Why Type A people often struggle with weight loss programs

Get more than a six-pack by working out
Get more than a six-pack by working out

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Story highlights

  • Weight loss programs have a one-size-fits-all structure to appeal to the masses
  • Type A personality types need to leave room for flexibility and changes to workouts

(CNN)Type A personalities are known for being punctual, all-in, organized, competitive and rule-following.

These qualities also mean they can get frustrated with mainstream diets and workout programs when they don't work.
    The problem is that weight loss programs have a one-size-fits-all structure to appeal to the masses. So for Type As committed to a program and following it diligently but frustrated by failure, it may be the program that's a failure, not them.
    But you can also harness the psychology of a Type A personality to turn diets and workout frustrations and failures into successes. Consider three areas of opportunity.

    The all-or-nothing approach

    This is a classic mindset for Type A personalities: You're either all in, or you're all out. If you're getting sick or feeling tired, you'll work out no matter what, because that's what the program says. If you're on a strict diet but it's your birthday, you'll avoid cake at all costs.
    But the problem with this approach is that you'll feel ultra-restricted and be more likely to go overboard next time.
    Therefore, you need to build some flexibility into the rules.
    Are a few bites of cake really going to derail your diet? No. So instead of feeling like one little misstep will derail you, build confidence that you know what's best for you and that your diet is simply an outline, not the law.
    If you are intensely committed to exercise and don't leave room for feeling sick or tired or wanting to change the workout you had scheduled, it can lead to burnout. If you're not getting enough sleep to wake early and work out, you are probably better off sleeping in a few days a week and doing fewer workouts.

    Really intense workouts

    Sometimes, a long or intense workout can seem intimidating. However, if you've got a Type A personality and you're committed to a weight loss program, these workouts may seem non-negotiable! But sometimes, you're exhausted or your body is too sore from a previous workout. A break is needed, and it can be too taxing on the body to follow a regimented workout plan every single day.
    Again, leave room for flexibility and changes to your workouts. Instead of doing an intense spinning class because that's what was on the schedule, allow yourself the freedom to choose a more relaxing yoga class instead. If you run out of time to do a 45-minute workout at the gym without feeling frazzled and rushed, make a deal with yourself that you'll do a 15-minute ab routine in your living room instead.
    Sometimes, the commitment to intense workouts doesn't allow us room to connect with how we feel and what we know is best for our bodies, so taking a moment to assess our feelings is key to sticking to a program long-term.

    Avoiding social gatherings

    If you're following a rigid weight-loss program, going out to eat can cause a lot of anxiety.
    Will you be tempted by food off your plan? Will others comment about your eating habits? Will the chef cook your food correctly (light sauce, light seasoning and grilled rather than fried, please)? Although these are valid concerns when you're on a healthy eating plan, they don't have to cause you to become a hermit. Food programs can always be adapted for your own individual needs.
    For example, if you're going a friend's house, eat something that's on your food plan before heading over, and then pick and choose what you'd like to eat once you're there. Arriving full will decrease your likelihood to overeat foods that aren't on your plan.
    Similarly, when you're out to eat at a restaurant, pick foods that are on your plan, and don't stress too much about the specifics, like how the protein or veggies are cooked or what sauce is on them. You can ask for light sauce or no sauce, or to sub vegetables for mashed potatoes, for example, but avoiding eating out altogether would make anyone go crazy!
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    The benefits of having a Type A personality include finding security in the structure and rigidity of diet and workout programs, but this personality type also needs to allow room for flexibility and changes. Just because you go off the course of one particular program doesn't mean you've gone off-course altogether.
    Making choices that align with how you feel and what you want for yourself is a top priority and is essential to being successful while engaging with a specific and formulated weight loss program.