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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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