Thursday, November 14, 2013

Social media and weight loss: Three Things Thursday

My plan was to run on the treadmill this morning and catch up on the current season of "The Walking Dead." I had my alarm set for 5:10 a.m., my outfit was set out and socks stuffed in my shoes. I posted about my recovery plan and told Mark that I was getting up.

But, you know how it goes - the alarm goes off, you throw the iPhone across the room and say to hell with fitness. Or at least think about the last two.

Getting out of bed, much less exercising, was the last thing I wanted to do this week, especially as Miles' sleep has been erratic and less than restful lately. I did it, though, and made my way downstairs - first to the main level for water and getting ready and then to the basement where we have the treadmill. I ended up just walking for 30 minutes, deciding that I hate running on the treadmill, but it was good to move the legs.

While I was able to channel some intrinsic motivation this morning to work out, sometimes you need an external push and that's where social media can help.

At least that's what I told Joy Bauer for a segment on this morning's "Today Show."

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The segment, "Real People Lose Weight," featured less conventional tips from Joy Fit Club members. Mark, from Kentucky, likes to keep a race on the calendar. I said that I use social media, namely run dates with Twitter pal Alyse, to keep me motivated.

Here's three ways to use social media to your advantage in terms of losing weight or maintenance.

1. Foster relationships. I know there are exponentially more people who read this blog than comment, and I have Twitter followers with whom I never interact. It's the name of the social media game. However, it's important to spend time connecting with people who reach out and reaching out to others. Had I not done so, I would have never "met" Alyse. Alyse helps keep me motivated and accountable and will also call me on my shit, like when I was teetering on recovering and pushing too hard with my hips. I'd also like to think she'd bail me out of jail if necessary as I would her (a true test of friendship). Other relationships formed through this blog helped keep me honest when I considered dropping down to the Veterans half.

Ways I connect: Search hashtags on Twitter, such as #weightloss and #fitlife. I also connected with people via #turbofire but beware of Beachbody coaches latching on. Facebook groups and pages are great. There are quite a few running ones that aren't related to blogs, such as Running Recipes, and I used the local run club page to meet local pals.

2. Share your successes -- and your failures. Social media can simultaneously turn us into a bunch of braggards and whiners. When success is small, it's easy for us to discount it and not celebrate it, especially when others around us don't share our interests. It's important to honor our accomplishments, though, because it fosters that intrinsic motivation that we need to keep moving toward our goals. On the flip side, it's OK to acknowledge when we aren't doing well as it helps us take not of what we did wrong and move forward. Sharing it on social media allows us to get tips and encouragement for moving on.

3. Focus on the process, not the goal. I know there are a lot of challenges that encourage 4 percent weight loss or a certain amount of miles logged, time exercised, planks held. Those are great - for some people. I've found when I have made broad goals, such as my body after baby posts and strength challenges, that I'm more likely to struggle with adherence. First, I don't often have a plan of attack. Secondly, the pressure is greater and the fear of failure can be stifling, building anxiety and self doubt, which in turn affects that intrinsic motivation. With Alyse, we set a goal for the next day - a single run. A single run is much more doable than saying that we're going to lose 10 pounds before Christmas because we've already met our goal by stepping out the door.

Do you use social media to keep you accountable? Or does it back fire?


  1. She IS so cute! You've come a long way girl. Congrats!

  2. I definitely use social media as an encouragement tool. It's a great way to keep the motivation going. Way to get out of bed, even if you didn't want to (I can totally relate)!