Monday, August 23, 2010

Maybe I Am Lazy?

Sometimes I have gotten on myself for being "lazy." In fact, over the past few days I have felt a little tired and not motivated to *do* much, and then the thought starts leaking into my head: maybe I am just lazy. Maybe that's my nature.

I have to really think hard about this. Has laziness contributed to my weight issues? Hard to say. I want to tear this apart a little, so if you've ever wondered if you're lazy, follow along.

When I was morbidly obese, I spent an awful lot of time sitting on the couch. I'd watch TV, be on the computer, read, watch my kids play, help them with homework... all from my seat on the sofa. Why? Because it hurt to move. It left me out of breath to get up and walk outside. I would send my kids downstairs to bring up the laundry or get their brother or bring me some item because it was nearly impossible for me to go down the stairs and back up myself without being exhausted and maybe even hurting myself. When I went out to run errands, I'd do ONE errand, then come home. If I did two (say, go to two different stores) it wiped me out for the day. If I got food, it was from a drive thru so I wouldn't have to get out of the car.

When did this behavior start? I guess when I had so many little kids (4 kids in 5 years) and no husband when the baby wasn't even 2 yet PLUS started gaining weight (into the 220's). It was then that I got tired. It was then that I got "lazy." Or did I?

People who've known me over the past 20 years would argue that I am absolutely NOT lazy. Never have been. In my teens I met my first husband who was a dairy farmer and spent countless days waking at 3am to help milk the cows and clean the barn (aka shovel sh*t), then go back up to the house at 6am to start making breakfast for my 3 stepchildren so I could wake them, get them ready for school, and put them on the bus. Then I'd clean the house and go back out for some more farm work.

Shortly after we married I was pregnant, and in the late summer I'd be out in our acre garden picking corn and raspberries with my new baby son in tow. One, two, three babies later I was still living the country dream... pulling carrots and cutting asparagus with my toddlers, canning peaches and tomatoes in vast quantities for winter, quilting by hand on big wooden frames in my living room, and hanging the laundry out to dry on the line in the backyard. I tended the chickens, goats, sheep, and the occasional random pet runt pig or injured foal from the auction. When my friends were sick or had babies, I went over and brought them dinner or cleaned their house or babysat for them. I taught Sunday School and made bread from scratch. Over the course of those years when my children were 5 and under, I also had five foster children who I cared for and loved to the best of my ability... not all at once, only one or two at a time, but they were all part of our lives.

And then we moved away from our country home to the suburbs far away. I turned 27. And I ended up divorced.

Poverty, meals from the food bank, working for minimum wage and then going to college for five years to get my degrees happened next. I was not lazy. I worked so very, very hard not only to graduate magna cum laude but also to raise four children who did not FEEL like we were poor or they had a working mom or they were lacking in any way. I took them on camping trips. I went to every soccer, baseball, flag football, and basketball game, watched every swimming lesson, applauded at every concert, attended every school function. I raised four fantastic children, two of whom had life altering medical diagnoses in that time, with trips to faraway hospitals and countless sessions of therapy and visits to doctors. I did it alone. No grandparents, no aunts or uncles, no one raised those children but me. And I am proud of that. A lazy person couldn't have done that.

And then I remarried and had my fifth child who was born so early that she was two and a half pounds, on a ventilator, and then on oxygen for five and a half months. She might not make it, they said. You can't breastfeed her, they said. She will always need medications and she won't be able to play sports, they said. But I persevered. I knew no one could care for her as I could, and I devoted the next two years of my life to her care, her medicating, her trips to the heart, lung, kidney, and eye specialists. I breastfed her for almost 2 years, I sheltered her while her nearly nonexistent immune system had time to develop, and I made sure she had all the love and interaction a baby could possibly need. And I got supremely obese.

I sat on the couch a lot, but I was holding her while she was tethered to an 8-foot oxygen tube. In order for me to move to another room, I had to bring the baby AND her large metal oxygen tank, her heart monitor, and her oxygen monitor. I lived in a 16 foot radius for 6 months. I barely left the house, but look at her now. Healthy, smart, beautiful, perfect. She DOES play sports. She does NOT need medications. She is great. I am so proud. How could a lazy person accomplish that? She couldn't.

I wasn't lazy. I was restrained by circumstances.

Nowadays, I have it easier than I ever have in my life. And some days, I do sit on the couch and surf the web and goof off and not do a whole lot. I don't think it's laziness, though. I think I am enjoying life and sometimes that just means being quiet and not always DOING stuff. Make sense?

I do have to be careful not to waste a whole day not moving though. "An object at rest tends to stay at rest", says Newton's first law, and while he didn't have ME sitting on the couch in mind when he stated this fact, it is true nonetheless. If you are sitting in a lump you will tend to remain sitting in a lump. UNLESS, says Newton, it is acted upon by an external force. That's important. So maybe if someone comes along and shoves you off the couch you will get into motion. Or maybe if your BRAIN tells you, "hey, time to get moving" and you are acted upon by your own conscious decision to move, then you will move. But it is important for us not to just remain at rest all the time. It's a good thing to get up and move frequently. So if you're on the computer too much (as I have been), try setting an alarm for yourself: a kitchen timer, the microwave timer, or an online timer with an alarm so that every 10-15 minutes it goes off, you get up and do ONE thing. Anything. Wash a dish, vacuum, step outside, walk around the block, clean a toilet. And if you do that you'll be moving more and not staying in a lump all day. But I digress...

I have to conclude that no, I am certainly NOT lazy. I am a hard worker who is currently focused on losing weight, raising kids, and getting to know myself. Maybe I sit and relax more than I ever have in my life, but you know, I think I've earned it. And life isn't always going to allow me this luxury, so I will enjoy the Slow Life while I can. I do see the need for improvement on the exercise front, though. I will definitely work on that.

I hope you will take inventory of YOUR life, your accomplishments, and your personality to see if, in fact, there is a laziness issue. If there is, it can be changed. But odds are, you're doing better than you think!

25 comments:

Susan said...

It's all about habits rather than laziness imo. I like your idea about the online timer, I'm lucky, my dogs prevent me from spending too much time inactive, especially since one is a little puppy, and that means a lot of trips out to the backyard as he gets housebroken.

I don't think I'd consider people with weight issues "lazy", in fact, in tends more often (again imo) to be a case of looking after everyone else in their lives first, and putting themselves last, from food to healthy movement.

Wifey said...

Off topic, but just curious, you don't mention your husband a lot. Are you still married? How is he in supporting your weight loss?

icannotweight said...

Wow! I really like the setting a timer and getting up each time to do something thing :) I think I will definitely try that out tomorrow and see how it goes. :)

Vee said...

Am I lazy? Yes. According to my mother, or many other people. Fat = lazy, right?

So what if I prefer sitting and reading a book or surfing the web to shopping or running around a track. But yeah, I spent many years in pain and depressed, preferring to sit on my futon/bed watching TV and reading and on the computer.

That's one of the reasons why we got this little mini-farm. Because the lives of my chickens and goats and our trees and corn and tomatoes ... etc DEPEND on me getting up off the bed. As does my beautiful red-headed Kid.

Vee at http://veegettinghealthy.blogspot.com

Becky said...

I think there's a big difference between laziness and an inactive lifestyle. You can lead a very sedentary life, but definitely NOT be lazy. And it's all about balance! You'll have active days and inactive days--if you have the right balance, you shouldn't feel guilty about inactive days.

vulrich said...

I think sitting around becomes laziness when it begins to affect other things/people around you-i.e. kids, work, marriage, etc. I personally don't think laziness ever really leads to being fat in adults, I think ambivalence when making food choices and/or putting yourself last does. Prime example being that most of the lazy people I know are actually skinny and are useless at work, and many people get fat while remaining active like you/me/probably most people reading your blog. YOU, my dear, are certainly not lazy, and I personally do not feel that just disliking getting up to exercise makes one lazy-I mean who REALLY likes exercise anyway, and I don't just mean those who like how exercising makes them feel or getting them out of the house away from kids/DH-the act itself. In order to get myself up to work out, DH and I keep an exercise calendar on our fridge door, so if I want to go into it but see that today I have not worked out yet, then I am either more likely to get my butt in gear on the elliptical, or not open the fridge. It hangs right next to the fat picture of myself. Best of luck, love your blog.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE IT
and can totally relate!!!!!!!!!!

Mother of Many

Floriana said...

It annoys me when I hear a theory that people get fat because they are lazy. Maybe some, but the majority, I am absolutely sure are "lazy" because they are fat. When every movement hurts, when walking up a flight of stairs means losing your breath, when you are lugging an extra 50, 100 or more lbs of your own weight at all times it's hard not to be lazy.

As for your story, Lyn, I can only say that I have a lot of respect for all you have accomplished. As so many times before, your words are truly inspiring.

Blubeari said...

I agree. I think laziness is mostly a term used in malice, and is more of a way to judge others (or yourself), so I think it's hard to even consider whether someone is 'really' lazy or not, lol.

Fat Grump said...

Oh I can do 'inactive' wonderfully, yet I am not a lazy person. Interesting post...lots to think about.

Like you Lyn I had to bring my children up alone mostly..but I never let them down. I also worked full time and kept house and garden, cooked, cleaned, brought work home with me to do when the children were in bed. Two of my children have medical issues too, so times were frequently very worrying - and still are.

Now however I have taken my foot off the pedal...and I just LOVE having an easier life. I am not used to it though and find I waste my days because they are without structure. The kids have grown, the job is no more. I love doing things like reading, surfing, painting, sitting in the garden, catching up with favourite TV programmes etc...and it's so easy to end a day having done nothing much, even though it's been thoroughly enjoyable. I was naturally active, and now I am not...and my figure has suffered because of it. I have to MAKE myself move..for the sake of it, and I am finding tat quite hard. It has to be done though. I discovered today how suddenly your 'fitness' can vanish if you don't remain active. Scary.

spunkysuzi said...

Some days i'm lazy and some days i'm not :) I do try to get some movement into most of my days but some days i love to stay in my pj's and just veg!

Iheartfashion said...

You're clearly not a lazy person. You should be proud of all you've accomplished and deserve a rest once in a while.

Kathy said...

Great blog. You have some wonderful insight and I find myself feeling many of the things you write about. I wish I could put them into words as well as you do. Keep it up!

septembergrrrl said...

Lazy is not something I would ever think of you as being Lyn.

I am in awe of what you have done for your kids, and so sorry that the payoff for their longterm health and well being was yours in the short term.

But then how totally amazing are you for being the external force that is forcing the changes that mean the scarifice is only going to be short term? Go Lyn, Go!!

Tammy said...

Great topic and you are anything but lazy. I never used to think I was lazy until my weight reached a point where now everything I do seems like a huge workout. Just as you described, it hurts to be this size. For so long now, I have given in to the comfy recliner and chores, errands and projects go undone because it is much easier just to sit and stare at the television or computer. I'm trying to make a change now. Hopefully as the weight comes off I will feel more inclinded to get up and do stuff. For now though, I will try your timer idea. Sitting at the computer for two or three hours without moving is not good for me. Even if I can get up every 15 or 20 minutes and complete one small task it will get me moving and stretching.

You rock!

Honib1 said...

you know.. i love visiting you because you speak so much from your heart.. and you inspire and help me because not only do you explain your life but you help me validate who I am .. thanks for that ~

Lanie Painie said...

If you are lazy, I am comatose.

Shrinking Beauty said...

You have been quite the busy bee. Great post! It's got me thinking about my situation. I sit a lot.

Miz said...

ok Im still gigmling at the comment of if you are lazy then the commenter is comatose.
precisely how I felt.
feel.

Camevil said...

The issue is really not whether any of us is "lazy." I used to always tell myself, as part of my self-validation while I was obese, that "Well, I'm not LAZY." It's easy to defend and comfort ourselves, and manipulate ourselves into continuing to avoid serious fitness plans, when framing the issue using such extreme terms.

No, it's not about being lazy. That's an easy label to defend and thus make ourselves feel good about.

Not so easy, tho, is asking ourselves, "Am I being sedentary?" The more challenging, and effective, question we should ask ourselves is "Am I being active enough?" "Is taking a few extra steps a day enough, or should I/can I do even more?" It wasn't until I stopped defending the lazy/straw man argument and instead critically audited how much activity that I was actually engaging in that I switched over to a consistently active lifestyle. And it made all the difference in the world.

Amy said...

Wow!!!! You've done a great job!!!! I certainly wouldn't call you lazy - but - where you probably fell short was taking care of yourself in all that. Especially with the last baby. I am incredibly impressed with your farm life - and incredibly impressed with your single mom life! And way to go for raising a healthy daughter! So now is your time to focus a bit mroe on you, now that life has balance and kids are a bit more grown. You're doing awesoem and a great inspiration!

I, on the otherhand, am lazy. I know it. knowing is half the battle, right? so, I'm working on it!

growingupwith said...

I really feel ya! When I first started breastfeeding, it was a 22 hours a day experience. I was chained to my computer desk. I got through every accomplishable thing on that stupid computer, and I turned to games. My dad got really mad at me and called me lazy and it really hurt! What else did I have to do?! I was breastfeeding for god's sake! You really think I enjoyed being stuck on my ass for months at a time?

Then I started school and I was only stuck on my bum for the hours between class being over and bedtime. I haven't gained any weight, but I haven't lost any either. I think I'm lazy, sometimes, and I don't know where my energy has gone.

Thank you for writing this, because I AM NOT LAZY DAMNIT! I've started weaning, and guess what? We go outside every other day now (that's it's not so hot that I start dying).

yomama said...

Lyn,
You are definately NOT lazy. You are a strong and amazing woman. I also was a single mom for many years and raised my 2 kids with no help from grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. while I went to college. It was very difficult for me. You, however, went through what I did and so much more. I stand up and applaud you!

Lala said...

Your full story amazes me and shames me because I AM lazy. I am so awed by all you have accomplished in your life. You are indeed nothing like lazy. kudos that you are taking care of yourself. I read your story, and my heart goes out to you for all that you have sacrificed for your children--it's amazing what you did in your labor of love! Now it's time for you. Enjoy it.

Michele said...

I know this post is almost a week old, but I am still going to comment on it. There are so many things that resonated for me as I read it.

My mom was a single parent, too, with 4 kids. That was back in the 60's and early 70's so even a different time. She worked at least two jobs fro most of her working life to support us. We never had much and lived pay check to pay check. Sometimes we ran out of food. I know she did the very best she could in a time when things were very difficult for her. My mother was not lazy and you are not either. Bravo fro hanging on to yourself during that decade.

As a science educator, I loved this:
I do have to be careful not to waste a whole day not moving though. "An object at rest tends to stay at rest", says Newton's first law, and while he didn't have ME sitting on the couch in mind when he stated this fact, it is true nonetheless. If you are sitting in a lump you will tend to remain sitting in a lump. UNLESS, says Newton, it is acted upon by an external force. That's important. So maybe if someone comes along and shoves you off the couch you will get into motion. Or maybe if your BRAIN tells you, "hey, time to get moving" and you are acted upon by your own conscious decision to move, then you will move. But it is important for us not to just remain at rest all the time. It's a good thing to get up and move frequently. So if you're on the computer too much (as I have been), try setting an alarm for yourself: a kitchen timer, the microwave timer, or an online timer with an alarm so that every 10-15 minutes it goes off, you get up and do ONE thing. Anything. Wash a dish, vacuum, step outside, walk around the block, clean a toilet. And if you do that you'll be moving more and not staying in a lump all day. But I digress...

Besides the Newton law reference, I have used your tip many times about setting a timer when working on the computer. I get lost in my work which mainly is on the computer.

Thanks so much for keeping your blog up. It is always interesting and honest. Michele