In 2015 I was diagnosed with having a 5.6 on my a1c level and an appointment with my primary care physician did not go well. I remember, she quickly went down a list of dos and don’ts, asking me to give up a lot of stuff/ food but also making me feel utterly helpless and ashamed of not being in control of my health. I was at another job but my work on Choosing Wellness started back then when I downloaded My Fitness Pal. I beat down my a1c without medicine but by managing my food habits but my stressors didn’t go away. The Fitness App became a ruse to exercise but it did not help me.

At this time I was also approached by the business stakeholders at Choosing Wellness to set up the site from scratch. I explored the various ways to doing it and this research has lead to what it is today. The initial site set up worked out with the engineers at WordPress, followed by my work to bring in writers, to do 1:1 meetings, to talk about what this work encompasses and bring it to the people. The most satisfying part is when the writers agree to this and submit their bios. The articles come right after!

As part of my user research, I realized I was also a subject-user where I was doing a study on myself. I used My Fitness Pal, 7-minute workout, Fooducate, iPhone health-app, U-Biome, 3TandAi in an effort to log and use the devices to keep things in check, failing along the way. In retrospect, this was changing my lifestyle way too much and I struggled with that.

I explored how physical health is connected to a family, a school and the larger community but also to the planet as a whole. Sociology as my primary source of knowing the world thus became about looking at wellness in a holistic manner- individual, family, schools, community, planet, all of which I think are connected. I wanted to approach the users of wellness, the people to share their stories and Choosing Wellness does that.

Issues that trouble us, make us wonder what is the right thing to do and what is the right way to think about an issue- gender equity, traditional forms of ways of life, LGBTQ rights,  the minimum wage workers and those below the poverty levels or the economically and socially disadvantaged segment of the population.

Choosing Wellness is about sharing the people’s wellness stories- about physical health, but simultaneously social and psychological wellbeing, about a community’s health. It is a way to navigate these issues and make sense of them through the stories and experiences of individuals.

I believe that the one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work. The struggles related to health have nuances that a simple usability test may not reveal. People learn from stories of others’ struggles the types of problems that they faced, the interventions that were utilized and the outcomes and overcoming of problems. This is what I am making an effort with CW.