Tag Archives: strength


The Psychology of Personality: How Knowing Yourself Better Can Keep Your Fitness Goals On Track


Gretchen Rubin

I recently attended The World Domination Summit (WDS) in Portland, Oregon.  The conference was 3 days jam-packed, full of lectures and workshops all led by entrepreneurs, writers, and artists.  One of the of the many great speakers I heard was Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.  

In her lecture, Gretchen pointed out that in order to be happy you must first learned key features of your nature.  You have to learn about yourself and the systems your brain by default uses to function before you can actually identify the things that make you happy.  So, rather than search for what makes you happy, Gretchen has identified a way for us to evaluate our own personalities so we can better structure our actions to live a happy life.

In her blog, Gretchen writes about different avenues of getting to know yourself better that can improve your life.  For example in What’s Your Personality Type for Play Gretchen explains how she was able to develop a career for herself based on her interests as a child.

More along the lines of fitness and exercise Gretchen’s work can help you better understand if you are an Abstainer or a Moderater.  A very important distinction to understand about yourself especially when trying to stick to a diet.

Gretchen says,

“You’re a moderator if you…

– find that occasional indulgence heightens your pleasure – and strengthens your resolve
– get panicky at the thought of “never” getting or doing something

You’re an abstainer if you…
– have trouble stopping something once you’ve started
– aren’t tempted by things that you’ve decided are off-limits”

When starting a diet it is very important to identify what type of personality you have.

If you are a moderator it can be important to allow yourself some treats, as long as those treats keep you within your diet ratios and calories!  Without the wiggle room to cheat every now and then a moderator will give up on a diet altogether.


An abstainer can eat just one!

An abstainer on the other hand needs to make sure all temptations are out of the house.  An abstainer needs the black and white to stay on plan.

Whether or not one chooses to follow through with their fitness plan is also based upon personality type.

Gretchen divides all humans personality archetypes into 4 categories:

  • Upholders
  • Questioners
  • Rebels
  • Obligers

Each role describes the most basic ways in which people put priority into their actions.  Knowing your personality is great for learning how to best meet deadlines and accomplish goals including how to stick to your fitness and health goals.


An upholder loves rules.

It doesn’t matter who creates them, upholders will live by them.  If this is your personality type, you probably don’t have a hard time sticking to your diet and exercise plan, because it is a plan.  You have been given the rules.  If you are an upholder; I bet you get in your exercise 5-6 times a week, meal track like you are supposed to, and like following a specific meal plan for  your health. For the most part you are good as long as you follow that routine and keep your health in check. If you ever need to store things like smoothies or healthy beverages I recommend these guys for storage needs

The one drawback to being an upholder, however, is that you can often find it tough to question which exercise program is the best because you want to do them all.

You may try following too many workout plans and find you never actually stick to just one.  Upholders can also find that because they never allow themselves budge room to cheat, an exercise routine can become exhausting.  Rather than not stick to the rules 100% many of my upholder clients tend to be all or nothing.  At the times they commit to exercise and healthy living they do great, but when work or life doesn’t allow them to fulfill their goals 100% they stop altogether so they don’t have to admit they didn’t follow through.

If you are an upholder give yourself some budge room when it comes to exercise.  Even small movements accrued throughout the day are better than nothing.  Don’t allow the guilt of an incomplete workout week keep you from getting any exercise at all.


If you are a Questioner you need to know why you are doing something.

It isn’t enough for someone to tell you what to do, you need to know the reasoning behind what you are doing and then you will have no problem following through.

The best bet for a questioner is to hire a personal trainer.  You can constantly be reading books to reinforce your knowledge and desire to exercise, however, if you are looking for a reason not to hit the gym I’m guessing you don’t want to spend your reading time on that topic.  A good personal trainer should have the knowledge to convince your questioning mind to make exercise a priority.

If you don’t have the financial means to hire a personal trainer, a webinar I recommend is The Smarter Science of Slim.  It used to be available in book format, but has been taken off of amazon until The Calorie Myth comes out in January of 2014.


A rebel personality tends to think (and go) against the grain.

If someone tells you to do something, you are likely to do the opposite.  Obviously you won’t respond well to someone telling you to exercise.

If I was training a rebel, I would encourage them to try something everyone else thinks they can’t do.  For example I might plant the seed to a rebel that they couldn’t run a half marathon.  The idea that they couldn’t do something is the exact motivation a rebel mind needs to inspire them to train for one.

If endurance training isn’t your thing, try looking into another extreme sport such as snowboarding, mountain climbing, MMA, or mountain biking.  The extreme nature of the sport might be what initially attracts you, but you will soon find that in order participate at all or well you need a consistent workout routine to maintain the physical ability to do your activity.


An obliger tends to put others expectations before their own goals.

If you are an obliger, your biggest excuse for not exercising is probably your family, job, or social commitments.  You may have been a star athlete in high school when you HAD to be at practice, but probably find it very difficult to make yourself go out for a run on your own.

An obliger is best off building external motivation.  Find a running buddy.  Join a parks and rec team.  Hire a personal trainer.  Do something to hold yourself accountable to your exercise because if you are an obliger you won’t get it done on your own.

So What Are You?

Obviously not every category is 100% perfect, but there is a good chance that you identify with one of the four.

Once you figure out where you fall, don’t try to fight your personality.  Your nature is out of your control.  Stop fighting the way your brain best functions, but rather use it to your advantage.   If you would prefer to be another way you can use the knowledge of you nature to build systems around it, don’t try to change it.

I for example am an upholder, however am I am also very drawn to pleasing others so I have a heavy obliger nature as well.  I often commit myself to too many things (classic symptoms of an upholder) so I have learned to build external motivation into the things that I know I need to get done.

Exercise and fitness is very important to me, but between all the other commitments I set up for myself often times it can get pushed aside.  Rather than set up coffee or lunch dates with people, I often set up an exercise dates.  (A good system for obligers to use)  That way I can kill two birds with one stone.

What personality type do you identify with the most?  Have you set up any systems in your world to better use your personality to accomplish your goals?  Please share below! 🙂


cross fit style workout

Beat Your Time Cross Fit Style Workout

Ok, here’s how this Beat Your Time Cross Fit Style Workout Works:cross fit style workout

  • Do the following exercises below as fast as possible performing each rep with the best form possible.
  • In between exercises do 10 pushups and 10 squat jumps (or 20 squats if you have knee issues)
  • After you complete the 7 exercises, record your time.
  • Work to beat your time the next round through!
  • Record your time below to push each other!

Beat your time Cross Fit Style Workout Exercises:

Neider to Push Press:  Do each movement 20x

Toe Taps:  20 to each side

Advanced Single Leg Squat:  10 Each Leg

Lifted Leg 1/2 V-Up

Toe Touches: 20 Per Leg

Split Jumps: 20 per Leg

Russian Twist: 20 to each side


Equipment Needed: Med BallWeights


free gyms

Local Parks: The Free Gyms

free gymsOne of the biggest excuses to avoid jump starting your fitness and healthy lifestyle is the cost.  I understand, gyms can be expensive!

One way to avoid high prices is to studio hop.  Many privately owned cross fit gyms, yoga studios, and barre method gyms offer specials for new comers.  During the winter you can try each one through the beginners specials.  Who knows you may find something new you love.  Worst case you will work your muscles differently, gaining maximum burn.

As the weather begins to improve though we can even cut those costs by getting out and exploring the local parks in your area.   They are the free gyms!!   When I lived in Seattle I loved Seward Park, Gasworks ParkKerry Park, The Burke-Gilman Running Trail, Marymoor, and the UW Arboretum.

Shelby Park Nashville 02.jpgSince I’ve been in Nashville I’ve done laps and used the random steps and kid playgrounds for strength routines on the Downtown Riverfront, and at Centennial Park, Percy Warner Park, Shelby Park, and Fannie Mae Park.

Many local parks have either a long waterfront trail, or a running loop.  There are plenty of benches, Monkey Bars, bleachers, and bike racks to attach spri bands and do cross fit style workouts with your at home exercise equipment.  CHeck

Check out this youtube playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLH9I3etWrhftr0O5KMGs3Y8DiDNswFjd1&feature=view_all

or below for inspiration on how to kick your own booty for free in your local parks!

No Equipment Needed:


Toe Touch

Leg Drives

Split Jumps

Diamond Pushup

Advances Single Leg Squat

Spri Band Need:

Spri Band Bicep Curl

Pushup Position Lat Pull



awkward pose

Awkward Pose

Awkward Pose is a crucial part to warming up the body in the Bikram yoga series.  Stand alone, it is a posture that tones the legs, arms, and core.  The posture helps realign the body improving  and preventing many painful conditions.  The posture only works though if you set it up correctly.  Here are some tips to improving your awkward pose:

1st Part Awkward Pose:

  • Keep a six inch gap between the knees feet and hands
  • Keep legs and arms parallel to the floor
  • Relax your shoulders but tighten your arms by keeping your fingers together and focusing on stretching forward through the whole posture.
  • First allow the chest and upper body to come down to sit down as low as possible. Once sitting as low as possible, then focus on bringing your upper body back.
  • Keep 100% body weight in the heels.  You will feel like you might fall down backwards, but your arms continuously reaching forward will help you balance.
  • Focus on all your energy channeling into your arms, abdomen, and legs to relax your face and shoulders.


“If you allow your stomach to be loose, you will overtax your back muscles possibly causing back pain.” Craig Villani


2nd Part Awkward Pose:awkward pose

  • Come up onto your toes as much as possible.  If you think about your big and 2nd toe pressing into the floor you can come up higher.
  •  Focus on squeezing your calf muscles to help you balance.
  • Sit down until your hips touch an imaginary chair behind you to make sure you get the full benefits.  It is normal to feel your legs shake and burn.  It means you are warming up, burning calories, and toning your legs!
  • Spine should be perfectly straight, if you are leaning forward you need to come up higher on your toes!
  • Every time you come up focus on coming up slow and fully extending your knees to build more strength in the legs.

“Whenever there is shaking, there is always a threatened nerve. It’s NEVER an impulse saying, “If you keep going there could be trouble.” Shaking is not bad, it is your body creating new neural passageways and learning to strengthen and hold.” Emmy Cleaves

3rd Part Awkward Pose:

  • Only come up on your toes until your can bring your needs together.
  • Focus on squeezing your knees together like you have a quarter in between your knees.  This will keep the entire length of your thighs pressed together toning your inner thighs!
  • Keep your spine as straight as possible throughout the posture.
  • Work to exhale the entire way down and inhale the entire way up.

“Your mind will be screaming come up come up, but I will be be yelling ‘Chest up!  Sit down!  Stay there! and of course you will listen to me!” Bikram

Muscles Contracting:

  • Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Abdominal Muscles
  • Quadriceps

Stretches and Opens:

  • Ankles
  • Feet
  • Arches
  • Calves
  • Toes
  • Pelvis
  • Shins


  • Liver
  • Spleen
  • Intestines
  • Pancreas


  • Realigns hips and legs helping improve and prevent lower-back pain
  • Realigns knee joint benefiting the meniscus
  • Strengthens the arch of the foot improving and preventing flat feet, bunions and bowed legs
  • Relieves menstrual cramps
  • Improves and Prevents sciatica
  • Improves and Prevents arthritis in knees and hips
  • Heals chronically cold feet
  • Increases the circulation to the knees and ankles
  • Helps to relieve rheumatism and arthritis in the legs and helps to cure slipped discs and other problems of the lower spine


Bands and lines: A runner’s strength training routine!

runner's strength training

If you are a runner, it is very important for you to have a runner’s strength training routine to keep you from developing common running injuries: shin splints, runner’s knee, and plantar fasciitis.   The following exercises will help you strengthen your stability muscles to help protect your knees, strengthen your anterior tibialis to protect against shin splints, and help build the arch in your foot to protect against plantar fasciitis!

Prehab Movement Prep

Set 1

Set 2



Rainy Day At Home Workout

at home workoutWhen it’s rainy and your not motivated to run in the rain, working out in your living room can be a great alternative, especially if you have some gym equipment at home.

To keep your at home workout quality, after you do the prehab/movement prep, go through the exercises are quickly as possible.  Don’t stop to catch your breath!

Prehab Movement Prep

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3


Do the exercise of the day!

If you are reading this, you have probably figured out that in order to lead a healthy lifestyle (or to have the body you want) you have to be active and eat right.  If you are like 90% of my clients you probably are pressed for time.  More often than not the time you set for your workout gets pushed back until finally you say, “I’ll work out tomorrow.”

You don’t have to do that anymore.  On those days where you don’t get to the gym, DO THE EXERCISE OF THE DAY!  It’s simple, easy, and quick!  You don’t even have to spend time thinking “What should I do?”, just do the exercise of the day.  If you don’t have the equipment to do the exercise if the day, repeat the exercise from the previous day.  (It won’t hurt you to do it again, I promise!)  Seriously, even if you do 3 sets it will only take you 10 min max.  If you don’t have 10 min do one set!  That takes a min max!  We all have at least one minute to be active.

With some exercises you could set an alarm and do one set on the hour for your entire work day!  Remember, movement gets your heart rate up, pumping oxygen to the brain.  I guarantee, you will be more efficient at any task after giving yourself a quick push up or squat break!  Movement throughout the day accumulates to give you a higher caloric burn.  Continuous small movements burn more calories than working out for one hour followed by sitting the rest if the day.  That doesn’t mean don’t do your workout if you can fit it in, but also be aware of what you do (or don’t do for that matter) the rest of the day!

Just like I said in Where to Start, being active doesn’t have to be the best workout you’ve ever done, every day.  One set of clam shells is better than nothing!  So those days when time for the gym evades you, log on and check out the exercise of the day.  Even if it’s right before bed, at least do something!

The runners jump workout


Here’s a great workout for runners looking to develop power!  Power is what helps you maintain speed up hills.  So if you are running the Boston or San Francisco marathons this workout is a must!  There are also some arm exercises in there, because you need to look buff in your marathon photo 😉

Time for yourself.

This weekend I had one of the hardest yoga classes I have ever had in my life. I made it through the first 3 warmup postures before my body told me enough was enough. I sat for the next three postures…postures I HATE to sit through. I thought, if I just focus on my breath maybe I can finish the standing series. When the class went into separate leg stretching; I stood up, determined to finish class strong. Within a minute my body again said no. I listened, but didn’t give up on my class. I figured if I could at least do one thing that day it was breath.  As I laid on my back, I focused on just breathing for the rest of the standing series. Almost harder than fighting through the postures.

time for yourself

How often do you take the time to focus on yourself for 90 minutes? Think about all the things you are asked to do in a day.

  • Maybe your boss needs you to get a presentation ready.
  • Maybe your kids need to get to practice.
  • Maybe your cat throws up on your floor and you have to clean it up.
  • Maybe there is construction so you are late.
  • Maybe, Maybe, Maybe, Maybe

There is always going to be something you have to do, but despite all these things, do you still take some time to think about what you need for the day? When you think about it, giving 90 minutes JUST TO YOU and YOUR NEEDS is hard to do. But should it be that hard? Shouldn’t you give yourself some time each day to just focus on you, your body, and your needs? If your body needs something during that 90 minutes, it probably really needs it those other 22.5 hours when it is being pulled in all directions. Runners, you need to do the same too. Use your run to listen to your body. If you treat it right, it will tell you if you need a rest day or some more protein or carbs in your diet.

time for yourself

And then again, maybe all we need to do is to remember to breathe. My body may not have been able to do all my yoga postures this weekend, but it did need to breathe. Today I went in with really no expectations. Given my last class I figured, worst case I would work on breathing again. Today I was able to practice strong throughout all 26 postures. I also remembered to focus on my breath which helped me not just finish my postures, but rather push further into them, stretching beyond the point I normally can. We may be able to do complex and tough things, but remember those actions always stem from the simplest things we forget to do.
Spend some time today focusing on just you. Are you tired, hungry, grumpy, happy? If you spend time each day focusing on what you need you might be able to tackle the rest of your day with more patience and strength.