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Mental Health

What would make a person lazy?

10/30/2008

Question:

I am a very lazy person. I do not want to be lazy but it is so hard to drag myself around, I never have any energy. I am also overweight and I have made myself go to 8-week fat camps, inpatient kind, where they force you to exercise 8 hours a day and put you on a strict diet. I drag myself thru it, I am always the slowest and the most tired and the most out of breath and I feel completely physically exhausted, not "better" or "exhilirated" like they say you are supposed to feel from being more active. When I come home I just get lazier and lazier again, no matter how hard I try to force myself not to be lazy. I want to have energy and be able to do things. My mind is not lazy and I always have things I want to do, but I just never have the energy to do them. My dr has put me on antidepressants, several different kinds at several different times, but it never made any difference. I am still fat and lazy. I don`t feel depressed either. Mentally and emotionally I am a very upbeat person. I just don`t have the physical energy to do what I want to do, and I am too lazy to force myself to do it. They have performed thyroid tests and they are normal, and I have been told repeatedly that basically I am just fat and lazy (they say it nicer than that, but thats the bottom line). I know if I wasn`t so lazy I wouldn`t be so overweight either. I try to force myself to be more active but I just can`t. Why am I so lazy?

Answer:

We can view your request in the same spirit as a New Year's resolution. For convenience, I'll omit the quotation marks around "lazy" in this answer.

First, you should define for yourself how you are lazy. What specific examples come to mind? With these examples, the solutions should present themselves. For example, are you lazy in that you don't check your mail daily? If so, you can set a modest goal that you will check your mail at least three times a week. Go from there.

Any barriers to overcoming laziness should also be considered. For example, if you watch too much TV, create a plan to scale back. Some people pull the TV plug to remind themselves. A bold step would be eliminating cable, if you subscribe. Even bolder, consider eliminating TV altogether. The ensuing "boredom" may help motivate you to do something different.

Second, I am gathering that increasing structure would be helpful for you. For example, are there specific tasks and places that you must attend? If so, what allows you to do so successfully? As social creatures, we tend to do better when we are doing something with someone else. For example, runners have better times when they run with someone else.

I recommend committing with a friend a plan to meet up at a predetermined frequency to doing something social. Meeting three times a week for 30 minutes at the mall to walk 20 minutes. Public libraries have book clubs open to the public. If you have the means, I recommend joining a gym. Some even advertise themselves as "judgment-free." Borrowing from the example above, I recommend that you meet with a trainer to devise a healthy and modest program that works for you.

Committing to a resolution ultimately requires small, realistic steps that may seem difficult at first. However, it becomes easier and easier with time as your lifestyle changes. Good luck.

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Response by:

Ram Chandran  Kalyanam, MD Ram Chandran Kalyanam, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University