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how do I get off my ass?
September 26, 2005 4:24 AM   Subscribe

How to go from being a low-energy person to being a high-energy person? I tend to sit around and smoke/drink too much. I hate exercise (though I do force myself). And I wonder at times if my mattress is toxic or something because I just feel sluggish very often by comparison to other people. Other than exercising (which I am forcing upon myself) what else do I need to do concerning my habits, diet, attitude, psyche, household, whatever? Anyone else here ever tried to make this change, suiccessfully or not?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
One solution is to make sure you are drinking enough water. Seriously. That is the one thing I did that had the biggest effect, after exercise. (It makes exercise more pleasant as well.)

I was told it takes a couple of days or so to rehydrate after letting yourself get too dry-from experience I would have to agree.

And while we are on the subject, keep trying different things re exercise. When you find something you enjoy it's much easier. For me it is Spin classes-everyone is different.

Oh, and do watch your intake of simple carbs. They make blood sugar spike and crash. Complex carbs are good, have a little protein as well. Try not to stuff.
posted by konolia at 4:44 AM on September 26, 2005


When you get the urge to eat the sticky sweet, try for something protein based. Your urges are commonly chemically driven by your body's need for protein, and resorting to something that's just going to stock up the fat in the system is a circle of Hell you just don't want to enter.

You may be clinically depressed. I feel it when I get into the state you're in...I feel so completely unmotivated by even my most favorite things. I end up surfing Metafil...oh, er, uh, Metafilter's great!
posted by thanotopsis at 4:48 AM on September 26, 2005


Try a trip to the doctor. You could be anemic or have low thyroid function.
posted by 6:1 at 5:15 AM on September 26, 2005


Walk in places where you get to see the sort of people you would most like to take to bed! Maybe join a gym with such people, so you get to enjoy the eye candy while you exercise. I'm not joking, this did wonders for me. YMMV
posted by Goofyy at 5:16 AM on September 26, 2005


I second thanotopsis; you could well be mildly depressed most or all the time. I mentioned to my doctor that while I could always get myself up and out the door to work I basically couldn't motivate myself to do much of anything in my free time. I'm now on Lexapro and find myself being more, well, not so much energetic (like drinking a bunch of coffee or something) as just having a desire to do more with the energy level I have. Plus I can focus better and my sleep patterns have gotten a bit more regulated (I feel more rested after getting less sleep, actually). Curiously, I also find myself doing things (like reading) without wanting to have the TV on all the time.

I had a friend suggest that I was mildly depressed quite a number of years ago, and I dismissed it since I felt like a fairly happy and positive person. I wish I'd listened then!
posted by kimota at 5:45 AM on September 26, 2005


Andrew Weil's 8 Weeks to Optimum Health covers all the basics for laying the foundation for a mentally and physically healthy life. In addition, I'd recommend David Allen's Getting Things Done: set goals and pursue them.

You probably know this, but smoking and drinking aren't going to help this. Stimulants set you up for a crash, and depressants are supposed to slow you down. Quitting smoking and making sure your drinking can't be described as "too much" would be a big help.

And remember that almost everyone who sticks with exercising, and experiments with different kinds, finds something they enjoy.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 5:47 AM on September 26, 2005


Oh, I should add that if you're at all overweight or a snorer, it might also/instead be that you suffer from sleep apnea. A lot of people who get treatment for that find that they finally have the energy level their friends and coworkers have.
posted by kimota at 5:47 AM on September 26, 2005


re: sleep apnea -- I had a co-worker who suffered from sleep apnea, who depended on wearing a Breathe Right strip across his nose at night in order to sleep well. My husband always had trouble getting up in the morning, so I recommended he try it as well, and it made a huge difference! He wakes up feeling much more energetic and well-rested. It's worth spending a few bucks to try them out. Get the name brand kind; the generic have a weak glue that doesn't stick as well.
posted by junkbox at 6:00 AM on September 26, 2005


who depended on wearing a Breathe Right strip across his nose

While this solution once appealed to me, I found that my problem wasn't staying asleep with these things on my nose, it was getting to sleep. There's a thing on my nose! It was just too much.

Of course, the glue on the Breathe Right strips also caused me to break out on my nose, which certainly didn't improve my mood any during the day.

So, basically, YMMV with the strips.
posted by thanotopsis at 6:05 AM on September 26, 2005


I'm not overweight, and I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea, so don't discount the possibility of a sleep disorder even if you're not heavy. What you described really sounds like how I have felt for the last 4 years.
posted by agropyron at 8:14 AM on September 26, 2005


As an ex-smoker, I can say knocking out the smoking will help. Smoking makes your body weary. Toxins and lung damage make you less inclined towards physical activity, whether it eventually kills you or not.

When I started running, I was still bumming a smoke here and there, and I could always feel the weight in my chest afterward.
posted by sacre_bleu at 8:33 AM on September 26, 2005


For me, cutting way down on caffeine and simple carbohydrates and getting way more water, fresh vegetables, and complex carbs has helped immensely. I had been eating fairly healthy -- no junk food or overly processed things -- but I was amazed at how much cutting back on pasta and red meat helped.

Also, when I take a multivitamin at night before going to bed, I wake up much more easily and much more energetic. Also seems to stave off hangovers.
posted by occhiblu at 8:53 AM on September 26, 2005


I was very much in your shoes--well--without the smoking and drinking part. Now I'm perky enough to annoy my husband--I feel about a thousand times better. It came down to altering the Big Three:

1. Sleep. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and got it treated. Apnea isn't the only thing that could be preventing you from getting enough sleep, though. Study up, and see a doctor if necessary. I can't emphasize enough how important adequate sleep is.

2. Exercise. Sounds like you're already forcing yourself through it. A key I found is to be moderate. Overdoing it will actually make you more tired.

3. Diet. The sugar went bye-bye. I do allow myself an occasional dessert if we're out a nice restaurant, and I find the effect almost like a hangover.

Good luck to you. I know how frustrating it can be to never have the energy you want.
posted by frykitty at 9:00 AM on September 26, 2005


Exercise and hydration are biggies, but some other things that seem to have helped me switch from low-energy to high-energy:

* Setting a regular sleep schedule. I find I'm a lot more sluggish if I get too much sleep than too little, and I'm also thrown off if I keep significantly different hours than usual. (Yes, this means I get up at about the same time on the weekends that I do during the week.)

* Taking a multivitamin every morning. (This may be mostly a placebo effect, but it has helped with my iron levels, at least.)

* Not eating too close to bedtime.

* Giving myself projects to do, so I'm not tempted to just plop down in front of the tv or the computer too much. Even if it's something I'm working on while I'm watching tv, keeping my mind more actively engaged rather than just absorbing what's on the screen seems to make my body feel more alert as well.
posted by alyxstarr at 9:06 AM on September 26, 2005


I recently moved and my new apartment has more natural light and I have noticed a huge difference in my alertness. I also smoke and drink a lot.
posted by nadawi at 10:34 AM on September 26, 2005


Have your doctor check your thyroid levels, but also check for thyroid antibodies. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's thryroiditis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid, twelve years ago after two years of frustration. I'd go in and they'd draw my blood and my thyroid levels would be normal. It wasn't until I threw a tantrum that they checked for antibodies, and lo and behold, I wasn't just a hypochondriac after all. Hashimoto's slows your metabolism, and it is actually a very common problem, though lots of people have never heard of it. I've been on medication since then and with diet and exercise I've alleviated the symptoms (which include depression and sluggishness) almost entirely.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:35 AM on September 26, 2005


Related question.
posted by Specklet at 11:28 AM on September 26, 2005


This is probably obvious, but if you can find the right activities or sports, the exercise can happen without the misery :)

While cliche, Kill-your-TV helped for me - I noticed that when I got home from work, I was tired, and it was sooooo easy to just blob down in front of the TV with some food, and before I knew it, another week of my life would have gone by and I'd done almost nothing but work and blob. With no TV, I had to find other things to do, and since pretty much anything is healthier than TV, it caused an improvement :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 7:12 PM on September 26, 2005


This is probably obvious, but if you can find the right activities or sports, the exercise can happen without the misery

Along these lines, it helped me to exercise when friends were involved. When I was just out of college, I had a period where I was unemployed and particularly depressed. My brother had membership access to some racquetball courts, so we took a couple of friends along and played.

We used to go 2-3 hours a day, 5 days a week. After a month, I felt so much better.

These days, I don't do it much. But, it was certainly getting exercise without really "trying to exercise".
posted by thanotopsis at 7:48 PM on September 26, 2005


I hated exercising until my wife was smart enough to buy an indoor recumbent bicycle. It is right in front of my Playstation 2 and if I want to play a game, I do it while riding the bike. Instead of 2 or 3 hours zoned in front of the set, I get in a half hour of exercise and move on to something else.

The bike we got was just over US$100 at Dicks Sporting Goods with free shipping. Another advantage to this is that it doesn't fold up and is really too big to stash in a closet.
posted by sciatica at 9:07 PM on September 26, 2005


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