No, I’m not trying to convince you that typing enough 140-character posts will work burn off calories and help you get rid of that muffin top, though I’d love to see someone make that argument. It’s true that you can use Twitter to help you lose extra pounds, but it’s never going to replace a great exercise plan and healthy eating.

So, what can you get from Twitter?

Support. Many studies have shown that people are more likely to make healthy changes to their lifestyles – and, more importantly, stick with them – if they share those changes with others and receive encouragement from them. Twitter is just a platform, but you can use it in a variety of ways to get support. Some people join one of the many Twitter weight loss groups that already exist; others create their own groups with friends. You can even go it alone and just post your workout and nutrition information as well as your results.

Information. Lots of professional organizations and experts use Twitter to disseminate information on health and nutrition, so you can find pretty much anything if you want a bit of education before deciding how to change your lifestyle. Three of the best sources are @WomensHealthMag, @PreventionMag, and @MensHealthMag.

Tracking. One of the best ways to really understand your diet and why you’re gaining or losing weight is to jot down everything you eat in a log. Tweetwhatyoueat.com (or @twye on Twitter) lets you do just that as well as keep tabs on calories by entering information via your computer or smartphone. They even have a service that will estimate calories for you if you’re not sure of the exact amount. Pretty nice.

Inspiration. If there’s something you can be sure of on Twitter, it’s that pretty much anything you can think of has already been done by people before you. This is certainly true of tweeting about weight loss. For those just now thinking about using Twitter to lose weight, this is a wonderful thing because you can seek these people out whenever you need a little bit of inspiration. Many of them share their struggles, successes, and tips about how they not only lost weight, but also managed to keep it from coming back. Here are just a few Tweeters you might want to follow: @OneMinuteMarathon@PriorFatGirl, and @FormerFatGirl.

Accountability. The point of putting the information out there is that you are making yourself accountable to others instead of just you. Yes, it’s great that you can tweet your successes and have people marveling at how skinny you’ve gotten and how well you’ve been able to stick with your routine, but the fear of having to post something negative is possibly even more valuable.

This is why it’s so important to be honest in your posts and if possible make sure to include some real-world people in your tweet group – it’s a lot harder to lie if you actually have to face those people without a screen in between you. And don’t forget that you can post pictures and videos to Twitter, too. The ability to wow people with an amazing before and after pic can be a great motivator to keep you on the straight and narrow with your diet and exercise routine.

Above all, you have to remember that Twitter is just another tool. You’re the one who has to do the hard work. The difference with Twitter is that you can set it up so that you have more people showing you how to do it and encouraging you to stick with it.

Featured photo credit:  The beautiful girl sits with the laptop in sports hall via Shutterstock

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