Yes, You Are Lazy! Work With It.
As part of my talk on breaking through plateaus, I suggested that one of the major reasons people struggle with weight loss is that we haven’t embraced the fact humans are lazy.
Yeah I know that everyone believes that they are the exception to this rule, that “everyone else is overweight because they are lazy, but I am just big-boned”.
No, the reality is that each of us could stand to improve certain aspects of our approach to diet and exercise. However, until we accept that humans have an innate drive towards laziness, we continually beat ourselves up for not living up to some fictitious ideal of how we “should” behave.
Now this may sounds a little counterintuitive, me telling you that the key to weight loss is laziness. In fact, telling someone that they need to embrace “being lazy” to enhance their diet efforts sounds about as reasonable as suggesting that eating an ice-cream sundae will make someone lose weight faster. Yet in certain cases, both of these statements are true. (I’ll explain the ice cream part in a later post).
But how does being lazy enhance our diet success? Well it isn’t actually the act of being lazy that helps accelerate fat loss. Rather, it’s the acknowledgement that humans are an inherently lazy species, and that we tend to behave in a manner that requires the least amount of effort.
Once we understand and appreciate this, we can start creating strategies that work for fat loss.
Take the following scenario. Let’s imagine you came home from work and had a rough day with the boss yelling at you. Shortly after returning home, you open the fridge, pull out the plate of cheesecake you have sitting on the main shelf and within minutes, you’ve consumed the entire thing.
Instantly after eating the cheesecake, you are liable to become quite angry with yourself, which is both silly and counter productive. Humans are genetically hardwired to prefer high calorie foods. Since the cheesecake was readily available to you, you ate it.
Nothing more than simple biology at play. Your cheesecake consumption had nothing to do with willpower and everything to do with you misunderstanding how to take advantage of your laziness.
In order to make lasting behaviour changes, we need to manipulate our environment to allow our laziness to work for us and not against us. So to avoid the cheesecake binge in the future, we need to create an environment where eating the cheesecake takes substantial amount of work, whereas eating something healthy, like vegetables, is the lazy choice.
Let’s re-imagine the after work scenario. You had a rough day at work, your boss yelled at you and you just want to get home and take your mind off your troubles. You arrive at home, drop off your bag and open the fridge. Only this time, instead of having leftover cheesecake sitting on the main shelf of your fridge, you have a plate of pre-cut vegetables (hell you can even have some dip there too).
But what about the cheesecake? Oh you still have it, only you had the foresight to store it frozen at the bottom of your deep freeze down in the basement.
Want to guess which food you are going to grab?
Make healthy food the lazy choice!
The better you are able to create an environment like this, where healthy choices become “no brainers” or the lazy option, the easier it is to stick with healthy habits.
Try the “vegetables staring you in the face” trick and see if you can’t radically transform your own health with this simple solution. If you as lazy as I am, you will benefit from starting with pre-cut vegetables like broccoli flowerettes, baby carrots, snap peas, cherry tomatoes or even pre-washed lettuce.
When eating vegetables becomes your easiest meal prep option, you’ll be amazed at how often you wind up eating healthy… just because making anything else takes too much work!
Till next time, train hard and eat clean!