From gym check-ins and motivational weight loss stories to workout recaps and before-and-after photos, it’s hard to scroll through pretty much any social feed without spotting a fitness-focused update.
And while an overload of gym selfies may evoke an eye roll, when it comes to achieving your weight loss goals, you shouldn’t dismiss the power of social media so quickly.
“These tools are extremely helpful for not only tracking purposes, but for accountability as well,” said John Rowley, a certified personal trainer, best-selling author and director of wellness for the International Sports Sciences Association. “Part of losing weight and keeping it off is monitoring yourself after you reach your goals so that you can nip any weight gain in the bud. Posting or journaling your stats on a regular basis can keep you from ignoring weight gain and doing something about it.”
Rowley supports the use of social sharing because our networks serve as a sounding board for positive encouragement and body acceptance. These core elements are simple for us to understand, he explained, but when used strategically can have a profound effect on goal achievement.
“When you see progress and success, it's a forward-moving success mechanism,” Rowley said. “Success breeds success and seeing results, liking what you see in the mirror and hearing compliments from friends motivates you to want to keep going.”
Of course, the one down side to engaging with the fitness community on networks like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest is the risk of being overwhelmed with unrealistic or “extreme” body types. While this may provide a healthy source of motivation for some, for others, comparing your own body and progress to such standards may take a negative toll on your body image.
To overcome this obstacle Rowley said it’s important to keep one simple concept in mind.
“You don't have to look like that to live a healthy lifestyle and be fit. There are many faces and bodies of fitness,” he said.
Using Social Media to Reach Your Weight Loss Goals
For those who want to implement a social media strategy as part of their weight loss plan, Rowley suggests starting with apps like My Fitness Pal, Lose It or My Plate.
“Join some fitness-minded social groups online where you can make new friends, share your experiences, stay accountable and support and encourage each other,” he added.
He even suggested joining an online contest, like the kind offered through DietBet, where you’ll experience the camaraderie and fun of competing with others who are working toward a common goal.
Finally, don’t forget to disconnect from your networks every now and then, too. If you feel like you’re becoming stressed or overwhelmed by the prospect of constantly logging your health and fitness stats, taking a brief “digital detox” can do wonders for helping you to recharge, refresh and ultimately, get re-energized about working towards and achieving your goals.