The internet: It’s not just about cute cat videos and political arguments any more.
If you haven’t opened up a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, you want to do it this week. A number of research studies have found that in addition to helping you improve your eating habits and motivate you to exercise, social media can help you lose weight, too. Here’s how:
1. Friend Yourself to Weight Loss
A 2015 Northwestern University study discovered that members of an online weight management program who logged on frequently, recorded their weigh-ins, and “friended” other users lost seven to 10 percent of their body weight compared to those who didn’t have many friends (they only lost about five percent). That’s peer pressure gone the right way.
2. Tweet the Pounds Away
University of California researchers asked a group of adults to listen to podcasts about nutrition and fitness weekly. They asked a second group to listen to the same podcast, then report their workout and connect with their study compatriots in Twitter. Surprise: Every 10 tweets the second group sent out corresponded to a .5 percent weight loss. The secret ingredient, of course, is accountability and social support.
3. Turn Twitter, Facebook and Instagram into Your Own Personal Accountability Tools
Making yourself accountable to someone helps you reach your goals. A group of adults who told a friend each week how far they’d come on reaching a goal were more successful that those who kept their goals to themselves. An amazing 70 percent of them were successful. Using a social media platform like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram—which is mainly phone photos with a little room for text—can take the place of a personal friend in helping you get where you want to be. Use the hashtag #weightloss and see who and what turns up.
4. Track Yourself with an App
Study after study has found that keeping a daily food diary helps you stick to your diet and exercise program. In fact, a Kaiser Permanent study found that you’ll lose twice as much if you log every bite. It’s even easier today because of the plethora of applications for your computer, phone and wrist tracker. NuMi, Nutrisystem’s free online tracking tool makes it easy for you to log your food and water intake, physical activity and weight loss progress. Plus, with NuMi, you get access to thousands of healthy recipes, dining out suggestions and exclusive deals and discounts on Nutrisystem foods. Tell all your social media friends about this free service to exchange feedback on recipes and share your progress.
5. Start Your Own Group
Facebook allows you to create a totally private group that you and your recruits—think close friends, pals from the neighborhood, colleagues at work—can use as a virtual support group. Your friends will not only offer you support and encouragement, if other online groups are any indication, you’ll get tips, advice on what really works, and even recipes you can try.
6. Pin It
Someone once described the pin-and-save online service Pinterest as “electronic hoarding.” So, electronically hoard some great information. Your free membership will give you access to thousands of great low-cal and healthy recipes, fitness ideas, exercise programs and even encouragement from other pinners available on the Web. Create boards for all your weight loss and healthy lifestyle goals and start assembling your own mini-program for achieving a slimmer body and a healthier life.
7. Take Food Pics
As it turns out, food photography isn’t just for foodies. In a study published in 2016 in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, researchers found that when consumers are made aware of the fact that others are eating healthy foods, taking a picture of their own healthy food can result in them rating that food better. Trim-down takeaway: Scrolling through imagery of healthy foods can help up your enjoyment factor of those foods. In another study published in the journal Psychological Science in 2013, researchers found that delaying the act of eating by performing a short ritual prior to chowing down can positively impact our perception of the food on our plates. Thus, taking the time to get the lighting and angles of that beautiful green salad just right could be all the delay you need to improve your perception of the healthy dish that awaits.