Can Social Networking help me lose weight?

If you had asked me that question a year ago I would have rolled my eyes, huffed “Ya, right!” and tried to change the subject. In fact, social networking is a large part of the success that I have had over the last year. It started so simply that I really didn’t know at the time that I was creating an online community of support and encouragement.

Social Media and Weightloss         For years, a myriad of weight-loss programs have promoted group meetings or online discussion boards, but those were never appealing. The thought of going to a meeting, sitting among strangers under fluorescent lights in a room filled with the smell of old coffee was not something that appealed to me. The online discussion boards were not much better. Usually they were just a list of topics and most of the comments were over a year old or “Working from home changed my life” advertisements. As a result I often felt alone in this struggle.

Then as I walking into the gym one day, I posted on Facebook, “Going to the gym”. I got a few “likes” and it felt pretty good. As I was leaving I posted “not sure if I killed it at the gym today or if it killed me, stay tuned”. I thought that was funny and so did my friends.  What I wasn’t expecting was that I got a few comments that said things like, “you go girl!” or “you can do it!” Now as cliché as those phrases seem, at the time they were the kick in the pants that I needed to get me excited to go back to the gym.

I didn’t stop at Facebook. I downloaded the “Couch to 5k” and “Map my Run” apps on my phone. Every time I would complete a workout, the application would post my accomplishments on Facebook or Google+. Soon I found out that several of friends had begun the same running programs and we were posting encouraging words, recipes and workout techniques on each other’s Facebook pages.

So what is it about social networking that is so helpful?

Community & Support:

Social networking allows the individual to create their own community of friends and family to support their endeavor. Websites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to create community pages or group pages where you can post words of encouragement, recipes, accomplishments and goals.

Goal Accountability:

Posting any goals you may have on social networking sites allows you to record them and to get support on the way to reaching them. If you post that you are going to build up to running 3 miles in 3 weeks, you can get support every step of the way from friends and family. When you finally achieve your goal you will be more inclined to set another one.

Inspiration:

If you follow health related blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages or even just the “health & fitness” section of Pinterest, you can get a myriad of ideas for recipes, workouts, and inspirational thoughts for those days when you don’t want to leave to couch.

I found that using social networking and media sites has helped me immensely in staying on track and keeping me motivated. Do I think that it is the only way to achieve that? No. What I do think is that if you are able to build a personal, supportive community that will build you up as you go along on this journey, then you are building a solid foundation to keep going long-term.

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