How social media can help people lose weight

The holiday season is here and we need to focus our diet and fitness routines as we approach the holiday gluttony season. Social media has become a valuable tool. Forget those inevitable New Year’s resolutions just beyond, there are a few simple but key considerations that can make all the difference between a successful—and even profitable—weight-loss endeavor and a wellness endeavor that falls far short.

In seeking expert advice we connected with diet and fitness industry insider Jimmy Fleming, co-founder of HealthyWage—a company that offers industry-leading corporate and team-based weight loss challenges and financially-induced diet contests for individuals. He offered some compelling insights and opinions on critical elements needed for the best chance of success with a weight-loss initiative. Here are Fleming’s top ideas:

Define Your Goals

You are far more likely to achieve your diet resolution if you spend a few minutes thinking it through.  Sit down at your desk and dedicate even just ten minutes of your life to committing to your resolution on paper.  Send an email to a friend or family member and make a list of the things you’re going to do to change your weight.  Simply stating that “I’m going to lose weight” is not nearly specific enough, but it makes a good headline at the top.  Write down a date when you will achieve your first goal.  This date should be in the near future–one month is a good bet.

Using social media to share the triumphs and tribulations of your weight loss journey with other members of an online virtual support community plays an important role in achieving success. According to a new study from the University of California, Irvine. Entitled “Weight Loss Through Virtual Support Communities: A Role for Identity-based Motivation in Public Commitment,” the study examines the role of virtual communities and public commitment in setting and reaching weight loss goals.

“Our research finds that individuals are more likely to realize success with personal goals when they make a public commitment to attaining them,” said Tonya Williams Bradford, study co-author and assistant professor of marketing at UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business. People achieve better results when they share their progress with friends and family. When you lose weight share images on social media, after all a picture is worth a thousand words.

Research also found that virtual support communities offer a unique environment that allows members relative anonymity, accessibility, availability and flexibility in how they represent themselves on their journeys. It is the process of building community, and the co-creation of related outcomes that helps in keeping participants motivated and accountable.

Check out not only how much you eat. Foods like diet soda and low fat foods may actually hamper your weight loss. It is best to include a whole foods based diet.

Here are some tips to help keep you on track with your weight loss goals

Clean out your newsfeed.

Whether you like it or not, social media is a part of our daily lives. You need to get rid of stories and people who don’t line up with your new desired way of thinking. Trying to eat healthier? Then “hide” those chocolate cake videos. Trying to cut back on wine? Get rid of wine advertisements. Get them out of your newsfeed so they’ll get out of your mind.

Surround yourself with like-minded people.

You know the old saying “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”? Well, what do you want your future to look like? Want to look like those CrossFit chicks? Start following elite-level athletes on social media. Grab coffee with folks from your gym. Hold healthy dinner parties. Get friends who think like you: fit, strong, athletic, and healthy!

Buy some cool workout clothes.

Nothing gets me more jacked up about going to the gym than a new workout outfit. Spend some money on high-quality gym clothes that fit you right and make you feel good. Oversized, ill-fitting clothes that you constantly have to tug and pull at just make you feel miserable. When you feel good in your gym clothes, you’re more likely to put them on and go!

Plan ahead.

Making decisions takes energy. And by the end of the day when it’s time to decide what’s for dinner, it’s pretty likely that you’ll already be low on energy. If you have to make a choice between cooking a healthy meal and hitting the drive-thru on the way home from work, it’s really easy to cave in. Planning ahead with tools like meal-prepping and slow cookers can make sticking to your healthy resolutions much easier.

Stay accountable.

Let’s face it, at some point in the next few weeks you’re going to want to quit. You’re going to want to cheat on your diet. You’re going to skip a workout. But if you have someone watching your back, someone who is totally committed to helping you reach your goals, you might think twice before ordering that caramel macchiato. You can hire a professional trainer, nutritionist, or just ask a friend you trust to hold you accountable.

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