I bet if you've struggled with sticking to a restrictive diet, like Paleo, AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) or Whole30, you've probably thought the diet was too hard. Right?
But have you noticed that you've had a hard time sticking to things in other parts of life too?
Maybe an exercise routine, losing weight, or saving money?
Turns out, it's not your fault. It's the way you were born. And luckily – there's an easy way to fix it!
The Four Tendencies
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This summer I read a fascinating book called The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin.
In this book, she categorizes people into four groups:
• Upholders – Those that can easily follow through with obligations to both themselves and outside forces (bosses, other people, etc)
• Questioners – Those that can easily follow through with obligations to both themselves and outside forces IF they get some questions answered first
• Obligers – Those that have a hard time following through on obligations to themselves, yet will do anything for someone else
• Rebels – those that rebel against following through to anyone, whether to themselves or others
If you want to know your personality type, Gretchen has a great quiz you can take on her site.
This book was fascinating as it explained so much to me on why some people want so much to get better, using diet and lifestyle as a tool, but just have SUCH a hard time with it.
You might start to follow a dietary plan, but then a week later just fall off the wagon. Or you might not understand exactly why it's so important not to eat corn or dairy, so you just start eating them again.
Tips on How to Use Your Personality Type
In one of my vlogs this past week I went over the four personality types and gave tips on how you can make success much more inevitable if you work WITH your personality type, rather than against it. Watch here or skip down below to read the summary:
I think so many people just go with what the standard wisdom is and fail.
Things like “buckle down” or “hustle harder” or “stop being such a wimp” or “just do it” won't work for MOST of you.
But if you make some extremely simple changes in the way you view things, you might have more success than you've ever had before.
Tips for Upholders
Upholders are the ones who can take a New Years Resolution and have no problem whatsoever seeing it through, or have a doctor give them a health plan that they easily stick to.
In some ways, upholders have it the easiest, because they just decide to eat a certain way and then go for it. Usually, there's no need for any outside accountability and they're committed to seeing it through.
However, upholders can sometimes be TOO rigid and start to get stressed about doing everything correctly. Rules are their jam and gasp! If they break the rules… The stress that causes can be insurmountable.
Being an upholder myself, I know this delicate balance we need to strike. I used to find myself getting really stressed sometimes that “if I eat this thing with this non-Paleo ingredient” then I'm breaking the “rules”. Yet that wasn't sustainable for the long term. If you're in the midst of a Whole30 or strict AIP, then sure, it's a good idea to be rigid as it's usually a short-term effort. But several years into Paleo and not trying to push your boundaries a bit to see if you can handle more ingredients, just because someone said “this is how you eat Paleo”? That's not good.
So upholders, you need to make sure you're not being neurotic about things. The stress just isn't worth it and can be just as harmful as eating poorly.
Tips for Questioners
Questioners usually don't need any accountability either, as they're good at following through on obligations to both themselves and others IF, and this is a big IF, they've gotten answers to questions they have.
So if you're a questioner and you feel resistance to doing Paleo, AIP, Whole30, etc, make sure there aren't any questions you have floating about unanswered. Maybe you need to know why it works from a scientific standpoint. Maybe you want to see the research. Or maybe you want to see results from someone else.
Knowing that you need these questions answered before you can begin is crucial, and I bet once you get them figured out, you'll find that resistance melting away.
Tips for Obligers
Obligers are those that have no problem whatsoever doing something for someone else, but when it comes to sticking to a New Years' Resolution, forget it. Gretchen says more people are obligers than any other group, so you aren't alone 🙂
If you're an obliger, it's most helpful to try to get that outside accountability you need.
Here are some examples of how to get that accountability:
(1) Have your sister, spouse, next door neighbor, aunt, or health coach (pick me! pick me!) hold you accountable for your diet. Tell them “I'm going to do a Whole30 and I need YOU to make sure I check in with you every week to report my progress”.
This removes you as the person “asking” and makes your accountability person be someone else. As long as that person is reliable, you have a much better chance of success.
(2) You can also try finding another obliger accountability partner, someone who also won't follow through unless they have outside accountability. Then BOTH of you do what you are trying to do, but hold each other responsible. One of the examples in the book explained how two people said they could get a “reward” at the end of their efforts, but Person A could only get it if Person B completed the thing, and vice versa. Because they didn't want to let the other down, they both completed it.
(3) And one final method could be if you just pick someone to do something FOR. That person might not even know you're doing it for them, but if it means enough to you, you'll follow through. An example: Your brother also has an autoimmune disease but won't do anything about it unless he sees someone get results from a diet. YOU can be that person who gets the results and be the example he needs, so in essence, you're doing the diet FOR HIM. Not for you. I know that sounds weird, but since Obligers tend to put others first, it works.
Tips for Rebels
The final group is the rebels, and they're the ones who don't like to be tied down to any accountability. They want to do what they want, when they want. (As an upholder, I'm jealous of your free spirit, btw)
Gretchen's repeated advice in the book was that rebels need “information —> consequences –> choices” .
What does this mean?
Well, say you're a rebel who has an autoimmune disease that's completely ruining the quality of your life. You can't play with your kids, you can't work, you can't play tennis.
The information you need is something like “Doing AIP can help lessen inflammation, reduce your symptoms, and possibly put your disease into remission, allowing you to live a full life.
The consequences might be, “If you don't do this, you'll continue to miss out on your kids' lives, you'll miss out on lots of opportunities in life since you aren't making money, might have to move to a smaller place, your kids won't be able to do the things they really want to do, and forget tennis. That game you love so much will be forever impossible for you.”
Then you get a choice. You try AIP and see if you can feel better, or you don't and continue to feel terrible. The choice is YOURS.
So if you're a rebel, working through these three main points of information –> consequence –> choice might really help you understand the need to follow through and supersede any need to rebel against it.
One other example Gretchen mentioned in the book was how a particular rebel would eat a piece of chocolate in the morning and then feel “Ha! I CAN rebel” and then didn't feel the need to rebel the rest of the day. He got that all out of the way early.
So if this sounds enticing to you and you're eating Paleo, maybe try that – eating chocolate first thing in the morning. On AIP maybe have waffles every day. And on Whole30 maybe have dinner for breakfast and breakfast for dinner! With a little creativity I'm sure you can figure out something that will satisfy your need to rebel yet still be on track to feeling better.
When you look at your personality type and realize there are actual methods of dealing with the issues you may have had in the past, it becomes so freeing. It's not your fault you can't commit – it's your personality!
Use these tips and tools the next time you try to follow through with something to get MUCH better results!
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