Wait, the Internet Can Help You Keep the Pounds Off?

I would not have thought the Internet was good for weight loss, readers. Cat videos and shopping, sure, but not for keeping the pounds you just shed on your last fitness plan gone. As it turns out, I might be wrong about that.

As reported by Time Magazine, one study found that the more often people visited a weight loss website designed by a health insurance company, the more likely it was they would maintain their weight loss (http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2007222,00.html).

Users on this weight loss website were told to log in once per week and enter how much exercise they did and what their weight was. If they didn’t log into the website regularly, they got a reminder email and then an automated call. Users were also able to chat with other participants in the study.

The study started with 1,600 people who were obese or overweight. 350 of those participants lost enough weight to stay in the trial. Those who logged in the most often–defined as at least one time each month over a 28-month period–kept off the most weight, at an average of 9 pounds. Those who used the website the least were only able to keep off an average of three pounds.

Researchers believed this approach worked because it combined three elements known to be necessary for successful weight loss over the long term: motivation, accountability and support. The website and the other users could chat with others, who provided motivation and support, while the website also offered accountability.

Of course, family and friends can also provide these things, but it might be difficult to regularly meet with people in your life due to time constraints. Ideally, you’d want to seek these elements from those who are also trying to lose and keep off weight, as that gives you the common ground you need to help each other.

There are some great websites and social media groups out there that can provide you with motivation, support and even accountability for your weight loss goals and maintenance, too. The key is to find a place you feel comfortable with and one that does not promote any sort of unhealthy behaviors, aids or tools for weight loss. Never interact with a website or forum that promotes any sort of “lose weight quickly” schemes, as this could really take a toll on your health.