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Can Social Media Help You Lose Weight?

At the start of the New Year, when weight loss is often a priority, building a support team to help keep us on track can be extremely helpful. This might typically consist of family members, friends, co-workers, or perhaps even a nutritionist or registered dietitian. But today, support can also be found online. Plenty of Web sites focus on losing weight, and include communities that provide support and encouragement. Since many of us spend a lot of time on social media sites–maybe too much if you ask my husband!–why not use these platforms as another tool for support? In fact, one study suggests employees participating in a workplace wellness program who also joined the company’s Facebook page, run by a registered dietitian, stayed with the program longer than those who didn’t.

[See Already Struggling With Your New Year’s Resolution?[1]]

Could it actually make sense that gluing ourselves to our mobile device or computer could help us shed pounds? It sounds like quite the oxymoron, since increased screen time doesn’t usually equate to weight loss. But here’s how to make social media sites work for you:

Facebook

Facebook is a place where you can share what’s going on in your life with friends, but you may not feel comfortable announcing what you weigh or that you’re trying to lose weight. On the other hand, you may enjoy posting fitness milestones, such as training for and completing your first marathon, or a bike ride for your favorite charity. Sharing your fitness goals with the Facebook universe may be helpful, because the more people who know about it, the more likely you are to stay committed.

[See Small Steps, Big Change: How to Lose 50 Pounds Without Really Trying[2]]

Rather than simply connecting with friends on the site, you can also connect with health and fitness professionals, such as registered dietitians, or pages for diet books, like mine, The Small Change Diet. You can also “like” the pages of health and fitness magazines and your favorite brands. The folks who run these pages may post articles that provide you with helpful weight-loss tips, and many organize regular Facebook chats, allowing you to ask an expert your questions. The more that healthy information is “in your face,” the more likely you are to stick to it.

Most importantly, you may discover a weight-loss community on Facebook, where like-minded individuals share their weight losses (or gains) and offer support. Daily accountability could be just what you need, and knowing others are rooting for you can make a world of difference. If you can’t find a Facebook community you like, start your own.

Twitter

So many of my patients don’t have Twitter accounts, because they think they have nothing clever or witty to say. My advice to them is always the same: You don’t have to “say” anything; you can just follow, at least at the beginning. Registered dietitians (I’m @kerigans[3]) have great tips and, if they’re like me, are more than happy to answer questions via Twitter. I’ve had followers tweet a picture of their dinner and ask what my dietitian colleagues and I thought of it–priceless information for free.

[See Best Plant-Based Diets] [4]

Just as you do on Facebook, follow fitness professionals, health magazines, and other sources that provide weight-loss motivation. Once you feel comfortable, you may decide to join in the conversation, since that’s what social media is all about. Perfect example of how it can benefit you: One morning, I tweeted that I felt more like staying in my pajamas than going to yoga. Some of my followers chimed in that they were feeling the same way, BUT stressed that we should all still exercise. And so we all did. And trust me, none of us regretted going–rather, we were thankful for each other.

[See Are Mobile Health Apps Helpful?[5]]

Seek out people on Twitter and Facebook who you find inspirational, and hopefully a little of what they do will rub off on you. Since nothing is etched in stone, you can unfollow, unlike, or unfriend them if they aren’t helping you. And please keep in mind that while social media can be another tool in your pursuit of weight loss, it’s not the end all. Healthy eating, fitness, and plenty of sleep actually need to happen away from a screen.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns, and feedback

Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian, media personality, spokesperson, and author of The Small Change Diet[6]. Gans’s expert nutrition advice has been featured in Glamour, Fitness, Health, Self and Shape, and on national television and radio, including The Dr. Oz Show, Good Morning America, ABC News, Primetime, and Sirius/XM Dr. Radio.

References

  1. ^ Already Struggling With Your New Year’s Resolution? (health.usnews.com)
  2. ^ Small Steps, Big Change: How to Lose 50 Pounds Without Really Trying (health.usnews.com)
  3. ^ @kerigans (twitter.com)
  4. ^ Best Plant-Based Diets (health.usnews.com)
  5. ^ Are Mobile Health Apps Helpful? (www.usnews.com)
  6. ^ The Small Change Diet (kerigansnutrition.com)

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Comments

  1. Reply

    What Is Are Some Of Your Favorite Weight Loss Tips? What are some of your most succesfull weight loss tips?? I have my few that I live by, but I am looking for some tips on cutting down. Please only share different/ unique tips.
    I know about all the common ones…. lots of water lots of rest six small meals etc.

    thank you so much in advance!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • January 10, 2013
      Reply

      Hi CollegeGirl

      In my opinion, no weight loss tips are truly successful on their own. Lots of water is not necessarily a good way, because how much water a person needs depends on the BMI of the person. 6 small meals maybe hard at times, especially when you are stuck at school or office and have no chance to eat, and then you need to eat more when you have the chance. Well, dieting is a good way to lose weight, but then it is hard to stick to a diet. For example, something like this:

      Breakfast:
      2 egg, low fat Cheddar cheese omelette – 320 calories
      2 slices wholemeal toast with thin smear butter – 200 calories
      Large slice melon – 47 calories

      Lunch:
      Spicy Turkey Salad recipe – 304 calories

      Snack:
      Muesli or honey nut Health Bar “Sainsbury” – 180 calories

      Dinner:
      Baked potato with 100g “Heinz” baked beans &/or Cottage cheese if desired – 300 – 400 calories (350 average)
      Large helping salad fruits &/or vegetables – 100 calories

      Another weight loss tip is to do interval and turbulence exercise.

      Turbulence Training is a fresh plan that requires finishing three 45-minute exercise sessions each week with marginal equipment. It is an increasingly trend-setting fitness plan with the intention of helping you in the reduction of weight.

      Interval training is the fitness world’s equivalent of a visit to the in-laws. The shorter and more intense the visit, the better. An interval is a short period of exercise performed at a given intensity for a specific length of time. Each interval is separated from the next interval by a short rest or lighter activity. There are no strict rules on how long or how intense the interval must be, however, changing the interval length or intensity changes the way your body works and responds to exercise.

      But people have a short willpower. It may be strong at the beginning but will eventually fade as time goes on- as they realize that going on a diet is not actually as easy as they think it is. Of course, the strength of willpower differs from one person to another. This is the reason why there are people who can actually maintain a diet and exercise program for 1 year and there are people who can only maintain it for few months. Nonetheless, willpower is a big factor that dictates someone whether to continue losing weight or not.

      And in my opinion, besides sticking to a diet and exercise plan, it is the ultimate willpower to stop yourself from overeating that is the #1 tip to lose weight. But that is the hardest part if you are accustomed to eating lots of food even though your body does not need it. It is partly because of the delicious taste of the food causing a craving for more. There are certain ways to fight this craving ad I found one that maybe helpful. It is a type of chocolate that can actually suppress your appetite. It will can provide Good Energy that promotes a healthy weight by providing energy while burning fat. And it helps suppress cravings for sugary snacks.

      Good luck!

      PS: Information on the Special Chocolate that I mentioned can be found on the website in the source box. Recently, they are giving away a one month free trial.

      View Comment
  2. Reply

    I Am A Teenager What Are Some Weight Loss Tips And Ways To Appear Thinner? I am a teenager and I need help so please help me… I’m desperate. I want a higher self esteem.
    Please, can someone give me some weight loss tips like high calorie burning excersices, health food, some sort of plan and also tips to appear thinner. Thanks!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • January 10, 2013
      Reply

      Some easy weight loss tips :

      Eliminate Eating Junk Food.
      Drink a Lot of Water
      Reduce the Size of Your Portions
      Lower Your Calorie Consumption Without Deprivation
      You Want to Start Exercising Regularly
      Sleep Well- Practice a Good Night Sleep

      View Comment
  3. Reply

    Does Anyone Know Any Good Weight Loss Tips? I’ve been struggling for the past few months to drop the last few pounds I need to fit in my cheer uniform from last year. Does anybody know any good, fast, sufficient weight loss tips that can help me drop 10-15 pounds by at least January? Please help!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • January 10, 2013
      Reply

      The best advice I could ever give you is losing weight takes time. If you’ve tried and failed many times (which is what I am going through), you have to start slowly. Maybe start cutting out bad things in your diet little by little. You can’t expect to go from eating sugary processed foods and not exercising much to extreme healthy eating and exercising 7 days a week in one day, or even one week. You have to learn to control yourself and that means start small and keep everything under control. Another VERY important thing to remember is to NEVER EVER EVER give up! No matter if you go a whole week eating junk foods and not exercising, that does not mean you have to give up and never reach your goals. Just think, well, next week I’ll do better and get back on track. You have to believe you can do it. You have to want it for yourself and no one else.

      Exercise at least 5 times per week. I suggest strength training and cardio. Let’s say Monday you walk/run for 30 minutes, then Tuesday you would do push ups and sit ups and planks, and squats and then take a break Wednesday and start back up on Thursday.

      As far as your eating you really need to watch what you eat! That is the most important step. Portion control is important. If you normally get a big dinner, then cut the amount of food you get in half and that will help a lot. Another way is to get your plate and only eat 3/4 of the food you have on your plate.

      Eating healthy, lean meats, whole grain breads, and staying away from sugary things and high calorie foods. Always remember that cutting out something bad with something healthy really makes a difference. Drinking sodas and eating candy bars is empty calories. If you replace those things with a whole grain waffle or one small piece of dark chocolate it will really help.

      View Comment

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