You Can Get Fit!

Kaizen: Get Past Your Barriers

Posted on: September 21, 2010

So, you work all day, you take the kids back and forth to school, you have to make sure the kids (and you) are fed, not to mention helping them with their homework, maybe sleep, and—what’s this about your doctor recommending exercise for 30 or more minutes every day? Huh? Just when you had your routine down pat… sort of…

The author Robert Maurer uses the Japanese technique of kaizen—taking infinitely tiny steps—to reach your goal, in his book One Small Step Can Change Your Life. It may seem silly at first, but the theory is that by breaking a large, scary task down into bite-sized pieces, it eliminates a lot of the fear. It’s a lot easier to think about writing one paragraph of a book (or even one sentence!) than it is to terrify yourself with the daunting task of The Great American Novel in one sitting.

Early in his book, Dr. Maurer relates the story of a patient in the above situation—given the exercise prescription of 30 minutes a day, which was overwhelming considering her crazy life situation at the time. Maurer suggested, instead, that she start out by marching 1 minute per day in front of her television. (You’re saying, “what? She’ll never get any health benefits that way.” Consider that she would’ve given up, otherwise.) Ends up that on her follow-up visit, instead of having given up, she was still marching enthusiastically, wanting to know what else she could do. The changes were doable, fun, and exciting! Little by little, her healthcare team added small chunks on to her workout routine, and within a few months, this patient was indeed exercising 30 minutes per day.

It may have taken this woman a few months to get to the 30-minute-per-day goal, but otherwise, it’s unlikely she would’ve gotten there at all.

How can you apply the concept of kaizen to your workout routine, or to your life? You may already be working out 30 minutes per day, but maybe you’ve been promising yourself to “start lifting weights”. Maybe, instead of a full-body weight session three times a week, you promise to complete two sets of one exercise, one or two times a week. That’s easy enough, right? A few weeks later, once that becomes routine, I’m sure you’ll want to add more exercises to your routine. (Ask me for suggestions!) And you’ll just start building your way to success!

Are you ready? I am!

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