The Tech-Savvy Way to Take Off Weight
Lose weight with a little help from your “friends.” Here are 7 ways to shape up using social networking toolsBy: Danielle Kosecki
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Multiple studies show that receiving advice and encouragement from others dramatically increases your chances of sticking to a diet and exercise plan
and losing weight. But what do you do if none of your friends or family is game for getting healthy with you? Go online. A number of web-based communities, programs, and apps now exist to unite people with similar goals. Here are seven of our favorites.
Can Your Smart Phone Help You Lose Weight?
Pinterest is more than a great way to find pretty pictures and home décor ideas—it’s also a source of healthy inspiration. Use the search bar to find exercises, workouts, recipes, and motivational messages, or follow brands—like Fitbie!—that regularly post the latest diet, exercise, and weight loss news (pinterest.com).
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For the truly brave, a Wi-Fi-enabled scale can keep you accountable. This one by Withings ($159; withings.com) measures weight, body fat, muscle mass, and BMI, then wirelessly transmits the data to your computer, iPad or smartphone (via a free app) where you can track your progress or share the data with your doctor, family, Facebook friends, or Twitter followers.
Find the Best Workout for Your Body Type
Buddy UpHaving online social support is helpful, but if you need someone to get you out the door, find a fitness friend. Online health communities, such as SparkPeople, Fitlink, Exercise Friends, and Sport Partner, allow you to search by ZIP code for workout partners and weight loss buddies who share similar interests and goals. Best of all, most of these sites also include access to experts, exercise libraries, food logs, health trackers, recipes, and many other tools you can use to reach your goal.
Are Your Friends Making You Fat?
Be ChattyTwo years ago, after the first Fitbloggin’ health and fitness conference in Baltimore, blogger Katy Widrick started a virtual chat on Twitter using the hashtag “FitBlog.” (Search: What's a hashtag?) Since then, the meeting has turned into a weekly 60-minute event (every Tuesday at 9 PM EST) in which hundreds of people tune in to the latest studies, controversial news, and general healthy living tips. It’s loosely moderated by a different person each week and covers three to six topics. You don’t have to be a blogger to join—you just need a Twitter account and an interest in living healthy. Participants are encouraged to be honest, open, and ask questions (fitblogchats.com).
Go Online to Lose Weight
It’s hard to know how many calories you should take in if you don’t know how many you burn. Body monitoring devices like Fitbit, Gruve, and the BodyMedia Fit Armband track exactly how much you move and how much energy you expend. Each device syncs with a web-based companion program that charts your progress, and enables you to share your info with friends or join public groups and forums to ask questions and get advice.
Write This Down! Food Habits to Track
Become a RunnerPick up your pace with Active.com's Couch-to-5K program, a three-month training plan designed to help new exercisers go from walking to completing a 3-mile run. Use the online trainer ($20; active.com) in addition to the app ($2; active.com/mobile) for access to more robust social features, such as the ability to join an online team, earn points, and compete with friends. Both interfaces also allow you to share your progress via Facebook and Twitter and connect to Active.com’s larger running community.
Video: Get Ripped Runner's Abs in Three Moves
Make your own motivation by downloading Fit Friendzy, a free app (itunes.com) that allows you to pick an exercise challenge and then compete against other users. Invite your friends or join in on a challenge with other Fit Friendzy users. There are more than 100 challenges to choose from, which range from pretty normal (walking 30 minutes a day) to more ambitious (running a marathon) to borderline bizarre (doing 50 one-arm pushups). You’ll get a schedule of activities to complete each day leading up to your goal. The app will track your exercise minutes, distance, speed, and total calories burned. Comment on your friends’ activities or send personal notes of encouragement to keep morale high.
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