Loss of energy and Laziness: how to address this dysfunction and win

dR. Nisha Chellam
9 min readJun 24, 2018


When laziness is a symptom not a trait

My life is disrupted, my pain is woken up and all I want to do is sleep

Pam woke up to her alarm and does what most people do, hits the snooze button.

She asks herself why she even bothers to set the alarm, rolls over and drifts off into a deep sleep only to be woken ten minutes later by the alarm.

She hits snooze again.

She thinks, I’m getting really lazy, as she drifts off into a light sleep only to be woken by the sweet sounding chime of her alarm clock.

She has to get up.

She just has to.

Her legs feel heavy. Her shoulder is tight. She thinks she has to change the mattress.

Her hair is matted.

She feels congested, oh those allergies.

Her inner ears itch.

Her eyelids feel heavy.

Her stomach feels bloated.

She wants to get back into bed and sleep just a few more minutes. If she did she would be caught in traffic and would have to come up with another excuse for yet another late arrival at work.

At 45 she feels just like her mother who is 76.

It is amazing how she can relate to all her mother’s problems.

She is becoming her mother only 3 decades earlier.

She is thankful her kids can get ready on their own and catch the bus early. She wonders how they do it.

She is happy her husband Jack is able to jump out of bed and go early and work late and still have energy.

She looks at her face in the mirror and finds her eyes look puffy, they always do.

Whatever happened to her jawline? It's beginning to sag. She tries to pull it back to see how much younger she could look.

She gives up. She is too lazy to work out.

She is too lazy to cook.

She can barely manage to work and then her brain is so dead at the end of the day.

She has become lazy over the last 5 years or so she thinks.

Jack on the other hand, though just a couple of years older than her had not changed one bit.

She had made that annual exam and of course all her blood tests came back normal. There is no test for laziness, she pondered with a smile.

Her doctor tells her it is the fact she has too much going on. She is probably feeling the effects of aging and stress.

She does not buy that, but what else can she do?

Her tests are all normal. She had gone in with the hope they would find a problem.

However after some discussion with her doc whom she loved it was concluded she was not taking enough care of herself and she was simply feeling the effect of aging.

Her doctor who was about her age feels the same way some days. So it is pretty much normal.

You do not develop laziness

Being ignorant is not so much a shame as being unwilling to learn.

Benjamin Franklin

Women come to me all the time justifying their “laziness”. When I ask them if they were always that way, they state how they used to play lacrosse or soccer or be a gymnast.

It is only with time after their kids and the new stressful job they have started getting lazy.

I see people like Pam all the time.

Justifying their symptoms, as they see people around them, around their age feeling the same way.

What gets a person like Pam to see me is when they get passed up for a job, or their children leave the home and they have time for themselves, or when they look at some recent photos of themselves and really hate what they look like.

By this time they have suffered in silence for years.

They have been to a few different docs. The allergist, the gastroenterologist , the rheumatologist and of course their internist.

All the test results are normal.

They have tried diets, like the paleo, the keto and as everyone else is losing weight they gain.

They have given up so many times and then keep trying.

Google University and Dr. WebMD do not really help.

So for all those Pams out there here is some understanding of what you experience and what you can do about it.

Symptoms are like an alarm

Regrets only apply when we don’t learn from a situation. No sense looking back, look forward with new knowledge and no regret.

What Pam kept justifying as laziness are symptoms of a failing metabolic process.

What is metabolism?

Metabolism is the process by which our food becomes energy. It is also the process by which our body manufactures energy, processes vitamins and eliminates the waste products.

Metabolism gets sluggish or disrupted when

  1. You are low on the vitamins or minerals needed for the process.
  2. You are low on Oxygen.
  3. You are low on fuels needed to burn.
  4. You are low or high on hormones that triggers or keep the process going.
  5. Or a substance like a medication or chemical interferes with the process.
Why it is never only what you eat and how much you exercise

How does this disruption happen?

It usually begins with a change. May be a gradual or sudden.
The change can be from an acute stressful event.
It can be from a slow chronically stressed out process.

In women it is usually following childbirth.
It can be in both sexes due to an acute infectious event that needed antibiotics.
It can also follow an illness a viral illness and the recovery is slow but not complete as the fatigue and muscle pains persist.

Change in environment like a new home or moving to a new state.

Lets look at a each of these and how they may be disrupted.


  1. All of the vitamins are essential, particularly vitamin C which is not made in our body. However, we need them in such small quantities that it may not be always necessary to take supplements.
  2. The reality is that most of us eat very standard foods, mostly processed, ready made or store bought, not usually fresh.
  3. Testing for vitamins is not routinely done.
  4. If you are low on vitamin B12 and D which can be usually tested you are low on others. Crucial vitamins for metabolic process are B3 ( niacin) B12 (cobalamin), B9 (folic acid), B6(riboflavin).
  5. Vitamin deficiency also means a potential absorption problem. So gut testing and treating is needed.


  1. Minerals are like the vitamins required for many reactions in the metabolic process.
  2. Zinc, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Magnesium and calcium. They help with the reactions and if low can slow down the process and slow down production of energy and the work of several hormones.
  3. Some deficiencies can cause destruction. Since they work alongside vitamins the lack of these can cause some of these vitamins to be useless and therefore disrupt the function of hormones and neurotransmitters.
  4. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances produced by the nerve cells to stimulate the nerve cells. Neurotransmitters are responsible for our memory, our drive, thoughts, wellbeing etc.
  5. Amino acids( breakdown of protein)need to be absorbed so nutrition should provide the protein needed for this to happen.
  6. The liver processes these proteins, once they are absorbed. Then hormones helps with the transportion into the brain. This needs minerals like iron and vitamins like the B vitamins.


We have several hormones that affect our metabolism.

  1. Insulin has 2 jobs. One is to regulate the levels of sugar in the blood and also the IGF or the insulin like growth factor.
  2. When you have insulin resistance there is Leptin resistance leading to intra abdominal fat accumulation.
  3. Adrenals are affected by stress from food, emotions, chemicals and physical stressors. The adrenaline increase can be due to acute stress and cause weight loss and anxiety. The chronic stressors can cause chronic elevation of cortisol and increased sugars or fluctuant sugars (therefore fluctuant moods) and weight gain.
  4. Thyroid can be affected by mineral deficiencies , iodine, iron, selenium and Zinc. It can get directly disrupted by inflammation, infection, and chemicals or medications.
  5. Estrogens can be fluctuant due to genetic enzyme changes in the liver or due to chemicals ( Xenobiotics in plastic and make-up) and due to needless exposure from processed foods and animal protein.


The most common reason for inflammation is an infection.

Inflammation is the process by which the body is fighting to protect itself. In the acute state it can help with healing like after a cut.

In the chronic state it is like a traffic jam, in a war zone, even the body gets hurt (autoimmune).

Most common infections are viral infections, both the human herpes virus type -I (HHV-I)and Epstein barr virus( EBV).

Viruses do not leave but stay dormant in our body.

However in some of us who have poor defense mechanism due to disrupted vitamin -minerals and hormone pathways, it becomes a chronic infection and inflammatory process.


This is the challenging part.

The physiology texts Gyton states our weight is the sum of the calories consumed versus calories burnt.

However reduction in reduced caloric intake as in dieting, can actually reduce the metabolic processes an lead to fat accumulation that can cause inflammation.

However a process like intermittent fasting can rev up the metabolism by reducing insulin resistance and leptin resistance and reduce inflammation.


Oxygen is not only required for breathing in the air but also for the metabolic processes called aerobic metabolism.

Without oxygen we will accumulate so much of acid that we will be sick always.

How can our oxygen intake decrease?

When stressed we tend to hold our breath.

When teaching yoga people finding even deep breathing can be taxing because they have never done it.

So getting good quality of air and deep breathing and calming down by focussing on breath helps. It particularly brings down the cortisol and therefore inflammation.


This is the king of all disrupters.

Stress cannot be avoided , however we can focus on reframing this.

Stress utilizes a lot of our minerals, vitamins, and hormones and can be very disruptive.

This is the one factor that needs to be identified and acknowledged and addressed with a mentor or professional.

Many of us stay in stressful situations as we do not see a way out.

Having a mentor in the form of a life coach, or psychologist, or a good community of friends can help.

Pulling it together

So when a Pam comes to my office I address her life, her triggers, her hormones, her vitamins and minerals. Above all I look at her digestive process and immunity. She works with a life coach and the nutrition coach

Step by step we rebuild these pathways so they are strong, adequate and accurate.

They are all intertwined and unless they are all addressed in a stepwise fashion she will continue to age and believe that it is normal.

So the next time her alarm does not ring, she gets up even before it can.

She has the energy and happiness to run down to see her kids off.

She has energy to sit down with her cup or coffee or tea and read a book.

She has time to pack a lunch.

She has time to admire her looks. the straight jawline the sparkle in her eyes.

She has the energy to engage in a fruitful conversation with her husband.

She has no aches and pains but has enough energy to go on a walk in the middle of the day with her colleagues.

She gets home on time not carrying work home, but is able to focus on her kids, as they chatter and she can sit back and enjoy.

She has the knowledge to identify her stressors and seek help before it can control her.

It all begins with taking the first step of identifying symptoms as an alarm and refusing to have the symptom just be called by a name (the diagnosis) and letting it take over your life, as it is yours to own and manage and mostly resolve.

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dR. Nisha Chellam

A traditional physician who practices functional medicine disrupting the disease and wellness space. She is a mother and has great passion for teaching.