A few weeks ago I went to a conference for PR professionals where we talked a LOT about social media. On the drive home my mind got to wandering. (Stupid I-5 traffic). The two topics that probably occupy the majority of my brain space these days (after friends, family, my dog, and world peace) is social media and weight loss. I discovered some interesting (at least, to me) parallels between the two.
1. Both can be as complicated or as simple as you wish to make it.
There are so many social networking sites out there, and more popping up every minute. And the popular one today (cough, Twitter) might lose popularity just as fast as it grew (cough, MySpace…am I right or am I right?). Between this blog (and the loads of blogs I read), Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Goodreads, Foodbuzz, not to mention the occasional Yelp review, I participate in social media a LOT. I’m obscenely interested in it, clearly.
But anyone who’s posted a review on Amazon or Netflix or commented on a blog, is participating in social media whether they realize it or not. A mom who signs up for Facebook to see her kid’s photos (poor, poor kid) is entering the world of social media.
Same with losing weight. If you want to lose weight, eat less and move more. Burn more calories than you take in. That’s the “simple” way to go and it works. I think I mentioned this before, but I lost over 30 pounds without counting calories, keeping track of net carbs, or knowing my basal metabolic rate. I cut out junk and got off my you-know-what. However, to help you figure out ways to move more and eat less, there are diet/meal plans, prepackaged foods like NutriSystem, roughly a zillion resources on the web, plus your standard Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and LA Weightloss. You can measure everything you eat, keep track of every calorie consumed and burned, study the glycemic index, target heart rates, etc etc.
It all depends on your individual needs and the amount of mental energy you want (or need) to spend on your weight loss journey. And what worked for your coworker who lost weight might not work for you.
2. It’s difficult do either one in a vacuum.
Well, I suppose it’s impossible to network with yourself, by any means. But one of my favorite things about social networking, and I guess the whole point really, is the community it creates. I find it so much easier to keep in touch with my friends though sites like Facebook and Twitter, especially those who don’t live in town. I believe that’s a function of my generation: we’re used to communicating with each other this way, and even if we haven’t physically spoken to each other in awhile, we can feel connected through viewing each other’s photos, noticing status changes (“wha..you’re engaged? Congrats!”).
Social networking sites and social media helps connect me to the people in my life and allows the “circle” of people around me/supporting me larger than were I not involved with it. And I think it’s just human nature to desire and find comfort in the support of others.
And similarly, I think it’s really hard to lose weight without the support of those around you. I have debated joining Weight Watchers again, not because I need to learn how to eat, but to sit in a room (a real room) with other people who are working towards the same goals as I am. I decided against it, due to the cost and the fact that WW made me crazy obsessive the first time around.
Instead, I’m talking about my struggles/goals on my blog. I’ve asked Mitch to help me develop a new workout plan, because I feel like I need to be more structured there. And while you don’t want to be “that girl (or guy)” who talks about dieting all the time, I think it’s important to reach out to those closest to you and let them know that you’ve set a goal for yourself and you need their support. If nothing else, they might not push that third beer or monster cookie on you next time you’re together.
3. Try it. Mess up. Adjust.
Ok, I can’t take credit for this one, at least not when it comes to social media. I got this concept from a local PR/social media expert in San Diego named Casey DeLorme, who I’ve heard speak (twice, actually) about social media for organizations. I don’t remember if he got it from someone else, so I’ll give Casey the credit here. Anyway, the idea is simple. If you want to be successful at social media (whatever “success” might mean to you), jump in and try something out. It’s so new, and changing so rapidly, that it’s hard to know all the “rules” and do it the “right” way the first time out. You’ll learn quickly if what you did worked, because your readers/followers will let you know.
That’s kind of what I’m doing with this blog. You’ll notice I’m kind of all over the place (like here, writing an article where three posts back I posted a recipe and later this week, a restaurant review), and that’s because I’m still trying to figure out my voice and where I fit into this whole thing. The one thing I do know is I “met” some really cool people and made connections I never would have otherwise, and I’m VERY grateful for that.
And when it comes to our health, we’re constantly trying things out and making changes to fit our lifestyles or individual needs. What breakfast keeps ME full until lunch? Do I find it easier to exercise in the morning or at night? Do I need less carbs, more whole grains, less diary, more healthy fat, or a small glass of red wine every night to feel satisfied and happy? Going back to #1, it has to be what works you (or me) and no one else, and it may take some time before you (or I) figure it out. We’ve all got our whole lives (hopefully, healthy and long ones) to figure it all out. If you try spinning and you hate it, try something else. If you have a really packed schedule that makes healthy eating hard for a few weeks (like I do right now), remember this: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Pick yourself up and keep on truckin’. You’ll get there and so will I.
Phew! If you got to the end of this, I congratulate you. Clearly, I’m super into social media, so if you’re not, I’m sure you found this read fairly boring. But I would be interested in hearing what you thought about any part of it.
P.S. My condo is getting fumigated for termites plus it’s my birthday week (yes, I said WEEK), so I might not be around the blogosphere as much this week. Try not to miss me too much. Later this week I’ll give a recap of my birthday dinner with Mitch (hint: Gina would approve) and post recipes/photos from my birthday “house party” on Friday.