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MILWAUKEE, Wis. – With the surge of social media and smartphones over the years, some believe that the Internet and computer programs have encouraged inactivity – but what if these technological advances could actually help a person lose weight? Many people on the journey to wellness, including members of TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, have turned to technology for encouragement and weight-loss management.
Share your experience with friends
Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, can hold people accountable and provide them with support. Posting a Facebook status or tweeting about weight-loss goals and plans can help keep a person on track. Not only may individuals feel the need to uphold their weight-loss declaration, but people may also gain a sense of camaraderie. Facebook friends or Twitter followers may have the same goals and can provide encouragement, healthy recipes, exercise tips, and more. They are personal weight-loss cheerleaders.
TOPS’ Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TOPSClub, features inspirational photos, links to articles, videos, seasonal recipes, success stories, and news. Another popular social tool is DailyMile. Users can connect to DailyMile for free and track workouts, compete with friends, map exercise routes, post status updates, and use tools to help their fitness training.
Use an online calorie counter
Online calorie counters, like MyFitnessPal and Lose It!, are a great way to track the amount of calories a person consumes and burns each day. Many allow users to personalize their profiles with their height, weight, target weight, activity level, gender, and other criteria. Calorie counters can help individuals reach their goals, because they make the user aware of the nutritional value of the foods and beverages they consume.
Take advantage of a support network
Chat rooms and online forums are a convenient (and anonymous way, if you prefer) to find support, share experiences, and get advice. Individuals are able to join a conversation with people who are going through the same experience while in the comfort of their own home. TOPS members have access to the organization’s members-only chat rooms and message boards, particularly helpful for those who aren’t able to attend their weekly local chapter meeting or are seeking extra encouragement. Topics may range from exercise tips to simply getting to know one another. It can be easier to struggle past cravings or get motivated to work out if a person knows that others are sharing the same experience.
Keep track of goals
TOPS members have many weight-management tools available for their use. One such tool is “My Weight Record” for weight tracking, available in the members’ area of TOPS’ website at www.tops.org.
Mobile “apps” focusing on diet and exercise abound with the rise in smartphones. Want to count calories? Wonder where you can find a healthy recipe on the go? Calorie counters, training apps, and restaurant information, such as Restaurant Nutrition, are just a few examples of the apps that people can download on their smartphones – and many are free. Mobile apps can easily track calorie intake, calculate calorie needs, or provide tips to train for that future 5K.
Many TOPS members use Together Counts, an app where people can pledge to eat weekly meals together, be active, and stay connected to an environment with similar goals. It encourages families and communities to get healthy together with a simple pledge: Eat at least one meal and do at least one activity together every week. Together Counts helps users keep track of their progress while holding them accountable to their team and others in the community.
With hundreds of options, people can easily choose a technological program that fits into their lifestyle and weight-loss goals.
TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the original, nonprofit weight-loss support and wellness education organization, was established more than 63 years ago to champion weight-loss support and success. Founded and headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, TOPS promotes successful, affordable weight management with a philosophy that combines healthy eating, regular exercise, wellness information, and support from others at weekly chapter meetings. TOPS has about 170,000 members in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada.
Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. To find a local chapter, view www.tops.org or call (800) 932-8677.