I recently chatted with Health's associate weight-loss editor, Shaun Chavis, about how my diet and fitness blog helped me find a community of health-focused women. These women have become dear friends even though, until recently, I'd never met many of them in person.
Last weekend, with the help of five like-minded bloggers, I hosted a Healthy Living Summit in Boston. Seeing a roomful of 125 people—most of them readers, fellow bloggers, and virtual friends—reminded me that interacting with a community was one of the keys to finding my Feel Great Weight. Blogging has been an avenue to connect with others and support my healthy living habits. Now I feel accountable not only to myself, but to my readers, who will call me out on skipping too many workouts or eating too many cheeseburgers.
Have you hit a weight-loss plateau? Are you short on motivation? Here are four reasons why a weight-loss blog may help you find your Feel Great Weight.
When I first started losing weight, my support network didn't extend past my family and closest friends. Feeling like I was the only one trying to live a healthier life made it tough to say no to dessert. When I started my blog, I found a group of people who understand what I'm going through and who can relate when I fall off the wagon. All of these virtual strangers support one another through comments, emails, photos, and links.
There are tons of weight-loss blogs out there, so just about everyone can find one written by someone who is struggling with the same issues that you might be struggling with too. The size of the blogger support network is endless, so the more effort I put into my blog, the more support I receive.
For me, one of the hardest parts about tracking my calories was being honest, which is the most important part of losing weight. But on my blog, I'm writing to real people—not just myself. Even if I'm a little embarrassed, I tell my readers how I feel when I slip up at a friend's birthday party by eating three cupcakes, and how I deal with skipping an entire week of workouts. It's not that I never slip up—I've just learned to hold myself accountable. Plus, my readers are always willing to chime in with healthy tips—or a kick in the butt when I get off track! And I've noticed that blogging often keeps me on my healthiest behavior. It's embarrassing to report a whole day of meals without including a single vegetable!
A reminder of how far you've come
Weight loss (and even maintenance) includes many ups and downs, so it's easy to forget your successes. After I had been blogging for several months, it was motivating to look back at my earliest entries. I had only lost a couple of pounds, but I didn't want to take for granted the progress I had made "off" the scale. For instance, I'd been incorporating more fresh produce, whole grains, and "real" food, and I had an easier time saying no to less-than-nutritious foods like a greasy ballpark sausage or a third pint of beer. I also didn't want to forget that only a few months ago, I had never run more than 5 miles in a row. Having my blog gives me the means to document and review my successes, especially at times when I need them the most.
Your turn to help
I started my blog because I needed help looking good in my skinny jeans. I didn't intend to help anyone else—I just wanted to keep myself on track. However, my readers soon realized that I had successfully overcome a challenge they still struggle with. Now, my blog is more than just a food journal—I try to address the emotional aspects of eating, exercising, and working toward a happy weight. Hearing tips helped me find my FGW, so now it's my turn to help—plus I need those tips for when I occasionally fall off the wagon!
If you aren't ready to start blogging just yet, there are plenty of other ways to reap the benefits of a community. Sign up for Health's free Feel Great Weight community, where I regularly share tips alongside other Health editors and readers. Or start following food bloggers you admire, and participate in the comments section. Even something as low-tech as finding a healthy eating buddy at work can help. In fact, together these women lost a combined total of 200 pounds!