By now, we’re well aware of the benefits and pitfalls of social media. Most of us have probably gone from good mood to bad or vice-versa with a quick refresh of our feed. And all the food porn, motivational quotes, exercise challenges and Photoshopped thigh gaps can be even more challenging to navigate when you’re trying to lose weight.
Fortunately the solution isn’t giving up Snapchat and Instagram cold turkey. Instead, it requires a new approach to help you reach your goals. Recent studies found engaging in an online community may actually lead to greater weight loss. Specifically, Instagram may help you accurately track calories and Twitter may provide support and accountability especially to those who lack support in real life.
Here’s how experts recommend turning your feeds into a great weight-loss tool:
1. Follow positive influencers
You don’t need to be a researcher to know that seeing people’s seemingly perfect bodies and diets can be emotionally draining. “When we look in the mirror, what we see often isn’t what we see on Instagram where people are posting the best moments of their lives. It can feel like ‘Everyone else is doing so well and I’m not,’” says licensed clinical psychologist Sherry Pagoto, PhD, author of the study on how Twitter can provide support.
You can’t pick your family, but you can pick who you follow. Unfollow anyone whose posts make you feel like you’re not good enough and keep following those who make you feel confident. #yougotthis
2. Follow people you can relate to
Following people whose lifestyle seems unattainable can be demotivating. “You went to gym five times this week and are feeling good, then you see someone who has been lifting weights for six years and competing, and you can feel hopeless,” says personal trainer and body image coach Jessi Kneeland, adding that “it can create a downward effect on healthy habits and self-care.” Instead, follow people who may have similar struggles, but who are making similarly realistic health progress.
“People who get high numbers of followers tend to look a certain way. We cling to these people and think, ‘If I don’t follow them, how will I get motivated?’” Kneeland says. “But it can backfire.” Instead of caring how many followers a person has, fill your feed with a diversity of bodies who empower you to do what they are doing — and weed out those who make you feel uninspired or unmotivated to follow your healthy habits.