Interactive Websites and Social Networks
How they work: Log on to get fitness and nutrition plans, track your diet and exercise, and interact with others who share your goals via message boards and tweets.
How they help: Research shows that the accountability that comes with group participation can be instrumental in successful weight loss; teaming up with others keeps you engaged when motivation lags. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the more often people used an interactive site after losing weight (on average, it was at least once a month for more than two years), the more successful they were at maintaining the weight loss. “There is growing evidence that surrounding yourself with healthy people, even virtually, helps you carry out your own healthy behaviors,” says Mark Carroll Pachucki, Ph.D., a social scientist and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco.
Check out: Sparkpeople.com is an online community that has free meal plans, lets you chart your progress, and provides motivating feedback from fellow users. And don’t forget Facebook and Twitter. They’re the perfect places to announce your plans to, say, run a 10K. Then watch those “likes” pop up when you post your finish-line pictures.