I’m going to go ahead and confess something right now: I love being lazy. It doesn’t pervade every aspect of my life, but laziness, well, it just feels good to not do anything sometimes. I’d much rather eat a juicy burger with onion rings than baked salmon, or sit in a coffee shop sipping coffee and reading a newspaper than going for a run. It’s just easier to reach for a pack of Oreos on my coffee table than to prepare a salad. Actually, it’s easier to do a lot of things that are unhealthy compared to things that are.
Working in health journalism, however, has opened by eyes to the importance of keeping myself healthy and fit. I’m not ready to get heart disease, diabetes, or any other chronic illness anytime soon. Really, I’d rather avoid them altogether. That, along with the fact I sit in a chair for most of the day, is what inspired me a couple of months ago to begin exercising and eating a bit healthier. But being inspired and staying motivated are two different things; the latter is much harder to maintain. Nevertheless, I’m here exercising a few times a week now. And although I haven’t paid attention to how much weight I’ve lost, it’s definitely noticeable. How did a lazy guy like me ease myself into this weight-loss routine? Here’s a guide for all the lazy people out there.
Let’s Start With Some High-Intensity Exercise
It’s ridiculously easy to get caught up in a sedentary lifestyle. Many of us are already sitting at our desks for eight-plus hours a day, just to go home and catch the latest episode of our favorite TV show. And it doesn’t help that work often drains us of energy during the day. But that’s no excuse because no matter what, there’s a good chance you have 10 minutes at some point of the day to get on your hands and toes and throw down some pushups.
With that said, the first step in this guide is to start implementing a routine based on high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The scientific seven-minute workout is a good example of this. Using only a chair, a wall, and your own body weight, the researchers who devised it believe it’s capable of helping us achieve fitness. You can check out the exercises over at The New York Times’ website, but it’s basically a 12-step full-body workout that alternates between different parts of the body giving the other parts time to rest in-between. Each exercise should take about 30 seconds, with 10-second intermissions.
“Don’t focus on excessive cardio “biggest loser” style,” Rania Batayneh, MPH author of the best-selling book The One One One Diet: The Simple 1:1:1 Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, told Medical Daily in an email. “You don’t have to start training for Iron Man to get healthy.”
The exercise will take some getting used to, as it’ll be difficult to sustain the level of energy you began with, but hey, you’re done after seven minutes. Seven minutes!
Just Get Active
The Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Brisk walking, gardening, household chores, ballroom dancing, and riding a bicycle slower than 10 miles per hour all qualify as moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
That means that along with your HIIT routine, which is already more intense, you can take small steps to get active each day. If you live in a city, walk to work or get off your train a stop or two early. If you’re used to driving to the grocery store, but it’s only a 15-minute walk, then by all means leave the car keys at home. Going for a walk after dinner helps, too. If you’re not the walking type, get a bike, some rollerblades, or a skateboard. Play football or soccer, or even kickball. Just do some kind of sport you find fun.
A recent study found people who played soccer twice a week for three months were able to lower their risk of high blood pressure, drop some pounds, and improve overall fitness better than simply eating healthy and jogging, Mens Health reported. An hour’s play can burn up to 800 calories. Meanwhile, with regard to biking, UK-based cycling coach Dan Bennet told the magazine that during a 15-minute ride, it’s best to alternate between 15 seconds of riding full speed and 15 seconds of riding slow. After five minutes of that, continue at a normal pace for five minutes before repeating the pattern.
Once You’re Active…
It’ll take some time to get used to these routines, but chances are that with dedication, you’ll start to notice results. What you couldn’t do two weeks ago will become much easier. This is when pushing yourself to get even better results becomes important. Batayneh recommends trying to reach 30 minutes of HIIT cardio workouts, whether it’s on the bike, elliptical, or treadmill, and another 30 minutes of weights with a combination of abs. “Resistance training will keep your metabolism burning longer than just a cardio workout,” she said.
Getting into a routine is the hardest part. But seeing results will not only feel rewarding, it’ll serve as more motivation to keep going. And by this point, your energy levels should be higher than before, helping you to get there.
What You Eat Matters, Too
Here’s where I fail at weight loss; the lazy man in me says, “If I exercise, then I can eat whatever I want.” So I’ve continued eating Chipotle burritos for lunch — and we all know how many calories are in those — drinking beer a few times a week, and ordering Chinese food when I’m too lazy to cook. But now, a few months into my routine, I’m starting to realize I don’t want the bare minimum anymore.
Here’s one of the easiest things you can do to start eating healthier: get rid of all the junk food around you. In a YouTube video, Mario Tomic, founder of ShockingFit.com, points out that a person’s natural laziness can be used to their advantage if they begin by shopping for the right groceries. Studies have shown that when we’re bored or mentally exhausted — thus having weakened our willpower — we tend to eat. Going to the supermarket with a list of healthy foods, and sticking to only those items, will eliminate any foods you shouldn’t be eating.
Aside from eliminating fatty foods from your surroundings, keeping blood sugar levels stable is key to both maintaining a weight-loss trajectory and having the willpower to do it. The brain, just like a muscle, gets tired from being used throughout the day, and needs sugar to restore its energy. People who don’t eat breakfast are “likely to overeat at lunch and even the rest of the day,” Batayneh said. This happens when blood sugar levels dip in the morning, and in an effort to balance them out, “we typically turn to sugar,” which then sets us “up on a roller coaster ride.”
Batayneh says sticking to a 1:1:1 formula of one protein, one carb, and one fat at every meal and snack will help you lose weight. “Get a chicken or bean burrito, skip the rice, and pick cheese or guacamole as your fat,” she said, noting that more protein (in the beans and chicken) don’t always equate to weight loss. In addition to that, skipping carbs during dinner for that bottle of beer or glass of wine later at night is key to moderation.
It’s important to know that none of this comes easily. But the motivation to accomplish it will grow inside of you the more you stick to your weight-loss goals. For lazy people, “baby steps” is the name of the game.