Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions – Part One: Using Social Media for Weight Loss

*Note* This entry is part one of my blog posts in the 2010 series, Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions, as explained in this post.

I’m pretty sure that one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions each year is to lose weight. And while I give kudos to those who are trying to get healthy and better their lives, I can’t stand how crowded the gym gets this time of year! But enough with my rant – if you’re one of those people who uses January 1st as the time of year to get in shape, now that mid-January is here, you may find yourself slacking off. And you may not know – there’s more to getting in shape and losing weight than just diet and exercise. That’s right, in my non-medical view (disclaimer- I am in no means a weight loss/diet/exercise doctor or professional), social media can play a big role in your journey to getting fit.

Losing weight and getting in shape is all about motivation and accountability. Social media can help you with all of that. Here’s how:

  1. Social media is all about sharing. If you’re sharing your progress with people (whether it’s your workout, what you’ve eaten, or how much you weigh) you’re being held accountable and are then more likely to stick with your resolution.
  2. Social media helps you meet and connect with other people. If they’re trying to lose weight also, they can help provide motivation. You can motivate them – they can motivate you and you won’t feel so alone on your journey.
  3. There are so many cool social media tools out there that make counting calories, finding recipes, finding workouts, and everything else associated with weight loss both easier  AND funner! Here are some of my favorite tools, created specially for your journey to getting fit:

Dailymile is one of my favorite exercise-related sites [I've raved about it before in this post]. It’s an online community for people to share their fitness habits. I use it to track runs (it lets me map my runs, track them, etc.), ask questions of the community, participate in challenges to motivate myself, find races, see what other people are doing, etc. It also is integrated with Twitter and Facebook so that you can brag about your workouts inspire others. The site is relatively new and they keep coming up with new fun things to add to the site and inspire you. For example, they sent me this training report that sums up all of my 2009 runs. If that’s not motivation to do even better in 2010, I don’t know what is!

Sparkpeople is an online community for people trying to lose weight, get healthy, etc. You can join groups, challenges, find recipes, track your calories and food intake, find new workouts, track your exercises, track different goals, etc. There’s so much you can do here and it’s a great all-in-one tool for someone looking to eat healthier, workout more and lose weight.

Honorable mention – Nike Plus: I used to love my Nike+ – it was a small add-on that I plugged into my iPod and it kept track my runs. When I plugged in my iPod to my computer, it logged my runs for me online in the Nike+ community, which, like Dailymile, has challenges, reports, races, etc. My gripe? The tracking was inaccurate and inconvenient for me. I’m not sure why, but no matter how many times I synced my Nike+ up on a treadmill, it always ended up being a tenth of a mile or so off when I would run outside. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but when I was training for the half marathon, those tenths could add up to be whole miles! Also, I’d have to plug my iPod into my computer to get any data – and that’s not something I do on a regular basis and isn’t convenient for me to do on my phone, at a remote computer, etc. I also found it would lose my workouts every so often, and not let me manually log in anything (like I can do with Dailymile). I know lots of people who love the Nike+ community – so just because it wasn’t for me, doesn’t mean you should give it a go!

Here’s a list of some other sites that people have found helpful – it’s a decent sized list from a few years ago, but many are still around.

In addition to using these sites, I’ve also found that many non-weight loss related social media tools can be helpful anyway. Here’s how:

Twitter: There’s a whole weightloss community on Twitter- just search for them! The most popular that I know of, #Twit2Fit, now has its own Ning site.

Foursquare: Just knowing that I can become the mayor of my gym motivates me to go there more! I’ve just recently joined this location-based social networking site, but I am already determined to log more visits at my gym than at Chipotle.

YouTube: I’ve found SO many exercise videos on YouTube. No kidding, but on some occasions you can find me in my basement doing yoga, per instruction from a YouTube video. Just look – it’s there!

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