subscribe Signup for our Newsletter expand Expand Browser
Calorie Count Blog

Your Exercise Personality


By michelle_may_md on Mar 15, 2012 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates

By Michelle May, M.D.

How many times have you abandoned your exercise program because it was boring, time-consuming, or unpleasant? Usually the real problem underlying the excuses is that you simply haven’t chosen the right activity for your personality so it feels awkward and uncomfortable. If it’s not fun and rewarding, you won’t keep it up. 


Before you join another gym, drag out your stationary bike, or buy new walking shoes, maximize the likelihood that you’re choosing the right activities for your personality. To identify your unique exercise personality traits, take this quiz from Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle.  The Action Steps will help you plan a physical activity program you’re more likely to enjoy and continue.  

Why?  

A.  My main motivation for exercising is to:

  1. Look better
  2. Feel better
  3. Be healthier
  4. Lose weight

B.  I am motivated by rewards like:

  1. Visual graphs and numbers
  2. Money or prizes
  3. Intangibles like more energy or better sleep

Action Step:  Write your fitness goals using positive, powerful, measurable terms to keep yourself focused and inspired. Be specific about the results you want and the rewards you’ll get when you achieve your goals.    

How?  

C.  Time for exercise:

  1. Is not a problem
  2. Is a challenge but can be arranged when I make it a priority
  3. Is last on my list 

D.  I’d exercise more if it wasn’t for:

  1. The time it takes to get to the gym
  2. Family commitments
  3. Work
  4. The cost of a gym or equipment

E.  I stay on track best when: 

  1. I set a goal to work out most days of the week but stay flexible about when
  2. I write my workout schedule in my appointment calendar
  3. I know someone else is expecting me to be there

F.  When I decide to do something:

  1. I have a hard time getting started
  2. I stick with it until it gets hard
  3. I make it happen no matter what

Action Step:  Making the commitment to invest your time, money, and energy in becoming more active is never easy. When you anticipate possible challenges, you can plan to work around them. For example, if you’re concerned about taking time away from your family you could involve them in your workouts, exercise during your workday, or decide that the time is worth it because you’re healthier and less stressed.

When?

G.  I feel most energetic and alert in the:

  1. Morning
  2. Afternoon
  3. Evening

H.  In the past, exercise has worked best:

  1. When I do it early in the day before other things get in my way
  2. When I do it at work during my breaks or lunch hour 
  3. When I stop in at the gym on my way home so I don’t have to go out again
  4. When I do it after dinner to unwind or when I have help with the kids

Action Step:  Plan your workouts during your peak energy times and times that are most convenient. 

Where?

I.  I need:

  1.      To exercise at my own pace
  2.      The support of a friend or partner
  3.      The accountability of a class or lesson
  4.      To be pushed by a trainer or teacher

J.  I love to be:

  1. At home
  2. Outdoors
  3. In an exercise environment

Action Step:  If you enjoy being at home or alone, use videos, a home gym, or try activities like walking or biking. If you enjoy being with another person, invite someone to walk, hike, play tennis or go to the gym with you. If you socialize while you exercise, consider joining a sports team, or signing up for a class at church or work. If you’re more of an outdoors-type, you’ll enjoy walking, hiking, bike riding, or sports. If you need a designated exercise space join a gym or studio. Hire a personal trainer (at home or the gym) for guidance or accountability.

What?

K.  I really like:

  1. Technical gadgets and toys
  2. A real physical workout so I don’t have to think about anything
  3. Creative or artistic expression 

L.  When it comes to competition:

  1. It makes me feel stressed
  2. I like to challenge myself
  3. A little is healthy and fun
  4. I am very competitive

Action Step:  There are so many different forms of physical activity that the challenge is finding several that suit your preferences. For example, if you’re a gadget guru, you might like a fancy pedometer, computer programs, or gyms equipped with high-tech monitors on all the machines. If you enjoy artistic expression, try yoga or dance. If you thrive on competition, look for team sports and competitive races, or challenge competitive friends to play racquetball or tennis. If you enjoy challenging yourself, set goals and track your progress.  If you don’t like competition, but like to be with others, look for classes and gyms with a supportive environment. 

Bottom Line:  Choose activities that fit your exercise personality for a sustainable, enjoyable program perfect for you!

Your thoughts....

What is your exercise personality?

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Workshops and Facilitator Training Program that helps individuals learn to break free from mindless and emotional eating. This is a brief excerpt from chapter five of her book, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. (Download chapter one free.)  



Comments


Awesome article with great assessment tool. I am a middle age, full time working female and I simply can't get myself to do it not matter how much I know all the above. I feel so pathetic, I have all the resources, rationale in my head and yet I can't muster the will to do it...I am very pragmatic and I just wish I could have "exercise" as part of my daily work life...I should have been born Amish...



I thought the "quiz" would have some result but unless I'm missing it I'm unsure why I wrote down answers. Obviously I know the answers to the questions but beyond relaying info about a few questions I don't get the point of this article. :/



I agree with you CR1036, i thought there would be a scoring system at the bottom!



A waste of time! I could have been jogging!



Here's a link for a exercise personality quiz:

http://exercise.about.com/od/exerciseforbeginners/a/quizbythe book.htm

 



I think the point is just to get you to think about it all a bit more specifically than you might have been in your head!  Getting it down on paper is helpful sometimes.



I really liked this article, but these are all things that we already pretty much know. Each one of us knows what we like and what we don't like.. . .its really just putting it into play and actually going out (or staying in) and doing the exercise that we need to do. I started working out once a week and now I'm up to three times a week and am hoping to go 5 times a week as soon as my gym membership starts in June. Its like NIKE says, "Just do it!"



It took me a few years of starting and stopping workout routines and diet plans before I finally realized that it won't work unless I'm enjoying myself.  I bought a mountain bike in 2004 and rediscovered the joy of trail riding.  I now log between 600 and 1000 miles per summer. I also started disc golfing a few years ago.  My stationary bike and barbells sit unused in the garage, but I feel great! 



I agree....what was the point?  I need a jump start to begin my exercise regime again and thought this might be the thing to help me.  I am so disappointed that there wasn't a true assessment of my answers.



Really?  Surprised

You need someone else to assess your answers to the questions above?  It's just a tool to help you help yourself... c'mon folks!  It's not that hard - a little thought is all that's required.  If that's too hard for you, maybe it should be no surprise that you can't motivate yourself to find time for the gym. 



For most of us (and why we're here), we want to make a healthy change. Exercise is important, but we have to get the food under control. For 2 years, I went from walking on a treadmill for 15 minutes and burning 85-100 calories, to 15% incline treadmill and weightlifting, burning sometimes 1000 calories extra a day. I DIDNT LOSE ONE POUND because I just ate more. If you only have 15-30 minutes a day to spend on health, spend it on logging food, reading about food and figuring out how to make better food choices for you and your family. A good start is reading Omnivore's Dilemma. Once the food is under control, spend some time walking. That's what humans were built to do. Get a pedometer, a Fitbit or any other device that measures steps. Be inefficient; make more trips from car to house when unloading groceries. Walk twice to the mailbox (LOL).



To me, this article is useless. It doesn't really have you answer questions and then tell you which exercise personality you have, followed by recommendations and suggestions. For Heaven's sake, a chimp can figure out if you like home better than outside or the gym you should exercise at home!!



http://exercise.about.com/library/blfitnesspersonalityquiz.h tm If you do this quiz (the link given by the person above is to her results and the link in the article doesn't take you to the quiz), you'll get concrete tips on how to motivate yourself and keep at it. But at the end of the day you have to motivate you, no amount of articles or quiz's or buddy systems is going to do it for you.


Hi Dr Michelle,    I thought this  was an excellent article.  Helped me pinpoint what does work for me morns, a class and that I like to be creative and dance classes would be an excellent way to get started...since I have a problem with that.  I find when I commit money I do better than totally on my own and need to stop beating myself up for that...Also I work where they offer free classes and need to take advantage of those!   Thank You!



Had a few answers that didn't quite fit:

My main motivator for exercising is training.  I am motivated by rewards such as PRs, times, places (standings) and the pursuit of bigger goals.

Time for exercise is not a problem.  I'd exercise more if I didn't feel so burned out all the time.  I stay on track best when I set a goal, but also when I write it in my calendar.  When I decide to do something, I usually make it happen, but have been known not to start it (it's too hard) and occasionally will quit when it gets hard.

I feel most energetic and alert in the morning BUT in the past, exercise has worked for me when I stop at the gym on the way home from work (interestingly, I got an opportunity last week to try exercising in the morning and although I feel more energetic, my times were slower).

Just to finish out (these answers were there): I need to exercise at my own pace and I love to be outdoors.  I really like a real physical workout so I don't have to think about anything (although the structure of training is nice).  When it comes to competition, I like to challenge myself, but sometimes it makes me feel stressed.



To Lollypops, I agree...what was the point to writiing down the answers?



I'm sorry for the delay in responding to your questions about the quiz; I was away at our mindful eating/vibrant living retreat and just got back tonight.

The point of this quiz was not for ME to tell you what to do, but for YOU to begin to think about things you might enjoy. Under each category (Why? How? When? Where? What?), there is an Action Step to help you think about how to apply your own answers to that section. Maybe quiz just wasn't the right title.

You see, for any behavior to stick, it HAS to come from the inside out - and I know that there are many people that participate in this website that have discovered that.

If I tell you what you "should" do, I am the "expert." When you begin to think more about might work for you, then try it, YOU become the expert in yourself. That is far more effective in the long run.

Besides, how many times have you already heard or read or been told what you "should" do - but you still aren't doing it. You don't need more advice. In fact, if you've had difficulty finding activity they could stick to, you already know what DOESN'T work. Now begin applying what you learned from your past experiences and what you know about yourself to help you find out what does. That was the point of this "quiz."

If you insist on me giving you advice, here's some:

  1. Start with the least amount of exercise you can do...consistently and joyfully. Forget about what you "should" do and start with what you will do. Gradually add a little more as your body and mind adjust.
  2. If you start but then stop, ask why? Was it the wrong activity or the wrong time? Or are your own thoughts sabotaging you. For example, "I know I should exercise but I hate it and I just can't make myself do it." The negative words should, hate, and make myself are all indicators that you need to take this "quiz" again and discover what you might like better. In fact, don't even call it "exercise" if that feels negative to you! (I wrote about this in a previous article: http://caloriecount.about.com/dont-exercise-punish-yourself- eating-b444943. If you have my book, I go into this more extensively in chapter 18 Change Your Mind.)
  3. Don't exercise to lose weight. Exercise for all the other amazing things it does for you! Burning a few calories is merely the icing on the cake (pun intended). Otherwise, you'll yoyo exercise the same way people yoyo diet.

Now, if I may boldly say so, stop looking for the answers outside yourself and begin to search your OWN personality for exercise that is perfect for YOU!



I pretty much know exactly how to lose weight, motivation is my problem. I make excuses because exercise for me (and I've tried many things) is hard, time consuming and requires me to get up at 5 am!



Looking for more motivation to move more? I think this video says it all! http://youtu.be/aUaInS6HIGo


Original Post by: crj1036

I thought the "quiz" would have some result but unless I'm missing it I'm unsure why I wrote down answers. Obviously I know the answers to the questions but beyond relaying info about a few questions I don't get the point of this article. :/


I wrote all my answers down too...bummer!



Ditto, not a good quiz at all.



Nex time don't call it a quiz, what a waste of time.



Original Post by: crj1036

I thought the "quiz" would have some result but unless I'm missing it I'm unsure why I wrote down answers. Obviously I know the answers to the questions but beyond relaying info about a few questions I don't get the point of this article. :/


The best motivator for me is having a gym partner.  Try to find someone who will workout with you.  That way on the days when you might bag it; you be more likely to go because you know you're partner will be there.

All the best in your fitness quest!



Original Post by: pdaniele3

Awesome article with great assessment tool. I am a middle age, full time working female and I simply can't get myself to do it not matter how much I know all the above. I feel so pathetic, I have all the resources, rationale in my head and yet I can't muster the will to do it...I am very pragmatic and I just wish I could have "exercise" as part of my daily work life...I should have been born Amish...


Pdaniele3,

The best motivator for me is having a gym partner.  Try to find someone who will workout with you.  That way on the days when you might bag it; you be more likely to go because you know you're partner will be there.

All the best in your fitness quest!  :)



Post Your Comment

Join Calorie Count - it's easy and free!
CREATE FREE ACCOUNT
Advertisement
Advertisement