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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.

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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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