Thinking about posting your weight loss goals and updates on Facebook? What a great idea. You can instantly give yourself some virtual accountability. You can keep a daily journal that tracks your weight loss triumphs and setbacks. Seems like a no brainer, right? Wrong! Be careful, "caveat emptor" (let the buyer beware), you could be setting yourself up for failure ... and a very public one at that.
When we take a closer look at how weight gain and obesity work, we start to understand why the "Facebook Diet" may not be such a great idea. Obesity is a cycle that occurs when we allow ourselves to medicate our feelings of anxiety and depression with food. We learn to overeat to soothe our emotions and eventually, a certain degree of guilt develops -- especially if we are gaining weight. As this guilt increases, it adds to the anxiety and depression that we already experience and makes us overeat even more; creating a cycle. The cycle starts with anxiety, but the steam engine that keeps it running is guilt.
Now consider the pressure that you put yourself under by broadcasting your goals to hundreds of your Facebook friends. If your progress is less than stellar, you may feel that the "eyes of the world are looking upon you." This feeling -- whether it's substantiated or not -- increases your feelings of failure. It will fuel the obesity cycle by maximizing your stress, anxiety and guilt, which will in-turn, lead back to overeating.
So instead of creating a healthy measure of accountability for yourself, you've actually made matters worse. With every rotation of the cycle the guilt increases more and more. You're now in danger of spiraling out of control. This is an example of why, when people fail a diet, they gain back all the weight they lost and then some!
Now, consider the possibility of sabotage. Sabotage in weight loss occurs in many forms and the fact that you wish to have others hold you accountable for your own weight loss is a reflection of your past experiences with self-sabotage.
Another form of sabotage which can be just as harmful is "friendly fire." Friendly fire can occur by well-intentioned family members or friends who believe you may be losing too much weight or that you're not eating enough. Such sabotage is not intentional and should not be viewed as deliberate, but it may harm you nonetheless. Critique from beloved family members and friends -- especially if consistent -- can lead to an inevitable downfall if you're not prepared for this type of disparagement.
Now, consider the flip side of that coin, the "hostile takeover." This type of attack comes from so-called friends and co-workers that may take a certain amount of delight in your downfall. They may be totally upfront about their attack, criticizing you openly in the social media platform. Or, they may be ninja about it, not making any mention whatsoever of your progress, even when it is undeniably obvious. Such tactics may be meant to crumble the foundations of your efforts for their own amusement -- and Facebook puts it all on display.
Therefore, posting a regular journal via social media may cause your weight loss struggle to become a "gladiator sport" and the whole Facebook nation is sitting in the Coliseum cheering your success or hoping for your failure.
I suggest that rather than commit to your friends, you commit to yourself, because after all, this is for you. Minimizing stress, anxiety and guilt breaks the cycle of obesity. If you want to avoid criticism and sabotage so that you can optimize your chances for success, keep your daily diet details out of the public spotlight. Let the results speak for themselves.
It's your body and no one else's. The contract that you make with yourself is more valid than anything that you can promise to others. You have what it takes in you to do this! I know, I did it myself. Listen to your inner voice and trust it. If you need to share your plans with someone, then share them only with the people who are closest to you and who will be champions for your cause.
Do what it takes, but don't be disappointed if you fall. Get up and try again. But above all, beat the cycle!