Why Tracking Your Weight Loss on Social Media (Like Ciara) Can Actually Help
The singer has taken to Instagram to document her post-baby slim-down. Research suggests that's not a bad idea.
Even two months after giving birth to baby number two, Ciara’s body is still #goals. But according to an Instagram post the singer shared a few weeks ago, she put on more weight than she planned to while pregnant with her second child.
“I said I wasn’t going to gain 60lbs Carrying Sienna, and… I did exactly that!!” Ciara captioned the photo of her feet standing on a scale that read 178.6 pounds. “4 weeks after her birth I lost 20 lbs. This Weeks Goal is 10lbs. I was 183 yesterday.”
Ciara has since shared two more scale updates: On June 13, she was down to 175.2. Then on June 20, the singer reported she had a “no movement week"—and was still hovering around 175 pounds: “Started my stretch mark removal process this week, and the Doc told me I couldn't work out...so I ate healthy & added a few [cookies] in the mix!” But Ciara didn't let the exercise restriction squash her motivation: “This weeks goal 3lbs. #BounceBack”
While the notion of posting scale pics on Insta may seem daunting, Ciara is on to something. For a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, researchers looked at people who belonged to an online weight loss community for six months. They found that those who regularly logged in, "friended" others, and shared the number on their scale shed more pounds —8.3% of their body weight, on average—compared to those who didn't network on the site, and lost only 4.1% of their body weight.
Another study, published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Informatics Association, found that people who posted slim-down updates on Twitter reported receiving more support from their Twitter followers than their real-life friends and family. What's more, greater support from social media friends was associated with greater weight loss success.
Meanwhile, research on weight-loss bloggers has found that the longer they maintain a blog, the more pounds they ditch. In a 2016 study, bloggers reported that sharing their progress online helped them stay focused on their goals, kept them accountable, and led to social support.
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There's no question that encouraging words can go a long way when you're trying to make a big change. And it might be easier to get that kind of support online: Posting about your weight loss journey on social media may feel less intimidating than talking about it IRL, points out Sherry Pagoto, PhD, co-founder of the UMass Center for Health and Social Media.
“Some people say they like the anonymity [online],” she explains. “On Twitter, you can choose a handle and use an avatar on your profile, which makes some people feel like they can speak more freely and not be ashamed or embarrassed to talk about their weight.”
And it's worth noting that you don't need 16.7 million followers like Ciara to leverage social media for your health. A small but mighty group of virtual supporters may be enough, says Pagoto. “It's takes time to create an online community. But if you engage and stick with it, you can experience a lot of weight loss benefits. It just takes a little bit of work.”