There are two reoccurring factors I encounter in my practice. After discussing food and the lifestyle changes needed, my clients often face a feeling of being overwhelmed or laziness.
It is important to address laziness, as it is rampant in the way we have designed our modern lifestyles, and is intermingled with 'doing all the things', but not being happy with the results.
Two thousand years ago, Hippocrates, the 'father of modern medicine' hit the nail on the head. He said, that if we all had “the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health”. Bingo.
Obviously then, being a species of great intellect, over the next two millennia we took on his sensible advice, integrating exercise into our daily life and cashing in on the rewards for our bodies and minds. But we seemed to have missed something in the original sentiment.
Instead something else happened and physical inactivity grew into the fourth largest global killer in the world (according to the World Health Organisation), with some claiming it takes more lives than smoking, diabetes and obesity combined.
Yes, physical inactivity and lack of proper nourishment has its price tags. It is linked to the development of chronic health problems like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia and cancer. There is now research being published that is indicative of exercise being beneficial for cancer patients in treatment and recovery. Who would have thunk it? Not exercising can make us feel bad about ourselves, guilty and frustrated, appeased only with the ever alluring reward of inactivity – comfort, rest and stress-free.
The road to lethargy is paved with wishful intentions. Everyone has said "I'm going to get more done tomorrow." The problem with this promise is that it's vague and depends entirely on you feeling the same way tomorrow that you do now. Except, you know that you won't. You'll feel just as unmotivated when you get wake up tomorrow as you did today..
If laziness is an unhelpful characterisation of a different problem, start by identifying what your issue actually is. Try out some time tracking software to see where you spend your time. Or you can simply use a spreadsheet and write down what you do, hour by hour, for a week. Once you've got some data, break down the underlying problem into a few categories:
Self-discipline: If your schedule is packed, but you're not getting as much done as you could or should in that time, you may have a self-discipline problem. Solutions may involve removing distractions, but you may also need to find ways to boost your willpower.
Unrealistic expectations: If your schedule is packed and you're actually getting stuff done, but you still feel lazy, your problem could be that you're being too hard on yourself. This is where many of us will start to feel overwhelmed, with high expectations and no satisfaction. We all want to get stuff done, but don't forget to slow down every once in a while. It's here that prioritising and getting clear on your goals is most important.
Motivation: If your schedule is pretty empty, or a majority of your time is spent on sleep or leisure activities, motivation could be the problem. Motivation problems can range from not knowing what to do with your life to battling depression, but everyone deals with it in some form eventually.
Obviously, how you deal with "laziness" will depend on what the underlying issues are. And these issues aren't mutually exclusive, either. No matter what, you'll need to tailor any solution to your specific needs. Take time to examine your own weaknesses and come up with a plan that works for you.
Write a list of benefits. There are always benefits with disciplines, so take a minute to appreciate them with gratitude.
Savour the times you enjoy choosing a healthier option. Unless you're dealing with deeper emotional issues, there are probably some moments when you actually enjoy your achievements. When that happens, pause (if you can) and describe the moment to yourself or let someone else know. Externalising it can help you remember it later. Intentionally spotting the moments of feeling good can also help with those dreaded "What should I do with my life?" questions.
Reframe your mind. While you're getting stuff done (like shopping, blending, chopping, or juicing), if you're feeling miserable about it, counter your own thoughts. Remind yourself that is worthwhile. Smile on purpose. Just like when you're dealing with failure, how you treat these thoughts and feelings sets you up for how you will experience it.
Ultimately, no one can make change happen overnight. But if you actively fight the urge to be negative, or lazy about it, rather than indulge it, you can turn your mindset around. The quickest way to get more done is to look forward to doing it. If you're still having trouble, try consciously disrupting your habits, prioritise your day with what you must do, should do, and want to do, and finally, be consistent and check your progress - you can use a goal tracker for this.
Many of us can alter our habits without ever changing how we perceive ourselves. That's why reflection, keeping track of the things you've done, and gratitude can be so useful. Having proof that you've built a new habit, or the reminders that you've improved over time can give you the motivation boost you need to keep going. That moment, when you realise you've accomplished your goal, when you're pleased with your progress and look forward to doing it again is when laziness is no longer a barrier to a healthier and happier life. Do you know what it is that's holding you back from taking the next step toward a healthier life? Let me know in the comments below, we are all in the same boat after all! With love and motivaton, Rose x