Sunday, April 4, 2010

Can Social Media Help You Drop Some Pounds?

We've talked about how social media can help you connect with friends, business colleagues, corporations, and even government officials -- but can social media take that connection in a direction that is personal and intimate? In a country that is burdened by obesity in children and adults, can social media become a positive power that changes lives?

Is There a Group For That?
With the advent of Facebook, it seems there's a group for just about everything, including weight loss. The Virtual Weight Loss page has more than 600 fans, with most posting about other weight loss sites or avenues, but a few posting about their own struggles. The page directs users to an application where they can upload a photo of themselves and see how they will look a few pounds thinner. An interesting concept, but is a photo enough motivation to lose the weight?

Weight Watchers stands out with more than 175 thousand fans, many posting before and after pics and words of encouragement to each other.

How To Do Squats, Pushups and Eat Right
YouTube is a great place to check out exercise and nutrition tips. There are videos for nearly every aspect of weight loss, including this one on David Elmore Smith's 400lb+ weight loss:

David Smith's story is an inspirational one, shared not only on YouTube but also various news shows. He now works as a personal trainer to help others lose weight. His story is told in detail on trainer Chris Powell's Stax website.

Support Is Just a Click Away
In addition to the aforementioned Facebook groups, there are support groups created just for people trying to lose weight. Support groups work to help provide, well, support for the weight loss journey. People who otherwise might never have an opportunity to meet or converse suddenly become a critical link to someone who is struggling with an "overeating" day or needs extra motivation to get off the couch. One of these groups is Twit2Fit, a community of Twitter users who tweet about their weight loss and offer or receive encouragement and movitation.

How Many Calories Does Blogging Burn?
A quick search for "weight loss blog" on Google turns up more than 46 million hits. Not all of them are personal blogs, of course, but many are. Hollie's Weight Loss Blog comes up high on the list and features posts by a young woman trying to lose weight. She started blogging in 2008 when she was 333 lbs, and now is around 290. She has also blogged on SparkPeople, one of the most popular community sites with message boards, blogs and tons of great information on nutrition and exercise.

Social Media Can't Do It For You
Although social media obviously has great options for support and instruction, it's important to note that spending a lot of time blogging about weight loss or reading about exercise will defeat the purpose of actually getting up and moving. It's a little too easy to get caught up in talking about something rather than doing something. But of course, there's an app for that, so you can just take it with you while you walk.


  1. I love this post! There is an app for that, but like with anything having to do with weight loss, they are only as good as the effort you put into them. For example, I'm a Weight Watchers member and have the iPhone app, but guess what? I've never even opened the iPhone app to enter my login info. I still do my WW the old fashioned way - in the internet browser. ;)

    For anybody else who is looking to lose weight, I recently found this article interesting. (Though - guess what? I still didn't download any of them.)

  2. An excellent post, Rebecca. I think social media sites might be just what the doctor ordered (sorry) for all manner of self-help support, from weight loss to smoking cessation to alcohol abuse to relationship problems . Most successful behavior changes include some component of peer support, and many people who need help of one type or another are too shy or too embarrassed to seek the assistance they need in person. Online social media is the perfect medium for these folks (except perhaps for the ones needing help with internet addiction).

  3. Rebecca, this is an awesome post! I am currently trying to lose some belly fat that I gained these past couple of months (seems like it just snuck up on me). I recently came across an app called Lose It! and found it to be very helpful.

    You're right, Jenn, the apps only work if you use it. I love the Lose It! app and I'd recommend it to anyone. I also joined the gym and consulted a nutritionist. I'm not over weight, but I do want to be healthy. Thanks for the links you guys.

  4. Great post. I agree that support groups are of great benefit to those trying to lose weight (whether through exercise or diet, preferably both). Both are hard to maintain consistently without encouragement and advice. However, as you note in the final paragraph, even with online content and contacts for encouragement, the person in question still has to get out there and do it.