- are eating disorders a choice?
- 6 ways to make Type A personality traits work for you
- what Type A personalities need to know about NARCISSISTS
Often things aren’t as they seem.
If you had no understanding of eating disorders, they could appear to be about eating cake, wanting to look slim in a bathing suit, having no self control… and wanting to eat MORE cake.
Other common misconceptions are that eating disorders are only an issue for rich, white, straight girls who are overweight. That having an eating disorder is a choice. And recovery is rare.
Those are all myths
Eating disorders can be successfully and fully treated to complete remission, but only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders receive treatment.— The Eating Disorder CoalitionThe truth is disordered eating is a complex mental and physical health issue that affects people of all ages and walks of life.
And the good news is you CAN get healthy, have a full recovery and be a stronger person for having this experience.
As soon as I FINALLY asked for help, life started to get better.
Admirable qualities contribute to eating disorders
A Type A personality is someone who’s:
- driven to succeed
- rigidly organized
- & proactive
…among other traits.
Are people with Type A personality more likely to have an eating disorder?
And when these Type A traits are understood and energy is redirected, incredible things can be accomplished.
Type A personalities are often high-achievers
The 6 examples that follow can help you stop beating yourself up about eating cake (like I did for 10 years) and refocus on the underlying issues that are making your eating disordered.
Then you can break unhealthy behaviors, get RESULTS and use your Type-A energy to become who you want to be!
Type A personalities are go-getters
They have high standards and want to achieve all their goals.
Type A’ers can be impatient!
#1: Example of how a Type A go-getter can develop an eating disorder:
I discovered I’d gained a few pounds when I was 14.
We were on a family trip, driving across Canada and eating at restaurants for most meals. Having burgers with fries and pop and then sitting in a station wagon for hours (looking at stunning scenery) lead me to gain weight.
When we got home I was just a few weeks away from starting high school and I wanted to feel like “me” again.
So I didn’t go back to how I normally ate (which would’ve naturally returned me to my healthy weight) because I was impatient.
I wanted to lose the extra weight NOW!
Now I see WHY my rigid dieting threw me into the vicious cycle of starving, bingeing and purging, which I was caught in for 10 years.
Understand that small, gradual changes build healthy habits. Then the weight you lose is lasting.
Type A personalities like to give more than receive
They’re more comfortable helping than getting help. Type A people will often say no, even to a tiny favour.
#2: Example of how a Type A giver can develop an eating disorder:
Due to my family dynamics, I always wanted to be an easy kid.
I thought that meant getting straight A’s, excelling at sports and getting along with EVERYBODY… no matter what.
A stitch in time saves 9— Thomas Fuller, historian
My hope was ticking these boxes would mean no one would have to worry about me.
So when my eating became disordered, I was determined to sort it out on my own. I didn’t want to bother anyone. So I put off asking for help for as long as possible.
Understand that the earlier you ask for help the easier it is to break self-defeating habits because they’re less ingrained. And remember… asking for help is a strength! Call on other people’s expertise so you can get back to your own.
Type A personalities don’t give up
They have incredible tenacity.
#3: Example of how a Type A’s perseverance can contribute to an eating disorder:
The diet industry conditions us to believe that weight loss is about willpower.
Growing up my identity was built around being a determined person—that’s what I liked about myself the most.
I was never super-amazingly-natural at anything, but I was always willing to do the extra work that lead to great results.
So when I couldn’t lose weight I thought:
Soon it was more important to me to prove I could stick to my (self-defeating) diet, than it was to lose weight.
Understand weight-loss is not about sacrifice, willpower or determination. It’s about building healthy eating and exercise habits so you naturally want to make healthy choices. Like I don’t walk around craving a donut but summon willpower to resist it. I prefer a healthy snack because eating healthy food is a habit!
I’d waaay rather have a slice of watermelon, than a watermelon-flavored candy.
Type A personalities have empathy
People with empathy look at stories from both sides. Often they’ll blame themselves before others. And then they push themselves to work harder to fix a problem.
#4: Example of how a Type A who’s empathetic can develop an eating disorder:
I always blamed myself for not being able to lose weight… rather than blame my weight-loss method.
The more time that passed, the more frustrated I became. So I looked for ways to punish myself—hoping it would deter me from breaking my diet.
I decided that if I made even the slightest “mistake” I wouldn’t let myself:
- go to class
- play sports
- or hang out with friends
I thought taking away things important to me would scare me enough to follow my diet.
But the reality was my diet set me up to FAIL:
only eat fruit until noon
salad with low-fat dressing for lunch
run between 10 and 17km after school with my cross country team
eat as little boiled chicken, baked potato and salad as I could get away with at dinner…
There’s only so many days you can keep that up before you binge or faint.
I’ve done both.
There is no such thing as failure; failure is just life trying to move us in another direction— Oprah, media executive
Trying to stick to my (self-defeating) diet made my eating and life disordered.
Understand that if something’s not working you’re not a failure. It’s simply time to try a new approach.
Type A personalities strive for perfection
They pursue excellence.
#5: Example of how a Type A who seeks flawless-ness can develop an eating disorder:
I was always trying to stick to my diet perfectly. I had all-or-nothing, black and white thinking. Even if I thought I ate one bite too many, I’d say I ruined my diet and had to restart “tomorrow”. Then I’d be “between” diets—where after long periods of starving myself I’d end up overeating…
This pattern developed into starving, bingeing and purging.
Understand that there’s no exactness to eating. There’s no “perfect” amount to eat. Don’t get lost in the details! The diet industry puts so much emphasis on:
- weighing food
- counting calories
- & other rigid rules, like: Eat 8 almonds for your 3 o’clock snack…
Ignore the diet industry!
I lost weight naturally 20 years ago, when I was finally willing to be more flexible.
I simply focus on eating ROUGHLY balanced meals made MOSTLY of whole foods.
Type A personalities are anxious
They have a nagging feeling that gets in the way of truly enjoying the moment, until whatever they need to do gets DONE!
#6: Example of how a Type A with anxiety can develop into an eating disorder
Following my diet perfectly was a measurable way to know I’d tried my best—then I could be sure I was working hard to lose weight. And then the nagging feeling would go away and I could feel good.
Knowing I’d put in 100% suppressed my anxiety.
Understand that a little anxiety is healthy.
It helps you get stuff done!
People with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations— Mayo Clinic
But if your anxiety is interrupting your everyday life, book an appointment with your family doctor or go to a walk-in clinic.
You may want to keep track of when you’re preoccupied by anxiety so you can share these experiences with your physician and together plan the next steps.
Sometimes just being aware of self-defeating patterns is enough to break them!
Type A personalities can develop eating disorders due to being:
Go-getters: wanting to get stuff DONE quickly!
Giving: not wanting to ask for help
Empathetic: seeing situations from all sides and often blaming themselves
Persistent: willing to do extra work
Perfectionist: stuck on getting things exact
… And all these beautiful traits can create a perfect storm for an eating disorder that’s fueled by ANXIETY; a terrible feeling that takes over your body and mind until you complete a task, like losing weight.
No matter your obstacles…
As well as having a Type A personality, I was diagnosed with OCD…
OCD is (drum roll!)… an anxiety disorder.
And I got healthy! And I’ve been healthy for 20 years.
If I can do it, you can too.
You can redirect all these powerful, Type A personality traits
Use them to help you become who you want to be, inside and out.
But make sure your Type A personality works for you instead of against you!
Understanding makes all the difference. Then you get good at knowing when to press pause before you fall into a self-defeating pattern.
For instance… Persevere!
Be like The Little Engine That Could (popular book when I was a kid.) Chug along saying “I think I can, I think I can…” and put in your best effort. But if things aren’t working take a step back and try a new approach so you’re using your energy effectively.
Type A personality and Narcissists
I can’t finish this post without sharing an important WARNING.
Having a Type A personality can attract narcissists into your life.
Check out these INCREDIBLY insightful articles that help you understand these toxic relationships:
Knowledge is power.
Make Today Count
Make a small change rather than aim for dramatic change
Like substitute just one of your diet cokes for a glass of water.
Ask for help rather than try to prove you can do something on your own
If you’re cutting down on your workouts, ask a friend if you can call her at the end of the week to report your progress.
Stop blaming yourself and consider other solutions
If you keep overeating at night, try having a bigger dinner or snack in the evening.
Keep track of how anxiety interferes with your life
Grab a sheet of paper and log when & why you feel anxious over the course of a week.
Pick one of the above changes to try out today!
Build healthy eating and exercise habits. A healthy weight will follow.
Understanding how your greatest strengths can also act as a weakness helps you work smarter, not harder.
When I finally asked for help I realized I’d been trying to lose weight the WRONG way for years. Sign up below to find out how I FIXED the biggest weight-loss mistake. It just takes 60 seconds to read!
Was looking for a song about Types.
The first I came across had a couple guys on a beach ogling the ladies and saying which were their type. Hmmm… not really a fit. Then I saw this song and, well, I hope you enjoy this masterpiece as much as I did.
“…You’re a T to the Y to the P to the E… ”
How has your Type A personality helped you succeed in sports, school, your career, the arts or in another area of your life?
Does this post about Type A personalities resonate with you?
Know anyone who may be wondering: Are people with Type A personality more likely to have an eating disorder? Please share this post.
Understanding your personality helps you see why your “weaknesses” are strengths, use them to your advantage & be proud of who you are.
Sharing what I learned makes the 10 years I STRUGGLED worth it