Personality type and fitness

Friday morning my alarm went off, and I dragged myself out of bed and into the shower.

I’d signed up for an early morning networking event. (As I try to grow my business, I recognize that these type of events are important, even if I’d rather slide down a razor blade into a bed of salt than spend my spare time socializing with strangers.)

So I put my clothes on and as I got ready to head out the door, was slammed with a realization. 


Not yet anyway.

This is how I get my energy. And also why it's sometimes hard to actually type a blog post, with his head on my wrist and whatnot...

This is how I get my energy. And also why it's sometimes hard to actually type a blog post, with his head on my wrist and whatnot...

So I turned around. Put my Captain America jammies back on and crawled into bed with a pillow over my head. 

I felt a little guilty because I’d spent 20 bucks on the event. And my life coach, whom I really like, was presenting on the problem of saying no (I’m sure she was proud that I said no to this event on saying no…) 

But I’d spent from 10:50 am to 8:05 pm on Thursday either talking to or being talked to at the gym.  

And for me, that much interacting with people, regardless of how much I am enjoying those people, is exhausting. As it turns out, I’m also a very high empath, which means I’m basically a lint roller for people’s emotions. (Empaths are highly sensitive people who have a keen ability to sense what people around them are thinking and feeling. I sense it, and then I take it on.)

I’ve known since college that I am an introvert. My spiritual director administered the Meyers Briggs test to me during my sophomore year at Gannon. As it turns out, I was an off-the-charts introvert (I’m an INFP if you’re curious). For those of you who only know the current Kim, you might be surprised to learn that I'm introverted, as coaching as helped me to become more outgoing over the years.

Introverted does not mean shy, and those two terms are not interchangeable.

The terms introversion and extroversion are preferences popularized by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and later incorporated into what is now known as the Meyers Briggs test I referenced above. 

Extroverts tend to be outgoing and talkative and get their energy from parties and engaging with people. Introverts tend to get their energy from quiet reflection, and that energy dwindles during interactions. 

I know what I need to get and keep my energy up, and I know that quiet reflective time (i.e. pillow over my head) is important for me. But I forgot.

A few years ago I read the book Quiet by Susan Cain. I didn’t think the book had much to teach me (I know…how arrogant of me), mostly because I spent so much time working with my personality type in college and when I lived in the convent.

I was wrong. This book was an excellent reminder that it’s not just conversations and being around people that fatigue me.

It’s loud noise (I don’t love concerts), bright lights (I work in ambient light at every opportunity), and any other type of stimuli. Which means the gym is actually a very draining environment for me, no matter how much I love it.

I write this post mostly because I think so many of us try to force ourselves to go against the grain. Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to terrify yourself sometimes (I’ve been doing more Facebook Live videos, which I recommend if you want to terrify yourself. Also jumping out of planes, but I’m not going to do that.) If you don’t challenge your comfort zone, you’ll never grow.  

But if you don’t also pay attention to your needs and energy levels, you’ll fry yourself. 

Let’s say you are a high introvert and decided to sign up for Crossfit* because your friend insisted you try it. It was okay at first, but gradually, you found yourself dreading each session - maybe because you didn’t feel like working out, but maybe because you just want to put your headphones on and be left alone.

I’m not knocking Crossfit here, but the community aspect is part of it’s appeal. If I spent my day working in an office and rarely talking to people, I could probably enjoy that community vibe. But given the work I do now, there’s no way I want to do a workout that requires engaging with people. 

Choosing an exercise routine that aligns with your personality is a great way to make it stick. That might mean that you work out by yourself two days a week and take a spin class two other days. If you’re an extrovert, that might mean that you find a workout group or class for all of your workouts. 

Last Friday was an eye-opener for me. Despite my self-work and knowledge around my personality, I had to acknowledge that I can’t always force something. Going to a networking event is important and I will go to them. But next time around, I’ll plan that event around my work week and my personality and I’ll attend the event when I’m fresher. I’ll honor my introvert.

*I'm not knocking Crossfit. I just know that the Crossfit environment is largely successful because of the strong community aspect of it.  

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