Do Weight Loss Apps and Websites Really Work?
Do Weight Loss Apps and Websites Really Work?
So you've made the big decision to shed some excess pounds. You're not sure you can do it alone, but you cringe at the thought of weighing yourself in front of strangers, or you don't have time for meetings.
Thanks to the Internet, you don't have to. With weight loss apps, social networking sites and other online tools, you can get the support you need and preserve your anonymity or limit your exposure to just friends. What's more, weight loss apps and online tools provide resources 24/7, making it easier to stay on track, no matter the time or place.
What types of help are available online?
Weight Loss Apps
The big move right now is to make weight loss tools mobile. You'll find apps that help you count calories, monitor exercise and share progress with friends. One of the highlights for me was Jenny Craig's Dining out Guide, an app that gives you restaurant-specific calories and fat for each menu item, portion guides and tips (e.g., "You can eat this at Restaurant X, but don't even think about ordering that."). And many apps combine diet and exercise in one place, which makes things especially simple. A few weight loss apps worth looking at: MyFitnessPal, iPump and Lose It!
Big-name diet programs, like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Nutrisystem, all have a strong online presence and offer tools on their Web sites for tracking exercise, food intake and weight loss. Message boards allow you to get as much, or as little, social support as you want -- and you can do so at any time of day or night, since someone is always awake on the Internet.
Social Networks and Blogs
Let's not overlook social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogging platforms, like Tumblr. Declaring your goals online and then posting your progress can serve as powerful motivation and provide a virtual cheering squad, whether it's made up of friends or the public at large.
Granted, some people fare better when help is provided in person. But for others, weight-loss apps and online tools can provide support similar to that offered by standard group therapies, such as not feeling alone with a problem and being able to emulate people who are further ahead with a program than you are. So if you've tried unsuccessfully to lose weight on your own and don't want to deal with a face-to-face group, these technological solutions might be perfect for you.
Laura Freberg is a professor of psychology at California Polytechnic State University
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