In our previous write-up, we’ve seen how it is helpful in improving our lives each day, but we must address how it can work in our overall health. So, let us look at the benefits of kaizen fitness in improving the healthy routine.
Typically, we don’t stop working to stay with new habits since they’re too hard, but because we believe that we’re not able to change.
If you have a tough time encouraging yourself to transform, start with goals that are so tiny that it would be outrageous if you would not attempt to accomplish them.
For example, aim to walk for 5 mins today, instead of trying to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks or planning to run 5 miles every early morning for the next 6 months, you specify one little goal for today, such as trading your pasta for a salad or choosing a walk instead of watching TV.
If you have the ability to complete your day-to-day improvement, you can congratulate yourself and establish another goal for tomorrow.
The most obvious way to apply the concept of “small changes every day” to health and fitness is to try and employ the idea of the “micro workout.” This means that you will be exercising for just a couple of minutes each day, to begin with.
This then has numerous advantages: it makes the prospect of workout far less daunting, it means committing to a much smaller challenge while your energy levels are low, and it means forming a new habit.
So let’s say that instead of going to the gym four times a week and eating 500 fewer calories a day, you instead commit to doing 20 press-ups every morning and skipping your morning latte.
So now you’re exercising a little bit every day, which will have some benefit. At the very least, it will get your blood pumping, and it will tone your muscle slightly. What’s more, is that you will begin to form that new habit.
FUN FACT: Many people believe it takes 30 days to form a new habit but it actually takes closer to 66 days according to the most recent research.
In one study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, researcher Philippa Lally looked at the habits of 96 people over 12 weeks. Each person chose one new habit to try for 12 weeks and reported each day on whether they successfully stuck to the new habit.
After analyzing the data, it was concluded that it took 66 days for new successful habits to form – though this was greatly dependent on the individual. In some cases, it took between 18-254 days for the new habit to form.
However, long it takes, the idea is that once you’ve been partaking in a particular behavior for long enough – say 66 days – it’s then easier to build off of that. So you’re now someone who does 20 press-ups in the morning.
Much easier to go from that to someone who does 50 press-ups, rather than to try for 50 right away. Likewise, once you’re used to living off of 50 calories less in your latte, it might become easier to start dropping other sources of calories from other areas of your life.
There is definitely value in the concept of the micro-workout. There is also a definite benefit to trying to cut calories here and there from your routine.
But really, kaizen fitness should mean looking at your entire routine and assessing what about it is making you unfit.
Cutting that latte is a good start. But perhaps you also look for other small changes you can make to reduce your caloric intake.
And moreover, you might also start looking for other reasons in your current routine that might be preventing you from training or from eating right. In other words, you’re going to look at your entire lifestyle and routine as one giant “flow” or “process” and then attempt to make improvements.
So you want to get into shape, but you can’t quite motivate yourself to do it. The problem is not physical, it’s psychological. But how do you go about breaking bad habits and getting yourself into the gym despite those reservations?
Well first of all we need to assess what each of the psychological and situational blocks is that stopping you from achieving your goals, and then we need to look at how to eliminate them.
This will work for fitness, but it will also work for many other areas of your life if you apply the same principles. The key thing to recognize here is that energy is a finite resource, as is time.
You can’t keep adding more things to your routine and expect to get into shape. You’re probably burned out and perhaps a little stressed or even depressed – that is why you’re not in shape.
If you want to improve your health, then you need to look at ways to make your day more efficient so that you’ll have more opportunities to improve your health in other ways.
Powerful changes to improve fitness
I believe that goals that are too ambitious will mostly lead to frustration of drop-outs. Small improvements, on the other hand, can be easily implemented, which helps you to stay motivated (1).
What Can Go?
First, ask yourself “what can go?” If you’re currently using all your energy by the end of the day/week, then look at your current routine and ask what you can cut out.
It might be something simple – maybe you could stop going to the pub on Sundays? Or maybe it’s something that requires a little more organization: perhaps you could speak with your employer about working from home one day a week? This could save you a HUGE amount of energy.
Even something small – like getting a dishwasher so you aren’t washing plates any more – can potentially save you a lot of energy to then be used exercising. Don’t keep trying to add to your life. Ask what you can cut out!
Where to fit it in?
Remember in our example that switching the order of events when uploading articles could save us countless hours and lots of money? The same is often true for exercise.
So ask: when is the best time for you to exercise? Keep in mind factors like showering. If you exercise in the morning before your shower, then you are not adding extra time by showering as well.
Alternatively, you might find that working out on your lunch break at work works well for you – because you’ve eliminated the need for travel.
Here again, we’re looking to reduce “waste” in the form of movement, or “non-utilized talent” (that’s you!).
More small fixes
But there are probably more small fixes you can make in this efficient mindset too. For instance, ask yourself how many calories you are currently burning in a day. It may well be that you are like many people and you hardly move on a given day!
Wearing a fitness tracker or step counter can bring this to stark light. If you work at a computer, drive or get the train to work, and don’t engage in physical activity in the evening, then of course you aren’t going to lose lots of weight during the day.
Meanwhile, your body won’t be adapted to an active lifestyle. So the “way in” – the way to start fixing that – is to look at this routine and to find opportunities to improve it by adding small amounts of exercise.
That means walking to the bus stop or getting off a stop early. It might mean using a standing desk to check your emails, or it might mean going for a very light walk at lunch.
These small changes add up to bigger effects, but what’s more, is that they force adaptations in your body. And from your perspective, your day will look very similar because you have fitted the movement into your day in logical ways.
The Take home
If you’re out of shape right now, that’s probably symptomatic of an overly busy and overly stressful routine. That means your lifestyle is probably inefficient, and there are likely things you can do to win back time, energy, and vigor.
At the very least, you can find smarter ways to fit the new things that you want to do. This is an entirely different way to go about getting into shape, and it is FAR more effective.