Ethnographies on Wellness
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 (CW) 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 or rather I think I did not learn to handle them well. The Fitness App was a ruse to exercise that did not help me.
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. What worked out is another story on wellness coming up. In retrospect, this was changing my lifestyle and I struggled to do that.
We know that physical health is connected to a family, a school and the larger community but also to the planet as a whole. Sociology as a primary source of knowing the world became about looking at wellness in a holistic manner- individual, family, schools, community, planet, all of which are connected. The idea was 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.
A 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 others face, the interventions that were utilized and the outcomes and overcoming of problems. This is what is the effort with CW.