Health and fitness expert Jen Widerstrom learned one important thing about weight-loss success through years of working with her clients and now contestants on NBC's The Biggest Loser: when it comes to dieting, one size will never fit all.
In order for you to successfully lose weight, your diet plan needs to tap into your traits and tendencies as an individual. In Diet Right for Your Personality Type, Widerstrom introduces a revolutionary plan for maximizing weight loss and keeping the pounds off for good by adjusting your eating patterns, habits, and diet to best fit your personality.
After all, understanding the ideal way to harness your personal strengths and navigate your roadblocks will help you effectively lose weight for the long term. Starting with a simple assessment, you'll identify your dominant personality type: the Everyday Hero (very giving and always puts others first), the Rebel (free-spirited and noncommittal), the Organized Doer (the type-A personality who craves routine and rules), the Swinger (the adventurous type who follows the trendiest fads), or the Never-Ever (believes if the pants don't fit, it's time to buy bigger pants).
Once you've identified your personality type, you will be guided through a tailored four-week diet and fitness plan that works for you instead of against you. With meal plans, recipes, exercise routines, and more, losing weight and maintaining a lasting healthy lifestyle has never been this simple.
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About the Author
JEN WIDERSTROM is an industry leader committed to helping people understand and implement a holistic approach to health and wellness. She is the big hearted, undefeated trainer on NBC's The Biggest Loser, a former co-star on the American Gladiators and Daily Blast LIVE, and the global partner for SHAPE Activewear. She has her certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with an emphasis in behavior change, nutrition, balance and training. Widerstrom continues to use her platform to develop unique products that help her diehard following to live and achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Read an Excerpt
Diet and Personality
Your Personality, Your Plan
The biggest flaw I see in most diets is their onesizefitsall approach. So many diets fail because they don’t take into consideration individual tendencies or triggers, motivational patterns, or lifelong habits that are ingrained into our personalities. Even someone with the strongest willpower in the world can find it tough to stick to a plan that works for someone else but not for them. In truth, there’s no diet that is perfect for all people. It’s a matter of being a student of yourself, learning what is best for you, and putting your findings into action. I’m here to help you do that.
What makes my program unique is that it addresses the crucial issue most other diets ignore—-the psychological and behavioral factors that make us all so different. From those factors, I have created nutrition plans tailormade for each of you. I provide specific techniques to help each type of dieter on their journey and to spot common pitfalls they experience and navigate through them. My program will also give you a real insight into your personality—-those characteristic patterns of motivation and behavior that define you—-thus helping you get on a diet and exercise plan that you will not only stick to but thrive in.
To develop this program, I’ve used the information and insights gained over a decade of helping people lose weight and get in shape. Everyone’s personality is unique, and what they need in the form of support and coaching is always very different. Customizing my role for each person is critical, and having very little time to do it is always a huge challenge. One week could mean success or failure for somebody. My clients look to me with complete trust. They count on me to guide them toward a thinner, more fit body—-and that’s what I’ll be doing for you.
My program is infused with science. Many studies have been done in behavioral science over the years, but only recently has there been a growing research interest in the association of weight loss and gain with personality traits. If you’ve struggled with weight issues, fear not! It boils down largely to your diet personality—-and science proves it! There is a lot more to dieting and weight control than just calorie counting, so drop the shame and the “I keep failing” attitude, and set yourself up for success!
Being overweight used to be such a clear science. If you were overweight, it meant you ate too much and exercised too little. End of story.
But hold on: if that were really the case, there’d be no need for me to write this book. It turns out that for the up to 60 percent of Americans who are overweight or obese, this explanation may be faulty and not the whole truth.
Recent breakthroughs have suggested that it’s not just how much you eat or exercise that influences how you look and feel. The science of weight loss may be significantly linked to your psychological profile. Researchers have discovered that certain personality traits may determine, in large part, the type of diet approach you need to follow to lose weight and keep it off for the long haul.
This is less about labeling you as a certain “type” of person and more about understanding your own personality and how personalityspecific strategies can help you finally drop the unwanted pounds and keep them off for good.
One of the leading theories suggests that personality traits can be grouped into five main categories: agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness. The five personality types in this book, as you’ll see, are grounded in these findings. Each personality has many subtraits, of course. For example, trust is an aspect of agreeableness, and anxiety is an aspect of neuroticism. People can also be a combination of different types—-something I agree with fully.
In several studies, researchers linked conscientiousness to better weight control, and I think there’s a certain logic to this. Think about it: if you have a conscientious personality, you’re probably more likely to develop good habits and less likely to engage in harmful behaviors. Conscientious people concentrate on specifics. They make daily plans and usually stick to them. They make todo lists. All of these actions encourage positive and healthy behaviors.
By contrast, certain personality factors can make us prone to weight gain. Consider research from the National Institute of Aging that was published in 2011 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which looked at the connection between personality and weight control. According to this study, people who were impulsive were most likely to be overweight. In fact, study participants who scored high on impulsivity weighed an average of 22 pounds more than those at the lowest end of impulsivity.
And get this: those same researchers discovered that people who are impulsive—-and disorganized—-tend to have larger bellies and hips compared with individuals who are more imaginative, open to action, trusting, and modest.
It makes sense, if you think about it: those extra pounds can be a very physical reminder of the inability to control impulses, and people who repeatedly gain weight may start to perceive themselves to be, or to actually become, more impulsive and less disciplined.
And the list goes on and on. Researchers from the University of Washington in St. Louis found that people who score high in the personality trait of “novelty seeking” tend to be thrill seekers, become easily bored, and try to avoid monotony. Thus, they overeat to avoid boredom, and not surprisingly, their overeating contributes to weight gain. This study was published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2007.
So what’s it all mean to you?
It should be a breath of fresh air—finally a plan designed for your body! You can’t just up and change your personality. That’s out of the question. The world needs you to be you, and I need you to celebrate that fact.
Five Core Personality Types
After years working with hundreds of clients, I developed a unique weight-loss system grounded in research and shaped by my interaction with real people. It has become the backbone that allows for fast and longlasting success for my clients (and myself!). It all began years and years ago at my first job in LA, when I was teaching boot camp classes at Pulse Fitness Studio. In the beginning, I was so focused on the programming, arranging the right music, and helping clients learn the movements that I did not initially see what has become the foundation of my training style: catering to individual personalities.
One day, as I was teaching a class, I noticed that only half of the class was responding positively to some of my motivational feedback. It seemed as if half of the class absorbed what I said, became even more engaged, and pushed harder on the workouts. Meanwhile, the other half was an odd mix of either disengaged and “busy” on their phones or indifferent to what I said and acting no better or worse than when we started.
What did this mean? Was I a bad coach? Was I annoying them? Was I talking too much? Or—-as I eventually discovered—-were my words not personal enough to reach all the personalities in the room?
As time went on, I found myself paying more attention to the different people in my classes and their traits. This handson experience is what helped me develop the five core personalities. And my ability to effectively communicate and help different people shaped my entire philosophy.
It became clear that I had to apply the principles not only during workouts, but also with nutrition, habits, and lifestyle decisions. As I worked with more people, I gained a better understanding of each personality type and the approach that worked best. My system became so foolproof because it wasn’t just what I was having my clients do—-it was how I was helping them take control and do it.
Many years later, I’ve identified five core personality types and the traits connected to each. Most important, I’ve learned that because each personality influences certain workout and diet preferences, there are personality-specific techniques for success (and preventing failure) that will simplify the process of building a healthier lifestyle.
The five core personality types are the following:
•The Organized Doer
•The Everyday Hero
Everyone has a dominant type, and you’ll determine which is yours by taking the assessment in Chapter 4. The Organized Doer is a type A personality who craves routine and rules, so that’s exactly what they will receive because it drives their success! Checking off boxes is not stress inducing but rather meditative and an effective way to stay on track.
The Swinger is the adventurous type who follows the trendiest fads. Their success is rooted in a program that offers variety, change, and the ability to actively determine food and workout decisions each day.
The Rebel tends to be impulsive and noncommittal. They need to be given the opportunity to find their own flow in their day, and to be provided with flexible guidelines offering plenty of variety.
If you’re an Everyday Hero, you probably always put yourself last and are happy to bend over backward for others. While this is admirable, it means you rarely accommodate yourself, even if you know it’s necessary. The key for Everyday Heroes is building a plan that is streamlined and easy to set up, with as few obstacles as possible.
Finally, the NeverEver is someone who’s disconnected from their health and fitness or may have even given up. They require a plan that allows them to take a step back (and sometimes away from their negative selftalk) to get a macro view of their lives in order to open their minds to personal choices on a micro level. Their program is designed to help them break the vicious cycle and teach them how to be in control of the decisions that influence behavior.
Very soon, I’ll help you understand your personality and what triggers you (in both a negative way and a positive way). This is invaluable because once you understand why you act and react the way you do to certain fitness and diet plans, then you can find the right approach for your style, meaning you’re more likely to stick with the plan for everlasting health and weight loss.
Remember, dieting, fitness, and health are personal, and it is up to you to honor what is best for you. The reality is that there never will be any one person exactly like you. You are oneofakind—-a living, breathing bundle of beauty and strength. So let’s start acting like it and adapt everything to you! Once you embrace this approach, that’s when everything becomes easier and transformation is in your grasp.
The Blind Spot
We are all familiar with mirrors, and—-if you ask me—-they tend to have too much persuasion in our lives when it comes to our selfworth. We believe that the reflection we see in them is of the utmost importance. And it’s a problem. Because the mirror is just a snapshot. Just an outward reflection. It’s a small piece of a much bigger story. A much deeper story. And what you can’t see in the mirror is who you are beneath the reflection and why it’s hard to overcome the mental hurdles that block your journey.
Recently, I started training a woman named Sharon. An affluent executive in her midforties, she told me,
You know, Jen, I’ve got it all now: the car I want, a second home on the beach, and plenty of money to do as I please. But I’m unhappy, and these days I hate most everything about myself. When I look at myself in the mirror, I see a woman who is getting buried by her weight, and I’m starting to lose sight of ever coming out of this. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, and trying to fit into my clothes makes me so upset. I am desperate to go out and meet someone, but I just can’t bring myself to do it because I feel so bad about myself and the way I look.
Believe it or not, from a motivational standpoint, this client had arrived at an ideal place to initiate change. Behavioral scientists have shown in studies that people are loss aversive. That means, roughly speaking, that we are more miserable losing something than we are happy gaining the same thing, and that this dislike spurs us on to make needed changes in our lives.
A study published in 2015 in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine found that smokers were more likely to quit if they enrolled in a smoking cessation program that involved the loss of money if they failed. Not wanting to lose their monetary deposit, they were able to complete the program and, voilà, quit smoking.
Likewise, Sharon no longer wanted to live with so many limitations and miss out on her life. After a few weeks, the power of this programming was evident. She shed eleven pounds, and lost 101/2 inches all over her body, while adding close to four pounds of bodycurving muscle. She was vivacious, positive, and shining with energy; she became a different person.
But, in fact, she was not anyone new. That woman had been there all along; she just needed help coming back to life. This is why the mirror is misleading. We can only see who we are in the present, not what lives within and not where we could be in a week . . . a month . . . a year . . . or even ten years. I challenge you to look through the mirror to see what lives within you, and see (like I do) that it’s something incredible.
Does any of Sharon’s process sound familiar? Are you having a “how did I end up here?” moment?
Ask yourself this next question, the most important question that you need to keep front and center going forward: “What am I not willing to lose out on anymore?”
Playing with your kids?
Wherever you are, own your position, but commit to moving forward. Take action and relieve yourself of how big or small that action is because my priority for you is progress, not perfection. Begin to consider how possible your progress is, as is your success. Take positive steps toward improving the way you see yourself. Think of your good points; acknowledge them and believe in them.
Also, do me a favor and put yourself first for a change! Step into your own purpose, be bold, and have an empowered heart and mind to start living healthfully. You are unique and individual, worthy of consideration and acceptance, especially from yourself. I don’t know about you, but I want to be fit, capable, and connected well into my sixties, seventies, and eighties. Believe it or not, that decision begins now.
This Time Will Be Different (If You Follow This Advice)
Before we go any further, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to decide that you will take on not only the tasks that will change your body, but also those that will change your mind.
You just read about Sharon and her incredible success. While you will go through similar steps, the biggest difference in Sharon’s journey this time (compared with her previous failures) is that she was able to change her mindset before she started.
With this program you’re going to see some incredible changes—-and fast—-but I care more about what happens beyond the weight loss. I don’t want you to ever return to a frustrated state, whether it’s five months or five years from now.
The one thing I want you to embrace during this program is the fact that we are all different. Love your personality type (which you’ll soon learn more about), and ask yourself if you are living to your full capacity, or, as I call it, “living with your whole heart.”
The daytoday challenges of life can be difficult, and we often don’t take the time to understand and process the effect they have on our health. For most people, these challenges are the constant questions and fears about who you are, what you can achieve, and how you can overcome hurdles and barriers. This fear distorts your sense of self to the point that it makes it harder to fully invest in certain goals you set. This can not only be controlling, but it also often masquerades as shame appearing in the form of negative selftalk, poor food choices, and avoiding new challenges.
You’re probably most familiar with this process as it applies to exercise and nutrition plans and the constant doubt about whether you have what it takes to be successful on them. To overcome this vicious process, I want you to double down and invest in you. Embrace your uniqueness and pour your heart into loving who you are, not just after your transformation but right now.
Go into each day understanding that you’re not perfect but with the knowledge and confidence that you are tapping in to who you are and applying that to who you want to become. This book is not about changing you. It’s a call to adventure to honor the real you.
If you take this step, everything you read in this book will be more important, more powerful, and more effective. It will also help you actually enjoy the process.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Diet and Personality 15
Chapter 1 Your Personality, Your Plan 17
Chapter 2 Are You Ready? 26
Chapter 3 Eat Right No Matter Your Personality Type 38
Chapter 4 What's Your Personality Type? 50
Part 2 The Personality Plans 63
Chapter 5 The Organized Doer 65
Chapter 6 The Swinger 97
Chapter 7 The Rebel 111
Chapter 8 The Everyday Hero 127
Chapter 9 The Never-Ever 158
Chapter 10 Recipes for Weight Loss and Beyond 191
Part 3 Movement is Medicine 295
Chapter 11 Join the Movement 297
Chapter 12 Jen Bod Workouts 308
Part 4 The New, Fit You 349
Chapter 13 Lessons for Lifelong Maintenance 351
Afterword: Before You Go 363
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I love this book! This only one of two books that I have ever read that truly gets that with dieting and weight loss, one size does not fit all. It takes dieting, exercise and a change in lifestyle, coupled with an understanding your personality to bring about that goal. It even helps determine your personality. I just found out that I am a Never Ever. As I mentioned, this is only one of two books that understood about dieting and weight loss not being a one size fits all? That other book is Hungry Chick Dieting Solution. I highly recommend that you buy, buy, buy it because it will make all of the difference in your weight loss goal. At first, I was tired of seeing people mentioning the Hungry Chick. But, I too gave in when I discovered what a difference it will make when it comes to learning how to eat better to live better. The chapter in The Hungry Chick Dieting Solution on water is what allowed me to lose my first five pounds alone. Then, I used the trick with my wrist to determine an appropriate weight loss goal to go after to begin with. You will also need the section in the Hungry Chick on how to shop your market, because Jen relies on cooking and eating real food. You can't pre-packaged meal your way through this one. You wouldn't even want to try. Fresh is just so much better. I also love the Are You Ready section in Diet Right. It is a great way of determining if you are ready to undertake the challenge of losing weight. It can make a difference in whether you are going to lose weight or fall into old habits. It has been an eye opener for me. Not once will you feel overwhelmed, it is just that hands on and doable. Overall, you can feel Jen's warmth and big heart and how much she cares about your success and happiness. I love this book and I highly recommend that you read it.