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The Questioner Tendency in Health and Fitness

questioner tendency in health and fitness

Think about the last time you joined a gym. Did you research all of the options in town, make a spreadsheet that detailed the schedule, the amenities, and other factors…then visit the top contenders and ask for member references? If so, you may fall into the questioner tendency!

Questioners do a LOT of research before making decisions, including those that relate to health and fitness. This curiosity and attention to detail is usually an asset for making healthy lifestyle changes, but it can sometimes be a downfall. This post will provide a brief overview of the questioner tendency and tell you how to use your strengths to hit YOUR health and fitness goals in 2021 if you’re a questioner!

What’s the Questioner Tendency?

The questioner is one of four personality types (“tendencies”) profiled by self-help guru Gretchen Rubin in her book The Four Tendencies.

According to Rubin, your tendency is determined by how you respond to both inner and outer expectations. A questioner is someone who does excellent with expectations she sets for herself (example: “I want to lose weight.”) but not as well with expectations imposed upon her by others (example: “My doctor wants me to lose weight.”).

the questioner tendency in health and fitness

Does this sound like you? You can find out by taking this quick quiz!

(Not a questioner? Here are my posts on upholders, obligers, and rebels!)

Regardless of what our tendency is, we all get stuck on our health and fitness goals sometimes. The great news is, knowing the ins and outs of your tendency can help you get unstuck. Let’s talk a bit about how to do that for the questioner. But first, a brief side note on variations on the questioner tendency.

Variations on the Questioner Tendency

Did your quiz results show up as questioner tendency, but you’re just not sure if that’s right? That’s a very common feeling among questioners because it’s the least distinctive of all the tendencies. Once a questioner decides an expectation makes sense to him, he can be just as good at meeting it as an upholder or an obliger.

It’s also possible that you are a variation on the questioner tendency. We all have a bit of each tendency in us, but we overlap most strongly with the two tendencies that border our own. So, you may be a questioner-rebel or a questioner-upholder.

All questioners resist outer expectations that don’t have a clear why. However, questioner-rebels are much quicker to decide “I’m not going to do that because it’s dumb” (and are much more vocal about voicing their objections). This includes expectations that other tendencies generally see as reasonable, like laws.

The difference between a questioner-rebel and a true rebel is that the questioner rebel is driven by a sense that an expectation is arbitrary. By contrast, a rebel won’t do it because they just don’t want to be controlled.

Questioner-upholders are generally more willing than other questioners to accept outer expectations that make sense for others, even when it doesn’t make sense for them. In this way, questioner-upholders more easily meet outer expectations.

The Questioner Tendency in Health and Fitness

If you’re a questioner with big health and fitness goals for 2021, I have great news for you: Your odds of success are high once you do the research.

Questioners do very well at holding themselves accountable to expectations, as long as those expectations make sense to them. This is true even of outer expectations, which questioners can magically flip into inner expectations when they see how the expectation might benefit them.

(Need an example? A questioner might finally follow his coach’s suggestion of doing mobility each day once it clicks with him that it will help him to PR his overhead squat).

Clarity and research are critical for a questioner who wants to make healthy lifestyle changes, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. Here are a few tips for how questioners can use their tendency to their advantage while avoiding common questioner pitfalls.

Know Your Whys

Want to make some health and fitness upgrades to your life? Once you have set an expectation for yourself, you must define why that expectation is worth seeing through in the first place. Are you doing this to have more energy, feel more confident, or get your doctor off your back? Great! As long as the why is meaningful to you, that’s a positive step forward.

Once you know why you should take action, you need to look at your game plan and make sure you understand why that’s the best path to meeting that expectation. Does your coach have the skills and expertise to give you the best advice? Is there a better way to reach your goal?

Questioners only prioritize tasks that they feel are justified. Defining why you want to work out/eat healthier/go to bed early makes you much more likely to follow through.

Do Your Research

I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: Questioners love to research. If you’re in the questioner tendency and you want to start meditating, lose weight, or join a gym, your first step is to do some digging and find the best option for you.

This might include googling the best meditation app, looking into various nutrition coaches or weight loss protocols, or visiting a few gyms to see which one feels like home to you.

…But Avoid Analysis Paralysis

Have you ever weighed the pros and cons of a decision SO MUCH that you get stuck and can’t take action? This phenomenon, called analysis paralysis, is a common barrier to healthy lifestyle changes among questioners.

Doing the research is good because it helps the questioner turn outer expectations into inner expectations, but too much of a good thing can be harmful.

At some point, you might have to try the option you believe to be the best. You can always make a course correction if you don’t like the choice you’ve made or find it difficult to follow through with your commitments. ‘

You Do You…to an Extent

There’s modifying a group fitness workout because you’re concerned about an injury or haven’t mastered a skill yet…and then there’s modifying an exercise because you feel like it.

Questioners LOVE customization, so I usually suspect my frequent modifiers are questioners if there is no clear explanation of why they depart from the programming so often.

If tweaking your workouts will keep you coming to the gym, then you do you! However, keep in mind that our workouts are programmed to make you a better and more well-rounded athlete. Your coach can help you customize your workouts in a way that satisfies your questioner tendency and remains close to the intended stimulus (for example, subbing box jumps for power cleans when the goal is to get some explosive hip action).

Personal training is another excellent option for questioners, simply because it’s designed specifically to meet your goals and preferences.

Trust Your Coaches

You’ve done the research and picked a nutrition coach? Great! Now, trust her expertise and let her do her job.

It’s easy for a questioner who’s been googling too much to decide that he knows better than his coach. If you have concerns, by all means, voice them! A good coach ALWAYS has a reason for why she wants you to take a specific action and should be able to articulate her rationale clearly. Remember that your coach has gone to school or obtained training to do her job and knows you personally (unlike some internet diet weirdo guru).

If she can’t provide you with the answers you need to act on her suggestions, then she might not be a good fit for you.

“Do What You Must So You Can Do What You Want.”

According to Rubin, it’s super important for questioners to remind themselves to do what they must so they can do what they want.

I often see this with questioners who’ve worked out before but who are new to CrossFit. We typically require a five-session on-ramp to dial in technique and get our new friends ready for group classes. And quite a few people (whom I always assume to be questioners) ask why they need to do that when they’ve worked out in the past.

The answer is that our coaches aren’t going to let you load up a heavy barbell and throw it over your head or squat under it until you’ve demonstrated that you can do it safely and with great form.

Want to lift heavy things in class? You have to go through on-ramp first.

The same is true for people with type 2 diabetes who don’t want to take medications. You may not want to work with a nutrition coach to lose weight, but doing that will lower the odds that you need prescriptions.

Sometimes the outer expectation makes sense because it’s a means to an end.

Why The Questioner Tendency Needs Coaches

As a dietitian, nutrition coach, and trainer, I clearly see value in health and fitness coaching. I think coaching can be beneficial for pretty much anyone who wants to make healthy lifestyle changes.

Questioners are great candidates for coaching with their love for customization and dislike for arbitrary rules and procedures. A good coach can help you get and stay on track with a plan that’s designed to help you meet your goals. The customization is admittedly higher with one-on-one nutrition coaching or personal training, but a group coach can still help you do fitness in a way that makes sense for you!

Click here to learn more about our nutrition, personal training, and group fitness coaching options.

Need a little time to dig in on this info before deciding if it makes sense to you? Don’t worry—I’m not offended! You wouldn’t be a questioner if you didn’t. I’ll be discussing this more during my free online Resolution Remix Lunch and Learn on December 29th at noon. Click here to grab your spot—we’ll be talking a LOT about how to set great resolutions and stay accountable to them.

Hope to see you there!

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