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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Common & special causes

Once again, I was inspired to blog after a quality improvement training. This time about "common & special causes of variation." What does that mean?
So ... let's say in the workplace, you have a process you want to improve. You should focus most of your energy on things that regularly occur to send you off track (common causes). It would gain you less benefit if you focused on something that really sent you reeling but happen very rarely (special cuases).
The same can absolutely be said regarding diet & lifestyle choices!! Let me give you a recent personal example of each.

  • Common cause variation: Publix has Oreos* BOGO (buy-one-get-one). 
    • * Insert your favorite decadent treat.
    • Literally every week I go to the store, and they have one of my favorites on super special. I used to just see the sign and start grabbing. I have not conquered this problem, but I'm getting better.
  • Special cause variation: vacation!!!
    • I like to make some good choices on vacation to mitigate the insanity that can sometimes ensue. Examples:
      • Exercise at least a little daily - I've even walked around the airport while waiting for a connection.
      • Include a fruit, vegetable or whole grain at each meal.
    • But overall, I don't sweat it too much and try to get back to good habits as soon as I can restock the pantry & refrigerator. 
      • That's what I did today! Dinner tonight was center-cut pork chops, dry-rubbed & grilled, seasoned roasted potatoes & roasted asparagus/green beans with lemon-pepper & garlic. Very low maintenance (thanks to prepared seasonings!) --- one has to ease into these things, you know. 
Recipes from the journey back to normalcy will be coming your way this week!

Your own special & common causes likely differ from mine. While birthdays parties or "food days" at work may be special cause for some, for others they may be more regular occurrences and count as common. My suggestion would be to write down the occasions that you feel throw you off track. Then rank them from most to least common. Look to make changes at the top of the list first! I hope your journey is as delicious as mine!

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