I spent 11 years of my career working for Weight Watchers, a pioneer in the weight loss support group and accountability arena. I saw first-hand the magic that can happen when a person aligns themselves with like-minded individuals for inspiration, support and accountability. In fact, studies show that those who seek support and accountability have far more success in losing weight and keeping it off for the long-term. Back in the day, seeking support meant scheduling time to get away from your home and family, trial and error and personal exposure. In the age of the internet and the meteoric rise of social media and technology it is now in your hands to grab that power any time, anywhere for little to no money and without leaving the comfort of your own home.
There are countless studies that outline just how important having support and accountability are to the weight loss process. Surprisingly, a 2009 Harvard study (hyperlink on page 2) of “diets” uncovered the following, seemingly unintended, big take-away:
“The participants who regularly attended counseling sessions (got support) lost more weight than those who didn’t. Dieters who attended two thirds of sessions over two years lost about 22 pounds of weight as compared to the average weight loss of 9 pounds. “These findings suggest that continued contact with participants to help them achieve their goals may be more important than the macronutrient composition of their diets,” said Sacks.
In this new age we can redefine what it means to “attend counseling sessions”. Today that support can be found “virtually” in a myriad of ways from message boards and online communities to online paid certified coaching platforms, pod casts, XM radio stations to group forums and online seminars. Remember the important take-away is -the more support “sessions” people attended, the more weight they lost and the less weight they regained. What this means in today’s world is that there are no limits to getting the answers you need at any time of the day or night. There is literally always someway in which you can get support, education, information and the accountability you need. So, what that says to me is that with some behavior modification and some time to learn about and access these new systems, anything is possible. It is my truest belief that through technology and the communities and information available via the web we can turn the tide on the obesity epidemic.
Beginning to access and harness the true power of the communities and tools available online will be a behavior modification. It will not come naturally or be thought of immediately because it is a new behavior. When implementing any new behavior, you need to consider how to trigger or spark that new behavior. It will depend on you setting some sort of a reminder for yourself to take an action or step into this world. I recommend setting aside 20-30 minutes three times a week in your calendar to begin searching out and finding the sites, apps and platforms that resonate with you. Take time on social media to search for weight loss hash tags and the people and platforms associated with them. Begin following them for inspiration, motivation and advice. Check YouTube channels that feature weight loss cooking experts or free fitness videos. The resources are literally endless at this point. The only important thing is to find those who really “speak” to you and make sense to you and move you forward.
10 Things to Try
- Tweet photos of yourself doing healthy activities – Studies show that every 10 Tweets can increase weight loss by .5%
- Declare a goal on social media
- Take a picture of meals before chowing down and post to social media– That miniscule pause creates the awareness and accountability that is so lacking in today’s world of fast meals and mindless eating.
- Download and listen to at least one weight loss podcast or radio show a week
- Spend one hour a week in weight loss communities like Reddit Boards or Spark People. These massive platforms cater separate boards dedicated to pretty much any weight loss belief or program and have extremely positive and supportive users. You can troll, anonymously for hours gaining insights and inspiration.
- Try a new app. There are endless new apps flooding the market in the health and wellness space. Try a new food tracking or fitness app to shake it up and learn something new.
- Consider purchasing a Bluetooth scale that automatically uploads your weigh in and body fat information to your app/account. That info can be viewed by those you give access to for greater accountability (like a health coach)
- Create a weight loss inspiration and vision board for yourself on Pinterest. Revisit those images whenever you need a boost.
- Read success stories
- Use the challenge feature available on many of the new wearable technology platforms like FitBit. These fun and interactive platforms allow you to invite friends and family to compete in steps a challenges and more.