Healthy Living

With Kate Williams

Memoirs of a Rebel: How Someone Who Can't Follow Rules Successfully Does a Whole30

I have a confession to make. As far back as I can remember, I’ve never completed any type of challenge 100%, not a workout challenge or a meal plan, nothing. No matter how hard I try, It’s very difficult for me to complete anything exactly as it’s written. As frustrated as I get with myself because I really want to go 100% by plan, something in my brain won’t let me. I try to not get frustrated by this aspect of my personality anymore because I have learned the reason why: I have a Rebel personality.
What is a Rebel tendency, you ask?
In Gretchin Rubin’s books, Better Than Before, and The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better Too), she explains how everyone responds to “inner” and “outer” rules differently. She explains there four basic personality tendencies:

  • The Obliger – this type of person can follow rules imposed by others easily but doesn’t like to adere to self-imposed rules
  • The Upholder – accepts rules no matter who is imposing them, others or themselves. This type of person easily meets deadlines, follows doctor’s orders, keeps a New Year’s resolution, etc.
  • The Questioner – questioners only accept rules if they make sense. They analyze and ask a lot of – you guessed it – questions to help them understand before deciding if they’ll follow the rules or not.
  • The Rebel – these folks have extreme difficulty following rules, from outside or inside. They resist control. Give a rebel a rule, and the rebel will want to do it a different way.

Many people are a mix of these four personalities. While I’m primarily a Rebel, I am also a Questioner and occasionally an Obliger, depending on the situation. Talk about frustrating!
So, how does a Rebel successfully complete a strict elimination diet like the Whole30?
According to Gretchen Rubin, the most effective habit-change strategy for a Rebel personality is the Strategy of Identity. Rebels place a lot of value on being true to themselves. They can embrace a habit if they adopt it as a way to express their identities. For me, this means I take it one day at a time and identify myself as someone who can complete a Whole30. A second effective strategy for Rebels is the Strategy of Clarity, as it focuses on understanding why a habit might have personal value. For me, both of these strategies work well and they also satisfy my Questioner tendency to understand the “why” behind a change I want to make.
I started the Whole30 this past Friday and I can’t say it’s been easy. A few days prior to starting, the negative self talk (called “dragons” in the Whole30 program) started in with, “Why are you doing this again? You’ll fail like you always have” and “You’re going to regret even starting this. You won’t be able to eat whatever you want for an entire MONTH!” After a few moments of panic and overwhelm on day 1, I’ve been able to focus on WHY I’m doing this (see last week’s post!) and I also envision how I will feel on Day 30 when I’ve completed the challenge 100%. What an amazing feeling that will be to be able to say I completed something 100%!
If you’re interested in finding out what personality tendency you are (you can take a free quiz) and strategies to help you, go to (Information about the Four Tendences in this blog post was interpreted from the site.)
Comment below and tell me which personality tendency you are!
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram stories (@katewilliamshealth) for day-to-day happenings during my Whole30.

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