in the air. And I feel like I have a cold OR am getting some allergy issues. I can’t tell because I’ve never had allergies before. Experts – how can I tell if it’s allergies or a cold??

running with pollen (800x600)

After my run I met up with SR to take a walk. I wore long sleeves and my sweet visor to hide from the scorching sun.

walking in my crazy hat

And on the way home I stopped at a local department store that’s closing to peek at the deals. I really really need a new stove because my current one is from 1784 and looks tragic. BUT – it still works. So, I can’t really justify getting a new one.

oven sale super random (600x800)

I opened one up and found SNACKS! Ha.

snacks in the oven (800x600)

Have you guys heard of the color run for your car?!?! It’s awesome!!!!

color run for your car (800x600)

It is only nine dollars and this machine cleans off the color foam after you’re done!

car wash (800x600) wash your car or you'll regret it (800x600)


big salad for breakfast and lunch (800x600)

Weight Loss and Exercise or NOT Exercising

So. Not running for a week or more can be super stressful for a lot of reasons. Most of the time when I get emails from readers who are injured and are forced to take a few weeks off of running they add, “I’m afraid I’m going to gain weight!!!!”.

I hear ya. But the reality is it’s what you eat not what you do that has the bigger impact on weight loss.

weight loss is 70 percent diet

It took me a few days, but I realized I was less hungry not running. It’s hard to gauge what is habit and what is hunger for me, but I definitely wasn’t as hungry as usual. It was easier to not snack too, which is good.

For me, I run at ‘peak marathon training’ mileage all the time. That is the point in marathon training where you are running tons of miles and it also makes you extra hungry. I live there.

That’s hard to manage because when you’re running a lot you definitely want to fuel your body when it’s asking for food. But, it can get difficult for me to assess when I’m genuinely hungry and when I’m depleted of energy and want sugar or rest or am vitamin deficient.

So, not running – just for a week, actually helped me get back to intuitive eating a bit better. And even though I didn’t weigh myself, I don’t think I gained any weight because my clothes don’t feel tighter and my eats were reasonable.

(I’ve also heard it be said that it’s 80% diet and 20% exercise, but I’d like to give some credit to my genes for the tenacity at which my body holds on to fat in certain areas. I don’t mind it all that much, just making a note.)

Question: What affects your weight the most – diet or exercise? Or stress? Or cupcakes??


  1. says

    Completely agree, it’s a balancing act. Eating is were weight gain and loss live. But working out makes me feel good and can help with weight loss. Being conscious is a huge piece of the puzzle!

  2. says

    I’m dealing with allergies for the first time ever also (i.e., not an expert), but I know it’s not a cold because I’ve been sneezing a lot and sneezing is not one of my cold symptoms.

  3. Maru says

    Ohhhh it is happening to me now…i had to skip running for almost 2 weeks now. I definitly not that hungry when i runned but I am still eating a lot expected for a women (average 2500 kcal I think is too much). However, Igo to the gym everyday and do cardio and lift machines, but of course , nothing compares to running.
    I have lost 27 kg (70 pounds) in the last year and of I am super worried about gaining weight. Still my weight is the same. Regarding what I think it could be the mainteining my weight factor? I would say fifty/fifty. Yes, I eat a lot, but the highest quality of food ( nutritiuos, balanced, fruits, veggetables, non processed). I count calories, but it is very clear to me that not all the calories are the same.
    Pardon for my english, it is not my language :-)

  4. says

    Allergies for me are itchy or tingly sensations in my nose and throat and clear, watery runny nose. Try an allergy medicine and see if it makes you feel better. It will last for more than 2 wks. Sneezing too.

    Food makes the biggest difference. But exercise helps curb emotional eating for me. Drink lots if water to counteract water retention.

  5. says

    When I am not working out I don’t find myself as hungry which helps, but when I run a lot I get really hungry so it almost makes it harder because I have to realize that I can eat more but I have to eat the good things. not the cookies, cake, and candy that I want. DARN!

  6. says

    Definitely diet, I was maintaining my weight when I was training for my first half and not really watching what I ate, but during the last one I did, I was watching what I was putting in my body and saw some lbs fall off.

  7. says

    OMG yes.

    Stress affects me the most. I can work out all I want, but when I’m stressed, I DEVOUR THE WORLD. And then I gain weight.
    And then I’m unhappy.

    Now, I’m just trying to regain control over my diet. If I work out, great. If not, no big deal. As long as I take care of my food.

  8. Jenni says

    The salad looks delicious. At first, I thought it was cheese then I realized it was probably egg whites!

    As far as running and gaining weight, it is also important for runners to recognize at a certain point in their running, your body has muscle memory. If you don’t ever change up your routine and you just run the same pace and same amount of time, your body will no longer see the benefits. It is important to lift, do the elliptical, bike, classes, etc to shock your body; you can even add sprints, intervals, fartleks, and hills to shock your body. So in case you ever have to take time off, remember your body is use to running daily and it will shock your body once you start up again! I run miles and miles and miles and I eat three meals a day with fruit in between and I have been the same weight for years; once I add in lifting or yoga I usually firm back up!

    Have a great day!

  9. Ida says

    I always think of the saying ‘you cant out run a bad diet.’ working out def inspires me to eat better, but it can be hard to manage the hunger that comes with endurance exercise.

  10. says

    Diet for sure is number one. I have recently put the breaks on running, not out all together, but not as much. I have noticed a HUGE difference in my body from just doing this and doing more cross-training/strength workouts. I thought I needed running to be more tone, but I realized that I get more toned and more fit by watching what I am eating and not overdoing it on the running!

  11. says

    I felt the same way when I broke my foot a few years ago. I LOST about 10lbs actually, because like you said, I was less hungry when I wasn’t exercising, but mostly from the loss of muscle my legs. They were SO thin by the time I got my cast off, I was kind of diggin’ it! I had the opposite problem: when I started working out again, my muscular legs bounced right back which was awesome from a fitness perspective, but having my pants fit differently was a hit to the confidence. Really though, my weight loss was not sustainable, and my legs are meant to be STRONG!

    Overall, diet is most definitely my downfall. I eat well but I eat a lot.

  12. says

    Diet definitely affects my weight! And cupcakes too! I try to eat as much real food as I can and cut out processed food to maintain my weight. I can go a long time without working out and not gain much weight, but it’s the food that I put in my body that really affects me!

  13. says

    Stress and diet definitely! I used to worry when I would travel and not be able to workout regularly, but I realized I eat less when Im not working out. So even though I enjoy my daily sweat sessions, missing a few isn’t killing me!

  14. Nikki Fahey says

    I gain weight either way:( I don’t think my body will ever lose any again? ugh frustrated – any suggestions?

  15. elizabeth says

    I like to feel hungry, it makes me feel alive. When I have to cut back on workouts, my appetite goes away and I feel blah.

  16. says

    Thank you thank you thank you. I finally figured out intuitive eating last year, and when upping my mileage I struggled to make that same distinction between hungry, rungry, hangry… and bored. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this boat. :)

  17. says

    Mine is probably stress – I tend to lose weight then. Not running during my fractures didn’t do much to my weight (although I did workout – doing other stuff eg elliptical, walks, weight training, yoga etc). But yeah, genes play a part – my grandma to my mum to my aunt to my sis are all naturally on the slim side.

  18. says

    You’re so right that high training miles stifles our ability to be in touch with our true hunger and fullness signals. It’s a good thing to step back and bit and re-learn those cues, and also to realize that time off does not necessarily equal weight gain!

  19. says

    Hi Monica,
    fantastic post. I really struggle with rest days and rest periods, too and sometimes I also think ‘if I don’t run today, I won’t be able to eat what I want/I will put on weight’ which is obviously not true. I find it so funny how when you first start exercising you think “How can it be exercise-day again”. Once your mind and body is used to it you start thinking “how can it be rest day again”. I’m glad though your feeling better and I am sure you’ve not lost your fitness but it was just one of those bad days :)

  20. Nikki says

    I was in the hospital last week for 2 days and they wouldn’t let me eat. Obviously I wasn’t exercising but I lost 5 lbs. So I will definitely say food!!

  21. karleen says

    It’s allll diet for me. I love exercise and can never get enough of it. That’s the easy. Like most people who posted, I eat a mostly whole/healthy foods diet, but I need to watch my portions. A calorie is a calorie and I find myself eating just too much food sometimes. When I’m more conscious of my portions, that’s when I lose a couple lbs.

  22. says

    Genes is definitely a factor. 99.7% of statistics you find on Pinterest are made up. 😉

    I remember seeing a whole pie chart in a nutrition class with like 5 different factors affecting weight loss (or gain). I think another one to add in is environment/stress factor.

    BUT I do agree it mostly has to do with food. Unfortunately. I love me some cookie dough!

  23. says

    For me? It’s the wine! I’ve been recovering from an injury for 2 months and I find that I am eating and drinking empty calories to try and fill the emotional hole that not being able to run has created. It’s been pretty tough on me.

  24. says

    I didn’t read every single above comment to see if you got an answer to this yet, but as a doctor (resident, but still) it can sometimes be hard to tell between cold/allergies

    Allergies: more likely to have itching of throat and eyes, more sneezing, more eye redness. If you look at the turbinates in your nose (the curvy things up in there) they’ll be bluish with allergies vs typically red with a cold. You also should not have a fever with allergies.

    None of it’s fool proof. One easy thing to try (although the best thing is seeking actual doctor advice with a physical exam) is just start taking an allergy med (store brand loratidine or cetirizine is fine, 10 mg a day) and see if it improves. Stop in a couple weeks when you’re feeling better and if the symptoms come back … Allergies.

    Good luck and feel better.

  25. says

    It is definitely a mix of the three things. Diet and exercise go hand in hand, you can’t loose weight if you don’t do one or the other right. Genes do play a part, but even if you have really bad genes, you can get the breakthrough, you just might have to work harder.

  26. says

    remind me to go oven shopping during snack breaks! ha! and love your views here. I actually lose weight if i don’t run or workout. muscle mass of course, but it truly is diet! agreed

  27. says

    Love this post. Toward the end of training for my first full this spring, I was really frustrated by not having lost more weight. I mean, running that many miles per week, and I was maintaining my weight, give or take 3 pounds? I didn’t get it. But during tapering week I instantly noticed my appetite drop. Now, in the weeks since, I’m paying attention better. I’ve already dropped some weight just by controlling diet. Running again, but not eating every single thing I see. LOL
    it’s fun to have the freedom to experiment with my body now. Fun to know both how to fuel and how to slim down quickly.
    Speaking of quickly, I loved your video about speed training!! Shared it with a bunch of running friends. Will comment specifically later. Thank you!
    Congrats on getting back to the trail. Hope your legs stay happy!! XOXO

  28. says

    Okay, it’s kinda gross, but if your snot is clear it is allergies; if it is green or cloudy it is a cold. I live in a valley that is an allergy vacuum and seems to suck up every pollen imaginable…does that make me an expert? I don’t know! :-)

  29. Carmen says

    I’m thankful (knock on wood) that I haven’t been sidelined from injury…I don’t feel right if I don’t run every week…preferably 3 times a week…but, my diet needs the most work..i believe the 80/20 for weight loss….completely! I can run, run, run, but if my diet isn’t right I won’t lose like I want..

  30. says

    I don’t exercise. Not more than the stretching and 15 minutes of leg lifts, squats, and arm dips that I can fit in while I’m walking down the hallway at school or waiting for my own kids to go to sleep. I believe that diet is the key! Thank you for confirming this. I’m just realizing (again) that I eat way too much. Even when I think I’m only eating 1500 c. I’m actually probably eating 2500 c. Crazy! I need to go back to my 100 calorie bag diet, so I can see what the food / calorie ratio is.

    Love this blog!

  31. says

    Going through this now, trying to eat as clean as possible. I wish someone had told me this years ago when I was spending 2-3 hours at the gym.

    And love the hot sauce. I love it on everything, especially cholula and sriracha.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *