Whole30, but really Self-Efficacy 

I can’t not write about the Whole30 right now. I’ve been doing it for a week and am feeling good, smug and healthy. After diving into some holiday eating hardcore that somehow didn’t stop til March, I needed to re- focus my healthy eating efforts. I’ve done the Whole30 twice- once in 2015 and once in 2016- and though I have mixed feelings conceptually about being a person who eliminates things from my diet, I just feel so good when I’m eating this way.

Like a crazy person, I’ve read basically everything Melissa Hartwig, the founder, has written. One of the things I like is that she focuses not just on the food but on growth mindsets and self-efficacy. I think one of the things I love most about the Whole30 is the sense of self-efficacy I get. I feel like my actions are aligned with what I want for myself. It’s like I’m taking care of myself rather than wondering when I’m gonna start taking care of myself.  Somehow it’s confidence building and self-esteem boosting. (Or it’s that I’m eating 4x more vegetables.)

It turns out self-efficacy is an entire area of study in psychology. From Wikipedia:

“Self-efficacy, also referred as personal efficacy, is the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals…

Self-efficacy affects every area of human endeavor. By determining the beliefs a person holds regarding his or her power to affect situations, it strongly influences both the power a person actually has to face challenges competently and the choices a person is most likely to make. These effects are particularly apparent, and compelling, with regard to behaviors affecting health.”

I think people with chronic pain get their self-esteem, confidence, sense of contribution, and self-efficacy eaten away at, particularly because we’ve experienced a lack of control and loss in many areas of our lives. So I’ve started paying attention to what builds me back up. Somehow the Whole30 is like a scaffold for me right now and it makes me want to figure out more ways to feel good about myself and reach goals without pain getting too much in the way. (Aqua therapy as exercise has been good, connecting with friends, doing fun creative things with mom, etc)

I also love cooking and meal planning, so the Whole30 gets that hobby going for me. It is intellectually and creatively stimulating (and physically challenging for me anyway so I practice pacing and doing a recipe step here and there throughout the day). I have nice meals ready for me and Bryan, and he always has something good to take for lunch. It’s made me feel like I’m contributing, while he’s the one working. (Not in a gender roles sort of way, but because I’m taking time off to heal aka not work)

I think the Whole30 might be giving me a whiff what a good hobby or meaningful work does. It challenges, inspires, engages, and that builds us up. I’m excited to find ways to explore self-efficacy again in other areas of my life. It feels good.

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