Mental toughness and health-related lifestyle factors

Stamp, Elizabeth (2017) Mental toughness and health-related lifestyle factors. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Abstract

Mental toughness (MT) originated within elite sport and was identified as an attribute of success. MT has emerged as being important for enhancing health-related lifestyle factors (HRLF; e.g., physical activity). Investigating the healthiness of one’s lifestyle appears a timely area to research given the current health status of the population. Therefore, the aim of this thesis was to investigate MT in relation to HRLF and weight loss.
Study One investigated MT and HRLF in university students (n = 167). Self-reported MT, physical activity, exercise barriers, dietary behaviour, and psychological wellbeing were recorded. MT was significantly different between regular exercisers (M = 3.43 ± .42) and non-regular exercisers (M = 3.24 ± .54, p < .05). Components of eating identity, exercise barriers, and psychological wellbeing, were significantly correlated with MT.
Study Two longitudinally investigated weight loss progress, and adherence to a weight loss support group, in slimming club members who were pursuing a weight loss goal (n = 132). MT and eating identity were assessed at baseline, three-months, and six-months, and weight was recorded at weekly meetings. Overall MT was not significantly related to weight loss (r = -.15, p > 0.05) or adherence to the service (r = .03, p > 0.05).
Study Three sampled individuals who held a weight loss goal, but were not attending a weight loss support club (n = 78). Overall MT was not significantly related to weight loss (r = -.21, p > 0.05). MT was not significantly different between weight loss goal achievers (M = 3.62 ± .49) and non-goal achievers (M =3.42 ± .38, p > 0.05). Thus, irrespective of whether structured support is received, overall MT was not related to weight loss progress.
II
Study Four investigated the experiences of high (n = 9) and low (n = 7) mentally tough individuals pursing a weight loss goal. High and low MT individuals, identified using the MTQ48, were interviewed. Thematic analysis revealed that amongst the high mentally tough individuals, those who prioritised leading a healthy lifestyle reported weight loss success compared to those who prioritised other goals. Strategies to overcome low levels of MT (e.g., control), as well as receive additional support, appeared crucial for successful weight loss in low MT individuals.
Study Five further investigated the low MT individuals’ (n = 7) perceptions, experiences, and attitudes, towards weight loss. Low MT individuals were sampled based on their MT score assessed via the MTQ48. Vignette based interviews extended the findings in Study Four. Thematic analysis revealed key findings, including the potential to change low MT individuals’ perceptions to enhance behaviour change.
Overall, this thesis expanded the understanding of MT; the processes that one experiences when trying to lose weight appears to differentiate between high and low MT individuals, which offers an explanation as to why MT did not appear to play a significant role in weight loss outcomes. These findings challenged the predominant contemporary understanding of MT and demonstrated that MT was not associated with behaviour change to achieve weight loss.

Keywords:Mental toughness, Healthy diet
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
C Biological Sciences > C841 Health Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:28659
Deposited On:31 Aug 2017 11:18

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