Kaizen is the Key to Weight-loss
Kaizen is the Japanese word for improvement.
Shamash Alidina, a mindfulness expert, explains in his Kaizen + Mindfulness blog post, the powerful potential of Kaizen. The Japanese word for improvement, the meaning behind Kaizen is the key to weight-loss and health struggles.
Kaizen and Japanese Culture
Kaizen was originally used to boost business in Japan through small daily steps of improvement. These daily steps add up to form long-lasting habits and a healthy lifestyle (or in the case of the Japanese, these daily steps led to their working culture and life philosophy).
This idea of taking small steps to inspire long-term change over time is a key factor of successful change. Because weight-loss involves a lot of habit change, the principles of kaizen are the key to weight-loss. All too often we want to jump right into things and focus on making big changes quickly. But these big movements lead to temporary change, not permanent. This is why when you follow a new diet and lose a bunch a weight, the minute your diet ends you start gaining it back. Time and patience are key, something that Kaizen embodies.
A Few Words on Weight-Loss
Weight-loss doesn’t have to be your health goal. There are plenty of other health goals that can honor your needs other than weight-loss.
We all want to lose weight but how much of that is our own personal desire and how much of it is society telling us to? Before you say you’re doing it for health, know that there is such thing as health at every size. Sometimes the human body likes to be bigger than our BMI standards. Just because you might be above a healthy BMI does not imply anything about your worth or your health. BMI is a quick screening tool used by health professionals, and nothing more.
Instead of making weight-loss your goal, perhaps consider making other habits that support a healthy lifestyle your goal. Alternatively, try working on making peace with your body.
If you still want to lose weight, then make sure first and foremost, your efforts and desires are coming from a place of self-love and not hate.
Common Weight-Loss Approaches
Say you have a goal of losing weight. Let’s say 10 pounds in the next 3 months. You set yourself a diet start date, build (or source) an exercise regimen, and vow to strictly adhere to the rules of your new lifestyle for the next 3 months so that you can achieve your goal.
All too often, these kinds of goals, which are often set, aren’t achieved. Jumping into a new healthy lifestyle is exhausting. Especially when typically your new lifestyle is:
- Viewed as temporary
- Goes against every habit you’ve built (for better or for worse)
The Best Weight-Loss Approaches
For successful weight loss, or to achieve any health goal really, you need to slowly start making lifestyle changes. You didn’t gain extra weight or lose touch of your hunger and fullness cues overnight. These things happened over time through the build-up of small changing habits.
Because the thing you want to improve didn’t just happen overnight, it stands to reason you can’t change or improve it overnight either.
Kaizen and building your new healthy lifestyle
Building your new healthy lifestyle won’t happen overnight. It will take small changes practiced daily. In other words, practicing the ideas of Kaizen is the key to your weight-loss and health. Kaizen, again, is the idea of continual improvement or, small daily steps to produce long-term change.
Using Kaizen to build a new healthy lifestyle should look something like this:
- Pick out a realistic health goal
Perhaps this is achieving a healthy BMI by the end of the year, being able to run a mile (or 5) in 3 months, or perhaps it’s as simple as being active 5 times or more a week.
- Make a plan of small steps you need to take and master to achieve this goal
For example, say you want to lose 15 pounds by summer. To do this, you need to take an honest look at your current lifestyle and the habits that won’t honor this goal and list them out.
- Use the principles of Kaizen to guide your plan for change
Take your list of habits preventing you from achieving weight-loss and think of ways you can change these habits slowly to be more supportive of your goals. For example, say you have a habit of drinking a lot of soda daily. You’ve determined this habit is not going to support your goal of weight-loss. So using the ideas behind kaizen, you list small steps you can take to improve this habit. Perhaps every 3 days you decide to drink one less soda a day and instead swap your soda for flavored sparkling water or maybe unsweetened tea. Over time, you’ll start to grab unsweetened tea (or whatever you’ve substituted for soda) instead of your pop. Now you can focus on other small changes to make daily.
- Assess the impact
After practicing kaizen, and taking steps towards lifestyle improvement, assess whether or not your steps are leading you in the right direction. How can you improve your approach for better outcomes? What’s working, what isn’t. Use this information to adjust your approach and small-steps for improved outcomes.
Don’t be discouraged
Western culture is very fast paced. We constantly live under this false idea that we don’t have enough time. Not enough time to work-out, meal-prep, or build any other kind of healthy habit. The truth is, we do have enough time. Taking small steps every day will surprise you at how much time you really have for health and improvement after just a few weeks.
So be patient and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the scale budge or your running time improve after just a few day or weeks.
Remember it takes small-steps and time in order to build long-lasting habits that support your goals. Long-lasting improvements will not happen overnight but over the span of days, weeks, months, and years.
What small steps will you take or plan on taking to support your plans for improvement?
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