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What your bad habits say about you. January 30, 2010

Filed under: article,sparkpeople — Lauren Warner @ 4:37 pm

What your bad habits say about you.

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? While it’s perfectly natural to lean one way or the other, it’s probably helpful to look for ways to balance your dominant tendency.

If you’re an extrovert, you may have a tendency to let social situations dictate your program or unduly influence your choices—for example, by canceling a workout if your fitness buddy isn’t available. Instead:

  • Organize or get involved in friendly competitions that not only challenge your fitness level, but allow you to encourage and help others.
  • Indulge your love of people with fitness activities that involve others—aerobics classes, team sports, busy gyms.
  • Eat healthfully in social ways: swap tasty but healthy recipes or share meals/desserts when eating out.

Introverts are more oriented toward an inner world of ideas and face the opposite challenge: a stubborn tendency to go it alone, forgoing the support, motivation, and companionship others might offer. Some possible solutions:

  • Make reading or learning about fitness a motivational tool that can help energize you
  • Balance solitary exercise with some somewhat social exercise, even if it involves just one close friend. You may not want to exercise with a large group in a class setting, but you may be comfortable walking with a good friend.
  • Look for quasi-social ways to get support (within your comfort zone), like lurking (or getting brave and posting!) on the SparkPeople message boards
  • Capitalize on your penchant for defining success by measuring your previous accomplishments against current performances.

Are you a careful planner or an impulsive improviser? Both have their virtues. The planner faithfully counts calories and miles walked, while the improviser doesn’t stress out when an unexpected menu change at his favorite restaurant requires adaptability.

Some tips for planners:

  • Make a conscious effort to branch out periodically, try new things, and allow for variety, whether picking a fitness activity or shopping for vegetables
  • Satisfy your need to bring things to completion by keeping a checklist of the goals you set and accomplish
  • Occasionally allow yourself to be “carried along” in both fitness endeavors and fun things, which can be rewards for meeting your goals (This means you must cut back on overbooking your schedule!).

Strategies for improvisers::

  • Pick workout avenues which allow you to literally change course on quick notice, whether on a jogging path or at a gym filled with diverse classes and equipment.
  • Pair up with another improviser who’s flexible and open to new activities, but will help hold you accountable in maintaining consistency
  • Commit to a regular, specific quantity of weekly exercise while including “wiggle room” in case other activities come up. You might decide, for example, that you’ll work out at least 30 minutes five times a week, thus giving yourself a “pass” to skip exercising one or two days next week.

Are you intuitive or analytical? Both approaches can likely lead to success. Being honest about which way you lean will help you find the middle road that’s effective.
Intuitive personalities generally resist record-keeping, assuming they just “know” whether they’ve been good or bad. To be more accurate and ensure success, try to:

  • Adopt simple record-keeping systems for fitness and nutrition that have components which make sense to you—portion sizes (simply small, medium, and large), miles walked, etc.
  • Rate your success in meeting daily and weekly goals on a scale of 1-10— intuitives tend to see “the big picture”

Although the analytical personality can turn record-keeping into a major obsession, being detail-oriented has its rewards: problem-solving skills that can be used to identify and overcome fitness obstacles.

  • Do you set goals that are so unrealistic you can never meet them? Use your talents to break goals and activities into smaller, realistic pieces that can be more easily accomplished.
  • Avoid getting bogged down in too much measurement detail. Instead, pick one or two (such as weight or inches lost) to assess once or twice a week.
  • Find a way to learn more about health and fitness trends on a regular basis, whether using the library, internet, or reputable magazine. Like the introvert, you enjoy exposure to new ideas and data. Make a point to learn about any personal issue you grapple with, such as emotional overeating or how to successfully quit smoking
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