Somehow I came across this book title months ago and put it on reserve at the library. I picked it up this week and read right through this little book. Dr. Maurer takes the concept of “kaizen” (continuous improvement) which is an important part of the Toyota Production System and lean manufacturing in general, and applies it to non-manufacturing settings.
I suppose we’ve all heard that you eat an elephant one bite at a time, but I have never been able to apply that idea when it comes to the daily issues I face. And most of the “big” issues I have tend to feel overwhelming to me.
Major learning points from this book:
**Our brains are designed to respond with fear when faced with change and the amygdala is the brain part that controls the fight-or-flight response.
**We typically respond to the need for change by using “innovation,” which is the drastic process of change. I don’t know about you, but when I need to start exercising after a period of sedentary inactivity, I do NOT start by walking 16 steps down the street and back (or whatever the doctor tells you about starting slowly). I do a TOUGH WOMAN’S workout and do a two-mile run/walk no matter how long it has been since I have exercised. I ignore the aching feet and muscles and pretend like my heartrate is just fine.
**The alternative to innovation is “kaizen,” which means small continuous changes.
How this works in my life:
I usually have 500-600 (exaggeration maybe) huge things I must make decisions about — anything from what to cook for dinner (very huge issue) to whether or not one of my kids should do a certain activity to how in the world to fit in a date night this week to wondering if I will ever get Kepler off the bedtime ice-water bottle he loves. ETC. My amygdala seems to be PARTICULARLY adept at the “flight” part of fight-or-flight so whenever I am faced with a decision, I almost immediately get overwhelmed and get the heck OUT of there.
(Isn’t she cute?)
I learned TWO things that made this a really FINE week.
1. Tiptoe past fear by contemplating small changes that allow the amygdala to stay in its happy state of hibernation.
2. Ask small questions that also bypass the whole fight-or-flight nightmare.
Examples of #1.
I have six dining room chairs that need to be re-upholstered (backs and seats, separately), and really look pretty dirty and ratty. I believe the idea of reupholstering probably came to me about 1 year ago, and I got the fabric at about the same time. But the thought of all the work involved, and the unknowns of the process, and getting the chairs to my mom’s for her pneumatic stapler, and buying the foam and the right amount of foam, and, well you get the picture. When I contemplate all that, a bag of Lime Chips and a nap usually get me calmed down.
This week I asked myself: What is one step I could take to getting my chairs reupholstered? Answer: Reupholster the back of one chair. Did I do it? Yes. Do I feel like I really accomplished something — I sure do.
Another example was looking at cooking dinner but using the kaizen method. Usually, I experience a doomdart when I remember ain’t nothin’ going to be on the table unless I put it there, and then I realize that I need to go to the grocery, and remember I do not ever feel like I am on top of having a good inventory of food, and oh no, I haven’t given the kids any vegetables for five days unless ketchup counts, and the reason I’m overweight is because I don’t have a meal plan, and well you probably get the picture again. Again, a bag of Lime chips and a nap help, but I usually have to add in a handful of chocolate chips too.
This week I asked myself: What is one dinner that sounds good to me? Answer: chicken cordon bleu, rice, salad, sliced peaches and a nice loaf of bread. Did I cook this for dinner on Thursday? I did. Do I feel like I really accomplished something — I sure do.
And there are many other examples from this week of how I applied and used this idea in my life.
Hello faithful legions of readers!
It has been five entire fun-filled days since I have last written. Although the yearbook is tapping its toe, and threatening to send me to the principal’s office if I do not complete it, I have decided it is now time to bravely update the world on my doings from the week!
Many great highlights from the week. Kepler and I went to his new physical therapist and I really like her, and I think Kepler does, too. He thinks physical therapy is super-duper fun, and since we only go once a month, it’s always new to him. The facility is updating their computer system (again) to the biggest, best, and newest program so we had a slight delay, but since none of our information has changed, we got through pretty quickly.
Tuesday, I went to my first personal training session with my very own trainer, Javier. I had had two free half-hour sessions with him a couple weeks ago and decided I just didn’t like his style. But I’ve had enough trainers to know that they all have their strengths and weaknesses and own styles, and I decided to give the training relationship a chance. The main thing about personal training is that I LOVE it. And I already feel more fit and healthy and balanced.
Tuesday night I went to my special Food Group where I meet with other women who have eating disorders or food issues. What a sweet time that was. When I arrived at group, I was feeling very tired but when I left I was feeling beautiful and energized!
Wednesday I went to my regular therapy group, the first meeting I have attended since Mark left. You can read more about that change here..
I wondered what the group dynamics would be like, but overall I thought it was a great improvement, even though we will miss his input and presence.
Thursday, I became a temporary pet owner. We are pet-sitting Mason, a sweet, sweet dog belonging to friends of ours. Valerie was hired to take care of him but she was at camp this week, so the rest of us walked him (and stuff). I think everyone who knows me know that I would most certainly NOT call myself a dog person. I have had one dog in my life, and even though “Bernadine” was our family dog, I doubt that I ever even petted her, let alone walked her, or cared about her. (Fortunately for Bernadine, my two sisters loved her dearly, so she got lots of love and attention.) Anyway, surprisingly, I have really enjoyed having Mason here. He will be here for 2 1/2 weeks.
Friday, I had my other personal training session of the week. It was really probably a little more intense than I like, but it’s always a process to figure out how to work with the trainer. Maybe I have hindsight disease, but I don’t remember my first trainer ever having any trouble figuring out good weights, reps, exercises for me. Javier isn’t having any trouble figuring anything out, but I want to make sure the exercise time is the most value it can be, and if I work out too hard that is no better than working out too easy.
I will post this and write another post on the major learning I did this week.