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Is Your Personality Type Making You Fat?

October 18, 2012| By

I’ve contended since my first book, “Your Personality Prescription”, was published in 1999 that our personality types can be involved in our gaining weight but also can help us lose the weight.  As a dietitian, I don’t think anyone is a hopeless cause.  So, when I saw an article online in The Wall Street Journal corroborating what I continue to say in such books as “Your Personality LIfestyle” and “Your Personality Diet”, I realized I must continually get the word out to help those who continue to struggle with losing weight.

While science continues to research whether our weight is really just a matter of calories in/calories out, or whether there is some biological reason for people gaining weight, you can do something about it now.  But as I’ve always said, if you don’t take an approach to weight loss that is comfortable for your personality type, each new diet you try may be your next failure if it makes you lose weight in a way that is contrary to your type.


Your Type Leads You

Let’s say that you’re NOT a very organized or structured person.  You never make lists.  You keep a lot of stuff in your head rather than getting it down on paper.  You’re a spontaneous type of person who will accept an invitation to go out for dinner without a second thought.  But you need to lose some weight.

My asking you to keep a food diary isn’t going to work for very long.  It’s not in your nature.  And while you could do it for a little while, you’d be using willpower to do it.  You want to lose weight in a way that isn’t a diet but a way of life.  So why do something that is counter to your personal style?


Are You a Stress Junkie or Mindless Multitasker?

The Wall Street Journal article couches its discussion about personality typing by describing people as “stress junkies”, “mindless multitaskers”, and “perfectionists”.  While the article is about the body chemistry going on in various life situations, there are some people who, because of their type, are prone to be in some of those situations.

As a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) practitioner, I can see the various preferences of the MBTI (a tool for identifying type) that are involved.  These names presented in the article are a way of categorizing people, pointing out how they act or how we see them act.  But underneath those names are tested characteristics of type.


The Basics of Personality Typing

Neither Myers, Briggs, nor Carl Jung (whose work served as the basis for the MBTI) came up with names like “stress junkie” or “multitasker”, but their understanding of human behavior did help sort out how people can be similar to each other or different.  Myers and Briggs set up classifications to better group people to see why they act similarly:

Classification 1:  How you interact with the world
Classification 2:  What type of information is important to you
Classification 3:  How you make decisions
Classification 4:  In what manner you deal with the world

Within each of these classifications are two preferences, one of which you favor to lead your life.

Classification 1:  Extravert (E) or Introvert (I)
Classification 2:  Sensor (S) or iNtuitive (N)
Classification 3:  Thinker (T) or Feeler (F)
Classification 4:  Judger (J) or Perceiver (P)

Note: The letter “N” is used for iNtuitive because Jung had already assigned “I” to Introvert.

If you want more information on type, take the FREE personality quiz on this site and find out what your own type is.  Also watch the slideshow, “About Personality Typing”, to learn more.


What Preferences Are at Work?

When you put together a letter from each classification, you end up with 16 different personality types such as an ENFJ, ISTP, ESFP, etc.   So when the article says that the Stress Junkies are “people who thrive on competition and deadline pressure”, we’re definitely talking about Perceivers.  They’re the ones who wait until the last minute to start a project and then rush to the finish line.  Compare that to the Judgers who, once given the project details, starts the project immediately and works consistently to get it done.  My simple description doesn’t mean that Judgers don’t experience deadline pressures.  And do appreciate that type involves much more than a simple article like this can get into.

Not only is Judging and Perceiving involved, so is Extraversion and Introversion.  These Stress Junkies may have taken on more projects than  they can easily accomplish.  Then you’re getting into Classification 1: How You interact with the world as you’ll see next.

That brings me to the “Mindless Multitaskers” discussed in the article.  “People who habitually work, read, drive, watch TV or do anything while dining often eat more than they realize.”  Extraverts are described as wanting “breadth” as compared to Introverts wanting “depth”.  Extraverts tend to be into many things at one time, while an Introvert prefers to concentrate on one thing at a time.  So, there’s no question that the “Mindless Multitaskers” mentioned in the article are probably Extraverts.


You Are the Sum of It All

Other preferences are at work here, as well.  You see, we’re a blend of all the preferences.  Even if your type name is ENFJ that doesn’t mean you don’t also use I, S, T, and P.  But the preferences that don’t show up your name are not going to get as many opportunities to express themselves as the preferences in your type name.   And the preference that is your dominant is going to get the most use in most cases.

So, what do you think are the preferences at work for the types discussed in the article because I haven’t mentioned them all?

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