I have completed all the data collection from the competitive gymnasts in northeastern Ohio. I have entered the quantitative data into an excel spread sheet with categories including frequency of pressure and comments from coaches, home, school, friends, and oneself. I have noticed that the younger the gymnasts felt less pressure from coaches and didn’t notice comments about their bodies and health. However, older gymnasts, 16-18 years old, have said that they feel pressure from multiple sources nearly every day, and catch on to other people’s judgmental thoughts and comments about their body and health from coaches and friends. This has made me think about two things: the parallelism to the theory of mind and the indirect pressure in the form of fear of future judgement. The Theory of Mind is the continual growing of cognitive ability. It starts when younger kids believe that everyone knows what they know. Then they develop the ability to understand that another person may not understand what they are thinking. I believe that the ability to pick up on another’s opinion towards another increases, which would match the data that I have gathered. Younger gymnasts did not recognize their own body or other people’s opinions of them. However, the older gymnasts have a larger understanding of other’s opinions and more insecurity about their bodies. The second point is that some gymnasts may have enough insecurity about their body or appearance that they are proactive with their actions to avoid receiving comments and judgments from others. This means that a gymnast may take part in poor nutritional habits such as purging or restricting to prevent a coach, friend, family member, or themselves to think less of them.
My capstone is intriguing to me because it is an issue that I have witness throughout my own competitive career. I was in an intense environment filled with pressure from multiple sources, I witnessed gymnasts feeling the need to look a certain way to please their coaches, teammates, and judges. After leaving the gymnastics community, I wondered how often this occurs. Harsh pressure and eating disorders turnout to be a common issue nationwide for competitive gymnastics facilities. According to USAG, there is a high percentage of gymnasts who have received negative comments about their weight or appearance. Since coaches are the authority figure in an athletes career, this can make them try unhealthy eating habits which lead to poor performance. I am interested in the psychological side of eating disorders, so I will direct most of my questions to the source of their pressure. I know coaches do play a direct role; however, I am interested to see if gymnasts are receiving indirect pressure from these sources. This means that the athlete could be adapting these bad eating habits in order to escape the possibility of any coach, judge, or teammate saying anything about them. NCAA took a survey and stated that 51% of female gymnasts have an eating disorder which is far higher than any other sport (Eating Disorder Hope). This shows that there is a problem which the pressure held on these high athletes. I will also create questions that measure how often they feel pressure from each source: home, school, gym, and friends. I hope that the one on one interviews will shed more light on individual stories that have effected these gymnasts. Below I have added to links where more information can be found on eating disorders and gymnast nutrition.
I created a survey for high school aged gymnasts who are on a competitive optional gymnastics team. This survey includes questions about their normal diet, when they see changes in their diet, and how they work out outside of the gym during both competition season and off season. There were also questions about how they view themselves, what sources do they feel the most pressure, and how often they feel pressured to act a certain way. Before going to the gymnastics facility I was able to send a consent email to all of the parents of gymnasts at Gym World who are under the age of 18. When I went into the survey session I gave the coaches and gymnasts a background on myself and explained my capstone project. I then handed out the surveys. The athletes took about twenty minutes on average to complete the survey. Once everyone finished, I gave a brief lecture on the different hormones in the body that control hunger and the different eating disorders. I then shared some information and advice that I have learned from visiting a nutritionist. I then did five one-on-one interviews that took 15 minutes on average. I asked questions about particular stressors and situation that caused abnormal eating habits. I then was able to here their opinion on pressure and the sport of gymnastics. Once I obtained all the information from these gymnasts, I dictated the interviews and created frequency charts to compare the scale measurements for pressure from different sources. This information will then be used to make generalizations for this population of athletes.
Gymnastics is a highly competitive sport made up of graceful and powerful athletes who will risk almost anything to feel the podium under their feet and the weight of a medal around their neck. However, the trail to glory is filled with obstacles so physically and mentally draining that few achieve their highest hopes. Gymnastics is a subjectively judged sport where performance is scrutinized in all aspects including physical appearance. Highly competitive gymnastics facilities have created a stressful environment for athletes to perform, look, and weigh a certain way. This pressure can come in the form of verbal and mental harassment which can lead to long lasting repercussions such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. As the number of eating disorders in the gymnastics community increases, more athletes are going to have unhealthy nutritional habits that will be prevalent long after their gymnastics careers are over. Growing up in a highly competitive environment can produce multiple sources of pressure from coaches, judges, teammates, school, home, social media, to personal pressure which can radiate into eating disorders. The athletes who develop eating disorders endure direct pressure from multiple aspects of life and indirect pressure that is perceived through extreme fear of negative judgment which lead to unhealthy nutritional habits such as anorexia and bulimia.
In the article A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy, the state of efficiency in antibiotics are decreasing due to over use. As antibiotics are used more and more, some bacteria that survive the antibiotic become stronger. This causes more bacteria to become resistant against antibiotics which leaves people with prolonged illnesses. This has caused an issue because scientists will have to find new cures for something like the flu, without it being based on preexisting antibiotics. Bias that could be in this article is targeting how this information is not being shared with the public. This drug resistant is a public health issue that New York Times has brought to the attention of the public.
Two weeks ago my friend and I attended a professional development event hosted by the Global Health Initiative club. On top of having our resumes reviewed, the five members that we sat with talked to us about internships, interview tips, and general tips for success. The biggest thing I took from that meeting was that I should never decide to do something just to put it on my resume. I learned that it is more important to be interested in any internship, research, or job that I participate in. After talking with the Global Health Initiative club for almost an hour, I realized that I would peruse my interest in psychology by adding a minor in general psychology. I also learned about opportunities that would give me experience in that area of interest. After this meeting I feel confident that I can still be successful if I participate in opportunities that interest me outside of my main curriculum.
Walking into my first semester of college I have heard all my friends tell me that it is a culture shock when it comes to both academic and social life. I came in thinking that I would be face down in the books all day every day. After the first week of actual classes, I realized my friends couldn’t have been more right. In the beginning of the semester I had trouble keeping track of every assignment I had. However, around October I got into the swing of things. I found my rhythm and felt that I had my academic life under control. This is when I realized that my friends had also been wrong. After working through the rough patch of the first month of college, I found a balance between doing school work, social time, and personal time. I am not saying that it was a walk through the park, but I was able to accomplish all of my assignments.
Then the first wave of midterms came. I was pulled into the riptide of studying the wrong way. My biology grade reflected that I had just scratched the surface of understanding this type of material. Even though this test damaged my grade, it was a learning experience. I learned the timing and the type of studying that works for me. Beginning to study about two weeks before the test, reviewing terms and definitions first, followed by connecting the information together. This technique was used in the second and third midterms, and my grades reflected my new habits. Now I will be able to continue to use and improve my study habits in each class that I take in the upcoming semesters.
With a few months into the semester, I have been studying and doing work for the majority of my time. About a month ago I finally had some down time and decided to play sand volley ball with other students in the STEM program. Afterwards, my friend asked if I wanted to get insomnia cookies with her. I agreed and we walked to the shop not far from our dorm. I ordered chocolate ice cream, and patiently waited. When she gave it to me, I began to devour it right away. Then I noticed something. My tongue started feeling itchy, it was getting harder to breath, my throat was swelling, and my lips doubled in size. I was getting worried that I was having an allergic reaction to peanuts, but that couldn’t be it because I got chocolate ice cream. A girl in line asked for chocolate ice cream and the employee informed her that they ran out of chocolate ice cream. When I heard this I rushed to the front desk and asked what was in the bin that appeared to be chocolate. She told me it was chocolate peanut butter. I told her that one of the other workers gave it to me in place of chocolate and that I had an allergy. My friend called my roommate to get my epipen. We met her on our way back. On a casual Wednesday night, I injected myself with an epipen on the side of High Street. I then had to ride in a police car to the Wexner medical center where I relapsed, had two anaphylactic shocks. I was given two extra injections of epinephrine, steroids, and benadryl. I had to stay the night at the hospital. What I gained from this experience is that I realized how good my friends treat and take care of me. I also learned to always be careful with ordering food that may contain peanuts.
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