Okay, not really. Diabetes is obviously more than a mental game.
CrossFit, on the other hand…
Let me explain:
I joined a CrossFit gym upon arriving here. Each session has a WOD (Workout of the Day) that you try to complete as quickly and powerfully as you can. There are times when you want to give up, times when you think “This is too tough, why am I doing this?” It’s not easy, but you have to remind yourself that the outcome will be worth it. You will feel stronger and better. This is all extremely relevant to what I’ve been reading this week in Conner and Norman’s Predicting Health Behaviour, namely the Health Belief Model (HBM) and the Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) chapters.
HBM focuses on what drives people towards, or away from, making a change. A person needs to possess the desire to change, understand the steps that are needed to make that change, and limit any potential hindrances to progress. A lot of this chapter dealt with the fact that people, in a sense, “don’t know what they don’t know.” For example, “… events that are dramatic or personally relevant, and therefore easy to imagine or recall, tend to be overestimated. There is also a tendency for people to underestimate the extent to which they are personally vulnerable to health and life-threatening problems.” People need to understand the root causes of the thing in which they are trying to change.
SCT deals with self-efficacy, which is “concerned with individuals’ beliefs in their ability to exercise control over challenging demands and their own functioning.” The main sources of self-efficacy are believing in one’s own abilities through past experiences (e.g. you’ve overcome a battle before, so you know you can do it again), comparing your abilities to others (e.g. “If she can do it, so can I.”), a supportive community (e.g. peers, health care providers, etc.), and emotional arousal (e.g. not viewing the situation as a threat). Other key factors that play into self-efficacy are adherence, motivation, optimism, prevention, and experience. “Self-efficacy has been shown to be a significant predictor of physical, social and self-evaluative outcome expectancies regarding healthy nutrition.” It’s with this sentiment that we have created our study. When users can submit their health data and see that data displayed on a screen, they become more aware of the problem at hand, e.g. extremely elevated blood glucose levels. After becoming aware of the problem, they also become aware that it is something that they can manage, e.g. through diet alterations. When they make changes and see data change, e.g. blood glucose levels go down, they become motivated to continue making these positive decisions.
I am thankful that I am able to apply what I’ve learned to CrossFit. When I see personal improvement through these strenuous exercises, even though at the time it can be particularly difficult, I want to pursue progress. Health improvement is a journey, it truly is.