Bite Sized Habits Newsflash - The Kaizen Incremental Improvements Principle‚Äč

"The mighty oak was once a little nut that stood its ground"

Anon

 

Something to listen to

This was a truly moving and thoroughly inspiring podcast. In it, Dr Edith Eger, holocaust survivor and psychologist teaches us about how we can learn to come to terms with pain, reframe it and become stronger (99 min listen).

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Something to read

I recently featured in this article for Insider about breaking through the weight loss plateau. Losing weight is hard enough as it is without having an inner critic punishing you for not progressing as fast as you thought you would. No one's weight loss goes in a perfectly straight line, so it's important to stop striving for perfection (7.5 min read)

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Bite Sized Habit of the Week - Forget about putting yourself under pressure with big health goals.

Instead channel the Japanese way to make incremental changes over time.

Kaizen is based on the efficacy of making small but incremental improvements over time. The principle of Kaizen details that instead of forcing big changes that can put you under too much pressure and de-motivate you if you do not achieve them, making small but consistent changes is more likely to lead to the long-term results you desire. All whilst not feeling like you are missing out or being deprived of the things you enjoy.

Instead of a big audacious goal, the principle of kaizen helps you to design a great system or process. Even when your short-term goals are achieved, your next goal won’t be a struggle. Having a system is what matters. Committing to the process makes a huge difference.

When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the now and improve at the same time.

How can you apply the Kaizen principle to your healthy habits?

1. Focus on 1% improvement: The idea here is to focus on consistent improvements in habits every day. No matter how small the step you take, the aim is to be a better than you were yesterday. To quantify this, each day try to do 1% better than the day before.

Be that eating 1% less processed food than normal, meditating for 1% longer, going to bed 1% earlier, doing 1 minute longer exercise session or 1% higher intensity.

2. Be consistent. It might not seem like much, but those 1% improvements cumulatively result in big changes over time. In the beginning, your improvements will be so small that they seem practically nonexistent. But gradually and ever so slowly, you’ll start to notice the improvements. It may take months or even longer but the improvements will come and they will come without you feeling like you have had to sacrifice too much.

3. Be confident
Before you dive in ask yourself am I 70% confident I can achieve a 1% improvement each day in my bite sized habit? If not, maybe pare it back. What 1 thing can you make 1% improvement on every other day this week or simply Monday and Friday? This could be as simple as having 1% less sugar in your tea, using the stairs 1% more, breathing between meetings just 1% more often whatever best applies to your lifestyle that fits in with your goals.

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Published on 2nd Sep 2021 at 12:00 by Heather McKee

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Copyright ©2021 Dr. Heather McKee

Dr. Heather McKee is registered in Ireland Reg. No. 687397 with the registered address at 314 Mother Teresa House, Loreto Abby, Rathfarnham, D14 NR20, Co. Dublin, Ireland

This work is in no way meant to replace any medical advice. Dr. McKee is Non-HCPC-registered. Photography by Dylan Madden.

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