In the war against the battle of the bulge, a new army has formed.
The Unit: Fellow overweight-but-determined-to-get-healthy comrades from around the world.
Mandatory Fatigues: Sports bra and sneakers.
The Weapon: Unconditional support and motivation from women you have never met – and probably never will.
I don’t know who had the courage to post the first selfie “before” picture while standing in front of a mirror in their sports bra and underwear, but she is certainly more brave than me. Unlike so many “selfie” snapshots on social media sites – most of which often feature the infamous “duck face” – this one was an “I’m going to prove to myself and the world that I can lose weight, lead a healthy life and be held accountable by doing it in front of anyone who ‘follows’ my journey” picture.
With that, Instagram became a personal weight-loss support group for the woman who took that selfie. Usernames (always beginning with “@”) on Instagram often reflective of the task at hand (such as @needtolose100lbs). Unlike more conventional weight-loss support groups with celebrity spokeswomen, these are everyday women – maybe they drank too much in college and the freshman 15 never went away, the baby weight “just won’t come off” or the number on the scale just keeps going up and it’s out of control. Membership is free, but the benefits are priceless. With some Instagram accounts featuring hundreds to thousands of followers, “families” have been formed and these sisters support each other more than the top-of-the-line sports bra supports her “girls.”
But how do you find these weight loss buddies? Are you wondering if they will want you to “follow them”? Of course, this is not a blanket statement, but for the most part, these women (and some men) WANT you to follow their journey. And not to “show off” their weight loss, but to support YOU in YOUR journey to health and happiness (OK, maybe to “show off” a little …who wouldn’t want to display their 180 lb weight loss with the hashtag #DamnILookGood”?)
I follow a bunch of these motivational women on Instagram. There is one woman, in particular, with an amazing story. Through clean eating, exercise and a non-wavering commitment, she has lost 125 lbs in 18 months and has made it her mission to motivate others and offer advice for healthy living. If you are looking for some motivation and impressive before and after photos and stories, check out @jenniferleighremirez. (see below for sample pics)
I also have a friend who is on day #190 (as of today) of her journey (@pmpjourney) and is already down 65 lbs. She credits her success to the support of her Instagram family. I am so proud of her and inspired by her. (see below for sample pics)
Before and after pictures. Motivational sayings. Virtual pats-on-the-backs. Recipe ideas with photos. Workout tips. App suggestions to help you day-to-day. Progress photos. Hashtags to countless topics of inspiration (some samples: #weightloss, #weightlossjourney, #weightlossmotivation, #eatclean, #fitmom, #fitfam, #fitgirl, #getfit, #cleaneating, #fitfollow, #noexcuses, #weightlossjourney, #fitmotivation). It’s all there.
Am I one of these brave souls posting my progress for all to see? HELL NO. I follow people and find encouragements in their posts, but I’d rather make the duckface in my selfie – fully clothed, of course.