Episode 01: Gretchen Rubin on the Four Tendencies and the Whole30
Gretchen Rubin (she/her) is a best-selling author, speaker, podcaster, and creator of the Four Tendencies framework.
Melissa and Gretchen discuss the Four Tendencies (Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel), how each tendency relates to inner and outer expectations, and how knowing your tendency can help you be more effective in changing any habit. They also break down how to approach the Whole30 for each archetype, so you can work with your tendency (not against it) to maximize Whole30 success.
Connect with Gretchen
Melissa on Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Whole30 books from Melissa:
It Starts With Food (for Questioners)
The Whole30 (for Upholders)
The Whole30 Day by Day (for Obligers)
Food Freedom Forever… or seriously don’t bother, because the Whole30 probably isn’t for you anyway (for Rebels)
Hi, my name is Melissa Urban and you’re listening to Do the Thing, a podcast where we explore what’s been missing every time you’ve tried to make a change and make it stick.
Today, my very special guest is the one and only Gretchen Rubin, bestselling authors, speaker, podcaster, and the creator of the Four Tendencies framework. I’ve been friends with Gretchen for a few years now and we’ve had so many conversations about how the Four Tendencies fits so perfectly with the Whole30 program. Today for the very first time, Gretchen will share how you can hack the Whole30 based on your tendency and provide specific tips for Upholders questioners, Obligers and Rebels to maximize Whole30 success. Before I introduce Gretchen, although she needs no introduction in this room, let me tell you a little bit about her. Gretchen Ruben (pronouns she, her) is the author of several books including Outer Order, Inner Calm, Better Than Before, The Happiness Project, Happier at Home and The Four Tendencies. Her books have sold more than 3.5 million copies worldwide in more than 30 languages. On her weekly podcast: Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she discusses good habits and happiness with her sister Elizabeth Craft. Gretchen started her career in law and was clerking for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor when she realized she wanted to be a writer. She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters. Everyone welcome Gretchen Ruben to Do the Thing. Gretchen, it feels a little bit surreal to welcome you to my podcast and onward project podcast. But welcome to do the thing.
I am so happy to be talking to you. We’ve been talking about this for so long. You are one of the first interviews on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcasts… maybe you were the first. I’ve been so excited for you to have a podcast. I cannot wait to listen and I’m so thrilled to be talking to you today.
Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. Yeah, we have been talking about this for a long time and it’s finally here, and I finally get to have the conversation with you about the Four Tendencies as it pertains to the Whole30. But before we jump into all that, at the beginning of every podcast, I ask every guest, Gretchen, what’s your thing?
You know, my thing right now is silence. I’ve been on a book tour, which I love. I love getting to talk to people and meet people and catch up with friends and travel around and meet booksellers and podcast listeners. And I love doing that. But I also am a person who needs a lot of silence and I’m kind of starved for silence. So I need to, when this book tour is over, really push myself to carve out the silence to bring myself back into equilibrium.
I love it. And I bet knowing your tendency has a lot to do with knowing that you need silence right now after this big book tour.
Yes. And I know how I need to do it, which is, I just need to block off big chunks of time on my calendar and just be like reading, writing and no appointments, no meetings, no talking, no friends, no podcasts, just words on a page and my own thoughts. (MU) And I can’t wait because if we block it out as Upholders we’re going to do it. We’re going to hold to it. (GR) Yes. (MU) So we have been talking about Four Tendencies, I’ve introduced it already. That’s really the focus of today’s discussion is your Four Tendencies framework. So tell us about the Four Tendencies. (GR) Yes. This is a personality framework that I developed, to explain patterns that I saw in why people act and why they don’t act. Because sometimes we’re puzzled by ourselves where, like, this is really important to me. I don’t understand why I’m not able to follow through.
Sometimes I follow through, sometimes I don’t or I’m trying to help somebody else follow through and I, I’m not doing it in an effective way. I want to be more effective and so the Four Tendencies is a framework to help you like pinpoint how people are alike and how they’re different in a way that allows you to see how to more effectively set things up in a way that allows you to keep your promises spirit. (MU) Yes. When I first read the Four Tendencies, and I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy before it was published, it was the kind of thing where I read it and I thought, A, this is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever read. B, this is so obvious. Like, why didn’t I think of it? Why didn’t someone else think of this already? Like it’s so perfectly obvious in terms of helping us implement change.
(MU) How did you come up with the Four Tendencies? (GR) Well, you know, it’s funny that you say that. It’s obvious because I agree and one of the things that’s funny is once you know the framework… the Four Tendencies, you see it all around you. You see it on television shows, you see it in coworkers, you’d see it in yourself, it’s, it’s very blatant. It’s not a subtle thing like some personality profiles. Kind of everybody sort of fits into it. And the way I got my first inkling that there was something to analyze and try to understand was when a friend of mine may said something, and I’m sure Melissa, you’ve heard a version of this a million times. She said the thing that’s weird is, I know I would be happier if I exercised. When I was in high school, I was on the track team and I never missed track practice.
(GR) So why can’t I go running now? And I thought, well why? Because it’s the same person, it’s the same behavior at one time. She effortlessly followed through and now she’s really struggling. How do you explain the difference? (MU) That makes complete sense. There are so many times, whether it’s with the Whole30 or any habit change, and it’s really the whole premise of this podcast based on my experience with the Whole30 and my experience with recovery and addiction, we want to do something, we know we need to do it. It seems like the stars are aligned in some cases…
…that we can do it, like with running. All you have to do is put your running shoes on and go outside and spend 20 minutes doing it. But we’re not doing it and we don’t know why. And it is entirely possible that knowing your Tendency and applying the framework is what has been missing with your ability to change your habits, especially your ability to succeed with the Whole30 so I want to talk about each of the Four Tendencies. Can you give me an overview of what they are and what they mean when it comes to inner and outer expectations?
Absolutely. So the Four Tendencies is a framework that divides people into four categories. Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel. And what this looks at is a very narrow but significant aspect of your personality. It’s looking at how you respond to expectations and all of us face two kinds of expectations, outer expectations, a work deadline or a request from a friend, an inner expectation, my own desire to stick to Whole30 my own desire to keep a new year’s resolution. (MU) So can you describe the Four Tendencies—Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, Rebel? (GR) Now I’m going to explain the four and most people don’t even need to take a quiz. There is a quiz at quiz.GretchenRubin.com and it’s free and quick and like 2 million people have taken this quiz. But like I say, and I think Melissa, this is your experience…
…Like you often don’t need to take the quiz and you’re like, oh yeah, I totally know what I am. Just from a brief description. Upholders are people who readily meet outer and inner expectations, so they stick to Whole30 pretty easily. They want to know what other people expect from them, but their expectations for themselves are just as important. But their motto is, “discipline is my freedom.” Then there are Questioners, Questioners question all expectations. They’ll do something if they think it makes sense. So they’re making everything an inner expectation. If it meets their standards, I’ll stick to it. If it fails their standard. They will push back. They resist anything arbitrary, unjustified, inefficient. They love to customize. They want to make things just right for them. They need to have reasons. Their motto is “I’ll comply once you convince me why.” Then there are Obligers, and Obligers are like my friend on the track team.
They readily meet outer expectations, but they struggle to meet inner expectations. So they like my friend had no trouble running when she had a team and a coach expecting her to show up. But when she was just trying to go running on her own, she struggled. Their moto is, “you can count on me and I’m counting on you to count on me.” And then there are Rebels. Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike. They want to do what they want to do in their own way, in their own time. They can do it. Anything they choose to do, they can do anything they want to do. They often love a challenge. If you ask or tell them to do something, they’re very likely to resist. And typically they don’t like to tell themselves what to do. Like take a 10:00 AM spin class on Saturdays because they’re like, I dunno what I’m going to want to do it on Saturday. And just knowing somebody wants me to show up is sort of bugging me. Their motto is, “you can’t make me…
…and neither can I.” (MU) I find Rebels The most confounding of the tendency probably because I’m an Upholder. And of course once you realize what your tendency is, it makes it very obvious to see why other tendencies are so confusing for you. Like I’m an Upholder, I don’t understand why you can’t just do it. It’s not hard. Just do it. And knowing this framework and understanding how everybody responds differently allows you to be a better leader and a better motivator, whether it’s your family, your work employees, or if you’re leading a community like I am. In your experience, does everyone fall into one of these Four Tendencies? Like has anyone come to you and you’ve said, oh boy, maybe you’re outside of this framework.
GR: 09:43 You know, for the most part I think people really do fall under this framework and I think it’s inborn. It’s not something that you’re raised to. It’s something that is part of hardwired as your personality and people really do fit within one. And if you feel like you’re one of each, then you’re probably a Questioner because Questioners feel like when it makes sense, I act like an Upholder and when it doesn’t make sense, I act like Rebel. You’re doing what makes sense to you. So that makes you a Questioner. So feeling like you’re all four is a sign of Questioner. Now all of the tendencies overlap; two tendencies. You and I are both Upholders. Well Upholders are like Questioners in that both entities meet inner expectations, but Upholders are also like Obligers in that both of those tendencies respond to outer expectations. So you can be an Upholder has more like a Questioner or an Upholder who’s more like an Obliger and that kind of colors how it comes out. But I do think that yes, you really do fit squarely within one
That makes complete sense. And I am an Upholder with a side of Questioner, obviously that makes total sense to me. And is one of the Four Tendencies, like more popular than the others? Do more people fall into one tendency?
That is a great question because yes, the biggest tendency for both men and women, the biggest tendency is Obliger. You either are an Obliger or you have many Obligers in your life. and a lot of times Obligers think that what they experience is just human nature. They’re like, busy parents like us can’t make time for ourselves. And they think that’s just like part of being a parent because that’s an Obliger struggle, but it feels ubiquitous. A lot of people are Obligers. Yeah. After that, is Questioner, that’s also a big category. The smallest one, although it’s quite conspicuous, is Rebel And then the Upholder tendency is just slightly larger than the Rebels.
Fantastic. And your friend who was running track with a group when her team expected her to show up and then had a hard time getting out and running on her own was an example of that Obliger tendency.
Yes. Because the key thing for Obligers, and this is maybe the most important thing I like, they’ve gotten from the Four Tendencies framework in the Four Tendencies book. The thing that I think has been one of the most important, revelations for people is if you’re an Obliger and you want to meet an inner expert patient, you have to have a system of outer accountability. If you want to read more, join a book group, if you want to exercise more, work out with a trainer or link up with a friend who’s going to be annoyed. If you don’t show up, think of your duty to be a role model to other people. Think of your duty to your future self. There’re all different kinds of outer accountability and different Obligers will rely on different forms of outer accountability, But what they share is that they need outer accountability.
Sometimes Obligers want to whip themselves into a frenzy of motivation. I just need to get motivated, okay, what I want, and then it doesn’t, it doesn’t work. So they’re like, okay, and I’m sure you’ve seen this where people are just, they’re flooded with desire to reach an aim and they don’t understand why that’s not turning into action. If you’re an Obliger and you’re experiencing that, outer accountability is what will allow you to follow through. (MU) Yes, it is what has been missing every time you’ve tried to make a change and make it stick. I love it. After the break, when we come back, I’m going to ask you about your best tips for succeeding on the Whole30 specifically as an Upholder, a Question or an Obliger and a Rebel. So we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of your best recommendations for hacking the Whole30 according to your tendencies. When we come back.
We’re back with Gretchen Ruben and she’s about to talk about how to have the Whole30 based on each of the Four Tendencies. So we’re going to start with my tendency and your tendency, the Upholders, what is your relationship to the Whole30 if you are an Upholder? (GR) So probably Upholders have a, among the easiest times it was something like this. Upholders tend to love to execute. they’re really good at if they sort of make up their mind, put something on the calendar and on the to do list, it’s pretty easy for them to follow through. And it’s also pretty easy for them to hold onto an inner expectation even when it conflicts with outer expectations. there’s kind of a wholeness to Upholders where it’s like, oh, you know, this is a lovely, you, you bake these cupcakes yourself. It looks so good, but you know, I’m doing Whole30, so I’m not eating this. To an Upholder that feels appropriate…
…Cause it’s like, well I need to keep to what’s right for me. Whereas like an Obliger might feel a lot of like, oh, how can, you know? It’s hard for me that this happened point you, it’s hard for me to, if you expect me to eat it. And that’s coming to me from the outside. It’s hard for me to meet my inner expectations, unless I figured out how to do that. So that can be easy for Upholders. (MU) It almost seems like the Whole30 was written for by, because it was, I wrote the rules before I had any idea of the Four Tendencies framework. And if you go back to the very beginning in the 2009 Whole30 program rules, I literally wrote, this is not hard. Like if you can’t manage this…
…for 30 days, go somewhere else. Because I have a bunch of people who you know, can do it and who want to do it and who are going to do it. And I had no, I mean I was not aware of the other tendencies and that I had to speak to all four of them at once. And of course as the program has grown and as I’ve grown and developed, I’ve worked, you know, language to appeal to the other tendencies into the framework. But in the beginning it was basically it’s 30 days, do it, peace out. I’ll talk to you at day 31
Well, and I think you raise a very crucial point, which is it’s very easy to forget that other people had different struggles and challenges and strengths and that if you’re only talking to the people who are like you because you assume that everyone’s like you and then your message is not going to be received as effectively because it’s just easy to assume that other people see the world the way we do. We don’t even realize we were seeing the world and in a specific way we think, well this is just the way the world is. I mean it’s very hard to remember that people just can have a different view and it can be very pervasive and hard to put your finger on.
Yes, and I’m very grateful that I was able to see that different messages, we’re landing in different ways and embrace the Four Tendencies framework before you had even created it. But now that I know about the Four Tendencies, it permeates everything I do. I’m always thinking about it in terms of my support and in terms of my messaging. So for that, I’m very grateful. It sounds like the Whole30 is meant for Upholders, but there is a dark side to being an Upholder on the Whole30 and you and I have talked about this, it’s why you haven’t completed a Whole30 yet. Can you talk about what some of the challenges for Upholders maybe?
Well, Upholders can sometimes experience tightening. And tightening is when the rules get tighter and tighter and tighter until they’re, they can be choking and you know, and sometimes it’s good, but sometimes it can, it can be, you can find to become the mileage bureaucrat of your own paperwork. And I’m already a very low car person. So in that way, like a lot of the Whole30 comes very naturally to me because there’s a lot that I would, I just don’t eat at all that are things that people would do as part of Whole30. I worry that I could get so tightened on Whole30 and, and so kind of once I got into it, I could never like proceed into kind of the maintenance. It would just start feeling like I had to be on this forever in a way that might really interfere with my ability to lead a normal life. Cause if I get walls in my head, I start getting very, very, bound to them. And so while much of it is very attractive to me, I’m wondering like, how would I manage kind of the day 33…
…you know, day 40 and that makes total sense. (MU) And it’s a big part of why over the last few years we’ve started to implement what I call my let good enough be good enough campaign where we are talking about how there is no, like if you’re trying to do the perfect Whole30, it doesn’t exist. And I’m sharing my meals where they are like Applegate, microwave hot dogs and leftover like have sweet potato because that’s all I have the capacity for…
…but it’s still the Whole30 meal and that is good enough and it’s something to be proud of. So that’s messaging. I think that will help those Upholders who maybe do want to tighten on the program and take the program to what won’t be a very healthy place. (GR) And I think that the answer per Upholders is always like exactly what you’ve done with yourself, which is to say, let me keep my eye on their ultimate values and what I’m ultimately wanting to achieve for myself and remember that I’m, I’m the boss of me and I can tighten and loosen the rules as serves me better. And sometimes it’s like I just need to like make room in my life for this. and so you’re able to do that. And I, I think I would be able to do it too, but I, I worry that I might not be able to. (MU) That makes total sense, I mean, listen, I’ve had a lot of practice with this, especially after being introduced to the Four Tendencies.
I’ve been way more conscientious about my Upholder tendencies. And there are times where I will ask myself, do I really need, like I said, I was going to do it this way, but do I really need to do it this way if that’s no longer serving me? And that’s been a difficult lesson to learn, but one that I’ve been practicing. (GR) So always mindfulness. Yes. You know, it’s always back to mindfulness. It’s a, you know, which is, it feels like, oh my gosh, are we back to mindfulness again? But it is, it’s like understand why you’re doing what you’re doing and that you’re choosing to do what you’re doing instead of just defaulting into some kind of automatic behavior that’s not what you really want. (MU) Yes. And then it sounds a lot like my side of questioners. So let’s talk a little bit about Questioners and the Whole30 how is a Questioner going to approach the program if they really want to do it and want to be successful?
So questioners, it’s like, why are they doing this? So they really have to be convinced about the science, the rationale, the logic, your authority as a someone to tell them to do something. In anytime, a question of sort of having trouble following through with something. I always say, now are you really convinced this is the best thing? Or as part of you still saying like, oh, I haven’t really bought in or I’m not really convinced. Now one of the things that, that question is often have trouble with is anything that seems arbitrary. And anytime you throw out a number there, like why 30 why not 35? Why not 22? Why not a hundred you know, and so if you have an answer, like let me explain my experience and the, and the research by 30 makes sense. And they’re like, oh, okay, I get it.
That makes sense. Somebody thought this through. This is not just some random number. and they also love to customize and they love to sort of hack themselves. And so one of the things that’s very persuasive to Questioners about something like Whole30 is like this is an experiment on yourself. And once you learned about yourself by going through this process, then going forward, you’re going to be able to craft what you do in a way that’s going to be much more customized for what’s best for you. I’m going to take you through it in this kind of very logical reasoned way and this, this is the knowledge that you need to move forward. So that’s what allows a question and a really bite in. (MU) Perfect. And it’s funny because the first two books I wrote, it starts with food and the Whole30
are perfectly tailored to questionnaires; Upholders. So if you’re an Upholder and you just want to do the program, I’m going to send you to the Whole30 book. It is the step by step everything you need all in one place guide to how to do the program. If you’re a questioner, I’m going to send you to, it starts with food because in that book I explained all this science, we answer all the why’s, why 30 days? Why are we eliminating this? Why are we eating this? Why are we doing three meals a day with no snacking? And if I can get you to understand and buy into the science and the background, then you’ll feel far more prepared to do the program.
Exactly. So one question is, we’re feeling frustrated so they are like, okay look at the research and reassure yourself this is the best way for you to do this. And, and also like, try it. This is an experiment. If you don’t like it, then you’ve learned something about yourself and you can move on. But just this is why
this is going to work for you. Right? Yeah.
Yes. And that last piece of advice I think is so helpful because Questioners have the tendency to have paralysis by analysis where they’re doing so much digging and researching that they never actually do the thing.
Exactly. You know, don’t get, it was the whole like, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Don’t get it perfect. Get it going. Like try something, see if it works. Even if it doesn’t work, you learn more from you than if you’re just stalling out, spending out with like looking for the perfect thing, and a year goes by and you haven’t done anything. It’s always more efficient to do something now and learn than it is to just wait for the perfect solution. Because a lot of times we just don’t have perfect solutions.
And your husband is a questioner and sometimes you as the Upholder are the one giving him the nudge to say, okay, we’ve researched new refrigerators long enough.Can we please just pull the trigger? So maybe leaning on your uphold friends is a good thing to do. Yeah. All right. We’re going to take one more break after this break. I want you to explain, the Obliger tendency and the Rebel tendency when it comes to the Whole30. Now Obligers who are listening, you’ve listened this far, we fully expect you to continue listening to figure out how to hack your tendency for the Whole 30. Now Rebels I don’t actually care if you finish listening or not. You probably don’t want to do it anyway. The Whole30 is probably too hard. So you know, you can stick around or not. It doesn’t matter to me. We’ll be back after the break. (MU) All right. Welcome back to Gretchen Ruben on Do The Thing, we’ve been talking about how to hack the Whole30 to maximize success based on your tendency and Gretchen’s Four Tendencies framework. We’re about to start talking about Obligers the biggest population group in terms of the Four Tendencies. Gretchen, what can Obligers do to ensure success with the Whole30.
So Obligers to meet an inner expectation like something like Whole30 Obligers need outer accountability. That is just the way, and sometimes Obligers don’t want, they were like, they’re like, I don’t want to depend on outer accountability. I want to just do it for myself. Just get the Outer Accountability. That’s the easy way to do it. Yeah. So there’s so many ways with Whole30 that you could get out or accountability. I mean, you could have an accountability group where people are going through it together and you’re holding each other accountable. You could think of your duty to be a role model for other people. You, you want to model for your family that you’re going to do this. You know? there’s so many ways with Whole30 that you could get out accountability, but you just need to make sure that that outer accountability is there. because it’s crucial.
That’s perfect. And there’s so much we have done with the Whole30 to ensure that Obliger is, have that outer expectation met. So the first thing we do is we tell them, tell someone you’re doing the Whole30, get that accountability. We had a nudge tech service back in January where, you know, you got a text every single morning from me encouraging you on the Whole30 and at the end of every night you had to say, yes, I completed my Whole30 or no, I chose not to stick to the program today. And knowing that I was going to be watching for your response was huge. The Whole30 coaching program where you can sign up with a coach is another way that you can get accountability. So knowing that so many people are Obligers, we’ve created a ton of resources to help you meet those outer expectations. What are some challenges for Obligers on the Whole30
The thing about Obligers is that sometimes like different forms of accountability will work for some Obligers and not others. So for instance, some people might really respond to the text and some like wouldn’t be enough. They have to actually have a person that they know who’s holding them accountable. So if you’re an Obliger and something’s not working, there’s other things that you can try. For example, when Obligers pay for things that makes them feel like, oh well I have to go cause I paid for it for some Obligers feeling like they paid almost makes them feel like they’re off the hook. So I think, and this is part of why your program has lots of options, because it’s like even if something doesn’t work for you, if there’s other things that you can try and so don’t be surprised, prized if some of them fall flat for you and some really resonate and help you stick to it.
Another thing, and I wonder if you’ve seen this and it’s, it’s something that can be very, very frustrating to Obligers is that sometimes with Obligers they will meet, meet, meet, meet, meet expectations. And then suddenly they will snap and they will say, this I will not do. And it’s when they’re feeling kind of ignored or neglected or taken advantage of or voided, it’s a way to kind of blast them out of a situation. the, when there’s too much pressure for them, this is Obliger Rebellion. And sometimes it can be beneficial, but sometimes it can be very destructive. And I think, and what I’ve seen is that per some Obligers when they feel like there’s no place in their life where they can Rebel, like it’s too dangerous for them to have an Obliger Rebellion at work cause they could get fired or it’s too, you know, they don’t feel like they could have a blight to Rebellion at home for whatever reason.
Sometimes Obliger Rebellion will turn on oneself. And then there’s almost like this punishing that can happen where it’s like, not only am I not doing it, but I’m like going to go deep into the other way. And it does sometimes for people, the form of a health behavior. and you know, food is emotional as Melissa, you’ve talked about so beautifully and, and so I think for some Obligers it’s like if you see this happening in yourself, say maybe what I’m Rebelling against is happening elsewhere in my life and feeling exploited or taken advantage of elsewhere, myself protection this kind of behavior and create outer accountability for myself and try to have that Obliger Rebellion happening in a place where it can really help me by relieving me of experts, not directing it at myself because that’s not helping me.
That is so important. And my best friend from back east as an Obliger and she and I talk about her Obliger Rebellions all the time. And usually what happens is it’s, it’s because she’s not setting boundaries in her personal life. She is allowing others to kind of take advantage of her or she’s not expressing her feelings and then it turns into Rebellion in areas that actually are really important to her and matter. So we’ve discussed, you know, you’re exactly right, looking for other areas in your life in which you feel like you know, you’re meeting these outer expectations to your own detriment and setting boundaries. They’re in a way that feels healthy so that you can honor the commitments to yourself that are really important to you.
Yeah. I think I met your friend when we did our event and Cambridge together a couple of years ago, wasn’t she there?
She was there and she asked this very same question. Yes, absolutely.
We’ve talked about this and the way you put it is so perfect in that it’s like let this be something that is helpful to you and not something that prevents you from doing something else that’s important to you.
Absolutely. Okay, Jenn, so if you’re listening, which of course you are, there’s a little love live reminder from me and Gretchen. All right, let’s move into the last tendency, the Rebels, the Rebels are perhaps the most like confounding tendency because for someone like me, I’m like, okay, if someone else doesn’t want you to do it and like you’re Rebelling against my orders, I understand that there’s a piece of me that gets that. But if you want to do something and you’re Rebelling against your own desires, that is so confusing to me. Talk about Rebels on the Whole30 and how Rebels who really want to do the program can make it work.
Well, you’re exactly right. And this is often very frustrating for Rebels themselves because they’ll, like I remember a Rebel saying to me, like I’ll wake up in the morning and say I’m giving up bread. And then like two hours later I go out and buy a loaf of sourdough bread and wheat and, and, and eat the whole thing because I’m not going to impose a rule on myself. So how does a Rebel do something like Whole30. Well, you hinted at this earlier, before the break where you were sometimes Rebels get very excited about a Challenge. And so the idea like, you know what? People that didn’t think a Rebel like me couldn’t do Whole 30. You know what? Watch me. Because often that challenge and that desire to all show you, I want to prove myself or I want to challenge myself. Like I’m going to learn, I’m going to run a marathon this year.
I’m going to do a Whole30, you know, I’ve been talking about Whole30 for years. This is the year I’m going to do it. I’m like starting next month, I’m going to go all the way. That can often be very exciting to Rebels. But another thing that’s very exciting to Rebels is one of their highest values is identity. So it’s like they want to live up to their identity. You’re not doing Whole30 because you’re supposed to, you’re not doing a Whole30 because your spouse is doing it. You’re not doing a Whole30 because your doctor tells you that you need to eat healthier. You’re not doing it for anybody else. You’re doing it because you’re a healthy, vital person who respects your body and this is what you want to do. Or you’re a person who’s always interested in trying out like the most cutting edge scientific trends.
This is easy. This is the answer. This is what I want cause this is the life I choose. It’s so true. (MU) The way I usually describe, or the way I talked to the Rebels about the Whole30 is that the Whole30 is the most counter-culture, stick it to the man program. You can try it right? The man wants you focused on weight loss. The man tells you that like the skinnier you are the healthier you are. The man wants you to restrict and to deprive and do not self experiment just let someone tell you what to eat for the rest of your life. And the most rebellious thing you can do is say, nope, I’m going to do this self-experiment. I’m going to figure it out for myself and I’m going to create my own rules based on what I’ve learned.
Absolutely. I’m gonna create my own reality. And it another way, it kind of about that is like, oh, the big food companies are trying to trick us with their like campaigns and their, you know, their processed foods and like, you know, every, they’re the making it available. Like I can’t walk out, you know, out of the gas station without buying a bag of whatever. Right. But they can’t pull me. They can’t change me. They can’t keep you addicted to this or that because I’m free. I decide what I want. So if you are a Rebel and you’re doing the Whole30 and you find yourself Rebelling against your own desire to complete the program, what’s a strategy you can use to kind of keep you on track? Well, one thing is to tie back into that identity. I want to do it, I want to show myself what I can do.
People think I can’t do it. I think I can’t do it well. Well I can, people say that a Rebel can’t make it, can’t stick to rules for themselves. We’ll, I’m the kind of Rebel who can stick to the rules for myself. and it’s also just the identity of like, I wanted to see what I could get from this. I know, you know, I want to get what I want and the way that I get what I want is I go all the way and then at different points I can reevaluate. But, I’m going to, yeah, this is what I want and this is what I’m going to do. But you’re the boss of you. If you want to quit, you can quit then you’re a quitter, you know? but if you want to quit, you can because no one can tell you what to do.
You are the boss of you. And if you decide it’s not right for you, then, then that’s who you are and you can and absolutely, it’s totally within your control. This is, if you have the time and the inclination to do it. (MU) I think I’m going to steal that last line, which is like, okay, Rebel, you don’t want to finish the Whole30. Don’t, you’ll be a quitter but go ahead and quit if you want to. All right, so this has been such an incredible discussion. I think everybody, whether you’re new to the Whole30 or a Whole30 alumni looking to do the program again or just if you’re trying to continue your Whole30 habits in your food freedom, will be able to take something away from this discussion and be able to better uphold your promises to yourself at the end of every show.
Gretchen, I will ask everyone, what’s one piece of advice you can share with our listeners who are ready to do the thing? (GR) Where my piece of advice is something that I started see when, I wrote my book, the happiness project, and then with everything that I’ve done… a lot of times people think, well, there’s one best way to do something. There’s one right way. There’s one efficient way, and I said, just do that. Instead of saying, what kind of person are you? When do you succeed? How do we set this up in the way that’s right for you? If you’re a morning person, get up and exercise first thing in the morning. If you’re a night person take it into account, maybe you need to exercise during your lunch hour or after it.
You might say, well there’s this is one program. It’s one program, but you can do this in the way that’s right for you. You can frame it in the way that works for you and that’s going to allow you to be more effective. Um, a lot of times people that are like, something’s wrong with me. I can’t use a to do list. I can’t stick to something on the calendar. I can’t keep my promises to myself. There’s nothing wrong with you. You can say, well, what kind of person am I? How do I succeed? How do I suit this to me? Rather than try to jam myself into someone else’s, I’m sure of what a person should look like. (MU) What a perfect end to this conversation, Gretchen. Where can people take the quiz to determine their tendency and connect with you and learn more about all of your books and podcasts and materials?
Well, I love to connect with listeners and viewers and readers. So look me up everywhere. Connect however you like, I love insights and observations and questions. I have a website, gretchenrubin.com, and that’s a clearinghouse there is more there than anybody would ever want about happiness and good habits and human nature, outer order, inner calm. The Four Tendencies. If you want to take the quiz, it’s a free quiz. Is that quiz.gretchenrubin.com, they’re like 11 questions. It’s very quick. I have a podcast called happier with Gretchen Rubin and then I am on social media. My handle is Gretchen Rubin on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. And again, I got a ton of resources for anybody who wants to learn more, or read sample chapters, listen to audio clips, anything like that. (MU) Fantastic. We’ll make sure to include all of those links in our show notes because people are going to want to connect with you on every available platform. Trust me and Gretchen, thank you so much for being on do the thing and talking about the Four Tendencies and the Whole30. (GR) It’s been so fun. It made me so happy to come on thank you so much and…
congratulations. (MU) Thank you. Thank you for making me part of the onward project. I’m so excited to be part of your podcast series.
Thanks for joining me today on do the thing. You can continue the conversation with me at Melissa_ Hartwig on Instagram and visit Whole30.com/podcast for today’s show notes and bonus content. If you have a question for dear Melissa or a topic idea for the show, leave me a voicemail at (321) 209-1480. Do the thing is part of the onward project family of podcasts brought together by Gretchen Rubin all about how to make your life better. Check out the other onward project podcast, happier with Gretchen Rubin, side Hustle school, and Happier in Hollywood. Finally, before you leave, please subscribe. Leave a review and invite your friends to do the thing. See you next week.