If you made your resolution to lose weight in 2015 on New Year’s Eve, chances are you’re already feeling your initial determination start to flag. The dreary winter dusk calls for comfort food, and there’s slush between you and the gym.
So it’s time for a little help from your friends — only, maybe they should include new friends, not just the usual posse. Not the network that may have influenced you to over-indulge in the first place.
Dr. Sherry Pagoto, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and an obesity researcher, says studies show that social support is important for making lifestyle changes. “But just because you’ve decided to make a change, that doesn’t mean your friends or family members have. So what do you do? The best support comes from people who are on the same journey.” Social media lets you find people who are “exactly where you’re at, have the same interests and can support each other.”
“Maybe you don’t need everyone in your family to be as dedicated about the gym as you are,” she adds. “But if you can post to your online community — ‘I’m headed to the gym’ or ‘I just got back from the gym’ or ‘I’m on day 5 of my couch-to-5K’ — you’ll have someone who says, ‘Yay!'”
Here, Dr. Pagoto offers five top tips for using social media to help with weight loss:
1. Create a private Facebook group for friends interested in losing weight.
How? It’s easy: Post on Facebook asking if anyone wants to join a private weight loss group. Then create a group page (private, not public) and send invites to those interested. Identify a day when people report weight change from the last week, and a day to post goals for the coming week. Ask people to post helpful content, recipes, their exercise plans, questions, struggles and more throughout the week.
2. Find an existing weight loss community, such as those on Sparkpeople, Weight Watchers or MyFitnessPal websites.
Many are free. Just be sure they are promoting healthy lifestyle change, not a particular specialized diet.
3. Most commercial weight loss apps allow you to ‘friend’ other users. Connect with other serious users to increase your social support and motivation. Continue reading