I recently started reading a book by Dr. Robert Maurer, a psychologist and kaizen expert. The title of the book is called One Small Step Can Change Your Life. Obviously the title of the book caught my attention and as a self proclaimed “continuous improvement” buff I just couldn’t resist myself and bought the book. I was curious as to what I could learn from this book.
Before I begin, I want to confess that I have not finished the book but upon reading the kaizen concept, I was intrigue. According to Wiki, the Japanese word kaizen means “change for better” and the word refers to any improvement, one-time or continuous, large or small. This was a method used by Japanese businesses after World War II to improve on their processes, influenced in part by American business and quality-management teachers.
Dr. Maurer book essentially provide a guide on how to ease into new habits—and turning your life around. He basically list several steps to steadily build confidence and make insurmountable-seeming goals attainable. So why am I bringing this up today as part of dieting? Well, for the large part majority of us who tried many dieting programs and failed, the kaizen way will likely help and may to achieve the impossible.
Before going over how kaizen can help, let’s look at why most of us failed in losing weight. Most of us would look at the mirror and feel “big” and bloated. And most of us are always looking for the magic pill to help us remove all the fat and feel fit again. The truth is there is no magic pill and even if there is, the likelihood to attain the perfect weight is risky (remember fen-phen, the magical diet drugs?). Also, to achieve the perfect weight requires a lot more effort than just sitting on the couch.
One of the method that I’ve seen many tried is using the “Big Bang” method. Big bang refers to sudden change in behavior and body chemistry. This involves drastic method in losing weight such as go under the knife or ingesting drugs. This method is usually effective short term. Our body is a well oiled machine and will adjust itself to the change and begin to resist the change. Over time, our body will begin to fall back to its old self. That’s why you hear those stories how one could lose weight one day and gain back the weight the next day.
The kaizen way basically helps us control the diet slowly and consistently until our body starts to adjust to the change slowly. Essentially, to be effectively in controlling the diet is to take small steps that you are comfortable with. Below are some of the steps that I believe may help.
Reduce Sugar Intake One Can a Day
I can’t say enough how sugar is perhaps one of the worst inventions of mankind. Over the last 50 years, sugar has single handedly caused obesity and all kinds of disease. Americans are infatuated with sugar. Many rely on Coke as their preferred choice of drink. Other drinks such as the gourmet coffee from Starbucks are loaded with sugar too. The convenience food that we buy from supermarket has no shortage of sugar either. The question is how do you reduce the intake of sugar effectively – one-day-at-a-time. Start the kaizen way by having one less coke a day; or stop eating one less Oreo cookie. Over time you would have achieve the impossible by removing sugar from your diet.
Add Exercise Routine Slowly
Exercising is extremely important, particularly for those who are at risk of heart disease. And a large percentage of people who are obese are in this category. However, if you ask these people to start exercising is like asking them to climb Mount Everest. Not only that they are incapable to make the climb, they are likely going to injure themselves. The kaizen way I am proposing is to start slow and keep adding new routine every other day. As an example, instead of running 5K on a treadmill, maybe start walking for 5 minutes. Two days later add another 5 minutes. In two weeks time, start running for 5 minutes. In 6 months you should be able to run 30 minutes non-stop.
Add a SMART Goal Every Month
It is impossible to have a 6-pack abs in a year if are overweight. Trust me, I tried. It takes time and effort and a lot of commitment. Instead of setting the bars so high up, let’s set a goal that is easily achievable. For the New Year resolution, start a goal by reducing drinking a soda. A week later, add another goal on top of the first one. Perhaps stop buying soda altogether and replace all sugary drink with tea.
Celebrate Achievements the Kaizen Way
How do you continue to ensure that you are on track to meet your goals? How do you continue to motivate yourself? By celebrating as you reach the milestones. Instead of just looking at the major goal, try celebrating each milestones. The kaizen way is simply document each achievements. Other option is to list all the achievements on the board so it is visible. Not only that is a great motivation, it will help in ensuring that you are on the right track.
Kaizen is a method that is used by many companies to achieve continuous improvement. Without the kaizen way, the Japanese automakers today would not be where they are. They continue to strive to improve their products and over the last several decades, Japanese automakers are perhaps the top tiers in terms of reliability. I believe this method is well suited for anyone who is challenged in meeting their diet goals. Start small but be consistent; success could be achieved over the long run.