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Using Kaizen to Help You Lose Weight and Keep it Off

Using Kaizen to Help You Lose Weight and Keep it Off

Kaizen is the practice of continually improving. And who doesn’t want that kind of result for their weight loss? Kaizen was first introduced to the West in 1986 by Japanese businessman and author Masaaki Imai. Although it’s generally applied to business practice, its principles can work wonders for your weight loss. First up, I’d like to explore how Kaizen can affect your weight loss mindset.

Kaizen is based on certain core concepts:

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  • Good processes get good results
  • See for yourself to understand the present situation
  • Speak with data, manage with facts
  • Take action to correct the root cause of problems

But the most important concept of all is that big results come from making small changes over time. Sound familiar? This is also one of my core weight loss philosophies. It goes against what the weight loss industry preaches – you’ll probably know from bitter experience that weight loss plans and programs generally encourage you to make major adjustments to your diet and exercise overnight. The result? Unsustainable changes that make you throw in the towel before too long – and then back comes the weight.

Small steps for weight loss

So how does Kaizen’s ‘small steps’ approach apply to developing a weight loss mindset? It’s simple: forget about making a ‘lifestyle change’ tomorrow, and focus on changing one thing at a time instead. You’ll be surprised – pleasantly surprised – by how easily you’ll achieve the results you’re looking for.

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Science backs up this ‘small steps’ approach. It begins in your brain. Any big changes you make in your life, even small ones, are scary. Think about it: if you’re moving overseas for a new job, you might be excited, but also full of trepidation, and nervous about how it’ll all turn out. On a much smaller scale, if you’ve decided to quit drinking for a month, it’s still scary – if you’re used to a glass or two of wine most nights, the idea of going without for 30 entire nights can make you feel similar fears: how will it turn out? Will it be awful? How will you feel? Can you keep it up?

Fight-or-flight

Basically, whatever the change you’re making, you’re breaking away from your routine. And how does your routine make you feel? Familiar. At home. Comfortable. So often, when we attempt dramatic changes suddenly, we trigger anxiety – like the rug’s been pulled from under us – and we get that ‘fight or flight’ response that’s governed by the amygdala, or the part of the brain that acts as the centre for emotions and emotional behaviour.

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It’s not all bad – when you set off that ‘fight or flight’ reaction, you also trigger the part of your brain that’s responsible for thinking and problem-solving. The trouble is that this can be overwhelmed by your emotional response, and when this happens, all those good intentions go down the toilet and the radical change you just made gets reversed. Think of any diet you’ve ever been on, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

But if you skip the major change and go for small changes instead, you won’t send yourself into an anxiety spiral. Your brain can cope just fine with small changes, because they’re just that – small. Manageable. And you still get the benefit of activating that thinking part of your brain.

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Develop your mindset

Use this knowledge to develop your weight loss mindset. Every time you worry about failing or feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, stop and ask yourself what the smallest thing is you can do that you know will help your weight loss efforts. It can be skipping wine at dinner tonight, it can be going for a 10-minute stroll during your lunchbreak. Whatever it is, when you’ve achieved it, you’ll feel good – you’ll feel like you can tackle the next challenge. So on you go, making incremental positive changes, until you realise that they’re having a big effect.

So weight loss isn’t that hard after all – not with Kaizen as your guide. Think small, and you’ll get big results – and you’ll develop a successful healthy living mindset.

More by this author

How To Get Your Weight Loss Back On Track After A Tragedy Using Kaizen to Help You Lose Weight and Keep it Off How to be a Weight Loss Success Story Six Ways to Kickstart Your Weight Loss 10 Ways to Boost Your Weight Loss Productivity

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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