Be Long-Term Lazy

There are two types of lazy.

Short-term lazy.

Long-term lazy.

And you can't be both.

Short-term lazy is when you look for the easy way to do things in the present, today. If faced with an immediate decision of whether to take the easy option or the hard option, the 'short-term lazy' person takes the easy option every time. And, in the short term, this is a great strategy. It makes things as easy as possible for the you that lives in the present.

It's hard to overcome short-term lazy, because in our evolutionary past, life was about surviving the day. It wasn't about building a saving for retirement in 30 years, it was about escaping a sabre-toothed tiger right now. There's no point our caveman ancestors hording a cache of smoked fish for the winter if they've been eaten by a predator. Sure, the stockpile of food will help them, but they have to survive the present before they can face the future. So it's hard to overcome, because short term 'energy conservation mode' hard-wired into our genetic make-up. Laziness was a survival advantage.

So how does short-term lazy apply to exercise and health? It means you'll find the immediately easy way to do things. And while this may give you an immediate burst of satisfaction and achievement, this burst won't last long. Not only will it not last, but in future you will be punished for it.

So maybe we're looking at your technique. You've developed some bad movement habits, and by repeating them again and again, you've strengthened the muscles needed to move incorrectly. So a short-term lazy person will continue to follow this path of least resistance, this easy way. And sure, your results will be better today, but you're working towards a lower potential ceiling in the future. By neglecting the muscles needed for strong, safe and efficient technique, you're setting yourself up for less gains, more injury and less improvement and success in the future.

In exercise programming, the short-term lazy athlete will avoid training their weaknesses and will instead seek out their strengths. This will make them feel great now. Until they fail the tests of the future.

What if we shine the light of short-term lazy on nutrition? A highly processed sugary food may make you feel great initially. It delivers a cocktail of chemicals and a hormonal response in the body that makes you feel good (incidentally, also the fault of evolution, where it was a survival advantage to consume the once-scarce high energy foods). But again, the positive effects are temporary, and the long-term damage to your health from consistently eating in this way will come back to punish you.

What's the alternative? What's long term-lazy?

Long-term lazy is the opposite of short-term lazy. It's where you intentionally avoid the easiest and most convenient short-term option, instead choosing a short-term struggle with the promise of a long-term gain.

Effectively, you're working hard in the present so you don't have to in the future. You're buying your future self the choice of ease, of comfort, of laziness. You don't have to accept these things in the future, but at least you have the choice.

Long-term lazy means that, in the present moment, things are more difficult. You search for the path of most resistance. You seek out weaknesses.

Long-term lazy goes against the demands of our evolutionary past. And we can do this because the environment we're living in now is VERY different to which our bodies are optimised. Success is no longer surviving the day, success (no matter what your definition of it is) lives on a scale of years, not days. Whether success for you is measured in dollars, kilograms or happiness, short-term sacrifice and hardship almost always lead to long-term gain.

Let's revisit our examples of technique, exercise programming, and nutrition. The long-term lazy person chooses the difficult path of most resistance in their technique, and they get rewarded with greater improvements. They seek out weaknesses in their programming and become a more well developed athlete. They minimise foods that offer an immediate buzz in favour of those that promise long term health.

It's not easy to be long-term lazy. But that's the whole point. It takes some sacrifices, some discipline, some willpower. It also takes some foresight, and the believe that the reward will be worth the effort. Because it almost always is.

Short-term lazy mean easy short term choices lead to negative long-term consequences. Long-term lazy means difficult short term choices will lead to positive long-term consequences.

Dan Williams's picture

Dan Williams

Dan Williams is the Founder and Director of Range of Motion. He is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Exercise Scientist with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science. Dan is a CrossFit Coach (at CF Games Level) and four time CrossFit Regionals Athlete.