Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Personality and weight loss

When I was taking classes for my Master's Degree, we had a class about personality types.  No, not the Myers-Briggs, this had more to do with personality types working together towards a goal.  There were four personality types:

Type I personalities are those that want everyone to get along.  They avoid conflict and want everyone to end up happy about the decisions that are made.

Type II personalities are the "by the books" type people.  They research everything exhaustingly and hesititate to make decisions before they know everything about a situation.  

Type III personalities are "do-ers".  They are the type that just grabs the bull by the horn and start a project when maybe they are only partially informed.  

Type IV personalities are the dreamers.  They envision what else could be done.  Sometimes they get so caught up in their fantasies about how things could be that they don't even get started.

When I took this test, I fell pretty solidly in Type III.  

What does this have to do with weight loss?  A lot actually.  I feel pretty lucky about my ignorance going into this.  I had never really tried losing weight - not seriously - before I started in 2010.  And so when I decided, I just decided and blindly began.  I had not researched diets or plans or how many calories to eat or how much water to drink or anything like that.  I literally just thought to myself - "Well, if I eat less and exercise more I'll lose weight, right?"  I DID NOT have a goal weight in mind.  I had no idea how much weight I "should" be losing per week.  I just changed some things and began losing.  

Everything I know not comes from researching afterwards.  In some ways this is why maintaining has been more of a mind-fuck then the losing weight was - I am too educated now!  My brain totally gets in the way!!

So what is your personality type and how can it get in the way?  

If you are a people pleasing Type I, you might find yourself unable to lose weight because you are too worried about other people.  You might be putting everyone else ahead of you.  You don't exercise because you are too busy waiting on other people.  Or you don't stand up for yourself when your family wants to order a big greasy pizza because you avoid conflict.  It also hurts you really bad when someone makes remarks to you about your weight or your journey and it sets you back.  

If you are this personality, you need to stand up for yourself.  Don't take any shit and carve out time in the day to take care of yourself.  No more being a doormat!  

If you are a Type II personality, you probably know the details of every diet out there.  You know exactly about calories and how much weight you "should" be losing each week.  You get caught up in precise measuring and obsessing about portion size.  You want to know EXACTLY how many calories you burned per workout session.  This can hinder you because the body doesn't always respond how the math says it should.  You won't always lose 2 pounds per week and you can get discouraged easily.  Also, you might find yourself jumping from diet plan to diet plan - intermittent fasting, low carb, paleo, weight watchers - in order to find the perfect plan.

If you are this personality, you need to turn off your brain for a while.  Stop reading so much and listen to your body.  Realize that this is not going to happen overnight.

Type III personalities, like me, don't look before we leap.  We bull headedly charge into something without thinking it through.  That often means we don't have a plan.  We can get easily sidetracked.  We are also vulnerable to jumping into the latest fad because it sounds good.  We are also prone to making impulsive decisions in eating and regretting them later because we didn't think it through.  We are also prone to injury from leaping head first into an exercise program without regard to working ourselves up to a certain level of fitness.  Counting calories, weighing meals - those are too boring for us!

Us type III's need to slow down.  If you are this personality, you need to take a breath before acting.  Do some research before jumping into things and recognize that you are going to have to have patience to make this work.

Type IV personalities have little tolerance for the journey.  They are the ones that are constantly thinking about what they are going to do when they hit their goal weight.  They have elaborate plans of trips they will be taking, clothes they are going to buy and spend a lot of time day dreaming of how their lives will be when they are thin.  That can be a detriment because the person does not put in the work that they need to to get to their goals.  They have little patience for counting calories and want to see results immediately and weight loss doesn't work like that!

If you are this type you need to take a step back and a deep breath.  Having goals and rewards in mind is wonderful, but if you weigh 250 pounds and are thinking so far ahead, it can be incredibly discouraging how long the process takes.  Setting smaller goals and enjoying small parts of the journey will serve you well!

No one is going to change their fundamental personality.  I never counted calories or weighed my food until I had to.  And it helped me get through the last part of my journey.  Knowing how your personality can be either help or hinder your success, can make you aware and able to modify your instincts in order to reach your ultimate goals!!

1 comment:

  1. I'm a Type 3 person all the way, I just dive in and figure it out as I go, which sometimes works for me and sometimes it doesn't. My weight loss plan this time is to take it slow and develop healthy habits over time. It's not easy but I'm starting to see the benefits already :)