It is not enough to conquer. One must learn to seduce. – Voltaire
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the words “healthy habits” my brain says, “Night night!” Deep down, we all know that maintaining healthier habits—everything from going to bed early and eating real food to making time for consistent exercise—will make us happier, and yet we keep resisting. Contrary to that nagging little voice in your head, resisting healthy habits does not mean you’re bad or lazy. You’re not even crazy for listening to a little voice! You’re crazy for listening to the wrong little voice! Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you are resisting, or better yet, who is resisting? Did you take the time to truly hear the answer? Respecting and cultivating a loving relationship with your inner “resistor” can turn drudgery into joy, your “I have to’s” into “I get to’s.” So how can you romance your inner “resistor” to open the door to greater vitality and a more balanced, dimensional self?
In Better than Before, best-selling author and happiness guru Gretchen Rubin describes habits as the “invisible architecture of everyday life.” She outlines four tendencies that characterize how we balance the world’s expectations with our own needs and desires. Are you an obliger, an upholder, a questioner, or a rebel? Read on to find out! Recognizing my habit tendency has made my workouts safer and infinitely more efficient and enjoyable. Knowing your own tendency might just change your workout and your life!
Do you always put the needs of others first, struggling to remember your own? You’re an obliger, and your challenge is to keep your efforts sustainable, lest you become locked into an endless cycle of burn out and shut down. When working out, it is especially important for you to stay attuned to bodily sensations. Don’t allow your instinct toward people-pleasing to result in over-training or injury!
Are you able to consistently balance the needs of others with your own, usually by holding yourself and others meticulously accountable to your understanding of the rules? As an upholder, you’re in good, if somewhat uptight, company! You are the one to be counted on to get things done. Keep on holding the line, while staying just flexible enough to drop that judgement when it gets too heavy. When it comes to exercise, be sure to let your inner child come out and play. Don’t be afraid to mix it up now and then. Make it okay to make a mistake. Improvisation and trying something new for the pure joy of it will help keep your movement patterns lively and sustaining, avoiding the stale sameness of dry routine.
Questioners are often confused with rebels, but with just a little finesse, they behave in a very different way. Questioners, unlike rebels, are great at satisfying outer expectations, but only when they are satisfied that the task at hand is useful, meaningful, and necessary. Questioners need to know why, and they hate busy work. They love research and analysis, but they can get stuck in that phase forever. Motivate your questioner by scheduling private instruction time to indulge their curiosity and learn, integrate, and embody on a deeper level.
Rebels are the rarest type and the hardest to rein in, as they tend to resist both inner and outer expectations, desiring freedom above all else. Rebels wow with their ability to think outside the box. Rebels may not care about the rules, but they still crave an edge to push against, to propel their creative energy forward. Rebels work best when they are romanced into remembering that they are doing what they wanted to do in the first place. It’s best to give them a challenge and leave them to it. If your inner rebel is sick of the same old work out regime, throw down the gauntlet and walk away. Make sure the challenges you offer are tailored to the rebel’s sizable intellect and unique style of creativity to keep them feeling appreciated and engaged.
I think we all have a little bit of each element inside of us, although one always seems to take the lead in the dance. In my journey of radical weight loss and body transformation, I have encountered each type within myself. My questioner keeps me in beginner’s mind, always fascinated and eager to learn. To care for my obliger, I do my best to take time to rest and eat well. Obligers can be afraid to speak up, so they respond well to journaling. When following a choreographed routine in a group class, I support my obliger by tuning into my breath and checking in frequently with my own physical limits. I am grateful for my upholder for pushing me to consistently face down boredom to show up for myself and my workouts. My rebel has been my greatest ally in remaining active while healing injuries. She never hesitates to step in to create often-brilliant modifications necessary to keep me safe and well-supported in every movement, and she doesn’t care what others think! I love all my parts, but I have a special place in my heart for my rebel. She needs the extra room to go her own way, and that’s the way I like it! Enjoy meeting your habit tendency and continuing your journey toward ever greater health and joy of movement!
Contributed by Jamie Skinner
About Jamie Skinner:
Jamie Michelle Skinner is an extroverted introvert, occasional hermit, writer, dancer, and somatic educator. After losing over 100 pounds through her passion for dance, her mission is to inspire dancers from all walks of life to find freedom, joy, and health through “writing” their own story on the dance floor, using a vocabulary of mellifluous movement creativity that is both universal and unique, and grounded in the body’s own natural intelligence.
Jamie is a graduate of the University of Maryland’s prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism, where she studied news reporting and literary journalism under greats like Judith Hillman Paterson, author of Sweet Mystery: A Book of Remembering. Jamie also studied art history and literature at the University of Ireland’s Dublin campus.
Recently, Jamie has become an avid practitioner of Nia, a movement form encompassing dance arts, martial arts, and healing arts, that is adaptable to many levels and abilities. Since completing her white belt in October 2014, she has undergone three specialized Nia trainings, and is now certified to teach Moving to Heal Nia, Nia FreeDance, and Nia 5 Stages, a developmental movement practice for self-healing. In addition, she is a Pilates Sports Center teacher-in-training. Jamie lives in Santa Barbara, California.